Memory is an important aspect of the wellbeing of an individual because of its ability to bridge the past and present experiences. In particular, it enables the retrieval of critical sensations, emotions and feelings that had been dropped in the past from the conscious awareness. These are usually important because they provide guidance to the present actions. Indeed, past memories are vital in enabling an individual to progress with regards to the thought process by avoiding repetition of past mistakes and ensuring that the present and future are planned for adequately.
Basing the current planning on past activities and experiences is imperative in enhancing sustainability of the present day decisions. It is in this respect that this paper seeks to raise various arguments regarding memory that have been raised by Memento and Patricia Halmpl. In addition, it explores the implications of forgetfulness on the perception of our past and the ethical concerns surrounding remembrance.
To begin with, Halmps considers memory to be the main source of transcription. She argues that after all, ‘memory is not just memory’ (McConkey 203). Unlike a fiction writer who often invents, the memoirist considers the story to be already in place and what is needed is just transcription. Thus s/he tends to have more resources with regards to writing. The only important tool that is needed to accomplish the task is remembering. However, this is that is compounded by various complexities.
The accuracy of memory in providing the reader with actual aspects of the story is in most instances at stake. Indeed, Halmpl contends that the writer can never remember all the fine details and contents of an episode. In this regard, memory is considered a very complex process that is usually undermined by a significant degree of confusion and uncertainty. These are perpetuated by the fragmented nature of the process. Thus in order to avoid presenting a confusing article to the writer, memoirists tends to fill up the inherent gaps with convincing lies. While this can be justified from a grammatical viewpoint on the premise that it enhances the flow of the story, it implies a degree of lack of ethics in writing. As such, in most cases, it ends up to be invention, rather than transcription of the story. In other words, its originality is usually compromised by the inability of the writer to remember all details.
In her analysis, Halmpl explains that memoirist writers tend to write what they should know, rather than what they know. It is posited that our memory storage only has a place for invaluable images. However, just like in the economic world, the value of the stored images tends to be lost over time. In addition, Halmpl argues that the human memory tends place more importance on things that have negative rather than positive implications. It is because according to her, ‘pain likes to be vivid’. With time, the stored memory, also called an image estranges with the person’s feelings. At this juncture, it can be argued that the feelings tend to cloud the process of remembering during writing. As such, the writer finds it difficult to separate the emotions from facts especially considering the fact that the images stored are in most cases associated with pain. In order to counter this, the writer is usually tempted to reorganize the images and incorporate lies in order to present an ideal situation, usually what the writer really wanted during writing.
Also, the gaps in memory are always bridged with some degree of imagination. This is necessary in order to provide a vivid picture of the obscured images at the time of writing. Notably, this is neither pure fiction nor pure memory. However, considering the fact that the imagination utilizes the details found in the scene to fill up the gaps, it can be considered to be more of memory than fiction. Memory is considered to be a mixture of narration and reflection. Nonetheless, the host of the final draft is usually a mixture of narration, reflection and imagination. Reflection and imagination is vital because it enables the writer to address the past feelings with ease. If left unabated, McConkey notes that these feelings compromise the quality of writing (207). Just like psychotherapy, imagination and reflection is vital in enabling the writer to move past the events, and perhaps be in position to write about other incidences. In addition, the remolding of the images and scenes provides a writer with a chance to explore the principle of artistic writing. This can possibly not be attained if the writer would be compelled to employ only factual information that is characteristic of legal documents.
Initially, memory is usually geared at unfolding the self of the writer. However, reflection and imagination enables the writer to surpass the initial boundaries and in incorporates various aspects of the world. Notably, this would not be attained if the writer places undue emphasis on the self through pure narration. It would be imperative to consider external aspects in order to enhance the artistic quality of the piece of writing. This goes a long way in nurturing the creative power of the writer. Of great importance is the fact that it enables the writer to meet the standards of writing and maintain the interests of the reader.
When Memento gets an accidental brain injury, he also looses his short term memory and it is clear that he looses his identity. This is exhibited when he keeps asking people “who am I?” (Todd 72) Essentially, memory is a very important aspect of the wellbeing for an individual and therefore its loss can have far reaching implications. This is true for Memento that experiences various changes when trying to pursue his goal of bringing justice to the murders of his wife because of lack of short-term memory. Efforts to help him achieve this include tattooing the facts regarding his investigation on the chest. In addition, he takes photographs of the places he has been, the things he has seen as well as the people he has met. This is believed to help him understand his cause and keep pursuing the same.
