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Does race memory exist?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Catriona, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I often wonder if certain genetic traits include things we do not fully understand.
    On my father's side, I come from a Highland/Island line in the North West Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

    There are quite a few stories (some written down) about second-sight on my paternal grandmother's side and I sometimes wonder if there was anything in it apart from intuition and knowledge of the area and people.
    I have had a couple of times where I have 'known' things which were unknowable at the time but which turned out to be true very shortly afterwards.
    The other thing is that feeling of either great pleasure about a place, or a feeling of dread in other places. I've even had that here, where I had no idea awful things had happened at a time in the past.

    Now I can accept it is all in the sensitivity about people or places, but sometimes I do wonder if we really do feel more comfortable in a place we might never have visited before. A feeling of belonging there.

    Just wondered if anyone else ever feels the same way. I'd love to hear about it.
  2. Mike40

    Mike40 Well-Known Member

    Hi - not really looked into this but certainly had the feelings you’ve described - my family originally came from St Luke’s and Cripplegate (the part of London that runs up from the ‘city finge’ up towards Islington) but in the middle of the 19th century got aspirational to get out of the poor working-class area and moved up to Barnsbury (Islington proper). At one point, due to having an extremely successful furniture manufacturing business, they owned 3 houses in Thornhill Square (£3 million each in today’s valuation) until the Spanish Flu took my great-grandfather and my great uncle in 1918/9, while my grandfather succumbed to cancer in 1920. With the male line wiped out, and the business gone, my mother and grandmother moved to the leafy suburbs and rebuilt their lives. I never got to know the details until after they were both gone (valid reasons, so they thought) but while researching for a book I visited the areas mentioned. Although I wasn’t in possession of the facts at the time, I couldn’t have explained why I felt such an incredibly strong feeling of being ‘at home’. Now, in possession of the facts, perhaps I can. What makes it more ‘strange’ is that while almost all of the working-class areas of Islington have been overtaken by gentrification, resulting in great demographic change, St Luke’s has been extensively redeveloped by the council while Cripplegate was thoroughly remodelled by the Luftwaffe on the night of December 29, 1940 - leaving nothing but ruins. Does folk-memory remain in areas such as where the Barbican Centre and the Golden Lane estate now stand on the site of those old, destroyed, sweatshops and squalid, overcrowded houses? - and if it does, can it be tapped into after almost 150 years by an unknowing descendant? I’d have to say “yes” - but I can’t explain it. Nor why it is so comforting and reassuring to know that I’m one tiny element in the continuity of London.

    This is certainly something I would be extremely interested to follow up and look forward to hearing further, similar, experiences.

    Take care,

    (sorry, didn’t mean to go on so much)
    Catriona likes this.
  3. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Good to hear your story and to know someone else has experienced the same feelings. It is the feeling of coming home which is strongest for me, although like some other older people in the area where my grandmother and two generations lived, I share their feeling of great sadness about the small Island which lost its inhabitants about 1920 and has been in private hands since (sold). I went once and it was as if ghosts were all around me. I couldn't wait to get the boat back to the mainland nearby.
  4. Mike40

    Mike40 Well-Known Member

    Nailed it!! Although I live in the ‘leafy suburbs’, I have been back innumerable times just to soak up the atmosphere and connections - there’s definitely something there.......as there’s always a wrench when I leave, however temporarily.

    Coincidentally, going back tomorrow for the first time since all this ‘rona malarkey.

    Take care,
    Catriona likes this.
  5. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I've nothing very much like that, but I do have an incredibly strong sense of deja vu - for places I have never been to, and never even seen pictures of. Certainly doesn't happen all the time, but I can go to some places and find I recognise it, and can tell exactly what's round each corner. I think I know these places from dreams, often from years before. It's very odd.
    Catriona likes this.
  6. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    What a fascinating thread.
    Sorry that I have nothing to add, but perhaps wish I had. (Currently trying to find if (and where) my maternal great grandfather on my father's side, worked in shipbuilding in the London area. On the male side the family had Stewart & Cameron roots in the Dundee area.)
  7. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    My mother was from the North and thought she was psychic, or at least was in some way "sighted". It was a constant theme when I was growing up and she did seem to be quite telepathic. I remember one occasion about 9 where I went to the shop to get some sweets and "heard" her asking me to get something else, which I got. No idea how.

