austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game

How do you solve a problem with not being able to remember other people's names? This assumes you have a problem, of course. It's possible you're fine not remembering, which could be. There are over 28 problems more exciting, including ``someone keeps painting my door unattractive colors'' and the most popular problem in the world, ``don't know what to do with all these capybaras''. You should keep them in the capybara drawer.

How to handle forgetting people's names keeps occupied the minds of 16 of the world's greatest thinkers, giving some idea how the world got into its current shape. It is a stellated icosahedron, and don't think there aren't eight people worried about this. There is the approac René Descartes used, of course, to move to Stockholm and instruct the Queen of Sweden in geometry until dying of an acute triangle, but this is impractical since Sweden abolished the monarchy in 1919. People have been coming to Queen Silvia for decades, trying to explain geometry, but she keeps insisting she doesn't exist. ``What are you doing in Drottningholm Palace, then,'' they ask, and she tosses crumpled-up balls of aluminum foil as distraction and running away. Somebody should look into that, but won't like the answer.

With Sweden so difficult the next approach is simplifying the problem: if you can't remember so many names then maybe you could remember fewer names. Therefore under no circumstances continue living during the Roman Empire, when someone like Augustus Caesar could have several dozen names and pick up new ones the moment he suspect historians have started following him. And even then they'd use a fake name like ``Thurinus'' when talking with people who actually saw them face-to-face, so they'd be better able to deny everything later.

A greater simplification is to move somewhere everybody has the same name, which I find the Statistical Abstract of the United States says will be ``ISBN-13''. I may be looking at the wrong page. Unfortunately that's no long-term solution because you'll probably find is people there gather in private moments in secluded rooms to call each other by different names, and you're back where you started but surrounded by people passing themselves off as ``ISBN-13''. And you still won't be able to shake the feeling ``ISBN-13'' is the name of the 31st-century clone-android of the A Doll's House author, and you never read all the way through that in 11th Grade English, despite getting a B on the exam. You could have got an A but you wrote an answer for the public bath play instead by accident.

Some extremists suggest reinforcing the memory of someone's name by repeating it back as soon as you've heard it. This has the side benefit of making the other person feel special with how you successfully sort of remembered the name. This would work if it were possible to remember a person's name all the way to the end of a sentence like ``Pleased to meet you, whoever you are'', such as, ``Pleased to meet you, person whose name is on the tip of my tongue''. It also doesn't work when it's someone you met before whose name you should know, such as your father or Santa Claus.

You can ask for a business card, which allows the other person to ask you for a business card, and you'll end up trading the only business cards you have. These were given to you by a strange fellow hanging around the tour group when you visited Indonesia five years ago which you've never got around to cleaning out or throwing out. The other person went on the same tour. While you'll be able to bond over your memories of that strange fellow and not knowing just what he was doing, neither of you risks learning the other's name, but you'll be better on the name of that strange fellow. He was King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, raising further questions.

Most men whose name you can't remember are ``Rob''. Most women are ``Carol''. If you use these names you'll be wrong less than one-quarter the time.

Trivia: In 2006 the Unitd states recorded 509,700 total copyright claims. (Only the first four digits are significant.) Source: Statistical Abstract of the united States: 2008, United States Census Bureau. I love library book sales.

Currently Reading: Divided Highways: Building The Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life, Tom Lewis.


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