Remembering to Forget

Interesting combo of movies this weekend. Nizzibet and I watched The Final Cut on Saturday. On Sunday we went to JayDogg and TwoM’s new place to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on their ginormous TV. Both movies feature a technology that deals with memory.

In Cut there is a biological implant that records the sights and sounds of a person’s life. The story concerns a cutter, a person who edits the recorded memories into a presentable “rememory” after the person’s death.

In Sunshine there is a doctor who has invented a technology that he uses to erase unwanted memories.

Both movies are basically set in the present. There are no other special technologies in the stories, no evidence that the stories take place in “The Future”. Of the two, Sunshine is the prize. Its characters are messed up in the way people I know are messed up. Its story deals with the implications of erasing memories in ways that are surprising and clever and very well thought out.

In contrast, Final Cut occurs like an early draft for a better story. I enjoyed it and I spent a good chunk of Sunday thinking of implications that the movie doesn’t consider. (I won’t go into the character of the protagonist. He’s a cutter. A man who takes the lives of others and edits them into brief good times highlights. Anybody guess that he is distanced from his own life, only alive in dealing with the recordings of the lives of others?) Thing is, the memory recorder implact has apparently been around for at least 50-60 years. But –
Only one company controls the technology.
The memories are only accessible after death.

Not likely. No technologies last 50 years without being hacked and copied and built on. The original premise is weird too. The implants are biological. They are put into the brains of the unborn at some unspecified time prior to birth. The memories are then accessible after death. In normal circumstances that means that the persons who decide to put in the implants will be dead by the time the implants recordings are available. It’s grandparents having themselves recorded for their grandchildren. That’s some interesting long term planning.

Humans are egotistical. Humans play with technology. In fifty years someone would have figured out ways to access and download the memories of living people. Wills and contracts would deal with memory ownership. “I give my children access to memories of their childhood but to my rotten ex-spouse – NOTHING!” There would be memory artists – people who live exciting lives for the rest of us to experience.

Strange Days deals with some criminal possibilities for memory technology. It’s also livelier film than Cut. Not necessarily better but definitely livelier.

Aside from world building I spent time considering what I would remember. And I spent little time considering what I would forget. There are things I’d be happy to forget but nothing that I need to forget enough to have somebody else hack my brain. Lots I’d like to remember more clearly than I do.