Memories are fragile, easily lost, easily altered

2017-04-09 08.09.26
The view from my bedroom in the morning

If you have not watched Ghost in the Shell, go do it, even if you are not an anime fan. The movie is heavy on tech, in a futuristic world where human-computer interfaces are commonplace, and makes you wonder if we are heading towards a similar world (just look at what Elon Musk is doing with his new company announced the same week the movie was released)

Fun fact: despite what it looks like, the city shots were filmed entirely in New Zealand, not Hong Kong/Japan/any other Asian city you can think of.

I was first acquainted with the series from the Stand Alone Complex VCDs that I bought (and still keep – yes, Veee-CDs… Shows how long it has been around!). Now the series has been brought onto the Hollywood big screen amid lots of talk about whitewashing the characters. I understand some of the arguments about why this might be the case but look, a human brain in a cyborg body should not be bound by pitiful discussions about race and whatnot! She can be any race she wants to be!

In the movie, Major gradually comes to the realisation that her memories are not what they seem to be – they had been “written” into her, false memories implanted so she can serve her corporate overlords without questioning her dubious past. In that way, while Major remembers 100% of her history,  her brain’s memories had been susceptible to alterations.

As a human being I am equally susceptible to memory loss over time. This morning, as I lay half-awake in bed, fragments of memories of the past floated to me and I caught myself realising that I could not tell whether they actually happened, or were past memories being jumbled up in a big mess. Did Sydney really have that nice beachfront cafe, or was it Melbourne? I visited that place when I was such a tiny kid I can’t really recall anymore.

Then I start to think in more recent terms, and the same type of questions came up. What was at Nara when I visited (except for deers)? Was the steak I ate at Kobe really that good? We tend to remember the general details, the broad strokes, but our brain is programmed to lose the specifics over time to prevent being overwhelmed with details.

Our memories are so fragile. And that is why I have decided that from today onwards, I will make a much more conscious effort to take more photos around me. It can be as mundane as the photo above, a view so integrated into my life that that I have taken for granted. But one day I will move away from here, and had I left it to my brain, memories of this place will begin their long-term decline. We are blessed with technology in so many ways, so why not use it to preserve the moments and thoughts that we hold dear?