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The third place; narrative and consciousness in Memento Deleuze and guattari...

suggest that the schizophrenic experience (ie, space-time compression) is somehow more faithful to the condition of postmodern culture than the normal controlled admission of meanings as an unfolding sentence or narrative1 It's quite possible we're looking at some kind of super-sanity here. A brilliant new modification of human perception, more suited to urban life at the end of the twentieth century. Unlike you and I, [he] seems to have no control over the sensory information that he's receiving from the outside world. He can only cope with that chaotic barrage of images by going with the flow.2 In Memento, we are presented with a self that is constructed upon a broken awareness of time; a self which has no direct experience of present causality. As a result of this, we see the questions of narrative, the self and the perception of time itself reinvestigated. However, this is not to say that it presents an entirely new persepective, a new way of looking at the tripartate singularity of time, narrative and self; but rather that, in removing one of the most immediate and fundamental perceptions of reality, the wider concepts of narrative and self can be investigated; that it allows a new understanding of older structures. Underlying these investigations is the concept of a more abstract space in each; effectively, through the break in causality, the ennabling concepts of each the fundamental structures and links between are exposed. As such, there are seven major themes to consider. The first three are those mentioned; the self, particularly the point at which the consciousness and subconscious meet, narrative, in terms of definition and reinvention, and time, with particular reference to Heideggerian time. From these, the question of factuality given tracelessness, the concept of trace, and ennabling constructions - bodies without organs are opened. Between these concepts, we can see Lenny as the archetypal postmodern subject. Before going into these, however, it is worth noting the film noir element of Memento. While the structure of Memento is extremely unusual, much of this is offset by the
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extent to which it is clichd. The characters, for example; the murderous antihero with a shadowy past, incapable of true happiness and forced to live in a chaotic, uncertain world; the femme fatale, working for the sake of a lost love, explicity working for the good of the protagonist but secretly attempting his destruction in revenge; and the mysterious, knowing but apparently untrustworthy friend. Similarly, the plot, while reversed, follows the same patterns as generic film noir, down to the denoument at which the hero is revealed to be an even darker character than suspected. This play of characters and situations is a useful key to the underlying theme here; that, as causality, self and so on are stripped away, we find ourselves moving towards abstract or rather, more rarefied - forms; effectively, towards archetypes, meant both in Jungs term and more widely. To put it another way, Memento offers a subject that, through an apparent binary opposition to normalcy or absolute breaks with the fundamental factors thereof then becomes the paradimatic postmodern subject. This is simplest to explore through the case of the apparent fourth psychic space within the film. Freud posits the divided self as tripartate as id, ego and superego. However, in this film, as a result of the break within causality, we see the emergence of a new consciousness, one that underlies the the Freudian self. This is most explicitly obvious in Leonards notes to himself. You want to rehabilitate youself, Leonard? You know what you need to do. Maybe you can't fix that broken brain of yours. But you can at least make some of the pain go away. These doctors aren't going to help you, leonard. If they knew what you needed, what you were going to do, they'd put you in a straight-jacket. So it'll be our little secret.3 It is this level of the self that is most aware of the totality of the self, most active in the actual narrative; but, at the same time, it is the most esoteric of the levels of consciousness we see here, by necceesity and nature hidden from us. We can perhaps view this as a product of existentialism; without guardian angels to guide us, we must place that angelic/divine neccesity for predeterminism into the self, create a space within that applies control over the space without. This fourth self is, as far as can be told, Leonards truest self, or rather that which is truest to the neccesity of survival and happiness; that is, it is the self that is most aware of his own drives, desires and neccesities, that speaks in notes such as You can't have a normal life anymore. You must know that. How can you have a
