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I’m reading The Once and Future King by T. H. White right now, and while the style of the writing bugs me something fierce (COMMUNISM WAS NOT A THING YET IN MEDIEVAL TIMES WHY ARE YOU TOSSING IN MODERN REFERENCES FOR NO REASON STOP IT!) the ideas are certainly interesting. The one I’ve been musing on the most is how Merlin’s living-life-backwards is portrayed. I believe that’s part of the original legend, although it’s particularly hard to say what the original legend is, considering Arthurian myth has risen and fallen in popularity many times through history, and each time new authors add something to it that wasn’t there before. Much of what we associate with the myth – Guinevere and Lancelot, for example – was not part of the first stories. It’s almost as if, hundreds of years from now, the only thing the general public knows about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective is based on a fan-fiction of the BBC’s Sherlock show. But I digress.
The idea of experiencing time in reverse is an interesting one. You’d have to learn to speak backwards at all times in order to communicate with anyone effectively. The first time you met a friend would be when attending their funeral, and their birth would essentially be akin to their death as you would experience it, as they would be leaving your life forever. Now, it would certainly be easy to seem wise and prescient. The world’s future would be your past. However, I’m not sure that reputation for mystical wisdom would be worth it. One of the scenarios that seemed particularly tragic to me was if a loved one went mad. From your perspective, insanity would be their starting point, as you had just met. But as you got to know them, you would realize that you were in love with them, and they with you, and at one point they had not been mad. In fact, as time had gone by, they had gone mad with you in their life, and as you aged they would become more sane. And there would always be the question…was it you that made them lose their mind? After all, the deeper in love they fell in love with you…the less you would know who they were. Until you barely knew they existed at all. Which I think is why, although Merlin is often grumpy and wise and funny, he also has a deep, deep sadness to him.
What would be the best or worst thing about living backwards?