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28 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 25 August 2012

Exploring the mysterious realm of memory, Bridget Kendall discusses with her three guests how and why memories are formed, and what impact they have.

Dorothy Bohm is one of Britain's most important documentary photographers of the twentieth century. Now aged 88, she sees her photos as a way of capturing time and holding it.

So what is memory? Raymond Tallis is a professor of geriatric medicine and a former researcher in clinical neuroscience, who now writes about science from a philosophical point of view. He says that memory is a profoundly mysterious experience and it is impossible to give a neurological account of how memories are formed.

The Russian-born writer and broadcaster Zinovy Zinik contributes some memories of his own, including his experience of unravelling his family history, which formed the backbone of his most recent book, "History Thieves".

  • Dorothy Bohm

    Dorothy Bohm

    Dorothy Bohm doesn’t like to waste a single frame, so she waits patiently until the picture is perfect and only then releases the shutter. Even though we usually have no idea who the people or places in her photographs are, they still bring memories flooding in. What’s the secret? And how much can photography act as a ‘limit to forgetfulness’?

    Dorothy Bohm
  • Dorothy Bohm - Approach to the Castle

    Dorothy Bohm - Approach to the Castle

    'Approach to the Castle' Lisbon 1963

    © Dorothy Bohm

  • Dorothy Bohm - Haifa

    Dorothy Bohm - Haifa

    'Haifa' Israel 1959

    © Dorothy Bohm

  • Raymond Tallis

    Raymond Tallis

    Polymath Raymond Tallis starts his exploration of memory from a paradox: a memory is a ‘presence of something that’s no longer present’. How is that possible? And what is the relationship between individual and pooled memories, such as history?

    Raymond Tallis
  • Zinovy Zinik

    Zinovy Zinik

    The inspiration for Zinovy’s book 'History Thieves' came from remembering an unsual dream: he dreamt of a large, old, somewhat ramshackle, red brick house which – naturally – he assumed to be somewhere in England. Imagine his surprise when, a few months later and fully awake, he saw this very house standing …. in Berlin. He’d never been to Berlin before. How to explain this?

    Zinovy Zinik


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