Memories, Who Needs Them?

I’ve decided that I would “pull a Glenn” in this review and offer you a bit of my life in order to help you understand my views of this film. So, here is a piece of me: When I was about 8 years old my parents bought me a suitcase from at a garage sale. I knew just what to do with it. I’d keep my memories in it. As time passed I kept adding things to the suitcase, and soon I was unable to close it. Eventually, I had an entire closet of memories. Sometimes I’d go through the closet and look at the pieces of my life. Each item had a value to me and could take me back to a time or place with just a touch. Not all of the items gave me joy, but each one brought forth an emotion. They were mementos of who I was before. So, what is Lenny’s memento? It is his memories? No. Is it his need of purpose? Or, maybe it is weakness. “Don’t trust your weakness.” It is one of the tattoos on Lenny’s body. But he relies on weakness. Perhaps one of the reasons this film has such a cult following is based on the concept of overcoming weakness, not memory loss. Yes, I know that memory loss is a key factor of the film. But, I think that the loss of the memory is what empowers the feeling of weakness or helplessness. Lenny can’t change the fact that he is going to be afflicted with the loss. And, since he can’t seem to remember to make himself forget his wife, he makes finding her killer his purpose of life, his reason to live, Even if, he has to find her killer and get his revenge over and over again. Like Teddy says, there will always be a John G. By manipulating his affliction, he makes his weakness his power. And so do all of the other characters in the film. By writing down Teddy’s license plate and listing it as a “fact,” Lenny chooses to manipulate his affliction. We all need some sort of purpose. Lenny makes finding his wife’s murderer(s) his purpose. It makes me wonder whether the other tattooed facts are really facts, or just a way to strengthen his weakness.About ten years ago my husband died, and like Teddy, I became lost. I kept opening my memory closet so that I could stay in touch with what I’d had. But I became stuck and unsure what to do, so I did nothing. Then one day as was I going through the memories, I reached for a teapot that my husband had gotten from Berlin before the wall fell. It had never held tea. That made me sad to think of so I made some tea and shared it with my son. As we drank our tea my son asked “Why has the teapot been in the closet all this time, shouldn’t we be using it instead? Of, course we should have been using it. That’s when I discovered that the memory closet had become my weakness. It kept me stuck. I was afraid to make new memories.Without the ability to make new memories, Lenny became stuck too. I think at some point he had to have made a conscious decision to get out of his rut and move forward. But how could he move forward if he didn’t remember what he was moving away from? He created false facts that would bring up old memories create a sense of purpose.After tea I emptied the closet and started making new memories. An empty closet gave me a sense of purpose.


4 thoughts on “Memories, Who Needs Them?

  1. Anita:
    What a wonderfully thought-out posting you have presented us with. I love your analogies and personal “memories”. One small thing though, we all need to put our name on the bottom of our postings, because the blog only identifies us when we make a “comment” to a posting.

    I suppose we have all been guilty of this oversight in the past. Peter did not identify himself following his fine wrap up narrative directly ahead of yours. I just think that if other members are taking the time to read the postings, they need to know who wrote them, so that they can respond more personally.

    I guess in some real way, you have come out of the closet. That suitcase that became a closet analogy is a great one. We all have these mementos, sometimes photo albums, sometimes objects or things. I have several shelves of folders that hold some of my earliest writings, even old college notes. The nostalgia palpitates when I have those moments where I look at, review, re-read, view those old photos and objects. And yet we all go through changes, and the residuals from the past perhaps are not always positive; often we cling to them to remind of us of past trauma and pain. Aren’t we strange creatures? One of these days I have to throw out some albums and framed photos of my first wife, and first wedding. That marriage was mismatched, short-lived, and really I gain nothing by revisiting it with mementos. Yet I have difficulty tossing them away. I have other stuff from dear family members who have died, my mother, my grandfather, and others.

    So personally I applaud your newly emptied closet, and hope that your new memories and mementos will fill your life like rays of sunshine.

    I like your statement, “he makes his weakness his power.” So many people do manipulate others secondary to their affliction or weaknesses. They snare you with emotion, and work off the guilt factor. Sometimes they cling to you so hard that it takes concerted effort to shake them loose. My first wife was like that. I wanted a divorce in the second year, but it took three more years before it finally occurred. She kept convincing me that she would have difficulty surviving without me, and playing on my sympathy and guilt.

    My second marriage, my present conjugal status, has given me, and continues to give me, blessings beyong measure, stability, purpose, focus, and so much more.

    So thank you for taking the time to “pull a Glenn”, and share some part of who you are in relation to the group, the movies, and the universe.


  2. Glenn,

    Thanks for the input. I’m still very new to posting blogs and I’m not sure of all of the etiquette. I do have one question, when I post, what font should I be using, and what size? My post looks different from the others.


  3. Very good question, dear lady. I just type into the posting box. I doubt that I really noticed what the general font size was. My postings seemed to look like everyone else’s, except David. Somehow his computer and Word Press are at war with each other, so his postings show up in several fonts with extra cyber garbage clinging to to. Perhaps Ron B. or Roger K. will have some insight into the font size and type issue. I am clueless, and being so I guess I have just been lucky to end up looking like them.


  4. Anita,
    I really appreciate your contribution to the discussion of Memento. Ultimately, what matters about any film is how it moves us emotionally as well as intellectually. I too was initially drawn into the film when I first watched it by a strong emotional reaction to the theme of lost memories and their impact on our lives. Without that initial emotional connection, I would probably not have been motivated to watch it a second time. Then the second viewing motivated me to watch it again because I had the impression that there there was a complex puzzle to be solved, but I could not figure out the solution, even after 2 viewings. With additional viewings over time, I became more and more focussed on the technical aspects of the film (both how the film itself was structured, and how it dealt with the details of the clinical condition, anterograde long-term memory loss). It was so nice to read your commentary, and resurrect my own memory of the powerful emotional content of the film that rides on top of all the technical stuff I have been focussed on in recent weeks.

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