'The world forgetting, by the world forgot': Memory, Identity and Technology in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera

Abstract

What if we were able to erase painful memories of a person we once loved and forget we ever knew them at all? This question forms the premise of Michel Gondry’s 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. After discovering that his former lover has undergone a procedure to wipe him from her memory, Joel Barish hastily decides to have his memories of Clementine erased, too. What follows is the cinematic imagining of their relationship played backwards – a series of images that dissolve and collapse as Joel’s memories are relived, reinvented and, eventually, obliterated.
Who are we, without memory? This paper draws upon Gondry’s film to consider the ways in which memory is deeply linked to our sense of identity and our conception of ourselves as human. It considers the curiosities and anxieties we hold about the technological augmentation of our bodies, exploring the tensions they create between our self-image and the qualities we regard as desirable constituents of our humanity. I conclude by reflecting on how cinematic technologies and storytelling shape the narratives we construct about ourselves. How can our experiences and memories as cinematic spectators enrich our understandings of our own and others’ claim to humanity?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 19 Jul 2019
Event14th Annual Limina Conference: "Humanifesto" - Perth, Australia
Duration: 18 Jun 202019 Jun 2020
http://www.limina.arts.uwa.edu.au/conference/2019-conference

Conference

Conference14th Annual Limina Conference: "Humanifesto"
CountryAustralia
CityPerth
Period18/06/2019/06/20
Internet address

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