Monday, August 19, 2013

Redfern Jon Barrett's Forget Yourself - Can You Explain Its Magnetism, Its Fascination???

During Hitler's Reign...
"People are punished for their
"People who inflict suffering are
removed from society.
"Criminals are confined..."
--The Book
Or Back to A New Beginning...

"A Tidy Garden means 
a tidy mind."
--The Book
Or is it the Future???
"There's something important about
our memories here--fact and theory
become lost in one another, entwined,
meshed together like berries and
bruised vegetables..."

Or...Is It Happening Right Now...
"My breathing was steady and he was calm. I had to ask
when do we get to leave?

Forget Yourself
By Redfern Jon Barrett

I received this book direct from Berlin two days ago and finished reading it yesterday... 

My name is Blondee...

Oops, no, that's one of the characters in this exciting, fascinating, extremely chilling and startling novel by, ah, I forget... Sometimes I think I'm Blondee...

I was reading a book, I thought about the future, but, as I read, my thoughts went all over the place. Was this after the garden--memory wiped to start over, on our own to build a world? No, that couldn't be because every once in a while, "rations" are provided, so somebody has to be providing us food and other barest essentials... I don't know how I got here and I don't want to be here. There are about 100 here. Of course I don't know anybody...

I don't know who I am... My name is Blondee. That's what they named me when I came. My fingers are long so they knew I was a thief. They put me in with other minors. Tie gave me a window...and said I could balance it against a wall and add a little more, to make me a triangle hut. That's where I live now. 

Did I tell you my name is Blondee now? It's because of my hair. There are no other blondes here, so I could be named Blondee. I guess it makes as much sense as calling me a thief because my fingers are long, don't you think? I don't know how long I've been here. We know night and day, but nothing else. Tie was here when I first came and he helped me. Now he's dead. I think new ones have come but I can't be sure. As soon as somebody is here, they are defined as least, minor, moderate and severe. Once that is done, we are forced to live in a certain part of the land and are not supposed to go into the other areas.

There were four who arrived first--3 men and a woman. After they had argued and fought with each other, they began to consider what to do. All of their personal memories had been taken. They knew about basic necessities.

If one of them remembered something from their past, it was written in The Book, which they started to keep, because that would be the only way to begin to learn, to establish rule, order...

It was everybody's opinion, once they had started to think about things, that they must have been put where they were for punishment. They didn't remember what they'd done, so if something triggered an opinion, that became the measurement.

Thus, Blondee, with long fingers, must have stolen something, but in relation to many other crimes that was probably minor...

Thus Blondee became a minor--thief.

Now, this was very important to this new society. Because where you ranked gave you a priority for selecting rations! Thus, the least, who wasn't quite so bad, were given priority. Tie told Blondee that he was least--sexual. Given that he was embarrassed when he said it, my guess was that they concluded he took care of his own sexual needs...

But who knows, because nobody had a memory of what they had done, and nobody there could possibly remember even if that individual had done it...

The very worst, the severe group, were placed at a far distance so that there was little awareness of them. Of course, they were the last to get their rations.
Blondee became well-established in her new world and made friends, took lovers and at one time, even was in love with two people, but that had taken awhile...

"How people look here is important. Everyone has a sex drive, and it influences their actions. Most people found me attractive when I arrived, and I enjoyed their stares, their gaze a soft lingering caress of brief intimacy - intimacy which I missed badly, but of which I also had no recollection. People were nice to me. I was a decent face bordered by butter-blonde hair. It didn't take long to learn that the way I looked limited intimacy.
"I would talk to wandering eyes and slight-smiling lips. I'd been excited about making friends, it would distract me from what I had decided was my death, and from the squalid hovel I'd been housed inside. But angry partners kept their lovers from me, jealous and afraid that I would steal their soul mate away, steal away their only possible achievement in this world. They never said it, but each new friend would eventually avoid me, softly whispered excuses cover the harsh stares of their beloved. Almost everyone in the compound was coupled and it didn't do to talk too much to those who belonged to another.
"So I had spent the first ages in the new world alone, not sure what to do with myself and sleeping most of the time. The only break had come in brief visits from Tie, who would come to make sure I was doing a little less miserably..."

And then came the time that Blondee was to have time with The Book. That night she heard a noise--Thud, thud, thud... And it drew a memory. She saw it there in her mind... She knew it was made of stone, but she could remember the scene, the details--the dogs, hunting with her bow...

It was a memory. And it belonged to Blondee...

But when she went to see The Book and told Pilsner, he didn't believe her...

Still, she took the time to read it and saw some things her friends had written:

"You should get back on your feet as soon as possible."
"Criminals go to prison. They're told how long by a judge. Sometimes they're
  put to death.
"Songs are a melody, with more than one instrument. Bands play together and      make songs.

Blondee remembered that she always said songs were more than that:
they had words. Another false memory they said...

Blondee started exploring at night, going into the areas assigned to the other groups, the moderates, the least. There she had found another friend to love

"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..."

A new world, an old world? No matter--it is your world now and for your future. What role would you take in such a place? Perhaps you would consider that you would be Blondee--that you would remember...

But what good are memories if there is nobody who wants to hear them. Would you begin to remember the nice man who was here to greet you when you first arrived and renew a relationship with him, even though he is dead now? Talking to a ghost is better than talking to nobody, right? I couldn't blame her... The memories were coming fast now, but were they real? Or from a book she had read sometime, someplace? Sometimes, she was male, sometime she was female. When she was male, she would look down... and wonder who she was now...

For about 90% of this book, I was totally wrapped up in this world, trying, though, to figure out the how, the why, the who of it all...And then the beginning of the end came...and I got lost...I mean, Blondee got lost... The ending was anti-climatic for me, but appropriate for the book's story. Readers will automatically become part of Blondee's world--you won't be able to stop yourself... What would you do, if you forgot yourself???

There is stability in the world. People are asked to conform to the majority. But what if you are different? Taking away memories results in a new individual, but does it really? They say some people can't be hypnotized if you are unwilling to give up control. But if your memories are taken? In this new world, we see that some immediately began to organize, to set up a structure, a society. While some lived by emotions alone. And they wanted to love and be loved as one of the key issues. There are only a few actual scenes of Blondee with her two lovers. She ultimately chose one based upon...remembering...

When nothing but the basic needs in our lives are what we have to look forward to, the higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs can never be climbed. Shelter, food, safety are paramount. Barrett presents that world to his readers and allows you to consider what you would do. I found myself there. Dare you try?

Barrett's novel has been exceptionally well done, well written, and even the ending revealed what happened to the main character, purely through her actions. In some ways it is a devastating look into ourselves! Would we survive? And in case you're wondering, there is no happy ending... For those of you who are willing, this could be a must-read...


Redfern Jon Barrett writes sci-fi, political rants, and polyamorous decadence. His works of science and speculative fiction have featured in A Cappella Zoo (2012; 2013), The Future Fire, and Corvus. He writes about cyberpunk for the online magazine Scifi Methods, and has written articles for Sleek, Gender Forum, and various polyamory resources. As an obsessive propagandist, he also has chapters in the books Witches/Sorcières (published by the Maison Populaire, Paris), and Shaped By Time (published by the Danish National Museum). Last but not least, his sci-fi novel Forget Yourself is now available on Amazon. Site: Facebook page: Twitter: @redfernjon

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