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PH 2224/GEK 2040 Philosophy & Film John Holbo Lecture 7 Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
341. The Greatest Weight. - What if, some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you:
“This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine. ”
If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush youl. The question in each and every thing, “Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more? ” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal? ” - Nietzsche, The Gay Science
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Two story-lines: The main story takes place over only 3 days, mostly inside Joel Barrish’s head on the first day - in his memories. These are unspooled backwards from the point when he erases Clementine to the point when he meets her (2 years earlier) The secondary story concerns the scientists - the Lacuna staff, the Erasers.
Dr. Mierzwiak, Dentist’s Office Rotwang
What is it with these mad scientists and their eternal need to falsify Marys?
Like I said: look’s more like a dentist’s office.
We can forget it for you, wholesale? How bad is that? http: //news. ucsf. edu/releases/common-drug-administered-promptly-reduces-incidence
"Lacuna, the erasing company, is basically like the guys who'll come and paint your house for ten bucks a room. ”
“’Blessed are the forgetful, for the get the better even of their blunders. ’ That’s Nietzsche. I got it out of my Bartlett’s.
“The person who cannot set himself down on the crest of the moment, forgetting everything from the past, who is not capable of standing on a single point, like a goddess of victory, without dizziness or fear, will never know what happiness is. Even worse, he will never do anything to make other people happy …
Imagine the most extreme example, a person who did not possess the power of forgetting at all, who would be condemned to see everywhere a coming into being. Such a person no longer believes in his own being, no longer believes in himself, sees everything in moving points flowing out of each other, and loses himself in this stream of becoming. He will, like the true pupil of Heraclitus, finally hardly dare any more to lift his finger. Forgetting belongs to all action, just as both light and darkness belong in the life of all organic things.
A person who wanted to feel utterly and only historically would be like someone who was forced to abstain from sleep … For this reason, it is possible to live almost without remembering, indeed, to live happily, as the beast demonstrates; however, it is generally completely impossible to live without forgetting …
Or, to explain myself more clearly concerning my thesis: There is a degree of insomnia, of rumination, of the historical sense, through which living comes to harm and finally is destroyed, whether it is a person or a people or a culture. In order to determine this degree of history and, through that, the borderline at which the past must be forgotten if it is not to become the gravedigger of the present, we have to know precisely how great the plastic force of a person, a people, or a culture is.
I mean that force of growing in a different way out of oneself, of reshaping and incorporating the past and the foreign, of healing wounds, compensating for what has been lost, rebuilding shattered forms out of one's self.
On the other hand, there are people whom the wildest and most horrific accidents in life and even actions of their own wickedness injure so little that right in the middle of these experiences or shortly after they bring the issue to a reasonable state of well being with a sort of quiet conscience. ” -Nietzsche, “Advantages and Disadvantages of History For Life” [Just substitute ‘memory’ for ‘history’. That’s theme of the essay. ]
“The idea that there’s a memory-erasing machine – I’m so uninterested in that, you know. I feel like such a Hollywood screenwriter ‘cause that’s in there. Davis [author of The End of The Story] was talking about the way that memories don’t exist as tape recordings. You have a memory of your first date with this person, and you have a memory of your first date with this person after the relationship is over. Nothing has changed, but your memory of the first date, after the relationship is over, is a completely different memory because it’s infused with what happened between this and the end … The end is coloring the beginning, but you still assume it’s the same memory if you don’t think about it. You’re a completely different person, it’s a completely different memory. ” – Charlie Kaufman
"How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd. ” - Alexander Pope “Howard makes it all just go away. ” - Mary
Michel Gondry: Why does the smoke make it look real? When you shoot, add artificial light. Film not sensitive enough. When you wake up in the afternoon, or when the sun hits the dust through the window. Hard to produce. Smoke gives you that. Gives a density to the air.
"Sand is overrated. It's just tiny little rocks. "
"I play a guy who thinks he has found the love of his life, somebody who expresses a side of life that he can't express, because he's a really withdrawn character. But you can tell by his drawing that this wild stuff is going on inside him, but Clementine is the outward manifestation of that. She's the wild thing inside him that he doesn't have the guts to bring out. ” -Jim Carrey (Nietzsche had this problem, too. He wasn’t that good with the girls. )
How can you affirm Eternal Recurrence? The abyssmal thought is not that an (Overman) Superman might come but that the small man will come again and again. (Getting his memory erased is just an allegory for this. ) Nietzsche says the challenge of fatalism is this: to affirm, positively, the recurrence of the ‘small man’, the sufferer, the broken, ill-made specimen. He cannot be redeemed by the coming of the Overman (because he will simply come again. ) He cannot be repaired because it is his nature to be a defective character. How can we not be horrified by the sight of him?
