Mind Palace or Memory Palace

Ana Carolina Maciel



Which windows open when we go into an archive in search of primary sources?

How to deal with the fragments stored in spaces for safekeeping? How to weave a narrative with nothing more than traces, signs and indices, on which basis we may glimpse a feasible but not necessarily “real” historical horizon?

Or even, what do the archives bear witness to?

In the present communication I will analyze the mnemonic system whose origin is related to the Greek poet Simonides and was recently adapted for the BBC series Sherlock, suggestively referred to as a “MIND PALACE or “MEMORY PALACE,” a sort of psychic exercise that allows the celebrated detective to “revisit” his past. In this mental space the protagonist consults “archives” of data (text, images) that are stored there in every detail. This “power” makes him – just like the character in Borges’s short story “Funes the Memorious” – able to memorize everything, recall everything, and visualize everything.



Researcher at the Centro de Memória [Memory Center] of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas [State University of Campinas] and President of ABHO [Brazilian Oral History Association], works as a director of film documentaries. She holds a PhD in history (from UNICAMP) and a postdoctorate degree from the Museu Paulista (USP), for which she carried out stints of research at the Centre de Recherches Historiques (EHESS-CNRS). She is the author of lectures, articles and chapters dedicated to historiography, memory, and the use of audiovisual media. Her publications most notably include the book Yes, nós temos bananas (Alameda Ed., 2011), the chapter Eliane Lage. Imagem e Imaginário (in: Cinema: lanterna mágica da História e da Mitologia (Ed. da UFSC, 2009), the chapter Escrever com imagens, filmar com palavras. Documentário e historiografia: diálogos possíveis (in: Grafia da Vida, Ed Letra e Voz, SP, 2012); the chapter “Memórias Colecionáveis”. In: História Oral e Mídias. Letra e Voz, SP, 2016; the chapter Culture matérielle, trajectoire individuelle, histoire familiale témoignages audiovisuels de donateurs du Musée Paulista (USP) In: Les récits visuels de soi Mises en récit artistiques et nouvelles scénographies de l’intime . Ed. Paris Ouest, Naterre – France, 2015; and the chapter Eliane Lage: a falling star in the skies of the Tropics (in: Stars and stardom in Brazilian cinema”, Berghahn Books, 2017). She has directed various documentaries.