The Cyclic influence that Memory Has on the Self and vice versa is evident in literature as well. Thinks… is a 2001 novel by British author David Lodge. The story takes place at the fictional University of Glouchester and follows the lives of two characters: Ralph Messenger and Helen Reed.
Ralph Messenger is a renowned expert in the field of cognitive science and the advancement of artificial intelligence. Ralph’s knowledge in the field is rivaled by his extreme arrogance and sexual promiscuity. A rampant womanizer, Ralph’s reputation of cockiness and perversion precede him. Throughout the novel, Ralph is undergoing an experiment dealing with consciousness in which he takes time out of his day to record his thoughts completely inhibited and without any sort of filter. He does so both via audio recording and through typing. This unfiltered view into Ralph’s mind and memories allow the reader window into the way in which he perceives things as well as an opportunity to examine his self. Much of these journalistic recordings involve memories of Ralph’s, both from his past and recent events that take place during the course of the novel. Following the theories as well as data from the study conducted at the University of Florida one would hypothesize that the memories and the way in which they are depicted would reflect Ralph’s self, and the results do in fact show a strong correlation to this idea. Ralph’s thoughts are consumed my sex, as this is at times is the overwhelming focus of his entries. He focuses on the bodies of the women he encounters, the way in which their clothing accentuates or represses these characteristics, fantasies about sexual encounters with them, as well as previous escapades and his own sexual awareness. The amount of detail and attention devoted to this undoubtedly explains his promiscuity and delinquent attitude. This perversion is a part of Ralph’s self. It comes to no surprise that many of his memories are of sexual encounters or his own arousal. Of all the memories he records, those with a sexual theme are the most vivid, attention paid, and lengthy memories. Towards the beginning of the novel (p. 73) Ralph decides to actively recollect a memory as part of his stream of consciousness experiment. The first thing that comes to mind is the loss of his virginity. The next seven pages are dedicated to reliving the situation in great detail. He pays a great deal of attention on how his lover complimented him and on his physique, the size of his penis and his sexual performance. This can be attributed to his arrogance and him reveling in any form of external gratification. He remembers several other encounters throughout the novel: adulterous meetings with Marianne, a colleagues’ wife, an encounter with an associate professor at a conference in San Diego, and a young woman in Prague who later blackmails Ralph into giving her admission to a conference he is organizing. All of which with extreme detail of the scenario and gushing pride with the ease and satisfaction he provided when courting these women. Sexuality plays such a major role in Ralph’s consciousness that it is without effort he can recall these numerous sexual memories. It can also be argued that he is the way he is sexually because these are the memories that comprise his extended consciousness. This represents the cyclical relationship between memory and self: the self is the culmination of memory and experiences, and what we remember is influenced and jaded by our sense of self