Friday, July 6, 2012
Construct With Memory
Have you ever gone down the memory road with the phrase, “If I had only known then what I know now, I would’ve (or wouldn’t have) done or not done this.” Hmmm. Maybe not. We often wish we knew the future when it might help more to remember the past—if not for ourselves then definitely for our main characters.
Our version of past events might give a clue not only to how we perceive situations, but also bring to light personality patterns that otherwise might remain hidden.
For example, in the movie Penelope, the parents are desperate to keep their newborn child out of the public eye. One creative journalist manages to sneak into the house startling Jessica, the mother. She in turn reacts physically causing the journalist to lose his eye. No real blame on the mother who instinctively protects her child. And the scene taps into the whole paparazzi deserve what they get attitude.
Yet decades later when the journalist has the opportunity to get his photos, and receive some payback, he begins to back away out of sympathy for Penelope. In the end he brings information to her family in an effort to help her. His character shows genuine concern. He puts compassion above his job.
However, the first words from Jessica are basically, “It’s your own fault you lost your eye.” No remorse. No apology. Immediately combative again. And she’s the one who refuses to let Penelope know the truth. She puts self-interest above her daughter, even though she believes she’s acting out of love. Jessica is more trapped emotionally by the curse than Penelope. She makes all her choices, decisions and actions based on her narrowed viewpoint.
Put your character in a scene with a family member or co-worker with whom there has been a rift in their relationship due to a previous incident. Each continues to justify their own attitude based on their interpretation of remembered events.
Bring a third person into the conversation that presents another possibility altogether. Are either of them willing to change perspective? Why or why not?
Why do you think we have difficulty acknowledging responsibility for our actions when we are in the wrong? Even for simple oversights.