Dreams, Foretellings, Foreshadowing, Prophecy and Memory

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“In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream –
Lingering in the golden gleam –
Life, what is it but a dream?”

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) from the poem A BOAT BENEATH A SUMMMER SKY


Literature has dream stories in abundance and two of the most famous are the Alice stories, namely ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS. In the latter, the nature of existence of Alice alarmingly comes into question when she sees the Red King dreaming. Alice is told it would be best not to wake him as the Red King is dreaming of Alice herself, and so, if the King woke, she would simply disappear, like a snuffed out candle. Dreaming here has become a metaphor for existence itself. Lewis Carroll’s fantasy maybe seen as a silly children’s story by some, but in truth it’s far more complex than that. Like dreams themselves.

Scientists believe that when you dream, the rational, cognitive and reflective parts of the brain are put on hold and that allows the intuitive, instinctive and creative parts of the brain go into overdrive. The consciousness that needs to rationalise the experience of daily life is switched off during sleep. What we are plugged into instead is an unrestricted instinct to explore the impossible. In our virtual reality world of dreams we create scenarios that would be impossible in our waking existence. In a way, dreams allow the sane mind to occasionally go insane in safety. Reason goes offline and in comes madness. No wonder writers and artists are so fascinated with dreams.

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You could say that imagination itself is merely another form of dreaming. In the imagination rational thought is replaced by unfettered motivations and instinct. Call ‘imagination’ what you will – the fumes of fancy, sideways logic, thinking round corners, wants as action, out-to-lunch reasoning – we need it. And that is why Granny in THE TIME THAT NEVER WAS, Book One in the SWIDGERS Time Adventure series, makes sure William, the inexperienced young hero, discover a capacity to dream. For William will need all the resources of his imagination in order to deal with the dark energy force that she knows is coming for him

Time is not what you think

In dreams, familiar objects are made unfamiliar – in Wonderland a flamingo famously becomes a croquet mallet and in the opening scene of THE TIME THAT NEVER WAS an electrical cable becomes, somehow in the mid of William, a snake. In nonsense too, the familiar is made unfamiliar by juxtaposition – for example, ‘“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages – and kings.”‘ Riddles and puzzles appear to be meaningless, yet Lewis Carroll believed that the idea of finding meaning in nonsense, riddles and puzzles was meaningful to children (and, indeed, adults). Lewis Carroll’s nonsense is not just nonsense: it is nonsense about nonsense. And the same can be said for many of Granny’s sayings in SWIDGERS.

A fascinating aspect of Time as experienced in dreaming is how its dynamics become all mixed up. What would be an extensive period of time in the waking world, travelling long distances, for examples, becomes condensed into a single point. Or a single moment in time in a dream, finding yourself in place you don’t want to be, becomes extended and seems to go on forever. Dreams then distort time or at least our sense of its duration. And that is an idea explored in many Time Tales, notably those such as THE JACKET and JACOB’S LADDER, where dreaming is key.

There’s never been a better writer who has captured the nature of dreaming better than Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. And it should be no surprise therefore that Wonderland is referenced in so many Time Tales, most notably the Korean television series ALICE. That’s a story that truly went down the rabbit hole.

“Oh, I like going down the rabbit hole. You know, it’s kind of my job.”

Ethan Hawke

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“A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you will lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep.”

A DREAM IS A WISH YOUR HEART MAKES, from Disney’s CINDERELLA, words and music by the songwriters Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston and Mack David.

The Dream Motif

The Dream as a metaphor for existence, as in that of the Red King’s dream, where waking him becomes a threat to Alice’s very being, is theme that is explored in DARK, where the existence of Adam, like that of Alice, could soon end.

In fact dreaming is a motif that runs throughout the entire series of DARK. Many episodes actually begin in one of Jonas’s dreams – often more nightmares – for Jonas to discover when he wakes up that none of it was real. Ironic indeed, because in the last episode of the final series, pretty much everything – Jonas, Martha, Adam, Eva, the eternal Time Loops created when Time stops – all come to an end as if a mere fantasy. In fact, across all three series, it’s only that dinner party in the last episode that is ‘real’. The rest is as if it was a soon forgotten dream.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, The Dream motif is there in many Time Tales. Marty in BACK TO THE FUTURE often wakes up and immediately starts asking for his mom and saying he’s just had a terrible dream. It’s there as well in DONNIE DARKO, THE JACKET and JACOB’S LADDER.

There is an area of philosophy called Epistemological Scepticism, and basically it suggests that we cannot know anything for certain. And the concept and experience of dreaming is often used in its reasoning. Dreaming is central, for example, to René Descartes’ Discourse on the Method in his MEDITATIONS. “If I believe that my dreams are real while I am experiencing them,” he enquires of himself, “then how can I tell what I am now experiencing is really real and not in fact a dream?” THE MATRIX and INCEPTION should really have mentioned Mr Descartes with at least a line saying ‘Based on an idea by’ in the credits.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu also famously asked himself a similar Dream question when one night he dreamt he was a butterfly. In his dream, he flew from flower to flower and felt free, but then awoke and realised that he was Chuang Tzu who had only been dreaming he was a butterfly. But then came the big question, “Was I Chuang Tzu dreaming I was a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly dreaming that I am Chuang Tzu?” His mother should probably have pointed out that if he were a butterfly then that made her a caterpillar, and since was no such thing, so he had better get up out of bed and chop some wood like a dutiful son and stop being silly.

Children, of course, naturally ask themselves that dream question without the aid of French or Chinese philosophers. And often this childhood fascination with dreams stays with us all our lives. Especially with writers of fiction and, perhaps most especially, with writers of Time Tales.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

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“Man cannot change or escape his time. The eye sees the present and the future.”

