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10 June 2011

Time for another Friday Night Question, chosen at random from The Book Of Questions.[More:]

#4: If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterward would remember nothing of the experience, would you do so? If not, why not?*

*This question has a follow-up in the back of the book: Which is more important: actual experiences, or the memories that remain when experiences are over?
I already did! Or so I was told . . .
posted by Obscure Reference 10 June | 17:46
I much prefer experience over memories, mainly because I don't trust my memories of experiences. So, a year of perfect happiness works for me.
posted by Ardiril 10 June | 17:54
Most definitely. It would be nice to have a year without torment.

For me, actual experiences are more important than memories. I have a horrible memory anyway. If my children and husband could remember my perfect happy year, even if I couldn't, that's a bonus. It would surely rub off on them and increase their happiness.
posted by LoriFLA 10 June | 18:12
Wasn't this the 60s for many people?
posted by Eideteker 10 June | 18:30
Reading your comment, Lori, made me think how much my mother (and by extension the rest of my family) could have used one perfect year. The subsequent years would have been much better all around.
posted by Ardiril 10 June | 18:33
Yes, I would. A year spent completely happy is better than a year spent probably 50/50 happy at best. Even if you don't remember it later, you'd have the health benefits of spending a year without stress, which would probably be huge.

Now for the follow-up question, I'd have to say it's memories that count, because that's what you keep with you your whole life. Experiences last only an instant. But I don't think my two answers are contradictory.
posted by BoringPostcards 10 June | 19:58
I wouldn't take the year. I care too much about the memories; making the memories is an integral part of the experience, though I acknowledge that memories are frail and faulty things, slippery little devils that will play with your mind.

We have eleven nieces and nephews, none of whom I see as often as I would like. Giving up the memory of seeing them grow up for a year would be too much.

My partner and I have only been together for, what, six or seven years? I don't want to lose a year's memories with him.

I think all the time about my late father, my late partner. The memories I have of them are precious to me, even the bad times. I want to store up as many memories of my loved ones as I can.
posted by Elsa 10 June | 20:56
#4: If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterward would remember nothing of the experience, would you do so? If not, why not?

In a theoretical vacuum, maybe. In the middle of the life I'm already living, no way, because of the reasons that Elsa expresses far more eloquently than I could hope to.

*This question has a follow-up in the back of the book: Which is more important: actual experiences, or the memories that remain when experiences are over?

First one, then the other.
posted by box 10 June | 21:05
No. Even in the bad years I'd hate to lose the memories of/with the mister.

Follow-up: The experiences because since 2002 or so my memory is for shit.
posted by deborah 10 June | 21:53
It's not possible. In a perfect year, you would learn and grow. The blood pressure would come down, maybe the weight. Your relationships could be so great. Even if you didn't remember, things would be so much better.
posted by theora55 10 June | 23:14
Observing my FIL with Alzheimer's, for a while he couldn't remember individual events and would therefore bring up dementia fantasies (eg, fears about things not done) repeatedly. If you spent a day correcting him each time, he'd get more and more agitated; he didn't remember the individual corrections, but the emotional experiences were cumulative. The opposite was also mostly true: if you went along with the fantasy and reassured him, he generally got calmer. The fantasies would still pop up after he forgot the last time and had it again, but he wouldn't be frantic, struggling with "something's not right," clinging to it even when told it wasn't an issue.

So it is my guess that a year of absolute bliss, which is not remembered, would still have an emotional effect on your life thereafter. Even if it's blipped out of your memory, even if it's made to disappear ("no, no, the whole world skipped 2008, honey, it was a calendar-correcting thing"), you'd still feel its effects.
posted by galadriel 10 June | 23:15
Wow, some great answers here. Galadriel, that was so very insightful.

As for me, I'm afraid this is a question that I am simply unable to answer.
posted by flapjax at midnite 11 June | 00:30
No. I'd not give up my sense of self. Ok, I was happy, but at what price? Was I cruel, insensate, behaving completely outside social norms? Not only would I loose a year of my own memory, but I'd be ignorant of others' potential memories of me formed during that time. It is the very thing that is so terrifying about "The Exorcist" or any madness or dementia. No way.
posted by rainbaby 11 June | 06:44
No. I'm too paranoid. Sure, you could say that I'd had a year of perfect happiness and bliss but if I can't remember it, who's to say it happened? Maybe I spent that year slaving away in the doom mines. Maybe I was an intergalactic secret agent of unspeakable evil! I don't trust the world enough to go for a year of happiness that I can't remember. Hell, I'm not even sure I trust my memories anyway and I definitely can't construe losing a whole year as a good thing.
posted by mygothlaundry 11 June | 07:18
Yes, I would do it.
Even if one does not remember any specifics of the experience, a year spent immersed in a state of perfect happiness cannot help but have deep, positive, and long-lasting effects upon your mental make-up and being. If nothing else, your psyche would come-away utterly refreshed and cleansed, even if you cannot recall how it got that way.

Of course, whether that effect is permanent is a whole other question. I kind of doubt it, given the aggressive way life's events chip-away at one's psyche. But, I think, a year in perfect happiness would probably serve to give one a decent bulwark against the fresh onslaught.
posted by Thorzdad 11 June | 07:58
Nope. A year where I would be unable to take photographs and reminisce while looking at them? No ability to actually learn or grow from the experiences I had? No ability to dwell deep, and stay grounded, in the moment and the source of those moments? That just wouldn't work for me.
posted by stynxno 11 June | 10:34
Nope. I could use that year to build memories instead.
posted by tortillathehun 11 June | 10:46
As far as I know this already happened, things you have memory of didn't happen cause memory is how we construct reality.

This is a silly question.
posted by The Whelk 11 June | 12:51
I mean besides the health benefit, say you spend a Year blacked out but in great shape , isn't this the premise behind Dollhouse?

But things you can't remember ...did not happen, so unless there is a noticeable, actual change that can be measured as a result of the year spent under, then it doesn't matter.
posted by The Whelk 11 June | 12:53
Hard question. Because I think the memories are more important than the events, I don't think I would like this. I can't help but think that I would be left with a vague sense of loss somehow - kind of feeling that things used to be better, but not understanding why.
posted by dg 11 June | 15:27
No, because I love the patterns of life, all it's ups and downs. It's not easy at times, but to me every day brings something worthwhile/memorable. I don't ever want to lose a block of time and have no memory of it.

In a way, I think the memories of the experiences is more important, because you learn from the journey of the experience, and the memory teaches you life lessons.
posted by redvixen 12 June | 12:28
Considering some of the stuff in my life in the last three years I would totally take the year of happiness. During that year I would constantly thank my future self for the gift of peace. Having been the one that made the choice in the first place, I would sort of be "taking one for the team in the future".

Heck this is an easy choice for me. I often make it on a Friday night before going to the bar. "Here's to you, Saturday me. You will suffer for the fun I'm having now."
posted by Splunge 13 June | 03:20
Japan World Cup 3 || Happy Birthday kkokkodalk!