I’ve been thinking about Living Memory recently. Not for any specific reason, but I am increasingly aware that the boundary between Living Memory and History is creeping closer to my own personal timescape.
When I was wee, all of the adults around me had been adult during WWII and some had been adult during WWI. When I first read Flambards, I was cross that my Grandmother had not taken up with a romantic pioneering aviator in the days when you measured flights in the hundreds of yards. And now that’s a century ago and the chance to talk to anyone about the days before the First World War has slipped from my grip; soon the chance to talk to people involved in WWII will have slithered away as well.
It’s not just that the baby-boomers are old farts now, though that has something to do with it. It’s not that I could tell a friend that I regretted not throwing a party to celebrate being 33⅓ and have her wonder out loud why I’d pick such an odd age to celebrate. It’s not that I have colleagues who were born after John Lennon died, or that the USSR imploded almost twenty ago and that Diana has been dead for a decade, or any of the things catch one by surprise with the sneaky way time tiptoes past.
It’s the shifting of my mental map. I am used to WWII and Suez being just over there, in spaces I cannot quite reach myself, but this person standing by me can reach out and touch them for me. And the future is over there on that side and no-one can touch that of course, though anyone can press their nose up against the glass.
But there are fewer and fewer people anywhere who can touch WWII and Suez and only one I can think of who is standing anywhere near me; and we are all living in the future now. Neuromancer was published 23 years ago.