By the way, thank you everyone, for your very varied unfavourite hymns and songs. Do read all the comments, in order to find out which carol promised the young Judith Leader “fritters for ever”.
Very soon, the PPI Blogger is planning to watch a film called “The Crimes of Grindelwald”, sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
I have frequently told the story of how “We Do Not Kill Children” started – I was writing little miscellaneous ideas for stories and conversations in an otherwise unused diary. Looking back a year later, I found snippets of Dorac meeting Gormad, and also the original Place to Die – and the rest can be found in the Tales from Ragaris.
But there were a few other ideas that didn’t make the cut, and one of them was a conversation between two contemporary young women called Laura and Lucy. It is too embarrassingly bad to reproduce here, but the point is that Lucy’s situation bore a certain resemblance to the most beloved character in “Fantastic Beasts”, Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler.)
Lucy had been recruited by some amiable People with Strange Powers to combat a Sinister Plot. (You can see that the story planning had some way to go.) One of her new friends had a good reason for wanting a diversion one night, so he implanted a false image in Lucy’s mind of seeing someone in a kitchen. The snippet I wrote was her discovery of the truth, and her reaction.
In “Fantastic Beasts”, Jacob Kowalski, unlike Lucy, is aware that he is being Obliviated (or not. Sweet sentimental ending!), but no one else in New York is told this. For the convenience of the wizarding community, the murder and mayhem that has been going on for the past 24 hours is obliterated from everyone’s memory, at the hero’s suggestion, and the background music suggests we should approve.
Of course this is common procedure in JK Rowling’s works. Notably, a campsite manager called Mr Roberts has his memory repeatedly wiped in “The Goblet of Fire”, making him at least temporarily unwell. This is done so that wizards can gather for a sporting event without disturbance. It’s not just Muggles: Kingsley Shacklebolt falsifies Marietta Edgecombe’s memory in “The Order of the Phoenix”, to get Dumbledore and Harry off the hook.
I yield to almost no one in my love for the Potterverse, but I have always been unhappy with this aspect.
It is the normal procedure for the Men in Black, and someone I knew indeed criticised the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones film bitterly for pandering to US conspiracy theorists in this way. (“There’s something going on that they’re not telling us.”) It wasn’t her kind of film anyway, but I now think she had a good point.
Wiping and replacing memories has also been done by Professor Charles Xavier of the X-Men, by Superman (Superman!) to Lois Lane, and even by an alien race to Tintin (but not Snowy) in one of his later adventures. Of course it’s often done by bad guys (“The Matrix”, anyone?) and as far as I remember it’s a feature of the replicants’ history in “Blade Runner.”
It’s a common SF/fantasy procedure. Occasionally some of the “good” characters express unease, as J does in the original Men in Black film, but it’s not unease that they should be registering. It’s utter horror and condemnation, and this was what I was wanting to say when I wrote a few hundred words about Lucy.
To change or implant someone’s memory, or their perception of events, without their knowledge or consent, would if it were possible be an act almost unbelievably evil. Anyone who did this would automatically not be one of the good guys, even if their name was Albus Dumbledore, or indeed Arthur Weasley.
My fictional Lucy discovered that this had been done to her, over quite a minor matter (they said). She tried to explain to her former “friend” that from now on, she knew and could be certain of nothing , nothing at all. She didn’t know her name or address, or the names or faces of her family. She only had an impression, which might or might not be correct. And therefore she was leaving the organisation, because no good it was claiming to do outweighed this wrong.
Lucy’s friends, the Ministry of Magic, and the Men in Black, regard themselves (just as Grindelwald does) as acting for the greater good. Can anyone point me to the appropriate popular film or book that properly calls out and condemns this practice and this justification? The only one I know of that addresses the (im)morality of memory-wipes is “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and in that one there is consent.
I alas can’t write such a story, as telepathic powers don’t fit with the world of Ragaris, but if no one yet has, they should.
Fortunately, the power is fictional…
Love from the PPI Blogger
PS It occurred to me only while planning this post that people who think they’ve a moral right to protect their secrets by harming others do exist on Ragaris after all, and I write about them in “The Servant’s Voice”. But it’s not quite the same.