Santa Maradona

Richard Semon en el final del mundo ene 07, 2013

Richard Semon fue un sicólogo, zoologo, médico, alemán que a principios del siglo 20 publicó un par de libros sobre la vaina de la memoria. En uno de ellos, Die Mneme defendió la tesis de que los mecanismos de la memoria siguen la línea de los mecanismos de la herencia. Su teoría, básicamente, era que toda experiencia deja una huella en el cerebro (el ngram), y en el acto de recordar era suficiente con parte de esa huella para tener acceso a la memoria completa.

Poéticamente, su teoría deja por fuera el concepto de olvidar. Todo deja una huella. Lo que no quiere decir que todo pueda ser recordado. Las memorias necesitando eso que usté llamaría su media naranja para manifestarse. Esto es, dicho sea de paso, importante en el contexto histórico. En ese tiempo, el debate entre si la memoria era un asunto físico o un asunto síquico, era de alto nivel. No todos pueden ser como usté, que va por la vida creyéndose 20% protoplasma.

Semon reúne todo para ser mi héroe: un científico valiente de teorías incorrectas, ignorado por el bulto, y visiblemente atormentado por esa indiferencia. Y, cómo no, con una historia de amor a cuestas.

Esto es por Daniel Schacter en Searching For Memory: The Brain, The Mind, And The Past, que no me molestaré en traducir.

Semon was born in Berlin in 1859, the same year that Charles Darwin published Origin of Species. As a young man, Semon fell under the spell of this innovative approach to understanding evolution, and he went off to study at the University of Jena with the most famous German proponent of the new theory, the controversial biologist Ernst Haeckel. Semon received his Ph.D. and became a rising young professor at the University of Jena, a major European center for evolutionary research. Then, in 1897, he fell in love with the wife of an eminent colleague, Maria Krehl, who eventually left her husband to live with Semon. The two were vilified, Semon resigned his professorship, and the pair moved to Munich, where they were married. Semon, working on his own as private scholar, developed a theory of memory. In 1904, he published a monograph, Die Mneme, that attempted to unite the biological analysis of heredity with the psychological and physiological analysis of memory. Semon argued that heredity and reproduction could be thought of as memory that preserves the effects of experience across generations.

In 1909, Semon published a book [entitled] Die Mnemischen Empfindungen (Muemic Psychology), it was entirely about everyday memory, leaving aside the contentious issues of heredity in Die Mneme. Semon elaborated his theory of ecphory (retrieval processes) and applied it to a host of critical issues. Sadly for Semon, however, the new book aroused slight interest among researchers and had no detectable impact on the study of memory. Psychologists had little use for Semon’s iconoclastic views on retrieval processes; in fact, they misunderstood his ideas. In addition, Semon’s status as a scientific isolate, without prestigious institutional affiliations, did not enhance his cause. He was accorded the same kind of treatment given to flat-earth theorists, believers in perpetual-motion machines, and other cranks who exist at the fringes of science: he was ignored. In 1918, Semon’s wife died of cancer. Later that year, he placed a German flag on his wife’s bed and shot himself through the heart.

Lo de la bandera ha sido interpretado como una tristeza enorme por la derrota de su Alemania querida en la primera guerra. Un gesto muy extraño si me pregunta a mí.

Hasta la fecha no he podido encontrar mayor información sobre el colega cornudo abandonado en la Universidad de Jena. El amor tiene cualquier cantidad de efectos colaterales, y a nadie importan mucho.

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