Goddamn it. Going bonkers again.

When I say I have an eidetic memory, I really really mean that. It has several modes, but the strongest are photographic, phonographic, and spatial. When things stick, they fucking stick. To share a vaguely embarrassing example, I know the lyrics to the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Why I know this is entirely beyond me; I grew up watching Get Smart, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and whatever was on PBS. But it is lodged in my head and resists all attempts to evict it, and on the odd occasion that something starts it playing I can't even mentally fast-forward, because that's not how the song sounds.

The same issue comes up a lot, although with better music, when I sing in the shower. I just have to stop and listen to things like instrumental bridges when I come to them, because I can't make my brain just hop past it to where the vocals come back in. I can cut the bridges if I fuss around and rearrange a song, but if  I've got a copy of the original running in my head, it's very nearly insurmountable. Knowing human nature as I do, I suspect that either this drives my neighbors/flatmates crazy, or they have entirely failed to notice.

On the brighter side, this does make it much easier to entertain myself with BrainPandora if my MP3 player runs out of batteries on the train. It also disappoints anyone who tries to get me to stop singing by just rudely  turning the music off. I keep going while I walk over to unpause the song and am more or less still in correct time when the noise returns.

[This may or may not be related to the way I can set my internal alarm for a specific time and get it bang on. It only works when I'm getting enough sleep in general -- and no, I often don't get enough sleep, especially if I'm in a situation where I need to be up at a specific time, so also no, it isn't reliable as a real grown-up alarm clock -- but I can lay down and say, "I need to wake up at  11 o'clock," and I'll regain consciousness at about 10:57. Cecil's checked into this before but his answer doesn't apply in my case -- it works on an ad hoc basis with any time that's within my preferred waking hours of about noon to 4am regardless of whether I'd been getting up around that time for a while or not, and provided I'd be getting at least six solid hours of sleep. My alarm clock is either a cell phone or a DS, neither of which emits any kind of noise which might change prior to the piezo-feeper going off. They do both light when the alarm sounds, but the DS spills no light when closed, and the phone gets stuffed under my pillow.]

Circling almost accidentally back around to the point, photographic memory is photographic, and ever since I mentioned ray tracing in another one of these turkeys, I've been digging through the internet to see if I can find a copy of the very first ray-traced render I ever saw, at least that was identified as such, so that I can show it to y'all. I can see this render on the insides of my eyelids (well, actually, in an alternate workspace co-located with whatever's in front of me, as I do this with my eyes open, but that's another thing), even though I last physically clapped eyes on it at least fifteen years and five computers ago. It wasn't exactly earth-shattering as a piece of art -- it was a brass-tone dragon and a flawless, transparent glass sphere sitting on a black and white checkerboard floor with a bright blue sky in the backdrop, and the brain-meltingly awesome part of it that they were showing off was that all of the weird distorted quasi-parabolic internal stuff in the crystal ball was handled right. I have no idea what it was for; the setup was wrong for it to have been for a game or anything like that, so likely it was a test render for someone's brochure or SIGGRAPH paper or something. I know a fair amount about the history of this (by my definition of 'know', not by the general definition of 'know', which means people are surprised when I tell them I don't do this for a living) and it's not any of the canonical early demo/test renders.

Naturally, I cannot fucking find it.

This happens to me a lot. I will remember a positively frightening amount of information about something, and be totally unable to share it because I don't have the ability to produce an example that exists outside my head. It happens a lot with media, especially electronic media stuff -- the history and sociology thereof is a favorite research topic of mine, I grew up in an extremely nerd household and caught a lot of strange stuff that most people were probably unaware of, and media formats are created and sometimes die very quickly when you're dealing with data and readers. I spent years telling people that I had a toy camcorder as a kid that recorded a black and white TV picture to audio cassettes, and listening to them ask me in the politest fashion if I had perhaps hallucinated that, because they hadn't any idea what I was talking about. Including my parents, the very people who gave me the verdammter Ding for Christmas in the first place. Finally, probably twenty years after I'd last set eyes on the thing, I found a picture of the Fisher Price PXL-2000 Pixelvision camera, and was vindicated.

[The 'you sure you didn't dream that?' question is particularly irritating. The eidetic memory does actually work just as well on dreams as it does in real life, and I've actually got loads of boxes full of dream-pieces shoved into a storage closet in the back of my head, mostly from instances where I dreamt some sort of mystery and woke before the end. I want to preserve evidence in case I ever get a chance to sit down and work out whodunit. My reality testing, however, is perfectly well intact. I'm not perfect and certainly not immune to confabulation, but I'm no more prone to hallucinations than you are. Less, if you happen to be schizophrenic.]

Some of them, I'm still left dangling. I have a vivid recollection of the front panel of our very first VCR. Which was rather an early one -- very nerd household, as referenced above. (And it was technically one of the first ones we had, not the first. We always had two, because I get all my media pirate cred right along with my computer nerd cred. Dad is an engineer; soldering together a widget that stripped the Macrovision signal off of rental tapes so they could be copied was seriously his idea of a fun weekend project.) I can narrow down when we bought it to a few years in either direction, by looking at the image in my head and ticking off a bunch of features that I do and don't see. It was a VHS model, with a remote; it was front-loading, not top-loading; the display was on the right and was in bluey-green segmented LCDs. I think it was a JVC -- a likely guess, as my parents bought a lot of electronics at Sears in those days.

 The most striking aesthetic thing about it, though, were the panel buttons. The VCR was two-toned, with a matte graphite on top and a brushed aluminum for the bottom where the buttons were, and the buttons themselves, rather than having decals with the standard icons on them, were actually shaped like the icons, and colored appropriately. The REC button, f'r instance, was a circle and a sort of matte copper. STOP was a square and dark bluish. I never have been able to figure out what the model was. It must have been post-1984, as we moved house that year, and it arrived after that.

The frustration of having the eidetic image in my head and being unable to work out how to describe it to Google in just the right way as to get a picture of what I want is close kin to the feeling I get when I have a thing in my head and my hand refuses to sketch it correctly. Most aggravating.


  1. I can do the inner alarm clock thing as well, which is quite useful when my actual real alarm clock (read: phone) is dead or lost or I just forgot to set it to the right time. Like you I have to be decently well rested, but it works quite reliably for pretty much any time I choose to 'set' it for, including absurdly early in the morning. (My completely unsubstantiated theory as to why this works is that I probably end up sleeping less soundly than normal when I know I don't have an outside alarm to rely on. I have a completely screwy sense of time so if my unconscious *can* tell what time it is without looking it's way more competent than my actual conscious brain. Which it probably is anyway, but that's another story.)


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