The theory of the madeleine?

Most probably any great culinary experience will bring your mind back to the exact setting where it happened. If you concentrate just a little bit, you will precisely remember what were your thoughts at the very moment when you took the first bit of that delicious masterpiece, the setup details, the occasion why you were there and how did you share that experience with the universe!

It is amazing what a powerful effect can a deja-vu memory trigger. The entire chan of thoughts that burst back into our minds and senses and how it is all associated with the little simple, but mouth watering cookies from Lorraine. Have you ever heard of the theory of  the madeleine? Maybe probably not, in which case it won’t take you long to agree to this association. It goes about Marcel Proust’s perception / definition of time, as being both a destructive and a positive element, whose essence can be grasped only by intuitive memory.

(Sounds very philosophical, but bare with me.) The flow of time is explained in the light of theory of french philosopher Henri Bergson. So basically the contact with a certain object ( the madeleine in this case) would instantly trigger a flashback and take you back in time to the moment when those memories happened.

In the novels series À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), Proust creates a character (Swann) that, while eating a madeleine, remembers many things that hitherto were waiting patiently, hidden deep somewhere in the recesses of his mind. These memories had happened back time, were lived facts and stories, only waiting to be reactivated, thus the latency.

This mechanism exists in any culture, happens to us on daily basis, but I became aware of it only when it was pointed out in the form of this theory. Ever since, every time my thoughts start invading my mind and senses with such frenzy, I think first of (the theory of) the madeleine.