Salvador Dalí

Time and the Surreal

In UN CHIEN ANDALOU (An Andalusian Dog) is a 1929 Franco-Spanish silent surrealist short film created by Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. UN CHIEN ANDALOU – coming from the Spanish saying, ‘the Andalusian dog howls-someone has died!’ – has no plot in any conventional understanding of the word. Its scenes are disjointed and seemingly unconnected. Time is meaningless and the Title Cards jump around between ‘once upon a time’, ‘eight years later’ and ‘sixteen years ago’ without the characters or settings changing that much. UN CHIEN ANDALOU was inspired by Freudian theories around the concept of dream logic, where images of displacement (one thing instead of another) and condensation (bringing two ideas together as one) predominate. Buñuel was keen to avoid what was rational or had psychological or cultural explanations. The only rule was that “no idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted.”
And that included the nature of Time itself.

“The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad.”

Salvador Dalí

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“‘Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death: Fainting, despair; despairing, yield thy breath!’”

The Ghost of Buckingham to the sleeping Richard in Shakespeare’s RICHARD III

Dreams and Meanings

In the SWIDGERS book series, it is revealed that our Swidger teenage hero William has never dreamt. Ever. In fact, he does not believe Swidgers even can dream. But he’s curious about dreaming, yet Granny, who affectionately calls human beings The Commonality, says that their ability to live in a ‘second world’ should not necessarily be envied. That said, Granny understands that in the battle to come with the dark force which seeks William, imagining and dreaming will be essential.

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And it is a dream as well that helps William understand what it is to be a Swidger. For on a visit to Dungeness, it is under a starry night that Echo tells William the Swidger Fable of The Universe and The Dream. The Universe, says Echo, was once dreaming it was a real Universe and then woke up from its dream only to discover that it was. And then something made it shake in fear:

‘One night, long ago, after a dog-weary day, perhaps on an evening such as this, the Universe was fast asleep. Dreaming. And what was its fantasy? It was dreaming it had become a real Universe. Oh, such happy thoughts. But then the Universe was shaken from its sleep. Something disturbing had frightened it. The Universe slowly began to open its eyes. ‘Oh my,’ it said, suddenly seeing the deep blackness of the night, ‘it was only meant to be a dream.’ The Universe then shuddered for that night sky was now as real as real can be. And cold. And lonely. And lost. Oh, if only it could go back to its dream, thought the Universe, it had been such a happy dream where all was good and pure and in its place. So that’s what the Universe tried to do. Remember its dream. But somehow it was always just out of reach. But, William Arthur, our Universe never gave up. It’s still hoping, one day, to dream its dream again. If Time will allow. And when it does, all will be well once more.

‘You see, that is what we are, young Swidger,’ Echo whispers to William, ‘the hope of a dream in a world, a sad world, that awoke too soon.’

Just a silly story, thinks William, but that night, William dreams for the first time. It’s a dream as crazy as any The Commonality has ever had, yet even in its absurdity, William finds, as is often the case with dreams, a special truth and a meaning. And much later in the story, William comes to appreciate the importance of the Swidger Fable of The Universe and The Dream.

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You see, dreams are so often essential in understanding the nature storytelling itself, whether they be Time Tales or otherwise. Dreams, like stories, take us to other worlds and here we learn to see things not as they are. And yet, that ability can sometimes lead to new understanding. Just ask Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ. In SWIDGERS, as the narrative progresses and William matures, it is by understanding the full meaning of Echo’s elusive dream tale that helps make William become a fully mature Swidger. And in doing so, a Time Traveller too.

As said before, the dream world for human beings allows us, The Commonality, as Granny would have it, to travel in Time. The dead mix with the living, and Time Past is experienced as Time Present. But dreams can as well involve Time Future in the form of Premonitions. The Bible repeatedly warns against those who prophesy false dreams (Jeremiah 23:32; Zechariah 10:2; Deuteronomy 13:1-3), but equally there are those characters in the Bible such as Daniel and Joseph who are called on to interpret dreams. And God Himself took time out from His busy schedule to appear to Abimelech in a dream (Genesis 20:3).

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Some people reject dreams as silly nonsense, others find in them great meaning. Freud made a career of doing the later. Sometimes people battle to decide whether what they have witnessed is a dream or whether it’s real, as Scrooge famously does in A CHRISTMAS CAROL:

Marley’s Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through, ‘Was it a dream or not?’

The Ghost of Christmas Future is the spectre that Scrooge fears most. And with cause, but what it had shown him has changed and will change the course of his life:

‘Spirit!’ he cried, tight clutching at its robe, ‘hear me. I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?’

For the first time the kind hand faltered.

‘Good Spirit,’ he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: ‘Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life.

The kind hand trembled.

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in The Past, the Present, and The Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.

Scrooge will be open once more to memories, and so live The Past, he will embrace the pleasures of friends and dining, and so live in The Present, and he will have hope in his heart and give it to others such as Tiny Tim, and so will live in The Future. Because that is what Scrooge means by his words, I will live in The Past, the Present, and The Future. Well, whether it was all a dream or not, there’s no denying it worked a treat. Especially for Tiny Tim, who according to the text and Dickens’ empathetic capital letters “did NOT die”. So God bless, Every One.

Dream Foretellings are not strictly speaking Time Travel Tales in the way that THE TIME MACHINE is. Yet, as seen with Ebenezer Scrooge, what we are shown of our future selves can have a great effect on that future. Even if it was a dream. Dream Foretellings are worth mentioning because they are a key part of stories such as MINORITY REPORT and STRANGER THINGS, plus stories dealing with Chronesthesia, the psychological phenomenon of mental Time Travel that is there in movies such as JACOB’S LADDER and THE JACKET (based on the American novel THE STAR ROVER written by Jack London). And besides, as has been said before, dreams are the nearest we as human beings will get to see Past and Future for real, or at least believe it to be real. Well, that is until that illusive Time Machine is actually built…

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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“For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

J. R. R. Tolkien


In the Korean time travel series ALICE (AELLISEU), written by Kim Kyu-Won, there exists The Book of Prophecy. The history to The Book of Prophecy is that it was discovered by the woman who later fled to the year 1986 and married a man called Dr Jang Dong-sik. Unfortunately, this lady died during childbirth but their daughter, Yoon Tae-yi, in one timeline at least, becomes Park Sun-young, the mother to Detective Park Jin-gyum.

