A while back I posted about having experiences through books. I was thinking again about this today and was imagining a rock-climbing experience.
I myself have never been rock climbing, but I have a feeling of it from a few things. I do, however, remember reading The Eiger Sanction in my teens, and watching several films and shows about it.
What I find interesting is that if I had climbed some mountains I might have some additional input, but it wouldn’t necessarily be that much different. Good writing about something can instill many of the same sensations as doing the action yourself.
More importantly, these experiences would largely blend together over time. It just becomes a nebulous “understanding” of rock climbing — with the lines between what I read about and what I actually did becoming increasingly blurry. As an example, many people have reported recalling something and not being sure whether it happened or if they dreamed it.
I was thinking about this in terms of an
is_real attribute to a memory — or the
came_from_book attribute — similar to how computers store metadata. It’s as if a source type gets stored with a memory as it gets written. These seem to naturally mix to some degree, but it’s interesting to think of mixing them on purpose, or the repercussions of having an ailment which does so unpredictably.
So, ultimately, how different is a memory that happened and a memory that you “remember” from another input type, e.g. from a book, or a film, or a story told? Aren’t they all simply representations of experiences? And if the metadata gets mixed (like witnesses of crimes hearing other accounts and telling their story and actually changing their own memories as a result).
It’d be a good foundation for a short sci-fi story, if nothing else.