Thursday, 31 July 2014

Different chapter, same book: the power of memory

We are constructed from memories.  We are making new ones every second.  How, what and why do we remember some things and not others?  Memories are a treasure trove of data, sensory experiences, adventures and emotions that we can process, translate and re-invent to create new stories.  

When the present becomes the past, our perception of the experience changes, undergoing a mysterious transformation.  Often it is only in hindsight that we appreciate the value of what has gone before. Regeneration is about change and transformation, and we are all – like Dr Who! - regenerating constantly.

These issues are explored in the amazing Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which I would recommend to everyone - especially if you are a writer.  In this story, the heroine is born, dies and is reborn many times, each life different, although sharing common threads.  (It reminded me of some of the ideas in the film Sliding Doors - the consequences of one action compared to another.  How the same story can have different endings, or different stories, the same conclusion). Is there such a thing as fate or is life simply a sequence of random events? 

You can check out my review of Life after Life and many others here.  It always fascinates how stories can be so differently perceived by different readers. It's one of the challenges - and magic - of being an author.

Sci-fi visionary Philip. K Dick is another writer who shares my obsession with the nature and construct of memory, a topic he explores in so many of his stories. It was a theme that haunted and obsessed him.

Does memory re-visit the past or simply re-construct it?  Is memory life itself? Is life, memory?

These are questions I keep asking.  Can we ever know the answer? 

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