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girlfriend if you can't remember her name? Can't have kids, not unless you want them to grow up with a dad who doesn't recognize them. Sure as hell can't hold down a job. Not too many professions out there that value forgetfulness... You're a dead man.The only thing the doctors are hoping to do is teach you to be less of a burden to the orderlies. And they'll probably never let you go home, wherever that would be.4 and, aware of this, alters Lennys perception of reality to allow him a life. This level of the self can be posited either as a new definition of the ego, taking into account its role as the unit of juncture between the higher and lower selves, or as the space between each of the levels of the self; the interstitial space that postmodernists are so fond of, the central contradictory trace, invisible to and fundamental within the text/self. Perhaps the most significant effect of this is that the new ego appears to satisfy both the demands of the id and superego. As Freud notes the pleasure of satisfying a savage instinct, undomesticated by the ego, is uncomparably much more intense than the one of satisfying a tamed instinct. Reason is becoming the enemy that prevents us from many of the possibilities of pleasure5 Lennys drives and self appear to be entirely superegoistically composed through active, conscious trace, writings and photographs and yet, through this other space, scan be seen as entirely born of the id savage, uncivilised, and primal. What allows this, as has been noted, is the break in causality; as Teddy points out, Youre not a killer, Lenny. Thats why youre so good at it.6 This, however, is a question of the trace and repetition, that will be further investigated later. To return to Lenny as exemplary of the postmodern condition; through the prolificy of active, conscious information, we are aware that the focus here is upon the subconscious, that the significant thought processes occur beneath the skin of the ego; confronted with the constantly new, the significance and functions of the mechanism by which it is processed becomes more evident, and evidently significant. Before moving on to the question of time in and of itself, it is worth noting that another, subtler presence exists within the text; one that demands you have to stop it, leonard. you can be manipulated too easily. I think someone might be using you to kill the wrong guy. Turn it off, leonard. Turn yourself in. I don't know. You might have done
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something already. It's not worth it. Don't lose this note. Get another tattoo. Tell yourself you got him. JUST MAKE YOURSELF STOP.7, the apparent binary opposite of the self that, aware of the dangers of the break in causality, attempts to stop Lenny. This can be seen as a reflection of the concentric, contradictory nature of things; that this self, which appears one, underlying all the different, conscious selves, is in itself divided, uncertain, as will be further explored later. Perhaps the most significant factor in the construction of this consciousness in Memento is that Lenny's perception of time is entirely Heideggerian. For Lenny, without continuity between the past and present, clock time becomes meaningless, since it bears little relation to perceptive time. Real time is always connected with doing something, with an event of some kind, and so is bound with things and spaces 8; and here are no presences for Lenny, no thing or space other than traces, and so no real time. Instead, Lenny's peceptions are entirely at the mercy of perceptive time, and it is images of this that fill the scenes of the film. For leonard, there is only deep history; the only characters in his memory are archetypes, the only impressions first ones. History as it stands is defunct, an irrelevant fact of that which came before, endlessly chasing the past. However, this is not a condition unique to Lenny, but rather the archetype of the postmodern condition itself, born of the opposite perspective. With a vast plurality of information and time - with the codification of time to the extent that there are clocks more accurate than the movement of Earth through space there is an immediate emphasis on the extent to which perceptive time is the only time that can be held to be personally significant, a heightening of the alienation born of specification and information. Lenny notes to himself that You're different. You're more perfect. Time is three things for most people, but for you, for us, just one. A singularity. One moment. This moment. Like you're the center of the clock, the axis on which the hands turn. Time moves about you but never moves you. It has lost its ability to affect you. What is it they say? That time is theft? But not for you. Close your eyes and you can start all over again. Conjure up that necessary emotion, fresh as roses.9 This, perhaps, can be read as Lyotards nostalgia for presence, the defining factor of modernism; the desire to return to an originary point. However, it can at the same time be seen as a
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postmodern awareness; that is, that any experience- regardless of the time lag between then and now is as valid as any other, that the functions and structures of time are perceptual, and can be expanded upon beyond the linear. This awareness of time is not merely Heideggerian, however; rather, it borrows from various sections of popular theory. Most explicitly, there is the concept of times arrow. Burt notes that you gotta pretty good idea of what youre gonna do next, but no idea what you just did.(chuckles) Im the exact opposite. 