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On Language, Memory, and Illness
As Tony Gorry recalls scenes from his earliest childhood and adolescence, he weaves his present reality with these images to unlock meaning hidden in the remembered moments. On their surface they may appear “ordinary,” but as Memory’s Encouragement reveals, they point the way to a life well lived. Gorry also “remembers” events at which he was never present: the evening his parents first met, his father’s World War II experiences. He explores these recollections—not really memory at all—and finds them as important to the way he understands his life as those he actually lived through.
At the center of Memory’s Encouragement, Gorry writes about his decision to study Greek in his late sixties; he wanted to read Homer in the original. As he began to learn the ancient language, Gorry, one of the first PhDs in Computer Science from MIT, also came to realize that he was going to have to slow down in order to learn well.
With careful introspection about his past and courage in the face of his current cancer treatment, Gorry offers a compelling narrative about how to discover significance in one’s life.
G. Anthony Gorry is the Friedkin Professor Emeritus of Management at Rice University. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics.