Friday, 19 February 2016

Forest And Ruins

Poul Anderson, For Love And Glory (New York, 2003), Chapter XIII, pp. 78-81.

In order to decide which memories to erase, Torsten Hebo travels around on the Earth. Over eight centuries ago, he was married in a church in a town where there is now a forest. He wonders where his first wife is. She might still be alive, like him. However, for practical purposes and even for survival, he needs to preserve his more recent memories. They must even be reconstructed and reordered.

But, on the other hand, the deleted memories will be recorded on crystal and given to him for playback. Some can be virtualized. Others will be mere words and indistinct images. When reading World Without Stars, we theorized that a character wrote an autobiographical journal precisely because his memories were periodically edited. FLAG presents superior technology capable not only of deleting but also of recording and playing back.

This chapter also discloses more about Earth. People who spend most of their time communing with AI's are more interested in the occasional sensory experience of nature than in the recollection of human history. However, the database can present history in virtuality or can even physically rebuild the Parthenon, Broadway, Cape Canaveral etc. (I think that that is what the text means.) The original state of an ancient structure must be half imagined but by immense artificial intelligences utilizing every recorded datum.

I think that I would be able to find a place in such a peaceful and intellectually active social environment.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Granted, what you said about advanced technology recording deleted or erased memories for playing back by persons receiving memory editing treatments, I still think autobiographies would play a role. Not merely as a record of memories soon to be deleted, but also as a means of making sense of those memories, of what they MEANT to the authors. It would be done to help preserve the context of their lives. I doubt a mere recording could do that!

And, if MY memory is correct, I still find the Earth we see in FLAG a creepy place. Which I strongly think was deliberately meant by Anderson.