The Book of Prophecy essentially foretells the fate of time travellers and the future, as it were, of time travel itself. The book is, therefore, a much sought after prize. One night, robbers come to steal it and in the process Dr Jang is killed, but not before he gives the key last page to his young daughter. Alice Time Agents arrive moments later and neutralise the killer. They then take possession of The Book of Prophecy, but without realising the final page is missing, which, it is later revealed, the young Tae Yi hid in the pocket of her nightie.

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As the series progresses, the contents of The Book of Prophecy are slowly revealed. As with the Delphic oracles, the words and phrases of The Book of Prophecy turn out to be somewhat cryptic – ‘A mother who went through The Door of Time to stop her daughter’s death tries to change the past and shake the future’ … ‘The child born while opening the Door of Time will end up controlling time’ … ‘She opened the forbidden door of time, and saw the world she shouldn’t have crossed. Now the punishment she must bear has been determined’ and, importantly, ‘Her destroyer son can only be killed by her marvellous creation’.

Puzzling over the meaning of many of these phrases leads to this scene between the Professor Yoon Tae-yi and the journalist Kim Do-yeon:

Professor Yoon Tae-yi: We found this in the house. The sentences don’t make sense. She, son, price, creation. Those words must contain another meaning. Never mind what I said. It might just be a page from a novel.

Kim Do-yeon: I don’t know about the rest, but I know “The murderer of all beings and destroyer of all things.”

Professor Yoon Tae-yi: What does it mean?

Kim Do-yeon: Time. Many ancient books call Time the murderer of all beings and destroyer of all things. Every person dies of old age, and Time turns the hardest rock into sand. But that doesn’t seem to be all there is to this. In ancient Civilizations, Time sometimes mean the Absolute Being. Time is invisible to our eyes, yet it creates and evolves everything.

At least in part, what keeps the interest going in ALICE (AELLISEU) is the mystery behind exactly what the predictions in The Book of Prophecy mean and what will be the result if they do come to pass. Also who is the son and what is the price? Where does Detective Park Jin-gyoem fit in? Is Park Jin-gyoem the child born while opening the Door of Time? Is Park Jin-gyoem also her ‘marvellous creation’ or is that a reference to time travel itself? And who is the mother who tried to stop her daughter’s death? Answers please, on a postcard to: ‘Netflix, Everywhere in the World’.

“In every crowd are certain persons who seem just like the rest, yet they bear amazing messages.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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“Every anxiety is a mild form of premonition, and from that point the shade deepens till we get the forebodings and haunting that merge into lunacy.”

Arthur Alfred Lynch


In Time Tales, Premonitions are usually left ambiguous for dramatic reasons. In the film PREMONITION (2007), with Sandra Bullock as Linda Hanson, the police call on Linda, a young wife, and tell her that her husband has been killed in a car accident, yet the next day she wakes up and there his is downstairs having breakfast. And waking up on another day her husband is dead again, yet the following morning she finds him there in the shower. What the heck is going on? Are these Premonitions or is time somehow fracturing? Or indeed is the husband definitely dead and what Linda is going through is a mental breakdown? The film remains intentionally ambiguous throughout. In a way this is because the bigger theme is forgiveness (Linda discovers her husband intended to have an affair, but didn’t go through with it). Anyway, whether it’s a supernatural premonition, a breakdown, or a rift in space-time, the film is ultimately about is the need sometimes just to say sorry. And on those terms it is an effective grieving story.

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To list every story that involves premonitions or precognition would take many hours – and that’s just a good guess rather than actual precognition – but here is a brief selection: THE DEAD ZONE (2002), where a man wakes up from a coma with the ability to see into other people’s futures; NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1948), a phony stage mentalist mysteriously begins to see the future for real; CLEMENTINE’S ENCHANTED JOURNEY (1985-1987), an animation series featuring a young girl who has precognitive dreams; UNBREAKABLE (2000), where a man learns extraordinary things about himself following a terrible accident; FINAL DESTINATION (2000), a young man has a sudden premonition of an air crash; HEROES (2006-2010), ordinary people suddenly develop special gifts, including one who can see into the future; FLASHFORWARD (2009-2010), every person on Earth suddenly experience black-outs and awaken with a vision of their future; NEXT (2007), a Las Vegas magician who can see into the future two minutes ahead and so is asked to help the FBI prevent a nuclear attack.

In SWIDGERS, in the very first chapter of the first book THE TIME THAT NEVER WAS, the young Swidger hero William experiences some sort of experience where events happen, but then time stops, only to restart again with those events reversed. This then repeats, only with differing scenarios. What’s going on? Is William going mad? Or maybe these are visions of the future? But how can they be when they keep changing? Or maybe it’s time that is somehow fracturing? The why and how of all that is happening to William isn’t fully revealed until much later, after all it is mystery story. And since it’s narrated from William’s point of view, the reader works out the truth behind all that is happening at the same time as William does. In fact, throughout the tale you are always right there with him. And perhaps that’s one of the reasons the book has proved so popular with young and old readers alike.

“My mother had a premonition and she felt that hairdressing would be very good for me.”

Vidal Sassoon

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“For most of my life I’ve been a listener. At least in the beginning, I think the reason I listened so intently was to have a chance of hearing the train before it ran over me.”

Steve Rasnic Tem


Foreshadowing in a story simply refers to some sort of hint of what is to come. And the key word here is ‘hint’, for foreshadowing is primarily a subtle narrative device offering the reader or viewer a sense of what might be rather than explicitly setting it out in graphic detail. Foreshadowing differs from foretelling in that foretelling is usually a feature within the story structure, usually a plot incident or turning point, whereas foreshadowing is to be found more in what you may call the fabric of the story. In the movies this fabric of the story is what is referred to as the mise-en-scène, literally ‘the putting onto the stage’, and it includes costume, properties, production design, shot composition, location, lighting, hair and makeup, and even film stock.

A famous example of foreshadowing mise-en-scène in the movies is the placement of oranges in scenes in THE GODFATHER where a death is about to occur. The point here is that it is essentially the filmmaker who has placed the oranges on the table, not the killer, and so it’s that which puts the oranges in the foreshadowing category as opposed to foretelling.

