As a writer I often draw on history. At times it is my own, at other times it is something I have inadvertently witnessed. Whenever an idea coaxes me into action, I find myself wishing that I could go back – if only as an observer – so that the experience could be fresh on my retina before my fingers take to the keyboard.
There is a dystopic aspect to this intrusion into the past that I had not considered until I came across Charlie Brooker’s Dark Mirror. The final episode of his first trilogy explored the drawbacks of technological advances that would allow us the power to record and play back every event we had ever witnessed through the aid of a chip or ‘Grain’ implanted under our skin.
It made for uncomfortable viewing. The story focused on the implosion of a marriage, fuelled by the jealous paranoia of a husband who invades his wife’s privacy in order to confirm his suspicions. The broader implications of this technological invasion – what one may read in-between the lines – were far more disturbing, touching on the theme of alienation: the detachment that technology has brought into our lives. Facebook snooping comes to mind.
If you could relive the best moments of your life, replay them in detailed sequence again and again, would you choose to do so? Would the other side of the coin make you weary of wielding such power: having every mistake, every disappointment and failure only one click away…
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I found Black Mirror an intelligent, thought-provoking production. I saw it a while ago so can’t recall too many details, except that 2 of the 3 episodes were brilliant. The memory one that you elude to, is incredibly powerful and has such aspects of future possibilities as to make it a little – as you say – uncomfortable, daunting.
To answer your question, Vic, I can’t say if I would use that power. It would be tempting but then all tampering with artificial intelligence, with memory could unleash a mine-field.
Great post (as usual) 🙂
Thank you, Lee-Anne. It would be a mine-field certainly.
I am rather fond of Charlie Brooker’s work. There were a few reviews that complained about the “domestic” aspect of this episode when there were so many avenues to be explored (such as the control that would give governments over people’s lives – Big Brother society), but I think that big ideas benefit from the confines of domesticity.
I can’t help but write from things I know, otherwise it seems to me to be a bit ‘thin’. I find fiction a bit of a struggle, and if I leave it, then come back I find it even harder.
I’ve found this something of a trap, looking back to want to ‘improve things’ its like that Harry Potter mirror, I could look at it for days and waste away, nothing is achieved by it. The best thing to do is to move on, for me anyway. Nice thought provoker 🙂
I love the connection you made with the mirror of Erised. You are right, Scarlet. The effect is likely to be much the same.
Lol I just Googled the name, I thought I might have accidentally come across some to her mirror that JK used as a basis to hers 😉
The whole Idea that I write is still odd to me, and that people read it more so, but almost all of it comes from the past, I wonder if its not true of everyone, in that it’s self concious that drives all this and off memory, that could be my bias, and confusing.
That is the ultimate question for a writer… where do those stories come from. Perhaps in writing we transform the past, reinventing it?
For me I think it’s ordering it, putting perspective to things that need sorting out – cheap therapy 😉
I would only want to have that power if I also had the power to go back and change the mistakes I have made.
Would you not be afraid of the butterfly effect? Every change to the past will ripple through and change everything that follows. And since in many ways we are the cumulative result of all of our experiences, what if you wake up the following day and do not recognise the person in the mirror? 🙂
PS: I think you’ve inadvertently given me an idea for a story. This will go into my little treasure box.
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I would not like to relive any moments, I might miss the ones I’m having now.
A very wise decision 🙂