As indicated earlier, it is certain that loss of memory can disrupt the life of an individual. The conditions such as memory bins which Memento asserts that he does not have can be instrumental in helping patients with anterograde amnesia to cope. In this regard, Todd shows that patients are able to remember short episodes of current events that are then codified and transferred in long term memory (72). Notably, this can enable the patient to come effectively. Seemingly, Memento has a working memory. While this can not entirely be depended upon, it helps the individual to remember the various experiences and episodes for short periods of time. Usually, this is possible if the conversations that the patient engages in are not lengthy. Otherwise, he may become confused and loose track of the conversation altogether. Nevertheless, Memento retains has intelligence and is able to remember who he is and where he lived prior to the accident.
The story of Kingston about her aunt is presented in an apt manner. However, the author contends that considering the relative and general sensitivity associated with the aunt’s episode, she did not dare ask his mother about it. She writes the story after twenty four years and it is indeed very vivid and logical. As indicated earlier, it can be posited that these events were remembered effectively because they had a painful impact on the writer. In addition, his aunt underwent a very painful experience that included drowning herself and physical assault from the villagers. Likewise, this can be used to explain why the mother of the author could remember all the events with ease.
Nevertheless, the reliability and accuracy of the information presented by Kingston after a lengthy period of twenty four years is largely at stake. To begin with she posits that the information that the mother provided her with regarding the aunt was subjective in nature and could have been compounded by various inconsistencies. This is so especially considering the fact that the episode had negative impacts on the family too. Because the value of the images tends to diminish with time, Kingston included part of her version of the episode in the article. In particular, she introduces her imagination that the aunt was simply motivated by her own sexual desires to engage in relations outside marriage.
By indicating that the society was male dominated, Kingston seeks to make the essay more realistic by filing the inherent memory gaps that had been forgotten (211). In addition, it is posited that her failure to give the aunt a distinct name was motivated by the fact that she could not remember the childhood experiences vividly.
Forgetfulness affects our views of the past in different ways. Essentially, it makes an individual to repeat past mistakes because of lack of any information on the same. In this respect, it should be acknowledged that the current decisions and activities are in most cases based on information acquired in the past (Mincher 54). This is because knowledge is usually a continuous and progressive process that builds on the past. Loss of memory literary means loss of knowledge regarding the past. As such, repetition of past mistakes is more likely to occur. This would in return undermine the holistic progression of the individual.
With regard to when we forget and the information that is easily forgotten, Mincher begins by citing that the human memory is made up of the short term and long term memory (37). These complement each other to ensure that everything that a person sees is stored in the same. According to Mincher, forgetfulness occurs when an individual fails to employ sufficient time in retrieval of the same (42). Then, they indicate that the information that is easily forgotten is one that the viewer does not accord vital attention when viewing it.
Remembering is an ethical responsibility that each individual needs to uphold. In particular, it enables one to avoid mistakes that have the capacity to harm other individuals. This requires rational decision making that can only be attained through understanding past knowledge. In addition, Mincher points out that remembering is instrumental in administering therapy that is critical for recovery (64). By exposing the person to past thoughts, therapy ensures that the person gets used to the thoughts and overcomes the initial fear. Notably, this can only be achieved through remembrance of the past.
Finally, remembering is considered an ethical responsibility of the society as it enhances administration of justice. This is particularly important in the criminal justice system. Usually, the witnesses of crimes are expected to remember the incidences for them to be able to provide evidence in courts. This then enables the system to enforce justice by ensuring that the perpetrators are punished accordingly.
From the analysis, it can not be disputed that loss of memory undermines the accuracy and overall reliability of the information that is utilized in present day decision making. In turn, this affects the decisions made at various levels. In literature, loss of memory impacts on the accuracy of the events described by various authors. Irrespective of the fact that a small percentage of imagination and reflection is instrumental in incorporating artistic styles in writing, it is worth acknowledging that basing the same on factual information is goes a long way in winning the confidence of the readers. Forgetfulness inhibits progression as the affected individuals loose their comprehension of the past that is elemental in present day decision making. It is in this consideration that this paper concludes by ascertaining that loss of memory and forgetfulness undermines holistic growth and development of an individual as well as the society.
James, McConkey, H. Anatomy of Memory. Oxford: University Press, 1996.
John, Todd. Memento. Columbia: Home Entertainment, 2000.
Kevin, Mincher. Confident Memory. USA: REACH International, 2003.
Maxine, Kingston, H. The Woman Warrior. USA: Vintage, 1989.
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