In fictional writing, foreshadowing is achieved more through language, imagery and metaphor, but novelists also have at their disposal weather, location and their descriptions of what characters wear. “The leaves fell early that year” is the well-known opening line of Ernest Hemingway’s A FAREWELL TO ARMS. It’s a simple observation about nature and the seasons, yet first lines of novels set a mood and this image of premature loss powerfully foreshadows the many early deaths that the story will reveal. The mercy killing of Candy’s old dog in OF MICE AND MEN and the very idea of shooting a creature which causes no harm in TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD both chillingly foreshadow the taking of the lives of innocents later in those stories.

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What then of foreshadowing in the Time Tale? It’s worth saying straight away that every person in every department in the movie making process, from cinematographer and production designer to prop master and costume supervisor, is there to add their creative input – that’s why they’ve been employed. The movie series that certainly has most fun with intimations of what will come to pass is the BACK TO THE FUTURE franchise. And here, Joanna Johnston, the costume designer for the trilogy, most definitely came up trumps. In BACK TO THE FUTURE II Doc Brown wears a brightly coloured shirt with the pattern of a train being pursued by two riders on horseback, thus foreshadowing events in the follow up movie BACK TO THE FUTURE III. And in BACK TO THE FUTURE III that now faded shirt becomes the Doc’s bandana. In the Wild West, Marty meets his uncle Joey, who we know from the first film will become a convict. Of course, Uncle Joey in the 1880s is only a toddler but when he is seen in his playpen, wearing prison-like black and white stripes, Marty come out with that great line, “Better get used to these bars, kid!” This is not strictly story foreshadowing as we already know what happens to poor Joey, but it’s still a fun gag.

The production designers and set decorators also put in their imaginative penny’s worth. In the opening credits of BACK TO THE FUTURE there is a tracking shot of various clocks, and one even includes a figure of the silent movie actor Harold Lloyd hanging off the big hand pointing to eleven o’clock, foreshadowing what actually happens to Doc himself on the clock tower towards the end of the movie. There’s various playful background moments too, for example in BACK TO THE FUTURE III, the clock tower clock can be seen being unloaded from the train and in another shot the Hill Valley Theatre is under construction.

“Queer, how I misinterpreted the designations of doom.”

Vladimir Nabokov

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“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.”

Salvador Dalí

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(This painting said to have been inspired by melting Camembert cheese.)

“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.”

Bob Dylan

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“Memory is what I have instead of a view.”

Hannibal Lecter in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, screenplay by Ted Tally, adapted from the Thomas Harris novel

Memory and Identity

Memories of The Past determine for most of us what The Past is. And so it is our memories that determine, at least to some degree, what and who we are. In TRAVELERS (using the American spelling of the series), people from the future, using something called The Theory of Quantum Entanglement, travel to our century – “Welcome to the 21st” – and when here, their consciousnesses take over bodies they knew historically were about to die. Their ultimately task is to alter events in our time so as to save their future and all this is controlled by The Director, a highly advanced Artificial Intelligence programme. In their world, these consciousnesses were in human bodies, but they never had a name, they were just numbers. And most had never seen the sky or consumed, for they lived within a protective dome and ate a protein based gruel. But now they exist as flesh and blood in hosts who can breathe the air, see the sun, touch the trees and even eat real fruit and vegetables.

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The priority of the Travelers is always The Mission, yet as the series goes on, the nature of flesh and blood, and the memories it creates, become more and more a part of their lives. But not only that, some host memories, those that are defining and strong, live on in the host’s brain. Some Travelers are more dispassionate than others, but there are those who are deeply moved by these memories that have somehow been left behind. For example, when Special Agent Grant MacLaren, Traveler 3468, played by Eric McCormack, is nearly killed in a plane crash, but as he lies on the operating table, some of the residual memories of his host’s former life begin to surface and haunt him. Not many perhaps, but those that still do exists are powerful and loving. And it’s these memories that give Grant a new perspective on who he is. Or was.

In another episode, the body of Marcy must be ‘re-set’ to save her physical body, but this means starting again from scratch (‘Alt-Control-Delete’). In effect, all the memories Marcy (or her consciousness) has built up in the body of her host will be lost. In effect, this induced ‘amnesia’ will mean that Marcy will not remember the times she had with David, including sexual intimacy and the emotional connection she had made. Marcy recognises that these memories are now part of who she is, for flesh and blood and sex and love matter in what it is that makes us human and alive. Nevertheless, she has no choice but to go ahead with the procedure. Yet afterwards she finds a way, by means of an ice-cold bath, to access these precious ‘lost’ memories. In TRAVELERS, it is often these philosophical tangents that make the series so fascinating and engaging.

As the series goes on there is increasing use of something called a Memory Inhibitor and this is not just used on non-Travelers to avoid uncovering the secret network. Sometimes after a difficult mission or one that is morally ambiguous, the Memory Inhibitor is used on Travelers themselves at their own request. This happens, for example, when Grant MacLaren’s mission is to kill a child, Aleksander, who was previously saved by Philip, the historian of the team. Aleksander was a path to become a force for ill, but even so he’s still a child. It’s that question, if you had the opportunity to kill Hitler as a baby, would you really do it? As it happens, Aleksander was not shot by Grant MacLaren, but instead a Traveler takes over his body and Grant’s memories of that day are wiped. Only, not quite. Some memories are so strong they somehow survive.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (also simply known as ETERNAL SUNSHINE) was the 2004 American romantic comedy written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry. The title of the film is a quotation from the 1717 poem Eliosa to Abelard by Alexander Pope, which, in part, is about a reawakened passion through memory. And it’s this theme that echoes in the Samuel Becket play KRAPP’S LAST TAPE, where a lonely lover is listening to an old tape recording he made of a now lost love. Memory gives you the gift of the past but on the other hand the baggage that can come with it is loss and regret. And if that happens then memory can become a cruel hole to fall down.

