Strong Boxes vs. Filing Boxes

Another common medieval metaphor for memory is the “Thesaurus”–which means “storage room,” “treasure,” or “strong box.” As a metaphor for memory, it provides a more robust conception of memory than the banal “filing box” metaphor. Here is how Mary Carruthers describes it:

Treasuries and book-chests are not like twentieth-century filing-cabinets. They contain ‘riches,’ not documents. And their contents are valued for their richness in terms of their present usefulness, not their ‘accuracy’ or their certification of “what really happened.”


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