Do You Know Who You Are?

by jsdraven on April 3rd, 2014

Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you?

The two questions seem rather inconsequential and irrelevant, without context. I mean, of course you know who you are. And of course you’d know what happened to you, right?

Memory recall, unfortunately and as I’m sure we all know, isn’t reliable. And although eyewitness testimony is admissible in court as evidence, it’s typically a means to gather more evidence; line-ups, warrants, subpoenas, questioning, etc.

The frightening reality of it all comes down to memory itself and how it works. Some findings by those incredible folks at MIT reveal that the mechanics of memory recall for false and real memories are the same. That is, your brain files/stores false memories the same way it would a real one.

The scientists went further into how memories worked, including creating new ones for lab mice. You should really check out the study.

This all got me thinking though. Are any of my memories real? Am I really me? Did my childhood ever happen? Did yesterday happen? Did today happen?

I mean, the questions were inevitable, really. When research like this comes out and tells you memories can be falsified, you can’t help but question. Of course, the writer side of me also runs wild with ideas. It also reminded me of some of Philip K. Dick’s work. A lot of his work centers around altered states of mind; A Scanner Darkly, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, and my favorite, Paycheck.

Although much of the research at MIT is centered around the creation and retrieval of memories, my mind questioned the ‘why’ behind it. More specifically, why would someone want to create false memories? And, would someone want to replace real memories with false ones? If so, why?

That’s sort of what led me to The Envoy’s Interlude, my upcoming short story. Granted, it was a small spark, but nonetheless it got my mind thinking. What I’ve come up with is a story about truth and our desire to obtain it. With this desire comes the journey, and the lengths and sacrifices we’re willing to take to get there. After all, in the end, it’s these truths and these memories of our past that define us.

So, I ask one more question.

Do you know why you’re here?

One Response to “Do You Know Who You Are?”

  1. John Ross Barnes Says:

    He looked over at her and said Doc, I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking.”. “Of course you have.”

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