I am reading the book, Everything is Illuminated. Most likely the name sounds familiar to you, from the movie of few years ago, with Elijah Wood and Eugene Hutz, Gogol Bordello frontman. About the writer from New York who goes to Ukraine, with the help of two locals, to find woman who saved his grandfather from Nazis during Second World War. Yes, the movie is based on the book, but for me they are very much separated apart, not at all relating to each other except of the plot. I’m not saying movie was bad, it was interpretation of the director. However, here I’m going to talk about the book in particular. Well, rather about few ideas that the book inspired me to come to, as it is the book about life and to talk about it as a whole would require several volumes.
One character, Alex, after their journey together, is pleading the New York writer to change the course of his grandparents’ story in the book: Why you are not making them happy? Why you would not do good for them in your story? That is what we, writers, are for.. Immediately after reading that, another book came to my mind, Atonement. There, the main character, also writer, explains that she wrote different, happy ending for those people whose life she wrecked (also happening during Second World War). She wanted them to have happy ending at least in her story.
But would it be the happiness as we call it? Creating a different reality, or mutating current one, could it still be called as happiness? Could one pretend to be happy and lie about it to himself, and start to believe this lie,– would it be happiness?
One story (scene from movie/ book, can’t remember) got stuck in my head. The woman dies without learning the truth that the whole her “happiness” was a lie: really there was no loving husband, there was no happy family, there was no real friend. But she was happy while she lived, she knew here own, different truth, sort of living in a parallel reality people created for her. Is it still happiness? And why we need so much to be sure that others also know about our happiness, maybe to confirm that it is not a dream and we are actually happy?
Another example. I create a different reality for my mind, how about this? As everybody else in college years, I kept diaries (both online and old style written), starting and dropping six or seven of them during 5-years period. When I read any of my writings few years later, I was very confused. I was reading the stranger’s diary, not mine. At least that was what I felt. Did I write this, really? Mostly these were abstract thoughts, but I could hardly recall even most of the events. Just a slight flash, “oh yeah, something familiar..” and after heavy thinking, a memory comes.
So, it seems like the memory failed there (or succeeded; not everything I would be glad to remember). Therefore, I’m thinking: why not, instead of writing down bad event or analyzing bad feeling, I will make up different, opposite, a good story. Changing my own reality for future myself, so to say. Why not? For my memory, slight change of the course does not matter, the mind will still believe it.
True, it does not work with major events, but something bit unfortunate and upsetting could be edited. Then, if I create a different reality for my memory, I will start living in it: of course not immediately, but memory can be trained and controlled in certain ways, believe me. As a result, this new reality becomes my own, eventually. Does it really matter if I change something, if it makes me happy now and makes me feeling as if I was always happy? Is it really the make-up and lying we are so worried about? Would this mean a true happiness?
So, why I am including in this post my images of butterflies. Partly I relate and reflect human memory onto the butterfly effect theory. However, to put aside mathematics, first and foremost, butterflies are symbols of lightness, time, and transformation. And the hope, at least for me. Let the memories to butterfly, so they become Butterflying Memories.
Post Scriptum: I love the concept of “Butterflies of Memory” behind the installation project by artist Kathleen Griffin: “Collapsed and ruined building, literally shaken down by memories, releases them as seventeen giant golden butterflies carry it off into the sky.”