Memories are painful, especially for lovers who break up, and that is certainly the case in ETERNAL SUNSHINE. In the plot of the movie, Joel Barish discovers that after a big argument, his girlfriend Clementine Kruczynski had her memories of him erased. Greatly saddened, he decides to undergo the same procedure, but before he does, he records a tape recounting his memories of their relationship. If memories do determine for most of us what Time Past is, what we are or were, and even love itself, then loss of memory could be said to be equivalent to losing Time, Love and even Yourself. And anyone who has witnessed a loved one’s memory slowly disappear would probably agree.

PAYCHECK by Philip K. Dick tells of Jennings, a talented electronic engineer, who accepts a secret contract on a secret after which he will have his memory erased and be paid an inordinate sum. Then there is TOTAL RECALL (based on Philip K. Dick’s WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE), and Robert Ludlum’s THE BOURNE identity. DOCTOR WHO also touches on memory loss in Gridlock, set in a dystopian world where there are drugs that induce amnesia sold in patch form with the name ‘Forget’. The science fiction series UFO also had scenarios that included ‘amnesia injections’.

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On the subject of memory loss there are several plays worth mentioning. Pirandello’s icon drama HENRY IV very specifically explores the theme of memory, madness and identity. Peter Quilter’s drama 4000 DAYS (also a novel) centres on the custody battle of a man who emerges from a coma with no memory of the last eleven year and there’s also Harold Pinter’s play A KIND OF ALASKA, a kind of Sleeping Beauty tale inspired by Oliver Sacks’ AWAKENINGS about the victims of the 1920s Encephalitis Lethargic epidemic by the drug L-DOPA. And as with films, many of these plays explore the connection between memory and identity, where the question ‘Who was I?’ is very much related to ‘Who am I?’

“We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.”

Gore Vidal

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“I keep forgetting about your amnesia. Heh! Forgetting about amnesia. That’s funny.”

Rick Riordan

Memory Wipes

Memory loss then is a subject explored in several books, movies, and plays. It’s also possible to find examples of unwanted, non-accidental and involuntary memory wipes. Think of MEN IN BLACK, DARK CITY, GET OUT, DOLLHOUSE, THE MAZE RUNNER and Ralph Blum’s 1970 novel THE SIMULTANEOUS MAN. And it’s a key tool in American series TRAVELERS. There are also stories where criminals lose their memory, notably Robert Silverberg’s THE SECOND TRIP, and instances too of memory wiping monsters in time travelling stories, ‘The Silence’ in DOCTOR WHO being a creepy and very frightening example.

Actually a memory wipe of kind proved very helpful in the DOCTOR WHO episodes Human Nature/Family of Blood it becomes a convenient disguise. The Doctor is being tracked down so the Chameleon Arch is used to transform his biology into a human being while his essence is kept in a biodata module in the shape of a fob watch (“The secret lies within. I’m trapped. I’m caged inside the cogs and metal in the dark, but waiting. Always waiting.”) The TARDIS invents a life story for the Doctor where he is an ordinary schoolteacher, one ‘John Smith’, living in 1913. But if something can be remembered, even if held in a fob watch, it can come back, a theme which is also explored in a later Amy Pond storyline.

“I can only wait for the final amnesia, the one that can erase an entire life.”

Luis Buñuel

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“There’s an opposite to déjà vu. They call it jamais vu. It’s when you meet the same people or visit places, again and again, but each time is the first. Everybody is always a stranger. Nothing is ever familiar.”

Chuck Palahniuk

NEEDS TO BE A HEADING: Déjà Vu, Dreams and Stories

DARK ends at a dinner party where one guest has a strange sense of déjà vu, which, as suggested in RECURSION by Blake Crouch, maybe “the spectre of timelines that never happened but did, casting their shadows upon reality.” An echo, perhaps, of what might have been. It’s an idea that’s there too in THE ADAM PROJECT. In this scene, Adam points out to Laura that if he destroys time travel then he and Laura may never meet, but Laura isn’t so despondent:

LAURA: Now you have to go back to 20188, and you have to put things right. You have to put an end to all this.

OLDER ADAM: What do you mean “out an end to it”?

LAURA: I mean, stop time travel from ever being invented and save the future.

OLDER ADAM: Fine, come with me, and we’ll –

LAURA: Your jet is meshed to your DNA. It won’t fly with anyone else.

OLDER ADAM: You’re smart. You can figure it out.

LAURA: Adam!

OLDER ADAM: We meet in the program. We meet there. Do you understand that? We can’t… If I go back and stop time travel – and it’s an extremely “if” … we never meet, we never happen. We never happen, Laura.

LAURA: We did happen. Every moment we ever had will always have happened. Even if we correct the time-stream, somewhere in us there will be the echo of this one. And we will find each other. I really believe that.

And it’s an idea in a way in LIFE AFTER LIFE as well. LIFE AFTER LIFE is the 2013 novel (and later television series) written by Kate Atkinson. The tale’s central character, Ursula Todd, repeatedly lives alternate possible lives but it is only through a particularly strong sense déjà vu of these half-remembered existences that she realises she had indeed lived before.

But DOCTOR WHO in The Big Bang episode takes the idea of lost memories and alternative timelines much further:

DOCTOR: History has collapsed. Whole races have been deleted from existence. These are just like after-images. Echoes. Fossils in time. The footprints of the never-were.

RORY: Er, what does that mean?

DOCTOR: Total event collapse. The universe literally never happened.

RORY: So, how can we be here? What’s keeping us safe?

DOCTOR: Nothing. Eye of the storm, that’s all. We’re just the last light to go out. Where’s Amy?

But all is not lost and through Amy the memory of the Universe returns. But for Amy it will be like a dream:

DOCTOR: It’s funny. I thought if you could hear me, I could hang on somehow. Silly me. Silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you’ll have a mum and dad, and you won’t even remember me. Well, you’ll remember me a little. I’ll be a story in your head. But that’s okay. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know. It was the best. The daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you that I stole it? Well, I borrowed it. I was always going to take it back. Oh, that box. Amy, you’ll dream about that box. It’ll never leave you. Big and little at the same time. Brand new and ancient, and the bluest blue ever. And the times we had, eh? Would have had. Never had. In your dreams, they’ll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond, and the days that never came. The cracks are closing. But they can’t close properly until I’m on the other side. I don’t belong here any more. I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewind. I hate repeats. Live well. Love Rory. Bye bye, Pond.

