Spacing Lee B. Montgomery
Searching For Emily

Searching For Emily

This is rather unusual account of a late onset female memory artist known as Emily, who was the subject of a study conducted by Dr. David Cooper, a psychiatric researcher over a period of a year, beginning in 1999. Although throughout this period, Dr. Cooper gathered a great deal of material that explored the patterns and devices of an inexhaustible memory as well as the personality features of a mnemonic mind, the data was not assembled until the summer of 2000 when a group of visiting research scientists gathered with Cooper at a psychiatric research retreat on a remote island in the Northern Hemisphere north of the Bay of Fundy, east of Maine. It’s worth noting that the visiting scientists had no been invited to assemble the story of Emily nor Dr. Cooper, but to share new research efforts in memory and to hear one of the most respected psychiatrists in the world speak of hyperamnesic memory disorders, and in particular, the case of Emily. It was to be an extraordinary opportunity to shed some light on a much-neglected area of science for few memory prodigies had been studied in such detail, but of course much like life, things did not go as planned. When the scientists met in early May, they were all in good health, with the exception of Dr. Cooper, who seemed, apparently, quite distraught over the disappearance of Emily who had vanished in midair a few months before.

It is true, Cooper said, that before Emily disappeared she had been talking about this feeling of being lighter than air, and it was this feeling, she admitted, that was difficult to describe, but the kind of thing that built itself inside out, gently, night after night, until she began to know that whatever had happened in that elevator months before was, perhaps, not surprising, happening again. It is a sense, she told Cooper, maybe not a sense but more of a hunch of experiencing something uplifting, of having bones like feathers or perhaps no bones at all. It was a Saturday in March in 2001 when Emily told Cooper this. They had been walking along the shore of the island when Emily stopped and looked at Cooper and whispered, “The thing is I believe that I may not have any more bones in my body. Do you see any bones in there and if so tell me where they are.”