Writer’s Wednesday: Forget Yourself by Redfern Jon Barrett
“It is important that you know: I love you.
Of course I have no idea who you are.
But I have no real idea who I am either, so it seems fair to me.”
Forget Yourself by Redfern Jon Barrett is is a fascinating look into a dystopian future where people show up in a tiny world, naked and with no memories. How people shape and create societies, our often futile attempts to fit in, and the difficulties of not being mainstream, polygamy, wife classes, queerness and gender identity are just a few of the issues covered.
Although I felt the ending was a little disjointed, I really enjoyed the novel itself and devoured it in just a couple of days – greatly recommend it.
“I think it’s really sad that you can hate more than one person but not love more than one person.”
“Blondee, you’re interested in what you can get for yourself. You’re interested in how you perceive yourself, who you are, what you are. You’re interested in how others perceive you, in who they see you are, who they think you are. You’re not interested in talking: you’re not interested in thinking. You’re just trying to make an identity for yourself, trying to build a person out of the lump of flesh and hair which landed here. It’s exactly the same as all the others. There’s nothing left but you, because you’re trying to build a whole new person, and if that doesn’t take the whole of someone’s time, the whole of someone’s mind, then I don’t know what does.
“Of course everyone here needs an opinion on that, someone to test that experiment on. Someone to judge their achievement. So they get their little lovers and spend all their time impressing them. They try to impress them with this whole person they’ve built. But it’s pointless, neither is paying attention, neither is listening because really all they can hear is themselves. Each person trying to impress the other simply so they can impress themselves. Eventually it fails because no-one is really listening to anyone and they get angry, or frustrated, or bored, and the only time the other person then exists is as a nuisance they need to get rid of. And so they do. They get rid of each other and continue their experiment, searching for a whole new person to be a judge of it and start the whole fucking process over again.
“I don’t think anyone does, not really.”
“What else is there to say?” she asked.
“No-one does? No-one has any memories at all? But what about the book, what about -”
“And they’re memories, are they?”
“They’re memories of the outside, of the old world, how things were, of the world before.”
“They’re not memories.”
She sounded certain, spread before me as still as stone.
“Then what are they Burberry?”
“Inventions. Stories. Creations.” She was quiet for another moment. “I’m sure people think they’re real.”
“I hear you, Blondee. I hear you. I know what you want. You don’t just want to rebuild yourself like everyone else here. You want to rebuild everything, all we have, all by yourself. But you’ll destroy it first, there’s no other way. Do you know that? You’ll destroy it. I won’t let you. How could I let you? You’re destructive. We were wrong, so wrong to label you a minor. You’re the worst of anyone here.”
He paused for a moment to catch his breath. His voice softened.
“Blondee, I’m aware I’m angry at you. And you’re angry at me. Neither of us will listen – anger closes the ears. But you must pay attention to me: stop this. Stop this whole thing. What we have now is fragile, more fragile than you realise.”
“I don’t understand. Are you not happy?”
How would I know? Perhaps it’s different outside, perhaps it’s different in the real world. Perhaps it’s larger, it’s bigger and better, perhaps every heart-jump and belly flutter is a feeble tremor compared to reality. Am I not happy? How the fuck should I know?