[DWJ] Forgettery

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Tue Jan 15 03:32:29 EST 2008

An interesting case in point is also a convenient ObDWJ: "Fire and Hemlock".
Here's a book that starts from the forgetting point and works back. The two
parallel sets of memory are disturbing, because to a certain degree our
memories are who we are - if we can't trust our memories, then who are we?
And it's the kind of unsettling experience I'm sure many of us have had, in
different forms.

My mother once told me of how devastated she was upon visiting Stanford,
California, to discover that a building she had remembered standing at one
address was standing somewhere else. She thought she was losing her mind. It
was only when someone told her that the building had been MOVED that she was
able to regain her equilibrium.

An opposite story was told to me by friends whose grandmother had suffered a
stroke. Upon her release from the hospital, she absolutely refused to enter
the home in which she had lived for over fifty years, and claimed it was not
the right home. Her children, confounded, asked her if there was some detail
she remembered that they could use to prove to her that it WAS her home. She
remembered that before the stroke she had been reading "Harry Potter", and
that the book was resting on her bedside table (this is why they told me the
story, I imagine). So they took her to the bedroom and showed her that
"Harry Potter" was indeed resting on the bedside table. She picked it up and
leafed through it, and finally announced that it was not her copy, as she
recalled having read a different translation. It did not help to point out
to her that the copy she was holding was in English. What a terrifying
experience that must have been.

Another ObDWJ: I think I've finally realised why the ending of "Hexwood"
always upset me (spoiler warning: if you haven't read this book and are
planning to, do not read further, this is a really big spoiler!) I couldn't
handle the Anne identity simply being written off as a false memory. Anne
was so real to me at the begining of the book, from her perspective the
ending was extremely unsatisfactory. Who was this Vierran interloper anyway?
Not the character I had bonded with at the begining of the book, that's for
sure. If an identity is remembered, then, at least emotionally, it exists -
even if it only came into being a moment ago with all the retroactive
memories intact (just ask Buffy's sister Dawn...)

"Time of the Ghost" is also interesting, as regards memory and identity.

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