Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I knew we have mentioned Memento in class before, just as we have talked
about whether or not our memories define us. In Memento, the main character
cannot form new Memories. In the closing scene, he says "I have to believe in a world
outside of my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning,
even if I can't remember them." In this scene, he seems to express that it is not
his memories that define him, but his actions. What do you guys think about this notion?


  1. There is a difference between your actions having meaning and your memories defining you and therefore one does not preclude the other. You must also take the lead character’s statements in context. He has in effect no memories and uses the verb ‘have’ not ‘do’. It could be argued that because he has no memories he HAS to believe his actions still have meaning regardless if he truly believes this or not. This could be a purely defensive maneuver from the lead character. By proclaiming he HAS to believe this he is admitting a possible shortcoming and creating a point of reference from which he can move forward.
    However, if Memories are our recollection of past events and we utilize this recollections to interrupt data coming in via our senses, fallible or not, then memories do not define who we are but do influence our actions moving forward. If you believe that we are defined by our actions would you not believe then that in a possible indirect manner by default we are defined by our memories?

  2. great clip and interesting comment from Woody...I would not enjoy being devoid of memory--it would be difficult to navigate the world because people have expectations of us regarding our memories. If one could truly accept the absence of memory and be able to disregard the dangers of the world, then being in an eternally present mment would be a fresh and intersting way to live....
    I wonder if love is a memory--would we still love the people we love? is that simply a function of memory?

  3. I think having no memories would most likely be an evolutionary disadvantage and probably impossible without the generosity of others. In regards to a life without memories that was fresh and interesting, it seems both have their pros/cons. The thought of being born fresh, or with Locke’s blank slate, each day could be interesting, but how could we know. Just like the good and evil discussion how would we know it would be interesting without know the alternative? But having a clean slate everyday would allow us to still experience things in their purest forms without the conditional responses we associated with memories, good and bad. Ah, the Stoic’s, and possibly the Epicureans’, dream, to have full experience without the problems of fallible and subjective emotions.
    I assume we are talking about platonic vs. sexual love or devotion. How could we love someone without having the memories or experiences to base that on? But was it not Plato would said the love of another was just an expression of our desire to regain contact of the divine or higher truth? If this is correct then having memories would not be a prerequisite for love. This sentiment seems to be expressed in most religions including Christianity and its offshoot Rastafarianism.
    The question becomes should we then simply express love for all things around us because they are simply filling in for the divine, kind of a love by proxy?

    But since this is a film class I guess we can get Adam Sandler’s definition.