Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Forgotten History?

       During the discussion on Invisible Cities, it was pointed out that people do not just travel from place to place but travel through time as well. During these travels, everybody gains experiences and create memories; this becomes their own personal history. No matter how hard a person tries, he or she cannot so easily forget his or her own past. They see it when they look in the mirror or within the places they travel to or the people they see and meet. For instance, when college students leave their hometown for the first time, to them, it is a fresh start in a new place; they can be anybody they want to be. But no matter how hard they try, their pasts influences the choices they make. They will constantly relate their memories to others and they will compare what they see to images of their past. In Wendet's Black Rainbow, the Tribunal attempts to outlaw their citizens' history but, as can be seen through the eyes of the narrator, this is almost impossible to accomplish.
       The narrator spends a great deal of the first half of the book traveling from area to area. He is told by the Tribunal that he no longer has a history, yet his traveling reveals he never truly forgets his past. He sees his memories within himself constantly. The reader can observe that the narrator has been caught in front of mirrors at crucial points of the story where he feels like a new person. For example, on page 85 he states that "it was if [he'd] been reborn. Without fear. Without guilt. With the unquenchable thirst to know, experience, explore. Yet when [he]...looked into the wall mirror, [he] saw a middle-aged man with streaks of grey hair." In other words, he truly believed that he had no history, no good or bad memories; he had the opportunity to begin a new. However, the moment he saw his older self in the mirror, all those memories came back to him. He remembered that he really could not start from scratch. He had previous experiences that connected him with other people. To forget his history, meant forgetting his family, his responsibilities. Even if he tried everything within his power to delete his memories, every time he looked in the mirror, he would remember what brought him to this moment in his travels through time.
       It was not just by looking at himself could he remember his history but when he looked at certain people and places. When he was on his way to see John at the rugby match, the thought of rugby made him remember how his wife was a rugby fanatic. He recalled listening to her talk and talk about the sport and its players. Rugby and John created circumstances in which the narrator broke the Tribunal ruling; he remembered his history unconsciously. The same could be said about when he was flying in a helicopter and looked down at Aotearoa. He stated how his son, in the past, believed it "was on endless paddock" (67). Furthermore, he did not try to push this past experience out of his head but accepted it. In the back of his head, he could not look down at the crowd or at a rugby match without thinking of something that occurred in his life before that moment.
      People in society may try to forget things that happen to them in the past. They may try to believe that their history did not occur like the Tribunal and the narrator attempted to do. No matter how hard these people try, the past follows them; in the reflections of themselves, those around them, and the places they have seen or will see. In the end, the traveling people do in reality and in time are reflections of their history.

No comments:

Post a Comment