May 13, 2012

Passage illustrated IV - the dramatized memories

Let's widen the scope a little. The spectrum of unreal worlds is not restricted to those created in fiction.

Harry Potter (in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) encounters a magic item called the Pensieve, which can be used to externalize memories. That way, one can re-examine what one has experienced before; and it is suggested that this works without the effects of fading or distortion that our memories in the real world suffer. When Harry gets close to the Pensieve, he is drawn into the memories of its owner (Dumbledore, the headmaster of the school).

There is no interaction between the protagonist and the past world; Harry is just watching. This seems appropriate if we remember that what the movie presents us with is a memory from the past, which is supposed to be unchangeable, since it already has happened; moreover, it is someone else's memory — so it's doubly removed from any possible outside influence.

We have here short, but discernible departure and arrival sequences. Is there also a setup-recognition structure? Yes there is: Harry (and we, the audience) can recognize both the room in which the memory scene takes place and some of the key players in the scene (apart from Dumbledore himself, the camera also catches 'Mad Eye' Moody, Ivan Karkaroff, Barty Crouch, and Rita Skeeter); and Harry (and we) can do so because there was a scene earlier in the movie in which he was in the exact same room in a similar situation (formal hearing), and all the key players involved were of course introduced already in the exposition of the story. Thus we can recognize that we must be in a memory (played in a kind of holographic cinema) from several clues that were carefully prepared beforehand.[1]

There is, however, no shifted passage, and it also appears that the character is not physically away from the origin location. Harry is mentally fully absorbed in the scene which he experiences, but he remains in the room with the Pensieve. It's comparable rather to getting immersed in a dream (in which case you're still physically there, lying asleep somewhere) than to actually travel, where you fully depart from the origin location. Again, this seems appropriate if we consider the nature of the departure location; after all, this is a memory, a mental item, so it seems natural to get immersed mentally, but not drawn in physically. (Compare this with the instances in my earlier post, where the destination locations, such as scenes in movies or a painting, were fictional worlds we are supposed to imagine as 'being there somewhere'.)
[1] Strictly speaking, it would be necessary to distinguish whose recognition is the relevant one in setup-recognition-structures: that of the passenger, or that of the audience? That's an interesting question, but let's collect some more samples before we go deeper into it.

No comments: