The memory ladder

Featured in

  • Published 20160202
  • ISBN: 978-1-925240-80-1
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THERE APPEARS TO be a deep attraction to the naive idea that we can re-create ourselves and our societies at will, with no regard to who we are and where we’ve come from. A veritable Everest of blogs and posts and articles and books and speeches reinforce our desire to believe that ‘today is the first day of the rest of your life’ – that the goal of never-ending happiness requires only a few days’ study of mindfulness manuals (or any of their predecessors) to effect a seismic shift in our wellbeing.

This fantasy permeates politics as well. Even a cursory look at the language and images embedded in politics and public policy shows that asking serious questions about what the past can tell us about the likely effectiveness of proposed policies is rare. Even more uncommon is any deep exploration of what we know about human behaviour and how social structures are likely to influence it. This deficiency is nowhere more obvious than in the political class, who seem to be rendered tongue-tied – or resort to soothing, infantilising babble – whenever uncomfortable truths are broached.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

The limits of dominion

Essay …We are, we often feel, living on the edge of something good. Nothing disturbs us. Winds from Africa and Indian waves bear...

More from this edition

Barriers to understanding

EssayIt’s hard to be literate and numerate without attending school; it’s hard to find work without a basic education; and it’s hard to live...

The limits of ‘new power’

EssayIN THE PAST decade, using the internet to harness people’s passion and direct it in support of issues and causes has become an important...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.