Memory Jar

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pensieve.jpg

This trope is when an object becomes imbued with the memories of a character, allowing others to gain these memories in a Pensieve Flashback or Exposition Beam. The "Jar" may be single use or reusable, and while it is often made intentionally either as an awesome form of journaling or diary keeping, it's entirely possible for it to be made unintentionally. In those cases, it's probably a psychic or wizard using a form of touch based Psychometry to find out the history of an item.

In some cases, the memory jar can potentially be a complete record of a character's memories, becoming both a biography and potentially a "restore point" if their memories are damaged or a clone has to imprinted.

Compare Transferable Memory and Neuro-Vault.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the episode "Glass Labyrinth" of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Motoko seemingly gets hacked and finds her way to a curio shop where the store owner holds onto items full of memories from the customers who left them in her care. The psychic imprints that each object gives off allows her to tell the full story behind it. Motoko is soon reminded about the story of her and Kuze's past, and the tragic plane crash that brought them together when they were both just six years old.

    Comic Books 
  • A particularly horrible example in Hellblazer: John encounters a sweet, grandmotherly old woman who sends her son to kill prostitutes and hack off chunks of their flesh with a razor which she then keeps floating in jars. She can then relive the victim's happiest memories, which John compares to a drug high.
  • In The Sandman, Odin keeps his thoughts and his memories in his two crows, Hugin and Munin. When he sends them off to gather information, he becomes completely catatonic, being capable of neither until they return.
  • X-Men: The Shi'ar gave Jean Grey's family a crystal ball full of their and other people's memories of Jean Grey after she saved the universe, but before the Dark Phoenix Saga.

    Films — Animation 
  • Rise of the Guardians has baby teeth work this way, storing childhood memories that the tooth fairy returns to children when they might forget their youthful dreams or self.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Schriber of Dark City implants Fake Memories into people's heads with syringes, and he's later seen concocting the fluids that make up these memories.
  • The Final Cut centers around a special implant babies can get that will record their entire lives so that loved ones can see them after the individual's death. The main character's job is to cut and edit these memories into a film so that only the best memories are seen.
  • In The Neverending Story II, Bastian is slowly losing his memories which are being kept in what appear to be glass orbs by Xayide.