10 What is important here is that Lennys life appears to have order and process, even though the direction of time is effectively reversed for him; indeed, that it is this reversal that allows him to act. Again, we can see here a return to generic constraints, simply applied more openly, thus able to explore the nature of these constraints more closely. This brings us to the effect of time upon the act of narrative itself, and with the attendant questions of morality without trace. It is necessary to have a linear concept of time, not only because it is the basis of guilt and moral action - as fictions like Time's Arrow, Slaughterhouse Five, and Memories of the Ford Administration remind us - but because the narrative of personal identity and the experience of selfhood are at stake.11 However, while we see a figure entirely divorced from linear concepts of time- without guilt, and no presence of cause and effect, he is not divorced from this moral code. Rather, his previous moral code, predicated upon a larger homogenous society, has shifted to a morality and politics of the self; allowing actions that allow him to construct his idealised self. This construction is ennabled through the use of empiricism and narration. Before going into these, however, the significance of repetition is important to note. For Lenny, Time is an absurdity. An abstraction. The only thing that matters is this moment. This moment a million times over. You have to trust me. If this moment is repeated enough, if you keep trying - and you have to keep trying - eventually you will come across the next item on your list.12 The ennabling possibility of Lennys existence is this repetition; the fact that every single repetition is distinct. Looking at a sheaf of photos with descriptions over and over again for the first time, the lines of flight created from each repetition with the photos in a different order is distinct; the self, even made up of these
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limited traces, has infinite topological form. However, what we must be aware of is that is is not that the act is repeated, but rather that each repetition is a different version, and that it is in the distinctions between them that meaning is constructed and action predicated in the film. Moreover, it is the difference in the repetition that allows it to repeat, that allows the story to progress while staying stable, and it is in these differences that we find the true character within the text. Before going further into repetition, it is worth noting the central importance of empiricism, within which the significance of this repetition is bound tightly with the creation of a body without organs. Empiricism, then. Again, this can be seen as archetypical of the postmodern condition, where at the highest reaches of all branches of knowledge, empiricism breaks down, reveals itself to be predicated upon the invisible, and upon the observer that one cannot measure both the speed and position of an electron, for example. In order to overcome his difficulty in leading an existence with trace but without presence, Lenny concentrates upon certainties; believing, as Spivak notes, that the photograph the writing of the sun - is also a guarantee of the existence of the object world 13, that the written word has objective authorial presence. Indeed, he seems to prefer this, saying that Memorys not perfect. Its not even that good. Ask the police, eyewitness testimony is unreliable. The cops dont catch a killer by sitting around remembering stuff. They collect facts, make notes, draw conclusions. Facts, not memories: thats how you investigate. I know, its what I used to do. Memory can change the shape of a room or the color of a car. Its an interpretation, not a record. Memories can be changed or distorted and theyre irrelevant if you have the facts.14 Again, we can see this as indicative of the postmodern condition; the reliance upon a constant stream of informative data that appears objective. However, as the films central twist repeats to us, facts can be distorted; that is, they possess a power to form a more apparently objective, but in fact more delimiting and stifling, structure of information. The usefulness of this reliance on fact is that it creates a process of constant self-narration. The structured repetition of that which appear to be Certainties. You think its knowledge, but its a kind of memory, a kind you take for granted.15, allow for the
13 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a critique of postcolonial reason, p317 14 (44) 15 (57)

construction of the self. As Wittgenstein considers, how am I able to obey a rule? If this is not a question of causes, then it is about the justifications for my following the rule in the way I do. If I have exhausted the justification I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say This is simply what I do (remember that we sometimes demand justifications for the sake not of their content, but of their form. Our requirement is an architectural one; the definition a kind of ornamental coping that supports nothing. 16 This construction takes place entirely upon the plane of, and through the use of, narrative. When one becomes aware that one is performing or transorming oneself in the act of narration, it is at the expense of the constative force of narrative as the recuperation of past events. When I tell my own story, I must deny that I am inventing myself in the process in order to believe that I am discovering myself.17 To return to the postmodern subject, we can see this reflected in the determination of the self through a wealth of externally determinate objects, a consumption and leaving behind of images that serve to both be determined by the subject and determine it. The most vivid of the constructions in this work are Lennys tattoos, and the explanation he offers for them that We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are [and] Im no different.18 is key. Foucault noted that the body becomes a useful force only if it is both a productive body and a subjected body19 and that a body is docile that may be subjected, used, transformed and improved20 Taking into account the motion towards a politics of the self in reaction to tracelessness and disconnection from time we see in both Lenny and, by expansion, the postmodern subject, we can see this mirrored in Lennys writing of and upon himself. Foucault notes that the history of the self can be traced through the body. Lennys tattoos can be seen as a modification of this, bearing in mind the prolificy of information, the dependence within postmodern culture upon fact and writing. This is a convinient lie, a product of self-determinism through the use of apparently objective, empirical information from a source divested with absolute authority that is nevertheless unreliable; a politic rewriting of the self in such a way that it over and rewrites the past. What makes this possible is the dissociation between the self as is and the self as
16 Wittgenstein, philosophical investigations, trans G.E.M. Anscombe (oxf; blackwell, 1963) p217 17 (PNT 131) 18 (182) 19 Michel Foucault, discipline and punish p26 20 discipline 136

authorial product. While Lenny is aware that People, even regular people, are never just any one person with one set of attributes. It's not that simple. We're all at the mercy of the limbic system, clouds of electricity drifting through the brain. Every man is broken into twenty-four-hour fractions, and then again within those twenty-four hours. It's a daily pantomime, one man yielding control to the next: a backstage crowded with old hacks clamoring for their turn in the spotlight. Every week, every day. The angry man hands the baton over to the sulking man, and in turn to the sex addict, the introvert, the conversationalist. Every man is a mob, a chain gang of idiots. 21, he at the same time apothesises the self that produces traces, assuming an objectivity to his past actions and referents, which thus allows him to appear to have no determinate self - that is, be this chain gang to an even greater degree than normal and at the same time have a superstructure of thought and action that is apparently stable, a past self that is apparently above reproach. As noted, each note Lenny leaves for himself is written by a different person; there is no continuity possible, no trace that can be followed through them from then until now. This problem can be traced outwards of the character, into the film and the postmodern subject at large. The problem is not that no traces exist, but that traces are all that exist, entirely divorced from their construction. For example, there are four extant versions of the events of the film; the film itself, Memento Mori by Jonothan Nolan, the website and the DVD extras. While these all appear to be concerning the same story, they are all subtly different, positing a different perception of Lenny. Now, if all of these are different - even the ones that are mirrors - which is true? Which is originary, deserving of our full attention? To answer, we must be aware that the trace is fundamentally unstable, and construct our understandings through an attempt to see a meta-trace beneath them; to return to the point above, what we see here is not simply the abstraction of the unified self, but rather its replacement with the infinitely possible self. Each version of Lenny is distinct, separate from what came before and after, leaving no defining traces; and it is in the difference between the versions, the lacunae they project and revolve around, that the totality of what can be considered the text of Memento can be read, and can be again expanded into the reading of the postmodern subject, in his nomadic existence.
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To summarise, it is perhaps best to return briefly to the question of film noir. In noting apparent distinction while at once strictly obeying generic cliches, the essential defining feature of this film rises; that it is a work that is entirely aware of the genre cliches and the problems posed by a discourse22 and, in this awareness, instead follows first principles; simplifying everything, condensing, showing limited parts in the awareness that all presentations are limited. The only way to live without trace, without time, within an infinite world that covers over your traces almost before they occur, is to act with certainty, with some transcendental reason driving the self, ensuring that the world remains; that one is not merely a slave to instinct and body, in which case consciousness would be truly an excess, entirely unneccesary. What is important is not the process that led to the present, nor the product of it; all structure is based around the continuation of the current metaprocess. What can be gained from this, then? First, that the abstraction of form and structure do not move away from the central concepts thereof, but rather closer towars them; that, in all effects, the postmodern subject is self-constructed through traces, overwriting the history of the body and definite past. Lennys past is irrelevant, as is his future; since all traces are swallowed - or held in a prolific mass, in which any relevant trace is nigh on impossible to discern his existence is predicated purely upon the processes of the subconscious, upon a politics of the self.

22 how can we discuss or even imagine that which is outside the discourse?