The Bob Mem-dentity

Recently, I was sat chatting about brilliant childhood TV shows and related recollections, when it suddenly became apparent that I remember very little. I mean, like, almost nothing about my own past. Which is fine I suppose, except that everyone else seems to be able to remember quite a lot - not just Through the Dragons Eye and Pigeon Street - they can recall massive chunks of their existence before today, or last week. My life, or the vast majority of it, is a complete mystery to me. So, am I me? I mean, I'm definitely me. I've checked, there's no one else in here and it hurts when I punch what I assume is my face, so I'm definitely, totally me. Have I always been me though, and is the me that was me then still the me that is me now? Yeah? 

Really, I'm asking. 

It's been twenty years since I left secondary school and a few of my class are considering organising a reunion. Because of this there have been photographs circulating. Photographs of this weird, gangly, centre-parting-wearing, braces on his teeth little kid. Obviously it's me. I can see that it's me. Not Now Me, but Then Me. Is 'me' a current tense word? Maybe it should be and there should be a past tense for Then Me, because I'm pretty sure I've never met that little freak in my life and he definitely never dreamed of being like anyone I've ever met in his entire life. You can't say 'that was me then' because you're me now. Right?! All make sense? Good. Can you explain it to me now?

Anyway, if we're an accumulation of all our moments, actions, thoughts, feelings and so on, leading up to the present sliver of time we occupy, does the we we are - the Me - alter depending on how much of those previous slivers we can bring to the surface? Does being able to recall these memories change who we're being, or is it all entirely subconscious? Would we be that version regardless? Our memories are dubious in their accuracy as it is, quite often completely fabricated - so much that they're unrecognisable from the actual event at least - so are they even any use? Are they used at all or is the change in Person determined at point of action and the recollection just a weird little join-the-dots postcard that we get to colour in as we'd prefer? Abuse of alcohol etc can explain some of the blurred lines, nearly all of the complete blackouts and a great deal of the narcissistic embellishments, but not all of it.

Our bodies are replaced roughly every seven years. By which I mean that every cell in our bodies replaces itself, and it's around the seven year itch period that it happens. That's kind of amazing, right? That means that we don't grow, not really, we get swapped out. It used to be believed that brain cells last an entire lifetime, that neurons in the cerebral cortex aren't replaced when they die, that they're gone forever. This would make things a bit simpler, for me anyway. Right now that is, not long term. It would though, I'd be happier if my brain was constant in that way. However, in the late 90s researchers at Princeton University discovered that neurons were being continually added to the brains of adult monkeys. To primates. You know, like us. They found that new cells grew in the areas of the brain that control decision making, visual recognition and 3D representation. So pretty much everything that makes you you. This throws a spanner in my me works due to the whole Then Me not really being Now Me thing. Not physically, not mentally, certainly not fashion sense wise. Not at all, really.

We've not unlocked the secrets of the brain in any depth, and that fucker is deep, man. We are learning that we've been wrong about a lot of stuff though, and that's enough for the time being. It doesn't answer any of my questions, not at all, so I'm going to have to keep thinking about it. Which is the important thing I suppose. It's worth a ponder, isn't it? It should be because you're stuck with you regardless of which you you think you are right now, or then, or in a bit. Personally, I'm going to try to dredge some stuff up. Reunions, photos, letters, conversations, people. It will loosely be what the podcasts will start on: who the hell am I?

I thought I knew, but I don't think I can trust me anymore.

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