It’s déjà vu all over again – Yogi Berra
One of the downsides to trying to post something every day, is that you occasionally have a moment when, about to start a new post, you think to yourself, Haven’t I written about this already? So you try to jog your memory, and then search your blog, but can’t find anything. Sometimes you remember touching on the topic in a previous post, but as it wasn’t the focus of that post, you decide to go ahead with this one. Other times, you still aren’t sure if you wrote about this before or not, and then decide to just go ahead with it, there are probably quite a few people who didn’t read the previous post, if it exists. That was way back when you’d just started out and no-one was reading your blog.
I had that feeling, not for the first time, this morning, but at least I’m not thinking about it too much today, as I’ve obviously changed tack and decided to write about this feeling instead. It’s a little like déjà vu, I suppose, only not quite as uncanny, because there’s probably a rational explanation for this feeling. If I haven’t already written about this topic, then I’ve probably touched briefly upon it, or written something similar.
Déjà vu is a fascinating phenomenon. It’s a good example of the uncanny, as it takes a completely ordinary situation like driving past a particular shop, or meeting someone in the street, and makes it suddenly feel bizarre. It’s one of the few times in life that we feel a strong conviction that something supernatural is happening, something which I think a lot of people desire on a subconscious level at least, which makes it so intriguing. There are a few theories to explain the sensation. One suggests that we experience a stimulus similar one that triggers a memory, making us feel that thus situation has occurred before, when we’re instead being reminded of a real memory we’re not consciously aware of.
The term, of course, is French, meaning already seen. I think the English language’s fascination with French, and the stereotype of it being seductive and mysterious, explains why we would use a French term for this curious, mysterious phenomenon. A similar term which a lot of people can relate to is presque vu, referring to the sensation of being on the point of a great epiphany, but not being able to actually achieve the revelation.
It’s not really surprising that our minds can experience such feelings, when you really think about how susceptible they are. Take the Mandela Effect, which has been on many people’s minds lately. The name refers to a false memory shared by many people who are convinced that it’s real, even to the point that some believe that time travellers have altered history, so the event they remember no longer exists. The name comes from the fact that many people are convinced that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the ’80s. A common example is that of the Berenstain Bears series of children’s books. Many are convinced that they were once known as the Berenstein Bears, but I think that can be easily explained by the fact that -stein is a more common surname ending. And recently, many people have been misremembering a film starring Sinbad called Shazam.
It’s fascinating that so many people can be convinced they can remember something that never existed, but memory is quite a fragile and fickle thing, which is why courts don’t rely on eyewitness testimony as much as you’d expect. Now if only I could remember what I was going to write about…