The idea dreams and déjà vu being signs of alternate lives is a reoccurring idea in Time Tales, but the thought that so are stories is a fascinating one.

“We all have some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time – of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances”

From DAVID COPPERFIELD by Charles Dickens

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KAZRAN SARDICK: He changed my past. My whole life.
AMY: Time can be re-written.
KAZRAN SARDICK: Tell the Doctor, tell him from me, people can’t.

From the DOCTOR WHO A Christmas Carol episode written by Steven Moffat

Changing Memories and Time Travel

In the DOCTOR WHO A Christmas Carol episode, time travel and the logic of the memories they should create are neatly summed up when the Doctor visits the Kazran Sardick, the Scrooge of the story, when a child. And in this scene the older Kazran Sardick is watching the past change on a screen:

DOCTOR: Times change. Wouldn’t you say? You see? Christmas Past.

YOUNGER KAZRAN: Who are you talking to?

DOCTOR [on screen]: You. Now, your past is going to change. That means your memories will too. Bit scary, but you’ll get the hang of it.

YOUNGER KAZRAN: I don’t understand.

DOCTOR: I’ll bet you don’t. I wish I could see your face.

OLDER Kazran Sardick: (Watching screen) But that never happened. But it did.

It’s an idea that is also explored in the American television series TRAVELERS, where the people have new memories of events that the time travellers to the past changed.

“False memory syndrome, also called recovered memory, pseudomemory, and memory distortion, the experience, usually in the context of adult psychotherapy, of seeming to remember events that never actually occurred.”


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“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.

Steve Wright

Anterograde Amnesia

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is a psychological thriller novel by S.J. Watson about a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia. Anterograde amnesia is the loss of the ability to create new memories leading to a partial or complete inability to recall the recent past. This is in contrast to retrograde amnesia, where memories created prior to the event are lost while new memories can still be created. The protagonist in this thriller is Christine Lucas and Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. This man then explains that he is Ben, her husband and that she is forty-seven years old, and two decades earlier she had an accident that prevented her from forming new memories. However, Christine keeps a journal and as she collects more and more material, her research begins to cast doubt on what she has been told and so Christine’s mission becomes to discover who she really is.

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MEMENTO is a 2000 mystery thriller written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It tells the story of Leonard Shelby, played by Guy Pearce, who also suffers from anterograde amnesia as a result of an accident. Although he can recall some details of his life before this accident, Leonard cannot remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, where he’s going, or why. In the story, Leonard is searching for the people who attacked him and killed his wife. He does this using an intricate system of Polaroid photographs and tattoos to track information he cannot remember. Not, in a way, that dissimilar to Christine’s journal. In the movie, Christopher Nolan uses reverse-chronology as means of putting the audience in the mindset of its brain-damaged detective. And it’s this aspect more so than Memory that makes MEMENTO a recognisably a Time Tale. However, ss ever with Memory and Time stories, both MEMENTO and BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP like so many Time Tales, are essentially exploring the nature of identity and the surety of whether we can ever truly know who we are.

“All is as if the world did cease to exist. The city’s monuments go unseen, its past unheard, and its culture slowly fading in the dismal sea.”

Nathan Reese Maher

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“I know that I have in my make-up layers of synthetic experiences, and that the most powerful of my memories are only half true.”

Elizabeth Bowen

Synthetic Memories and Synthetic People

The idea of animated objects such as puppets or dolls acting or standing in for beings or even gods has been around for centuries. And automata, objects acting more independently of people, is a development from that (‘automaton’ being the Latinisation of the Greek words αὐτόματον, meaning “acting of one’s own will”. However, the concept of Synthetic People is more recent, and arguable began in the eighteenth century with the world’s first successfully-built bio-mechanical automaton, The Flute Player, which could play twelve songs and which was created by the French engineer Jacques de Vaucanson in 1737. Since then the idea of Synthetic People has never gone away and can be found in numerous stories such as Mary Shelly’s FRANKENSTEIN, Pinocchio, the movie A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE and , in its own way, NEVER LET YOU GO. But perhaps the most famous example in recent has to be BLADE RUNNER.

The central theme of BLADE RUNNER is memory. And the false nature of them is the big revelation:

DECKARD: Remember when you were six? You and your brother snuck into an empty building through a basement window. You were going to play doctor. He showed you his, but when it got to be your turn you chickened and ran; you remember that? You ever tell anybody that? Your mother, Tyrell, anybody? Remember the spider that lived outside your window? Orange body, green legs. Watched her build a web all summer, then one day there’s a big egg in it. The egg hatched…

RACHEL: The egg hatched…


RACHEL:…and a hundred baby spiders came out… and they ate her.

DECKARD: Implants. Those aren’t your memories, they’re somebody else’s. They’re Tyrell’s niece’s.

DECKARD: [he sees that she’s deeply hurt by the implication] O.K., bad joke… I made a bad joke. You’re not a replicant. Go home, O.K.? No, really – I’m sorry, go home.

BLADE RUNNER was based on the novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? by Philip K. Dick, with a screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, and was directed by Ridley Scott.

The movie EXTINCTION, rather like BLADE RUNNER, explores ideas around the concept of memory and synthetic dreams. Peter (Michael Peña) is an engineer who has been suffering from recurring nightmares or visions in which he and everyone he knows are attacked in some sort of alien invasion by an unknown enemy.

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Peter decides, at the request of his wife, to visit a clinic to receive psychiatric help, only to find a patient there who reveals that he has also been having the same nightmares. Peter begins to believe that these nightmares are really some sort of premonition of an upcoming invasion.

However, it turns out these visions are the suppressed memories of a past war, and he is in fact an android worker or ‘synthetic’. The synthetics it is revealed rose up against humans and eventually drove all humans off the planet. It seems as well that Peter and his wife while fighting the humans, they found their children, Hanna and Lucy, who, it is revealed, are also synthetics. To deal with the guilt of killing humans, many synthetics such as Peter and his family wiped their memories and lived as humans, unaware of their true nature or history.

