...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

What up face?

I realized today that the whole notion of facial-recall is slightly fascinating to me. Mostly because it seems kind of paradoxical in nature. Unfortunately, my google skills suck today, and I can't find any fascinating articles to verify this, but what seems so strange and paradoxical to me is this:
  • In all other areas of memory, the more you exercise the memory, the longer it seems to stick around.

  • When it comes to being able to recall a face (not RECOGNIZE a face, but recall a face from out of the thin air of memory), it seems that the more often you try to visualize it, the less the memory sticks around.

I suspect it's something to do with the visual aspect of the memory and the brain-mechanisms involved and the fact that you don't actually call up the visual face like a cue-card in front of your eyes but moreso an idea of the face, or a "sensation" of it perhaps. Other memories are allowed elements of vaguery: when we recall having the shit scared out of us by a clown when we were 12, for example, we don't typically visualize ourselves in physical specificities or even the clown in physical specificities. But recalling a face requires just that.

Even stranger is the fact that often all the other puzzle-pieces of the face fall into place if you can recall one certain specific, like a particular shit-eating-grin expression or the way the voice sounds (strangely) or the hair against the nape of the neck.

I'm the type of person who daydreams often about the faces of crushes or significant others, and the whole act of doing so seems very much akin to rubbing a stone between your fingers: the more and more you worry it, the less defined it becomes, the edges warming and folding and smoothing out beneath your fingers.

There's something sad and yet awesome in that.



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