Tuesday, July 11, 2006

JED's Palimpsest

Link to the Original Story: Palimpsest - JED

It's interesting how stories evolve. I was sitting on a bus, riding home in the late afternoon, twiddling my thumbs (whatever that means) when I had the seed of this idea. I thought, wouldn't it be neat to do it as a diary. A person reading and re-writing a diary. Onto that core I added layers; an introduction from a conversation with a counselor, a lost sense of identity, a touch of Frankenstein-ian construction and human arrogance, a dash of similarity, a smidgen of loss and love. Bake for 40 minutes and *poof*, this is what you get.

I liked writing in two voices that were really one voice. It was fun to make them similar and yet different. Similarly fun to play with the idea of consistency of self. One of the ideas I was trying to reach here is, basically, what makes you, you? There are disorders where we no longer recognize people known to us, thinking them, against all reason, to be perfect impostors. There are disorders where we imagine our own limbs to be in someone else's control. What if that was turned even deeper? The narrator here has no loss of memory. He recalls everything from his previous life, he simply doesn't claim ownership of it. Some of us can relate to that quite strongly. Was it really YOU that stole candy from the corner store when you were a kid? Really you who wanted to grow up to be spider-man? Really you who kissed her under the porch light, that first time? Beliefs change, personalities change, so why are we who we are? Memory is owned; it has a label and sense of possesion. This story might have been a little over ambitious in trying to make you consider what that sense of possession really means, but hopefully it's entertaining. Making you think is part of the point of a story, but if it isn't entertaining I don't think it can do that so readily.

I’m impressed at the crop this pitch turned out. I think JED’s story is great; he deals directly, both literally and metaphorically, with a subject I toyed with and ran screaming like a little baby from: the idea that we each are palimpsests of the person we use to be, a new person, a new document, written on top of the old, with the original, down to when we were little, showing through all the time. One thing I’m particularly fond of is the fact that the new man, the palimpsest man, really isn’t a different person than the “original.” He isn’t an amnesiac trying to understand this stranger he once was. He’s the same guy. He just can’t see it. He’s built an idol out of his old self, and has deluded himself into thinking “that isn’t me, I’m not like that.” But that was him, without mistaking. Imagine yourself when you were younger, the person you were the things you did. You’ve changed since then; you’re virtually a different person in many ways. Here, the protagonist is the same way; he just takes it a little too literally.

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