The Theosophical Forum January 1944

WHAT IS PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY? S. H. Wylde

The naturalist, W. H. Hudson, was remarkable for what is called a photographic memory. As a boy he had lived on an estancia in the wild pampas country of the Argentine, but most of his life was spent in England, and in his extreme old age, nearly seventy years after his boyhood experiences, he was able to recall with the scientist's aptitude for vivid detail, peculiarities of flowers, birds, strange light effects, gestures, touches of character, oddities of behavior, and a thousand incidents, both trivial and important, as though he had witnessed them yesterday. In his book Far Away and Long Ago he says that he could "hear" the songs, call-notes, and alarms of one hundred and fifty-four species of American birds, in his sequestered English village, as vividly as if they had been perched outside his window.

This photographic memory is something that puzzles the psychologist. The Theosophist says that only the universal prevalence of astral substance can explain it. Man's organism shares in this astral medium. The substantial aspect of his mind is composed of it, and upon this sensitive film are impressed permanent and accurate records of all that impinges upon our senses. Our power to recall these pictures at will depends on the control we have of Mind. As a rule our minds are wayward and untrained; they fly from object to object, or remain inert. But if our consciousness works through mind to fix the point of attention, then the "snapshot" is not relegated to the limbo of the sub-conscious, as the case of the hypnotic subject will show, but remains instantly available at any time. Modern man knows little of the mysteries of mind. It is a generator of tremendous creative force. Its powers of memory are the least of its capacities, for the Adept can use it to mold astral substance at will.


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