Whoa! Can you believe it’s already November? Where did the time go? We really only have 6 weeks left of the semester.
Dick’s “We Can Remember it for you Wholesale” (1966)
Because you’ve read alternate reality texts, this one probably doesn’t seem so strange to you. Sure, reality is in question, but the plot is easy enough to follow. Normally, we spend more time thinking about the time period and cultural context for our texts. For this short story, let’s consider what the Anthology editors note about the author: “Dick’s mental health was unstable for much of his life, and his fiction reflects a paranoid fascination with conspiracies extending from personal relationships to political power, and ultimately to the manipulation of reality itself” (p. 385).
Also, the Anthology editors identify “one of Dick’s most typical themes–the inability to distinguish authentic from artificial memories” (p. 386).
As you read the story, think about how memories are not video recordings but interpretations.
Consider the following:
- “an illusion, no matter how convincing, remained nothing more than an illusion. At least objectively. But subjectively–quite the opposite entirely” (p. 388).
- Hyperreality: “The actual memory, with all its vagueness, ommissions, and elipses, not to say distortions–that’s second best” (p. 389).
- Compulsion: “They couldn’t erase that; it’s not a memory but a desire” (p. 392).
- Love of adventure got Quail to go to Rekal, Inc. (p. 398).
- What do Cam Newton jerseys tell us about illusions? (top of p. 401)
Much like all definitions, irony can’t be boiled down to a single, all-encompassing definition. Let’s consider irony to be close to sarcasm when you say one thing but mean the opposite, often to call attention to hypocrisy or contradiction: “We must be such smart people to have all this access to information at our finger tips; no wonder we’ve solved all our problems and never make the same mistakes over again…”
- What can we say about the title? Why “wholesale”?
- p. 389: The real memory is second best because it’s distorted.
- p. 392: “He’d have to hold two opposite premises in his mind simultaneously.”
- We could call that doublethink, but that means one is unaware of the contradiction–the masses duped by those in power.
- p. 396: Douglas Quail has “both memory tracks grafted inside my head; one is real and one isn’t but I can’t tell which is which.”
We’ll cover Start Salt Fish Girl for the next two weeks, so get on it! Go Niners!