The Notes We Leave

“Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.” -Leonard, Memento

Hume and Leonard could have gotten along if we were looking strictly at their thoughts about memory: that it is unreliable and just an interpretation of an event. The idea that a traumatizing memory can be altered, even deleted if your mind designates the memory a harm to you . Leonard’s memories of his wife’s death and of Sammy Jenkins are very reflective of this: he accidentally killed his wife with an insulin overdose because of his condition, and yet his memory of that is so distorted that a fictional insurance customer is now the killer of his wife. He is right to say that memory isn’t reliable, but neither are the jumble of notes he keeps on his photographs and tattooed on his body.

At least not to the extent that he depends on them. He expects all these tattoos and pen markings to practically function as his second memory without the consequences that comes from relying on memory. His notes can still be distorted and not have a single fact on them – he likes crossing things out, or can’t find a pen to make a record of something. If these facts are being recorded from a memory that rewrites itself on a regular basis, are those facts still facts? Any true fact should constantly come to light regardless of how your memory or notes keep track of them – the only fact Leonard actually has is that Sammy Jenkins killed his wife. That is an undeniable truth for our main character and yet he can easily deny the truth that he is in fact Sammy Jenkins.

Hume might be right when he says that identity is just a habit we have. We reinforce our identities by doing things that our “self” would do, right? But that sense of self is trained by your memory, this perception of a wide range of other perceptions. You can train yourself to have a habit, and henceforth you can train yourself to have an identity. Can that identity be changed? Yes, in fact – just takes a few habit adjustments, and wallah, you’re a new version of yourself. Hell, you might even become a brand new person, someone with a different name and a different version of your self.

Word Count: 413

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3 thoughts on “The Notes We Leave

  1. The movie Memento was crazy because it was mystery looking for the killer of Leonard’s wife. However an interesting factor about using notes and tattoos is how they can be reliable to in extent. The reason being is because we can easily get tricked especially with the condition Leonard had. The crazy thing about notes and tattoos is when for example i wanted to write down something important and had no access to a pencil, pen, paper or tattoo shop then it will be very difficult to store memories. Overall I like how Leonard was creative however i still believe his method isn’t fully reliable.

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  2. Hi,
    I like your blog and I see that you have different ideas than some of our classmates. I like your idea of us changing to become a better person. I totally agree with that. However, I would like to know if you have ever feel like you have to remind yourself of who you really are in a specific situation. Suppose you are going to make and important decision based on your personal values. Do you ever go back and ask what option is the one the really fits the real you?

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    1. Hey! As strange as it sounds, I expect my decisions to reflect my true self based on nothing but blind faith. It’s kind of like a multiple choice test that you studied for: you know the information, and it’s there for recollection, but the minute you begin second guessing your answer, you’ve lost your edge. Second guessing yourself is almost the same as regretting your decision in my opinion, and I plan to live without any of those. Hopefully that answered your question!

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