If you could, what memories would you delete?
Recently, I set up shop in a new office on the campus of the university I attended several years ago. I don't believe in ghosts, but the ol' alma mater is haunted with memories. Over there—the classrooms in which I tried to comprehend Donne, Dostoyevsky, and Derrida. And there—the cafeteria where I consumed mass quantities of grilled peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. And there—a sprawling lawn where my first rock band survived a disastrous performance. It's a joy to have this mini-tour of the past every day.
But the place is also crowded with painful memories of a failed friendship, broken trust, and humiliation. The prospect of revisiting those memories again made me pause before relocating to this place. I did not want to be reminded. But what a blessing awaited me! Several places of personal significance had been demolished and replaced with strange new structures that mean nothing to me at all! This has had an interesting effect—I never dwell on those memories anymore. It is as if those memories have been deleted. I have to work hard to recover them.
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the characters have that option—they can have their unwanted memories erased. Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) supplies this service through Lacuna, an obscure company promising to improve your life by sifting out signs of things you wish you had not experienced. Mierzwiak and his irresponsible, pot-smoking staff (Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, and trainee Elijah Wood) schedule consultations with customers to target bad memories. They box up all tangible evidence of the memories (photos, gifts, mementos, diary entries), file them away, and then get into ...1
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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
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