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This essay looks at how the interlinked concepts of time, memory and history feature in the short story “Let’s Go to Golgotha!”. The definition of the three concepts and the direct interlink is stated using refences from the novel itself. At the end its shown that memory is personal and history is general. Both are changed easily and shaped by time. References to the real world is also used to unlock messages that were left by the author.
The story follows Simon Falk and his family as their journey back in time to witness the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The story takes place in the distant future where time travel is possible, it’s made available by agencies such as Pan time tours. The tour operator warns the tourists that they must not do anything to disrupt history, specifically when the crowd is asked whether to spare Jesus or Barabbas. However, when the time comes, the protagonist suddenly realises that the crowd convicting Jesus to the cross is composed entirely of tourists from the future, and that no actual Jewish Jerusalemites were present. Time is defined as a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and the measure of periods of events and the intermission between them.
Another way of looking at time is as the entirety of three separate elements: the past, the present and the future. The Past may be defined as those events which occurred before a given point in time, events which are usually considered to be fixed and absolute. It can be retrieved through memory or, since the arrival of written language, recorded history. The Present may be defined as the time associated with the events observed directly and for the first time, it is equivalent to the word “now” not as a recollection of the past or as a conjecture of the future. The future is the indefinite period after the present moment. It is the portion of the projected time line that is anticipated to occur, and may be considered as potentially infinite in its extent, or as circumscribed and finite, depending on the context. Clearly, all stories take place in time to some extent. Regardless of the way a story may deal with time, it is still the passage of time that allows plots to unfold, characters to be drawn and many other things.
However, what we are talking about here is literature where time, and the passage of time, is a major theme, and sometimes almost a character. This story takes place in a distant future, where humans now travel to space for vacation. We see this when Simon states that he owed his family a vacation but he couldn’t afford space travel. A time where humans habit Mars and Earth this was evident as we hear the consultant/agent telling Simon that the Revolution of Mars has only a limited number of seats. This trip illustrates how humans inhabited Mars and developed it to what it is now. The fact that this era had already revolutionised Mars and was now part of their history suggested to us how far they were into the future. We also get a glimpse of how advanced technology and biotechnology are. During the preparation for the time tour, we come across what is known as the language laboratory and Biotreatment rooms. Biotreatment rooms are labs that can harden foot skin of members that had elected to go barefooted on the trip. The language laboratory is a place where people are taught Hebrew using what is called The Knowledge-Injection Principle, for one afternoon. Even though this knowledge only lasted for about a month before it completely disappeared in the brain, we see that we are far into the future where such wonders can be performed. Wonders such as time traveling. Time travel had been invented and made commercially available for citizens. Time travel usually refers to the possibility of changing the rate at which we travel into the future, or completely reversing it so that we travel into the past, it’s usually taken to mean that a person’s mind and body remain unchanged, with their memories intact, while their location in time is changed. If the traveller’s body and mind reverted its condition at the destination time, then no time travel would be perceptible. Our time traveling agency Pan time tours takes families back in time to witness historical events such as the Coronation of Elizabeth, the Revolution of Mars (which hasn’t taken place yet in the real world), the Sacking of Carthage and much more. What is not cleared in the story is whether traveling to the future was also a possibility. Time in this fictional world of ours was not linear but a controlled dimension. This raises so many concerns as time traveling might have many consequences on the timeframe. Can anyone own a time traveling agency, what effects would be meeting yourself have on the timeframe? And if so shouldn’t there be time police to ensure the perseverance of history? But now that time traveling had been invented should history even be conserved?
