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23 September 2014 @ 11:41 am
pensieve pregunta (because, alliteration)  
I've just been thinking about random HP things, as one does, and I was hoping ya'll could clarify a point about Pensieves for me.

My question is: When you are putting a memory into the pensieve for viewing, is that silvery stuff the actual memory, or just a copy? For example, if Harry decided to view the Sectumpsempra incident, and took out the memory, would he still have any recollection of the memory BEFORE looking at it again?

ETA: And if it is just a copy of the memory. Do you think this memory copying spell can be applied an unlimited number of times? Could Harry withdraw/copy that Sectumsempra memory multiple times, without any degradation? Would it being copied affect the original memory, or just dilute the copy?? I'm over-thinking this.
digthewriter: Sirius_Young_Gif1digthewriter on September 23rd, 2014 06:46 pm (UTC)
I think: It's a copy so you can share it.

Users of these devices view the memories from a third-person-point-of-view, providing a near-omniscient perspective of the events preserved. Rowling confirmed memories in the Pensieve allow one to view details of things that happened even if they did not notice or remember them, and stated "that's the magic of the Pensieve, what brings it alive."

candamiracandamira on September 23rd, 2014 07:16 pm (UTC)
That icon kills me!!! *longs for*
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
But, you could share it even if it was the real thing, couldn't you? Because this doesn't state that you could give out multiple copies of the memory. Hmm...
digthewriter: Sirius_Young_Gif1digthewriter on September 23rd, 2014 07:19 pm (UTC)
You can store one copy to come back for later viewing. You can't keep making copies. I think.
Reckless Passionlauren3210 on September 23rd, 2014 06:51 pm (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure, but I think it's a copy - they're given away too freely for me to otherwise find believable, because they don't always get them back from the person they give them to. Do we ever see Dumbledore putting his memories back after his trips into the past with Harry? I can't remember, but I think that the action of putting them back afterwards would suggest that they were the actual memory; otherwise, what would be the point?

Oooh, you've got me thinking now, lol!
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
Right?!? I don't remember if we ever see Dumbledore putting them back....BUT, he does make some comment about making room in his head, in his old age. IDK if that means he just needs to put them in the Pensieve to view them more clearly since he is old, or if the memories are being removed to make space for new ones....
Reckless Passionlauren3210 on September 23rd, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC)
I thought that comment was more about using the pensieve to look for links he couldn't see otherwise because his head was too crowded? Oh my god, I'm not going to be able to stop thinking about this!
Reckless Passionlauren3210 on September 23rd, 2014 07:29 pm (UTC)
ooh ooh, just had a thought!

Slughorn modified his memory before giving it to Dumbledore, but he still had the real memory to give to Harry, right? Which would suggest that you can make multiple copies?
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 07:33 pm (UTC)
OOoo, good point!
celestlyncelestlyn on September 23rd, 2014 10:14 pm (UTC)
I think Dumbledore was putting some of his memories into glass vials to save them and not have them cluttering up his head. That would indicate to me that they were the actual memories.
Bring forth the tale of dicksbirdsofshore on September 23rd, 2014 07:12 pm (UTC)
It seems to behave like a copy... and otherwise users would forget that the memory even existed, wouldn't they? BUT, when the Pensieve is first introduced, I think it says something like Dumbledore uses it to make room in his head when his memories got too crowded. Which implies it's the ACTUAL memory.

I don't think there's a right answer here, and I've never read an answer which satisfactorily explains those different aspects. If I'm writing a fic I just do wtf I like with it ;-)
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC)
That was my train of thought exactly! Reflex wants to say copy, but that Dumbledore comment just throws a wrench in the whole affair. I was just curious if there was something I was missing that clarified it one way or another. :)
anemonenanemonen on September 23rd, 2014 07:29 pm (UTC)
I'm kind of thinking that Dumbledore's comment means that if your mind is crowded it's easier to look at the memory from the outside. Or something? Kind of like taking a step back to get a better look. And Slughorn have Dumbledore a Tom Riddle memory that he'd tampered with, and then gave Harry the full one later. That should mean that it's a copy, shouldn't it?
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 07:34 pm (UTC)
Excellent point! I had totally forgotten about the Slughorn horcrux memory!
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on September 23rd, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
Birds' theory is my theory. No clear answer for me either, but that's as close as I get to have one. nods.
candamiracandamira on September 23rd, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC)
Very good question! My theory is: The silver stuff is the memory, but you remember that there is something to remember and that you can find it in your pensieve. Like there is a kind of memo taped into the empty place in your brain telling you where it is now. So if you were legilimenced, they would only get to know that you know something about it, but not what in specific, and that it is in your pensieve.
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 07:22 pm (UTC)
OOoo, that's an interesting way of looking at it! :D
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on September 23rd, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
The problematic and also enlightening passage for all theories about Pensieves is Snape's Occlumency lesson with Harry when Harry sees the memory of his father. Snape removed the memories he did not want Harry to see before the lesson.

