Thanks For The Memories

McLuhan somewhere said something that I remember to be something like:  our electronica has succeeded in externalizing our sensory organs to the point that our central nervous system is now outside of our bodies. I don't know if that is right. I don't know if this is the passage from Understanding Media that I am trying to find: 
Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerns. (p. 3) 
Part of my point is that I can't find it. I can find the evidence on the left, a note to myself to "get a better grip on the extension of the human organs." But I can't recall the quotation from memory, so I am forced to try to find its tracks, either in the margins of my books or by typing "mccluhan external nervous system" into a Google. That is how I came back to the the quotation above. And that got we wondering what is really going on in this transfer of my memory? Is it age? Does the search engine act as a cane does in stabilizing a gait weakened by time? Or is it a surrender, an assignment of the memory function to the digital version of the faculty? 


Quick rewind to Abraham Lincoln. 
Fourscore and seven years ago/
Our fathers brought forth upon this continent/
A new nation, conceived in liberty/
And dedicated to the proposition/
That all men are created equal. 
To me, this has been as much music as it is text. And I can remember it. If I were better at scanning poetry, I might be able to make an argument that it participates in a rhythm similar to The Lord's Prayer. The "our fathers" is maybe a clue that Lincoln was thinking along those lines.

Fast forward to Paul Simon.
This is the story of how we begin to remember/
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein/
After the dream of falling and calling your name out/
These are the roots of rhythm/
And the roots of rhythm remain.
I accept the finding from the jury that my memory isn't what it used to be. But I find it easier to remember rhymes and couplets and rhythms than I do theorems. There was a time, Ong teaches somewhere, when we couldn't just look it up. In fact, there was no such thing as looking something up. He posits that this pre-writing humanity used other means to recall. I have just Googled this half-memory and this is what I now know:
In a primary oral culture, the expression 'to look up something' is an empty phrase: it would have no conceivable meaning. Without writing, words as such have no visual presence, even when the objects they represent are visual. (somewhere in Orality and Literacy)
The old oral tricks that still work. While I tracked down Ong and McLuhan and got a partial view of them courtesy my Google guide, I brought Lincoln and Simon back by myself.

Or thanks to those who knew how to make themselves memorable. 

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