“I really wonder whether all memories are the same or if some are ‘more important’ than others. Like many people my age, I was exposed to extreme amounts of well-produced, high quality information and entertainment from birth onward. The other day I saw a Shake ‘n Bake commercial, one I had not seen in twenty years, and in a flash, the whole commercial came back to me, as though I had just seen it five minutes ago. So I guess my head is stuffed with an almost-endless series of corporation-sponsored consumer tableaux of various lengths. These ‘other’ commercialized memories are all in my head, somewhere, and this is indeed something worth considering.
What would it be like to have never had these commercialized images in my head? What if I had grown up in the past or in a nonmedia culture? Would I still be ‘me’? Would my ‘personality’ be different?
I think the unspoken agreement between us as a culture is that we’re not supposed to consider the commercialized memories in our head as real, that real life consists of time spend away from the tvs, magazines, and theartres. But soon the planet will be entirely populated by people who have only known a world with tvs and computers. When this point arrives, will we still contunue with pre-tv notions of identity? Probably not. Time continues on: Instead of buying blue Chairman Mao outfits, we shop at the Gap. Same thing. Everybody travels everywhere. ‘Place’ is a joke.
And here is something we’ve all noticed: During power failures we sing songs, but the moment the electricity returns, we atomize.
I am choosing to live my life in a permanent power failure. I look at the screens and glossy pages and I don’t let them become memories.
When I meet people, I imagine them in a world of darkness. The only lights that count are the sun, candles, the fireplace and the light inside of you, and if I seem strange to you at times, it’s only beucause I’m switching off the power, trying to help us both, trying to see you and me as the people we really are.”
–Douglas Coupland, a Canadian novelist, visual artist and designer. His novels and visual work synthesize high and low culture, web technology, religion, and changes in human exsistence caused by modern technology.