Snape was standing with his back to Harry, removing, as usual, certain of his thoughts and placing them carefully in Dumbledores Pensieve. He dropped the last silvery strand into the stone basin and turned to face Harry. ...

[Harry] turned around. The light was coming from the Pensieve sitting on Snapeʹs desk. The silver‐white contents were ebbing and swirling within. Snapeʹs thoughts… things he did not want Harry to see if he broke through Snapeʹs defences accidentally…

So these memories that Snape put in his Pensieve can no longer be accessed through Legilimency. But still, when Snape surprises Harry watching his Pensieve memories, he clearly knows what they are about.

ʹAmusing man, your father, wasnʹt he?ʹ said Snape, shaking Harry so hard his glasses slipped down his nose.

ʹI ‐ didnʹt ‐ʹ

Snape threw Harry from him with all his might. Harry fell hard on to the dungeon floor.

ʹYou will not repeat what you saw to anybody!ʹ Snape bellowed.

To me that means that even when one put one's memories into a Pensieve, and even when they can no longer be detected by Legilimency, one still has them somehow in one's mind and can still remember them.
Mabmab on September 23rd, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)

I was just about to comment with this same passage. I think that it could also be dependent on your intention. If you remove the memories with the purpose they wouldn't be able to be accessed by legilimency, then that's how it works, but if you are using the pensieve in order to take a closer look (different perspective) at the memory, then it's like copying a segment, and the original is intact.

With Dumbledore's odd sayings "head too crowded," etc... I think he's being telling Harry what he's doing in an odd, old man exaggeration sort of way (watering it down to youths so they grasp a subject too complicated to really explain in a short time frame)

I'm not sure I'm making much sense, but this also brings to mind the Hall of Prophecy... those memories "are" copies and Dumbledore says as much. That despite the record being destroyed, the real memory still exists in the mind of the one who heard it in the first place.
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 08:41 pm (UTC)
That's the thing, I feel like there has been support for both the copy and original theories. Maybe, like you say, it's about intent. Perhaps there are two different spells depending on what the purpose of the memory "withdrawal" is...
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on September 23rd, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
I totally go for the theory that intention plays a big part in what happens with memories in a Pensieve. Rowling's magic has a lot to do with the will and intent of the wizard or witch doing the magic. #

And yes, I can see Dumbledore using "head too crowded" as a figure of speech to explain why he himself is watching his own memories in a Pensieve. What it means to me is that a Pensieve memory is different than your own memory in some ways - you get an outsider's fresh view on what happened, also perhaps there are things in your memory that you don't consciously remember but that are still there somehow (Muggle memory works like that too ;)).
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 23rd, 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)
Oh good point! Though it almost brings us back to square one, because these scenes definitely imply that both ideas are correct.

Though perhaps for pensieves, its the original memory that is removed and a copy left in it's place, making viewing the memory through legilimency impossible, but still creating an imprint for the remover to remember.

Not sure if that theory makes any sense.
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on September 23rd, 2014 08:49 pm (UTC)
I think what this scene implies is that memories and putting memories into Pensieves is a more complex affair than copying data on a computer. I am not sure one can distinguish between an "original" memory and a "copied" memory. It's the same thing as both are memories. What actually happened - that is the original.

I like Mab's intent theory. :)
celestlyncelestlyn on September 23rd, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
I have always assumed that they are the actual memories and once removed would not be in the person's mind until they were returned. I remember one scene when Dumbledore was removing memories from his head, 'casting them out' and into little glass vials. He was telling Harry something to the effect that it didn't do to dwell on memories and sometimes it was better to be rid of them? Canon? Movie canon? Am I dreaming? Makes me wonder if JKR has expounded further on Pensieves on Pottermore. Fandom has taken a lot of license with interpreting the whole use of Pensieves and that's good. You can probably get away with writing it however you like.
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 24th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah, there definitely seems to be some room for interpretation!