The memories we keep of ourselves are continually shaped by our retelling of them. We may not realize it, but events as we know them probably never happened in the way we think they did. Each time we run a particular file in our backup, something is disturbed as the connection is made yet again, and that memory will not be equal to the one that stood there before.
Ted Chiang has a short story about this his anthology book Exhalation. It’s about a world in which people have the option of recording everything that ever happened to them in a Life Log, and recalling events instantaneously as needed. This, of course, is not without consequences: causing stress on weak relationships when arguments are settled with recourse to hard facts.
Envisioning a future where children are born using this technology is a strange exercise. What would change if everybody had perfect, instant memory? What would become of the old way of doing things — using the biological memory as a primary way of managing our personal information?
As he writes, there are two kinds of histories: oral and literary histories. Each of us has his own deep, private oral history. Some people like to tell their stories and retell them. They work on them subconsciously, and then tell them all over again, with an added flavor of some kind, a little joke, some seasoning to add a bit of panache. Retelling a story is not unlike cooking a dish by memory. You have the same ingredients, but then you do your thing. You add new pauses, you milk some jokes, you tweak the story ever-so-slightly, like a good stand-up comedian who hones his material over the course of months to perfect it.
I’m more of the literary kind of history transmission. This means I’m not a good oral storyteller. I have a tendency to stick with the facts, disregard them of narrative, and even those I can’t seem to grasp with authority. That’s probably why I like taking notes and writing. And filming too, for a later, clinical shaping of the story through editing. Which reminds me —
This is my latest scuba-diving video, about my dives in the Azores. Be sure to drop a like in it.
I don’t know what I like most about scuba-diving. Is it the weightlessness? The freedom? The contemplative silence? The continuous state of wonder?
There are reasons, of course, for this predicament of mine, chief among them the short amount of time I had to put my watery thoughts in order. Every descent I make is still very close to my first. All I know is, from my first Open Water Diver class on, it’s been an incredible learning experience.
And what about the Azores? I have always wanted to come here, and marvel at its wonders. Ever since I first set a fin on the water, I felt like in a slow-motion dream-like state. Of course, when underwater, you wouldn’t want to feel breathless, but sometimes it just happens, like when I visited Willy Wonka’s garden at night, or the massive Dori, a 130-metre-long Liberty Ship from World War II.
To think that this massive ship once took part in operation Overlord. Now it’s stranded in the sand, home to fish. An underwater museum of epic proportions.
I leave you with some amazing quotes by some of the greatest underwater admirers.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Jacques Costeau
“Yes, I love the sea. It is everything.” Captain Nemo, from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea
“Ah, the sea. So fascinating. So wonderful.” The french narrator from Spongebob Squarepants