    I do lots of very accurate predictions of what's going to happen in TV progs, game shows etc, but i think it is more psychology and logic than anything transcendental.
    Catriona likes this.
  8. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Me too.
    Catriona likes this.
  9. dream_police

    dream_police Well-Known Member

    Other than deja vu, I have nothing like you say. I am fascinated by coincidences though, which seem to happen a lot for me. Today for example. Every now and then my iPhone gives an alert of a "memory"from my photos on the phone. Today, out on a ride I stopped to look at/take a photo of some alpacas in a field. As I was about to take a photo, a memory appeared on the phone from Peru, last June, of me holding a baby alpaca. How spooky is that?
    Catriona likes this.
  10. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I wonder if it hits us in different ways?
    Both you and Mike with deja vu (which I have never really experienced) and others of us feeling a strong connection to a place and the emotions it generates.
    Very interesting.
  11. dream_police

    dream_police Well-Known Member

    I heard somewhere that Deja Vu is easily explained. In that our brain "sees" the scene or whatever before we acknowledge the view giving the impression that we have seen it before (or something along those lines anyway)
    Catriona likes this.
  12. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    There are explanations for deja vu involving the speed with which your memory registers something you see before your conscious registers it. It is not often someone tells someone else what is going to be there. It is more a feeling when it happens.
    Benchista likes this.
  13. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    They say that when we have that weird moment when looking at a clock with a second hand - and it appears to move backwards, just momentarily.

    As for co-incidences? I find that with words. I might be thinking of a word or it was in the crossword, and was not a usual everyday word - and I can guarantee hearing it at least three times in a short time. Weird.
  14. Mike40

    Mike40 Well-Known Member

    Not heard the clock one before but maybe just not caught it?

    I have got one other - my first visit to Italy was to Bologna. Why there? Why not Rome or any of the other Italian cities? Florence? Naples? Palermo? Milan? I have no idea to this day. This was all pre-internet and in the days when brochures were obtained from travel agents and perused at home. This was even in the days before the fascists bombed Bologna railway station so there was no implanted memory there. On arrival at Bologna, at the top of the aircraft steps, having been blasted with a temperature that was probably around 35 degrees (it was August), there was that incredibly strong 'I'm home' feeling........now, how on earth could that be? Never been there, never been in the country, never even given either the country or the city much, if any, thought before.

    When growing up there was only my mother and myself. My dear father had done a runner a couple of days after I was born (surely I didn't look that bad?) and I never had the opportunity to meet him. My mother was always extremely secretive about him and, to be totally honest, I grew up with no interest in the man at all. All I knew was that he'd been in the Indian Army during WW2 and returned to UK, with my mother, after Indian independence.

    Inevitably, when she died there were papers to go through, old photographs and old letters. I did discover a great deal and one of the things I unearthed was that while my mother remained in India during the war - on war service - dear old dad had been with his regiment - in Italy. Just managed to miss the Sicily invasion but flogged up the right-hand side and was there when the war ended. Managed to wangle remaining in Italy to assist with the Marzobotto war crimes investigation. Equally inevitably he adopted the 'to the victors, the spoils' approach to post-war life and acquired a 'blonde contessa' as companion.

    And where did this Italian adventure happen? Bologna, of course, where I felt so 'at home' in somewhere I'd never been before.

    Take care,
    John Farrell and Catriona like this.
  15. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I’ve experienced that, but not for many years now. I remember the strangeness of the experience. I guess it must be common for “sense of deja vu” to be well understood.
    Catriona likes this.
  16. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I've had the opposite of the deja vu experience, one day when I was driving home from Auckland city, reached the end of the northwestern motorway, turned left, and found I didn't recognise where I was - even though I had driven that way many times before. We were coming up to a junction, and I had to ask my wife which way I needed to turn, to get on the road home.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
    Catriona likes this.
  17. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    Some form of pattern recognition? You've never been to that place, but have been to similar places; or you recognize arrangements within the general area as similar to arrangements you have seen in similar positions before.

    If you see what I mean...
  18. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    Couldn't have put it better myself that's exactly the same as me.
  19. Fen

    Fen The Destroyer

    I first went to York when I was 7yrs old, it was a school trip and I got separated from the rest of the group in the morning.

    I wandered around quite happy by myself. It didn't worry me as I already knew the layout of the city, directions and places to go. I'd never been there before, never seen maps or photographs of York. But I knew it as well as I knew my home village.
    Catriona likes this.
  20. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I really don't believe that claim.

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