The Life Unwired with Ben Combee (unwiredben) wrote,
The Life Unwired with Ben Combee

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"Down and Out" vs. "Eternal Sunshine"

At lunch today, I had an insight. One of the key issues in "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" is the concept of what you lose when you are restored from a backup. One of the key characters refuses a restoration after a major injury because he would lose the memories of the interactions that he'd since his last backup occurred. Well, this concept reminded me strongly of the mental erasing technique shown in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", the brilliant Spike Jonez/Charlie Kaufman film from this spring. In that work, the technique was a lot more primitive; rather than just going in and resetting you to a known state, you actually had people going into your mind and zapping away all the memories of a particular person or event.

Both of these concepts scare me, but I'm a person who has a very high aversion towards anything that interferes with my mental state, that reduces that control that my ego has over myself. One of the things that bugged me about "Down and Out" was that some of the subversions of this restore mechanism seemed novel to the characters; they didn't seem to think this kind of abuse was possible, when it's pretty obvious to anyone that's thought about the implications of this technology for a little bit. One thing that society seems to do pretty well is figure out the problems with technology; we don't always do this in time to limit the problems, but they do become apparent, and we have mechanisms that let us adapt our way of life to find solutions. "Eternal Sunshine" felt more plausible due to the newness of the techniques and the way some of the characters rebelled against this kind of technology.
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