This train of thought passed by my station while I was drowsy on a regular Tuesday work afternoon, scrolling the browser screen. The scenes of Beautiful Creatures I watched the night before came into mind. Didn't have anything else in queue, sorry. It was a Monday night. Don't judge.
In the story, there's a curse that was put in place because of a huge fault done centuries before the movie scene took place. And it was broken (of course) with true love. Like all witch-related stories. And in a glazed, afternoon siesta stupor, I suddenly stumbled upon an idea.
What if we have it all wrong? What if our present actually changes the past? This could especially be supported by the fact that our memories are more permeable than we think. What we remember can become influenced by the present state of mind.
At the inception of this idea, I was recently reading through David McRaney's You Are Not So Smart. I was around the portion about memory and this highlight expresses quite a bit of that chapter:
Memory is imperfect, but also constantly changing. Not only do you filter your past through your present, but your memory is easily infected by social contagion. You incorporate the memories of others into your own head all the time. Studies suggest your memory is permeable, malleable, and evolving. It isn’t fixed and permanent, but more like a dream that pulls in information about what you are thinking about during the day and adds new details to the narrative. If you suppose it could have happened, you are far less likely to question yourself as to whether it did. The shocking part of these studies is how easily memory gets tainted, how only a few iterations of an idea can rewrite your autobiography. Even stranger is how as memories change, your confidence in them grows stronger. Considering the relentless bombardment to your thoughts and emotions coming from friends, family, and all media: How much of what you recall is accurate? How much of the patchwork is yours alone?
It is not impossible, and also might be more frequent than we care to admit, that we overwrite our memories with our current thoughts. It can be easily tainted. What we remember right now of our yesterday might not even be the same with how we remembered it years ago.
It might sound crazy but while we heavily rely on our permeable memory to determine our past, we're actually slightly rewriting our past by overwriting our memory with the present thoughts and actions. Think about it. The only thing that would keep a memory permanent would be an arbitrary memory. Like a journal, notebook, photo or a video but even those are mutable, right? (Ahem, bible).
This was roughly composed a few months ago and finished under the influence of brandy half a dozen hours into 2014. If it doesn't sound so smart and coherent, feel free to neglect.