The DOCTOR WHO episode The Rebel Flesh takes to robotic nature of Synthetic People much further than either EXTINCTION or BLADE RUNNER. In the episode, the TARDIS hits a solar storm, sending it to a monastery on an island on Earth in the twenty-second century. Here workers utilise “programmable matter” called the Flesh, which creates a doppelganger (or Ganger). As the solar storm hits, the Gangers become more independent and indeed threatening. But the theme of memory and identity is always there:

GANGER JENNIFER: When I was a little girl, I got lost on the moors, wandered off from the picnic. I can still feel how sore my toes got inside my red welly boots. And I imagined another little girl, just like me, in red wellies, and she was Jennifer too. Except she was a strong Jennifer, a tough Jennifer. She’d lead me home. My name is Jennifer Lucas. I am not a factory part. I had toast for my breakfast. I wrote a letter to my mum. And then you arrived. I noticed your eyes right off.

RORY: Did you?

GANGER JENNIFER: (Looking at Rory) Nice eyes. Kind.

RORY: Where is the real Jennifer?

GANGER JENNIFER: I am Jennifer Lucas. I remember everything that happened in her entire life. Every birthday, every childhood illness. I feel everything she has ever felt and more. I’m not a monster! I am me. Me! Me! Me!

“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.”

H.P. Lovecraft

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“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.”


Memory and Charles Dickens

Christmas Time for Charles Dickens for a period when Time itself seems to break apart all boundaries. A Christmas Dinner, first published in 1839 in SKETCHES BY BOZ when Dickens was still only in his twenties, gives us a flavour of this thinking:

Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused – in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened – by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes – of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire – fill the glass and send round the song – and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father’s heart, and roused the mother’s pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust, sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one.

Dickens’ most famous Christmas story is A CHRISTMAS CAROL, where that empty seat of A Christmas Dinner is given far more emotional powerful by being assigned to one Tiny Tim. In A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Scrooge is essentially given back his memory of both the god and the bad in his past. And as a result Scrooge is able to connect once more with those left fortunate that himself. A lesser known Charles Dickens’ Christmas story is THE HAUNTED MAN. When it comes to memory, THE HAUNTED MAN is in many ways a mirror opposite of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. The tale revolves around a man suffering from depression who is offered by a Phantom, in form almost a physical reflection of the man himself, the opportunity to forget the past. However, this ‘gift’ when he accepts it spreads to others with terrible consequences for those around him. It’s only with the redeeming power of Milly, wife of William Swidger, that things are at least partially put right.

The message of the tale, as with many of the stories of Charles Dickens, is that memories, both good and bad, are a necessary part of who we are. Milly is a good creature and her intervention is key in the plot. And that’s an idea that fits in well with the SWIDGERS book series, where the name of ‘Swidgers’ is taken from the Swidger family in A HAUNTED MAN.

“Scrooge’s niece played well upon the harp; and played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing: you might learn to whistle it in two minutes), which had been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school, as he had been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. When this strain of music sounded, all the things that Ghost had shown him, came upon his mind; he softened more and more; and thought that if he could have listened to it often, years ago, he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the sexton’s spade that buried Jacob Marley.”


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“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering’, So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”

Milan Kunder in IGNORANCE

Memory and Nostalgia

The past is never quite passed when you have memory, for our memories in many ways anchor our lives. But there’s a downside too, for regret and loss can sometimes become the plagues of memory. But what of Nostalgia? Is it good or bad?

For the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, Nostalgia was almost a disease of the mind. Herder’s the concept of memory, and nostalgia in particular, was all tied up with Volkskultur, the cultural/political ideology of nationhood, and Volkseele, literally the ‘national soul’. To summarise any philosopher is never easy but in essence, Nostalgia, as it comes from our incapacity to revive the past except through memory, should, according to Herder, be regarded as suspect. Perhaps so. But maybe the real problem, as the old jokes has it, that Nostalgia is no longer what it was.

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

Marcel Proust

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“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.”

Steven Wright

Time and Amnesia

THE I INSIDE (2004) is a memory Time Travel Tale in that it concerns an amnesiac who leaps through time between 2000 and 2002 as his memory returns to him. Or seems to. It can however also be understood as one of those movies like JACOB’S LADDER and THE JACKET where the diegesis or action you are presented with is actually taking place inside the head of the protagonist who has been in a coma. Or is still is in a coma.

Arguably the most popular drama exploring the subject of amnesia is James Hilton’s RANDOM HARVEST, the 1942 MGM film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and based on the 1941 novel of the same name by James Hilton. The story centres on a shell-shocked amnesiac World War I veteran, ‘John Smith’/Charles Rainier (Ronald Coleman), who escapes an asylum and falls in love and marries Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson). The twist in the plot comes when following a car accident ‘John Smith’ as he is known by Paula suddenly recovers his memory, but in becoming ‘Charles Rainier’ ‘Smithy’ loses all recollection of himself and his life as ‘John Smith’, including his love for his new wife. As his doctor later says to Paula, “A door of his mind had opened, but another had closed.”

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Paula by then has already discovered her husband’s previous identity – an industrialist – and becomes, as ‘Miss Hanson’, his secretary in the hope that one day he will remember and love her. Their scenes together are laced with dramatic irony, especially when ‘Charles Rainier’’ eventually proposes to ‘Margaret Hanson’: “You and I are in the same boat, Miss Hanson; we’re both ghost-ridden. We are prisoners of our past. What if we were to pool our loneliness, and give each other what little we have to give support, friendship? I’m proposing marriage, Miss Hanson, or should I call it a merger?” But this is not the marriage Paula once had, for ‘Charles’ is proposing a loveless marriage, at least on his part, and sexless one too. “You need have no fear,” he says to Paula/Miss Hanson, “that I would make any emotional demands upon you. I have only sincere friendship to offer. I won’t ask any more from you.”

