I bought artificial memories of a disturbing Thursday in Dublin.
The day was bookended with bagels for breakfast and roast celeriac for dinner. Unusually, two of our grandchildren (7 and 9) made us that breakfast after a sleep-over in their home. Later, the celeriac roasted as we watched city-centre rioting on national television, from the safety of our own home. What happened in between will stay with me forever.
This particular Thursday was Thanksgiving in America. Who gives thanks in a period when repeated acts of unconscionable and escalating cruelty can’t be prevented? Perhaps such injustices are becoming normalised because good news doesn’t make money?
I had a camera with me all day yet took no photographs of the stabbing victims nor the disarmed assailant I encountered as I exited a restaurant after my lunch. Later, I paid a company to use a machine someplace to create images to represent the events I had witnessed.
I purchased some credits from OpenAI for DALL·E 2, an AI system that purports to create realistic images and art from a description in natural language. The phrases that journaled my day’s events, that seeded the generation of the images I bought, are preserved as the captions in this chapbook.
Should I give thanks for these fake visual memories? Or is this the new fiction?
The images won’t age well. DALL·E 2 will become 3 and later versions will become ever more powerful. Augmentation, like cosmetic surgery, will become acceptable. News cycles will become ever more corrupted, woefully depressing: humanity will appear ever more depraved.
What are you witnessing each day? Do you see your human rights being eroded little by little? If it’s real, is it a consequence of the uncertainties such as climate change, population shifts and food security? Is the sanctity of life fungible, traded for land or influence?
Must we remain connected to other people’s media in order to see our family and friends?
The Bracket Books chapbooks are available for online purchase through FabHappy but perhaps you’d prefer to enquire here. They’re published each calendar month, each copy uniquely numbered and posted at the end of each month. Prices include packaging, delivery, all currency and inflation risks.
Chapbooks 25 to the final issue 39 (15 issues):
Republic of Ireland: €135
Rest of World: €145 / UK£125 / US$145
Any one issue:
Republic of Ireland: €14
Rest of World: €15 / UK£13 / US$15
Institutions add 30%