Sunday, 24 March 2013

DOES THIS PRESS THE BUTTONS OF YOUR MIND?



Warning:  Readers may find the following post tedious and self-indulgent in the extreme.  However, I'm trying to get my thoughts in order as I wrestle with difficult-to-define (for me) concepts floating around the vast and nebulous caverns of my mind.  Being compelled to think as I struggle to find the words which best convey elusive ideas seems the only chance I have of landing anywhere near the mark, so hopefully you'll come along for the trip.  (Might be worth the journey.)

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Association is a strange sort of a thing.  You know, when you look at something (or someone) and you associate it (or them) with a time, place, or event in your life.  And the association is usually inextricably linked and cannot be transferred from its fixed place in the scheme of things.  (Usually, but not absolutely always, as we shall see.)

Case in point:  I associate the comic called WHAM! and one of its strips, FRANKIE STEIN, with a particular house and neighbourhood where I once lived.  I didn't start buying the comic until late 1966 or early 1967, even though the comic had first hit the stands in 1964.  Indeed, by the time it became one of my regular weeklies, the days of KEN REID's Frankie Stein strip were numbered, the majority of them having appeared in the period well before I became a reader.

But... whenever I look at Wham! or Frankie, I immediately think of the house I lived in at that time (let's call it House C) and I find it difficult to imagine the comic ever having existed before then.  Fact is, though, that Wham! came out when I was living in what I'll refer to as House A and remained undiscovered by me in my next abode (House B), saving its delights until House C, which I moved into near the end of 1965.

I now possess earlier issues, published during my time in Houses A and B, but I simply can't associate them with the years I resided in either domicile - with two possible exceptions.  I can almost imagine myself looking at the cover to Wham! #1 in the front garden of House A, and, if I try really hard, I can again just about imagine my local newsagent's (between House A and B) stocking the photogravured early issues of the comic with BIFF on the cover.  That's because they're so quintessentially '60s that I can shoehorn them into that particular period of my life retroactively.

I can't maintain the illusion for very long though, before it dissipates, and House C and its surrounding environs reclaim the association for themselves - even though these earlier comics don't 'belong' in that later period.  (Still with me?)

However, there is one copy of Wham! (#134) which I can (and do) legitimately associate with House A and its area, although only in a secondary way.  That's because I had it with me when we visited friends in our old neighbourhood one night, and I remember looking at my old house on the way there and back again, comic in hand.  However, it's not my main association, that being my then-current home (C), and also the route along to the old village quarter of our town on the day of the issue's purchase.

Riveting stuff this, no?  (No!)  Consider this:  The JAMES BOND movie, GOLD-FINGER, was released in 1964.  I, however, didn't see it until 1972, so, naturally enough, my personal associations with the film are '70s ones.  (Although, in seeming contradiction to that - and the whole theme of this thread - I have no difficulty placing in its proper time period.  Maybe that's because I associate Bond with the 1960s due to having a CORGI TOYS ASTON MARTIN DB5 when I was a boy.  Therefore, I have a previous ['60s] frame of reference for the movie from before I even saw it.)

I find it endlessly fascinating that something which originated in a specific point in time has a continuing resonance beyond what one would imagine would be its fixed frame of reference.  Goldfinger, to me, belongs to the era of The BEATLES, but also has '70s associations with The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL because that was the comic I was regularly buying when I first saw it.

Anyway, I could go on forever on this subject (and never quite get there), so I'll draw things to a close for now.  But what's the point of it all?  I'm not quite sure, to be honest.  Something to do with certain associations being fixed and immovable - or at least appearing so from our perspective - but not quite always adhering to logical patterns or sequences because some associations are influenced by other factors without us ever being fully aware of it.

As I said, it's an idea that tugs at me from the edges of my mind, but remains just far enough beyond my reach for me to get properly to grips with.  (Maybe one day.)  In the meantime, enjoy the first-ever appearance of Frankie Stein from Wham! #4, 1964.  It was published when I was living in House A, but I never got to see it 'til I was living in House D - although it reminds me of House C whenever I look at it..

Ouch!  My head hurts!     

11 comments:

DeadSpiderEye said...

There's a whole bunch of psychology theory about association, someone once tried to explain some of it to me. I wasn't really listening, she had nice knockers. It seems though that your -cognitive- memory works better when you're happy, with most people that is. Negative associations, according to her, are usually manifested in a more visceral way because the lizard inside your head remembers but you don't. I suppose that rings true but I was never happy much as a kid. There's a couple of strong associations from childhood that do linger, both linked to Ramsgate funnily enough. You Only LIve Twice, because they played the record constantly at the bumper cars and the sound would carry over the beach in the evenings. Jack Kirby's Kamandi because we couldn't get DC comics at home and they sold 'em at the sea front. Other than that my associations are based on emotional or sensual connotations, things like: taste, smell, the sensation of the sun on your skin.

Kid said...

'Smell' is one that sometimes starts me off. I remember walking past a shop once and catching a whiff of disinfectant - it instantly reminded me of my primary school toilets which I hadn't thought of in years.

baab said...

your situation regarding living in the same houses at different times coupled with your attempts at tricking your memory banks,is not common!

