Remember Memories, Memory Rememberer!

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey looking acceptably quirky in M. Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey looking acceptably quirky in M. Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

 

More on Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go:”

The question of whether something is being remembered correctly or not prefaces almost every episode in the text, and ultimately functions as the primary method by which Kathy H.’s narrative of memories is constantly seen to exist as contingent, as possibly not accurate, as accurate enough (for all intents and purposes), or as existing somewhere along an un/certainty spectrum- all at once, or in variable combinations.  It has the crucial effect of holding open the constant range of possibilities that it introduces for the narrative, for time and for the human subject who either reads, or is a character in, the text.

This problematization is made possible by the fact that for temporal epistemology the way something is known and what is being known are two things that are mysteriously impossible to divorce from each other.  A scientist might know a rock via a microscope – her object is something other than the method or tools by which she knows it; A rememberer, however, remembers nothing but memories – never the thing that memories are of.  This means that no matter how accurate a memory is, it can never be the thing it strives to remember; and that to remember a memory is an altogether different action than apprehending any other sort of object.

Because of this, we are able to apprehend and consider a narrative of events as something other than the events themselves and, importantly, relinquish the idea that that the ethical imperative in remembering is to do it accurately, even if Kathy’s avowed intentions involve an urge to give order to “all these old memories” (37).  Here intentions, when considered in light of the way events are actually put forth – that is, not in an orderly fashion – might sound confusing, unless we consider that what the text is suggesting is that the correct, or proper, way of ordering one’s memories is to do so in a way that is altogether unlike a simple ordering of a sequence, or a chain of causal phenomena.

We are not dealing with events or objects in-the-world-here, but with memories.

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