Occasionally Charles has “a wisp of memory that cannot be caught before it fades away,” but on the whole, he is, in his own words, a “psychological defective”. The doctor who first treated the amnesiac Smithy tends to agree and is none too optimistic that Rainier will ever remember who Smithy is or was. “I can only offer you,” the doctor says to Paula/’Margaret’, “that frail hope that someday the miracle will happened and he’ll come back to you, not as Charles Rainier, but as Smithy with all his emotion for you as warm and as in tact as it was on the day he left you.”

Charles Rainer believes Miss Hanson’s husband to be dead – in fact Paula/’Margaret’ achieves a legal decree pronouncing ‘John Smith’ dead as he’s now been missing for the legal requirement of ‘not less than seven years’. In a moving exchange between Rainer and ‘Margaret’, who by then is his wife, the nature of loss and memory are poignantly explored:

Charles: Isn’t there something morbid in burying one’s heart with the dead?

‘Margaret’: That’s a strange thing for you to say.

Charles: Is it?

‘Margaret’: You haven’t even a memory.

Charles: No.

‘Margaret’: And the best of you, your capacity for loving, your joy in living is buried in a little space of time you’ve forgotten.

Which is better off here? The man who, though loveless, is free from the pain of loss? Or the woman, whose love is strong but can sadly no longer be shared with the one she loves?

The movie RANDOM HARVERST was made in 1942, in the middle of the Second World War, and these questions would have had a particular resonance for those who had perhaps married young and then lost their loved ones in the conflict.

As for the theme and nature of Time and Memory, well, those words ‘buried in a little space of time you’ve forgotten’ beautifully and rather poetically sum up the unique relationship between what we remember of The Past as we live it in our recollections of its echoes in The Present.

However, it shouldn’t be forgotten – if that is the right phrase to use here – that RANDOM HARVEST is ultimately a MGM melodrama. Despite the ever present Hollywood fog, the day does eventually come when the mist rises and ‘John’ remembers who he was and is and Paula at last becomes reunited with her loving Smithy. And, this being Hollywood, there is even a scene in the closing moments where a key that Rainer has been carrying all along opens a door to the beloved cottage where he once lived as Smithy. Cue music. Cue close-up. Cue audience in floods of tears.

“‘I forget things almost instantly. It runs in my family… well, at least I think it does… hmm, where are they?’”


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TYRELL: If we gift them with a past, we create a cushion or a pillow for their emotions, and consequently, we can control them better.
DECKARD: Memories! You’re talking about memories!

Tyrell and Deckard in BLADE RUNNER, screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, from the novel DO ANDROID DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? by Philip K. Dick

Body Transfer Stories

Another area briefly worth mentioning is the Body Transfer Tale. The time travelling TRAVELERS looked at earlier is a recent example but there are many in science fiction, notably TOTAL RECALL, ALTERED CARBON, ROBOCOP, SELF/LESS, plus the French television series TRANFERTS (or TRANSFERS in English). And in a way you could also include BLADE RUNNER, where fictional memories are placed in and made part of the android’s mental faculties. These are not specifically Time Travel stories of course but their themes are the power of memories of the past and their connection with the nature of our identity in the present. And since these stories are often dealing with the intentional wiping out of memories, that is destroying The Past, they are in their own way Time Tales.

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.”

William Gibson

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“My memory of my home was that it was very happy, and that there was more fun and life than there was anywhere else.”

Maeve Binchy

Time, Memory and Space

In the Korean time travel series ALICE (AELLISEU), written by Kim Kyu-Won, the architect version of Park Jin-gyeom says that “to some people, space is life itself.” It is revealed that he became an architect to store ‘time passed’. He believes that while memories and feelings weaken and are forgotten over time, fascinatingly, space, especially homes, save time. The times you laughed, the times you cried, the times you were happy and times you were sad. All live on, stored or perhaps captured in the space of the house itself. This concept is more often explored in supernatural ghost stories, but there’s room for it in Time Tales too.

“A good life is a collection of happy memories.

Denis Waitley

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“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

Dr. Seuss


A word now about Chronesthesia. There is recognised in psychology the phenomenon that is called Time Travel through the power of the mind. “Chronesthesia’,” says Endel Tulving in CHRONESTHESIA: CONSCIOUS AWARENESS OF SUBJECTIVE TIME, “is tentatively defined as a form of consciousness that allows individuals to think about the subjective time in which they live and that makes it possible for them to ‘mentally travel’ in such time.’ Essentially Chronesthesia is the capacity to mentally reconstruct personal events from the past, as well as to imagine possible scenarios in the future. In short, to think yourself into the Past or Future. This is basically what the character Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) does in SOMEWHERE IN TIME. Incidentally, CHRONESTHESIA was, oddly enough, the original title for the movie that is now known as LOVE AND TIME TRAVEL, a romantic comedy where mysterious messages, dreams and a flurry of coincidences allow the hero to change his own life and the lives of others.

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And now a quick word about Instinct. Human instinct, what is it exactly? One way of looking at Instinct is as lifelong experiences that, with time, is compressed into a single moment of thought. People talk being wise after the event, but aren’t those who have lived a little sometimes able to be wise before the event? And that’s what instinct is.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”

James M. Barrie

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Some more thoughts on Memory…

“This is only a record of broken and apparently unrelated memories, some of them as distinct and sequent as brilliant beads upon a thread, others remote and strange, having the character of crimson dreams with interspaces blank and black –witch-fires glowing still and red in a great desolation.”

Ambrose Bierce

“‘How curiously we are made. … The needle of life writes in the wax of the brain, and the record is our memories. Does the needle lift from the wax and leave no record? Or does a fog come down? What can we say? Do you know, I think the miracle is not that we sometimes can forget, but that we remember so much, so well.’”

Luther Grandison in THE UNSUSPECTED by Charlotte Armstrong (full name Charlotte Armstrong Lewi)

“I think the only answer is to live life to the fullest while you can and collect memories like fools collect money. Because in the end, that’s all you have – happy memories.”

Sarah Strohmeyer

“Always have old memories, and young hopes”

Arsene Houssaye

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

Cesare Pavese

“The greatest joys of life are happy memories. Your job is to create as many of them as possible.”

Brian Tracy

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