My younger brother attempted to buy the last 'family' home because he believed there was happiness wrapped up in the bricks,he did not succeed.
I am quite glad,I would have an emotional breakdown if I had to walk in the door.
Not that I associate it with bad memories,there is a mixture of all emotions and situations,Its just that when I think of it as a reality I get really nauseous and have to switch off the memory attack.

I am not good with reminiscing.
I had made up my mind that when I could no longer do anything other than a bit of thinking,then I would reminisce.
And until that time I would be creating the content.

i will need to come back to this, I live in a house very similar to the 'family home'.
It sits in a similar footprint,faces the galaxy from the same position is only about half a mile away from the first and I am currently re-creating the interior and exterior to be a more efficient,improved version of the former.
Oh my.
(pondering)

DeadSpiderEye said...

School bogs, ours were a nightmare, I remember the Izal and the queues at the drinking fountain, they used to like the to keep the kids dehydrated in my school. One of the favourite pranks of certain kids was to smash the head of a kid into the fountain while he was drinking, more that once I'd seen it covered in blood.

Kid said...

Baab: Tricking my memory banks? H'mm, well, yes and no. What I was trying to do was imagine a 'what if?' scenario. You know - like if I had never moved from House A (for example), would I be able to view toys, objects, comics, etc., (which I associated with subsequent homes in later years) in an earlier context from the ones I had actually originally experienced them? I found that it was very hard to do.

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DSE: That probably happened in my Secondary school, but (fortunately) not in my Primary school.

Anonymous said...

I love those brief memories associated with items from the past - I used to think they were perhaps "rosy retrospective" memories ( the remembering of the past as having been better than it really was) but pretty sure they are mostly just good memories for the most part based on factual events ie Mighty World of Marvel No1 (and as such the run of that book) remind me when I lived in Rutherglen (near Glasgow) as I bought the first issue in RS McColls newsagents in that town (despite living for the vast majority of my time as a reader of that book elsewhere) - Ken Reids Frankie Stein reminds me of a time when I lived in Cambuslang (a bit further away from Glasgow) when I was ill and off school (and I vividly recall pouring over that annual) - like you I'm not sure I picked the comic up that regularly until 1966/67 to remember Reids work on this strip at the time but I do recall being given the WHAM annual 1967 in around March (when iIll ) in 1968 (when WHAM was probably finished / merged) but that has coloured my memory of Wham and most Odhams books - Hearing the old David Freeman top 20 jingle (that I think is used on Smooth radio now by Kid Jensen) reminds me of those K-Tel / Ronco greatest hits LPs and 1 LP in particular etc etc - - I was only recently looking through some old 1970's comics and came across a copy of Strange Tales 178 (featuring Warlock) I hadn't seen in years and it took me right back to a house we had in Lanarkshire and to my brother who read that (and only that book) in amongst that bunch of comics was JLA 94 that my dad bought me that takes me right back to a day he ran me to school early as he had a meeting to go to (I lived a bit away from my school at the time) buthe decided to have a chat with me (one of those long father son talks about football that you never forget etc) after that he bought me that comic (I can recall the newsagent as well ) 2 of my most treasured and tattered possessions as both have sadll passed on - err what was the point again ?? McScotty

Kid said...

Brilliant reminiscences, McScotty - you should have a blog of your own. (Just so long as you still comment here, of course.) Nice to see that you 'got' what I was trying to say. Was it you with whom I was 'talking' about 'Johnny's' in Rutherglen over on 'Steve Does Comics' a couple of years back? I posted photos of the shop as it was a few years ago, with the old name still visible under new paintwork in response to that 'conversation'. Did you ever see them?

Anonymous said...

Hi Kid, yes it was indeed myself you were chatting to re Johnny's in Rutherglen, a legendary newsagent (no honest it was lol) and sadly I never did see those pictures darn! McScotty

Kid said...

If you type 'Here's Johnny's!' into the BLOGGER search box at the top left-hand corner of my page, you should be able to see them.

Anonymous said...

Hi - Oh how could I have missed that blog I'm on here pretty regularly - wonderful stuff thank you for doing that, very much appreciated - It brought back the memories - Johnny’s really was a great place for comics as was Rutherglen as I remember a few places with burgeoning spinner racks (none were better than Johnny’s though) - I remember that whilst I was interested in the toys and comics (Marvel, DC, even the odd Seaboard and Warren B&W) most of my school pals visited the place for the 2 club or woodbine (cigarettes) and a match for 2 pence ( I ran with the wild lads in those days lol) - Pretty sure Johnny’s was there till at least 1973 (but could be wrong) loved the fact the lettering was still visible - McScotty :0)

Kid said...

Glad you finally got to see it. Most of my shopping at Johnny's was done in the days of ol' thruppeny bits, not 2ps, but I have fond memories of it all the same.

Now that I come to think of it 'though, as we usually visited my grandparents on a Sunday afternoon/evening, Johnny's would probably have been closed. (Unless it was open on Sunday afternoons.) We must have visited on the odd weekday or Saturday, because I remember being in the original shop at least once, but probably my main experience of Johnny's was looking through the window from the street.