    Literature 
  • The Memory Bulbs from Jeff VanderMeer's Finch allow the Graycaps to access the memories of recently deceased individuals. You simply sprinkle some spores on the corpse, wait for awhile for the fungoid bulb grow from their head and then eat it. The experience is extremely confusing, at least for humans, trying to perceive range of events in a non-linear fashion, like picking them up randomly from the air. Since the memories always belong to a dead person, experiencing the memory of their deaths can be traumatic, as well. But worst of all, sometimes the process simply goes wrong when a human ingests the bulb; one detective's body breaks down into a mass of spores after going through the process one too many times.
  • Pensieves in Harry Potter are used this way and for the selfsame Pensieve Flashback.
  • The Rambosian aliens of Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime series are filled with a fluid that keeps their memories. They keep jars of this fluid, and regularly back them up with newer memories. If they suffer some fatal misfortune, they can be patched up, refilled and returned to life.
  • Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs series introduces the "stack", a cigarette-filter-sized implant at the base of the brain. It contains a complete record of the user's personality and memories, which can be backed up, sent elsewhere, or installed in a new body (aka "sleeve"). If your body dies but the stack is not destroyed, you can be revived. As an added bonus, a human brain is the only thing that can readily make use of the information in a stack, so even if others get access to your backups, they can't view/edit your mind in cut-and-paste fashion. Your memories can only be recovered by creating another "you" in the process. The novels come complete with a very large and well-thought-out list of the technology's consequences.
  • A Strugatsky Brothers short story involves the attempt to store the mind of a dying great scientist. The story goes into detail about the limitations of this new technology. The entire town is blacked out and perpetual storm clouds block out the sunlight in order to remove any EM interference. The "town" is actually made up of large warehouses holding a special substance that can contain vast amounts of data. After all, it's not just the information from brain cells but also the neurons that link these brain cells, and neurons that link those neurons, etc. The experiment is a partial success, as the man expires with 2% of his mind still unrecorded. Additionally, the scientists performing the experiment have no idea what to do with the stored memories, as they have no way to actually interpret the information. The idea is to eventually develop the means to allow people to live on as electronic entities, but that is far off.
  • Keith Laumer's A Trace of Memory. An amnesiac alien living as a human on Earth must recover the device in which his full memories are stored. He later discovers that on his home planet almost everyone has this problem.
  • In The Worthing Saga, the cold sleep used to enable starflight has the unfortunate side effect of completely wiping a person's memory. The solution, spheres which record this and replay it into the subject's brain.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Babylon 5 episode "Deathwalker" had Talia Winters meeting with Kosh and a strange cybernetic man who apparently was recording her thoughts and saving them on a data crystal. Word of God is that it would be used to restore her personality after she was taken over by the Psi Corps personality, but Andrea Thompson left the show, so that never came to fruition.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Mr. Gold can apparently use a dreamcatcher to capture and hold memories.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons again got one of everything. The Thought Bottle, an item that appeared in Tome of Magic, does exactly this. Possible uses as a relatively secure data medium or Memory Gambit prop were mentioned.
    • In Forgotten Realms tel'kiira ("elven lore-gem") are memory storage devices used as write-at-will personal logs and spellbooks, normally usable only by elves and worn mostly by nobility. Physically, it's a little gem stuck on the forehead of its wearer, most of the time sunk in and not visible. Ancestral lore-gem worn by generations of heirs of a noble House has a value much like the flag of a military unit: not waved around in vain, and losing it counts as a major disgrace. An elven kingdom that didn't allowed humans into capital knighted a human just for carrying one of these from a dying heir to the new rightful wearer, past their guards. Variants include books of elven advanced magic, secret agents' tools and occasional hybrids with other enchanted gems, up to ioun stones turned into semi-sentient defensive spellgem following the owner.
    • In the Ravenloft setting's domain of Darkon, the darklord Azalin has a library of self-writing books that document the lives of all that nation's residents. If a non-Darkonese stays within the domain too long, their original memories are supplanted by those of having been born and grown up in Darkon, and a book documenting their real history appears in Azalin's library.
    • The Society of Sensation in the Planescape setting purchases memories from adventurers to stock their library. Anyone who visits them can then pay to "view" the memory as though experiencing it themselves. The goal of the Society is to allow everyone to experience everything, so the library allows their members to experience things they either can't or won't do themselves.
  • "XPs" (Experience Playbacks) in Eclipse Phase are essentially the same thing as slinkys. Though one with the "mnemmonic augmentation" implant can make them from archived memories stored in their cortical stack.
  • In Exalted there are several means of memory transfer. The most obvious is the celestial exaltations themselves, given that a celestial exaltation is a recycled part of god-soul that holds aspects of all its former incarnations. The other is dream stones and other memory crystals. These can be found in tombs or on the black market (dream stones are apparently nearly as addictive as the Xbox of the gods). Makes sense when you realize that the mortal vessels needed to be brought back up to snuff relatively quickly in order to deal with the Primordials or they'd pretty much be reduced to glittering fodder.
  • "Slinkys" (Sensory links) in GURPS Transhuman Space are technically recordings of one's experiences while their "upslink" implant is active, but they fill the same function.
  • In Nomine has Memory Pearl artifacts which are pearl-like objects that can be used to remove/store memories, often used (especially by demons) to remove inconvenient knowledge from a temporary employee/associate often as part of the terms of employment.
  • A central part of Mindjammer is the Mindscape, essentially an entire wireless Internet devoted entirely to storing and sharing "exomemories". The name of the setting even comes from the starships used to keep the Mindscape up-to-date across interstellar distances (FTL Travel but no communications).
  • While MemoMax technology was really just intended to explain why Paranoia characters can retain their memories and personalities even after being replaced by their own clones, later editions would explore some of the darker implications of the technology.
  • From Wraith: The Oblivion, we get the Mnemoi and their Arcanos, Mnemosynis, the sole purpose of which is to transfer and manipulate memories. In a place where memories are important for maintaining one's existence, the Mnemoi are far from welcome, and are therefore one of the three Forbidden Guilds. In actuality, the Mnemoi are using their talents to store the memories of Charon for his return, and the whole persecuted thing is a ruse. One that, sadly, works a bit too well in the end.

    Video Games 
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has a few unexplained cylinders of Alexander's (each containing a single vague memory) scattered throughout the castle.
  • Downplayed by Kokonoe in BlazBlue. She doesn't save her memories per se, but she saves information and news regarding people and the world as backups, put in her special lab in the Boundary where any reality-warping effect (which may also affect her) cannot reach, allowing her to keep track of what happened in case she gets amnesia.
  • Mass Effect:
    • "Grayboxes", a piece of technology introduced in Kasumi's missions, serve this function, and her loyalty mission in the second game revolves around recovering one.
    • Javik, your potential Prothean DLC squadmate in Mass Effect 3, possesses an artifact he calls an Echo Shard that contains the memories that each Prothean that had it before him placed into it. The player character can advise him on whether to experience the memories contained or not — which, if he doesn't use it, will end up with him wondering what peace will be like, or, if he does use it, becoming a Death Seeker, and he may pass it on to Shepard in London.
  • In Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty, Raynor is given a crystal that contains Zeratul's memories of what he learned about the Zerg and the Fallen One.
  • The Sword of Melqart in Tears to Tiara 2 stores the memories of all its past users. However, they are not easily accessible, and not being strong enough would cause the sword to wipe the memory of the user. Hasdrubal uses this to purposely wipe the memory of his son Hamil so the secrets of their family does not fall into the hands of The Empire.
  • A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: Soul Tears are objects that Ivy can get from certain people that store a kind of memory that the reflecting pond can display.

    Western Animation 
  • In Silverhawks, recurring villain Zero the Memory Thief stores the memories he's drained on tapes worn on his chest.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MemoryJar