History is defined as a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to people, country, period and a person, usually written as a chronological account. However, the story gives its own version of what history is. Even though their history is the same as ours, since the story takes place in a distant future our present and what is to be our future is their history. Humans are looking forward to revolutionising Mars for it is supposed to be the new Earth for our future generation. That, however, is already done in our fictional world and is as old as the Coronation of Elizabeth. That’s evident when we hear the Salesman tell Simon “the Coronation of Elizabeth the First is fully booked, I’m afraid, and the Revolution of Mars has only a limited number of seats available”. Humans are intrigued about their new home Mars. It either happened a long time ago that it’s now part of their history or they would like to physically witness it with their own eyes. In the story, the protagonist Simon, his family, and friends go back in time to witness one of the greatest historical events that ever took place the crucifixion of Jesus. The crucifixion of Jesus in the bible stated that, for many in Jerusalem, looked just like any other day. Simon of Cyrene was on his way into the city from the country. Little did he know that Jesus had been arrested, trialled during the night and early morning hours, and had just been handed over for crucifixion, taking, it would seem, the place of Barabbas. As they took up their crosses and made their way to Golgotha. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but he could not seem to find a way to release him. He finally gave in to the demands of the crowd and freed Barabbas. The condemned normally carried their own cross, but Jesus had endured such abuse that He no longer had the strength to carry His. A man named Simon, from Cyrene, a north African city of Libya, happened to pass by. A large crowd was following Jesus, made up mainly of women. Simon does not appear to have been following Jesus, but rather was coming into Jerusalem from the country. Simon was compelled to take up our Lord’s cross, an anticipated event that changed the course of Simon’s life. Matthew 27:38-54, Mark 15:27-39, Luke 23:35-49, and John 19:23-34 describe the crucifixion and the people present and name some of them: Mary (mother of Jesus), Mary Magdalene, Joseph of Arimathea (probably a secret Judean disciple of The Messiah) “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, James ( whom it was said his identity still a subject of considerable debate), Nicodemus( probably also a secret Judean disciple), Salome, Mary of Clopas, Simon of Cyrene, The centurion, Caiaphas, (the Jewish high priest), Annas (a high priest before whom Jesus is brought) and various kinds of crowds. In the story, however, things didn’t follow this history. At first, it appears as if the writer did this on purpose. The twist was just a protagonist realising that the crowd composed of only of the time-traveling tourist and not any of the above-mentioned characters or Jews. However, the question would be even though the citizens, as Simon says to Harry, we’re terrified in their houses would Mary (Jesus’s mother), Caiaphas, Annas and the other significant characters also have locked themselves in their houses?
So, it’s clear to see that to pass on the message or to deliver the twist, at the end the writer, Gary Kilworth ignored certain truths of that historical event. However, it’s also ironic that our writer named the protagonist Simon as Simon is a very important character in the true history of the crucifixion of Jesus. Simon was the one who helped Jesus carry the cross and in the story, it is Simon who realises that it was the time travellers who crucified Jesus, the son of God and ask Harry to help get him down, unfortunately, Harry stated that it was already done and there was nothing they could do. It was not stated to the readers if the alteration of history could also change one’s memory. Would the Jews now record that a strange crowd of people crucified Jesus? and would the history of that be imbedded in our character’s memory and the rest of the future?
Memory refers to the ways in which individuals and societies choose to remember (or forget) certain moments and events in their history. Individually, memory is more effective. It’s personal experience and therefore considered more useful. History on the other hand is impersonal, considered by some to be nothing more than an agreed upon recollection of past events. This is evident when we hear Mandy Simons’s wife tells Simon the importance of the children experiencing what happened so that they had a real understanding of religion and what it means. According to Mandy, the children would relate more if it was part of their memory. We also see the effects of not experiencing the moment yourself as we hear Sarah, Harry’s wife saying, “Jesus died to save our souls or whatever it was that he saved”. That alone shows that her knowledge of Jesus came from written scriptures that she clearly didn’t understand. We hear Mandy also confirming this by stating that “a pack of old man droning out the scriptures is not religion. I want to see the real thing”. History is collective memory and memory is individual history both are likely tainted by an individual’s view point. . . leaving room to doubt their effectiveness.
In conclusion, during a time tour a person’s mind and body remain unchanged, with their memories intact, while their location in time is changed. If the traveller’s body and mind reverted its condition at the destination time, then no time travel would be perceptible. Therefore time travelling depends on an intact memory and an already existing historical event.
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