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Are we just the Sum of Our Memories?

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

In my 2022 novel, Pawns of The Prophet, the second instalment of Kiranis, I deal with a matter I find fascinating - cloning (don't worry, it's just one of the plot threads). Sure, it's been done before and even the matters I'm going to discuss here are far from new to the genre, but the foundation upon which these thoughts are brought to bear never ceases to give me pause.

My academic background saw me researching matters of identity and memory, in particular how collective and cultural memory (the latter concerned with ritualised reaffirmation of the past) contributed to groups of people - and by extension, nations - coming to see themselves as bound by 'memories' of ancestral events to which they couldn't possibly have access, let alone evidence for their occurrence. As Yuval Noah Harari has noted, fiction is the most powerful invention of our species.

But in 'Pawns', the memories of the individual are front and centre in terms of how 'true' cloning might be achieved - if ever - in terms of our memories being transmitted from one person to another to convince the clone that they were, in fact, the original person. It is only through this contructed continuity of self that we might then achieve the holy grail of medical science - immortality. But is it really immortality?

As someone who has long been troubled by an intense fear of death, even focusing on the moment of passing into sleep has more than once kept me awake! What if, then, we were offered 'immortality' through cloning, replaced by a subsequent body of (presumably) greater vitality? Wouldn't we first have to die?

What then does this mean? Are we really cloned? Would our clones really be us? Are we just the sum of our memories, pasted onto a blank canvas? And what then of death? Would 'strange aeons' indeed be upon us?


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