Dreams and Memory: color and refraction

In a similar way that Proust linked the sense of taste and smell with deep-seated and long-forgotten memories, it seems to me that mine are linked with music and color as well. It also seems that at least for color, there is a link to dreaming as well.

Color
The further I stretch back to remember events from my childhood, the more it seems the colors are either Technicolor or black&white. Is this the influence of old movies or do colors get supersaturated or wiped out by wherever in our brains that memories are stored? It is a bit strange because I am not sure of whether my dreams are in color – they say we dream in b&w and add color when we wake up. I feel as if, at least sometimes, my dreams are in color but since I am in a semi-conscious state it is hard to be sure. I am wondering if it is the same mental refraction that alters colors in both dreams and memories or if they are two entirely separate processes.

Music
With music the associations are even stronger. I have songs that immediately bring me back particularly faces to whom an event is directly linked to – sometimes it is almost like an electric charge lighting up memories instantaneously. There are certain people that I have very specific memories of and for whom hearing a particular song throws me instantly back into a moment with them in my subconscious. It is rather uncanny – and it is not for all people, just a handful actually. It is also more from my university years and beyond because I don’t really have the association of music with childhood memories. In terms of dreams, sometimes there are old fragments of songs that seem to rest near the waking surface but they are incredibly hard to seize as I make the transition into consciousness. That being said, going the other way, I have had some incredible dreams when falling asleep to Coltrane and Miles in particular.

Richard Linkletter
I think that Linkletter’s “Waking Life” touches on the connections between memories, dreams and color in a unique way. The way that the actors were filmed and then each frame was painted in gives a truly dreamlike quality to the images themselves. The dialogs are incredible and touch on themes of reality, memory, sensation, and of course dreaming. The film is intimately linked with “Slacker” and bears a connection to “A Scanner Darkly” as well.

Big Chill and Breakfast Club
As for movies touching on memory and music, I suppose the classics of Big Chill for the baby boomers and Breakfast Club for us GenXish folks are the best examples of this. In the former, baby boomers like my folks were taken back in their memories from the soundtrack and the wake theme helps in that regard. For me, Breakfast Club is tied to memories of songs such as “Don’t You Forget About Me” which is obviously tied to memory. I guess I could say the same for Singles and others but for me, these two are the most typical of the genre.

Sorry if the post was a little confused – just trying to piece together some thoughts that have been rattling around in my skull for a while.

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About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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