“Behold, we know what you teach: that all things recur eternally, and we ourselves too; and that we have already existed an eternal number of times, and all things with us. You teach that there is a great year of becoming, a monster of a great year, which must, like an hourglass, turn over again and again, so that it may run down and run out again; and all these years are alike in what is greatest as in what is smallest; and we ourselves are alike in every great year, in what is greatest as in what is smallest. ” (Z III, 13)
"The task is to live in such a way that you must wish to live again - you will anyway. ” - Nietzsche
"I just immediately identified with it, as I think most people will. The concept is just so universal. A really original way of saying we love who we love, and we can't help ourselves. ” “We like to think we learn from our mistakes, but I don’t know if we do. ” - Jim Carrey
Originally, Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay so that it had a much more pessimistic frame? It starts far in the future, and old Mary is visiting old Howard and fighting with him again. And it turns out Joel and Clem have been doing the same thing over and over for decades, meeting and erasing, living small lives, living and forgetting.
OLD MAN (HOWARD) Hello, Ms. Kruczynski. Nice to meet you. Please have a seat. He indicates a sitting area. She sits. He joins her. OLD MAN (HOWARD) (CONT'D) Would you mind if I tape our discussion? She shakes her head. He punches a couple of buttons on his computer console.
A tape recorder starts up and his computer screen lights up so only he can see it. On it we see a whole file on Clementine Kruczynski: a list of fifteen dates of previous erasures stretching back fifty years, all of them involving Joel Barish. OLD MAN (HOWARD) (CONT'D) So, why don't you begin by telling me why you've come here. SECOND OLD WOMAN (CLEMENTINE) Well, I met this man, Joel, three years ago at a senior dance. . . We'd both been alone for so long and. . .
Interviewer: I wanted to ask you about The Velveteen Rabbit scene, which was really beautiful. It was cut, but reconstructed in a very interesting way. Charlie Kaufman: We liked the scene but it didn’t play well, I don’t know why. And Michel gave me an assignment. The moment in the movie was really important because it’s a moment where Joel first has a warm memory of Clementine, and when he decides he doesn’t want the erasure to happen anymore. It’s a pivotal moment but it wasn’t playing …
So, Michel’s assignment was, using Clementine’s words from that scene, which is basically her reciting that passage from The Velveteen Rabbit, write another monologue for her, using the existing footage, and we’ll cut to Jim’s face when we need to. Everybody laughed when he said that, but Michel knew that I would be excited by it. Such a challenge. So I wrote this thing, and it turned out to be a scene that people talk about as being a really moving moment for them. And it’s completely constructed, completely manufactured.
Every once in a while you cut to Clementine saying a couple of words, but mostly you’re on Jim’s face and the dolls. Michel cut more than he had to. I actually did a pretty good job of rearranging the words in the original speech.
Here's what it looks like in the shooting script: Clem: Joely? Joel: Yeah, Tangerine? Clem: Do you know The Velveteen Rabbit? Joel: No. Clem: It's my favorite book. Since I was a kid. It's about these toys. There this part where the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit what it means to be real. I can't believe I'm crying already.
"It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. ” - the Skin Horse to the Velveteen Rabbit
§ 290 One thing is needful. - To "give style" to one's character - a great and rare art! It is practiced by all those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weakness delights the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added; there a piece of original nature has been removed - both times through long practice and daily work at it. here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed; there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime. Much that is vague and resisted shaping has been saved and exploited for distant views; it is meant to beckon toward the far and immeasurable. - Gay Science
§ 276, I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things: —then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love from henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly.
JOEL I walked out the door. I felt like a scared little kid. I thought you knew that about me. I ran back to the bonfire, trying to outrun my humiliation. You said, "so go" with such disdain. CLEMENTINE What if you stay this time? JOEL I walked out the door. There's no more memory.
To redeem what is past, and to transform every "It was" into "Thus would I have it!"—that only do I call redemption! …"It was": thus is the Will's teethgnashing and lonesomest tribulation called. Impotent towards what hath been done—it is a malicious spectator of all that is past. Not backward can the Will will; that it cannot break time and time's desire—that is the Will's most lonesome tribulation. - Zarathustra, II, § 42 This is the lesson Joel has to learn. That he cannot change the past, and if he forgets it, it will just recur again – eternally.