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The Idea of a Reinterpretation of Memories in The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

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People go through a tremendous amount of things throughout their lives. Numerous events occur which give people both cheerful memories as well as painful memories. Whether the memories are good or bad, there are certain memories that at one point, people want to delete and get rid of completely. But, is it possible to completely erase a memory from you head and forget the reality of that memory?

After watching the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” the plot of the movie is still fresh in my mind. In the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, the inward-looking Joel Barris met Clementine Krosky at a party and they become a couple. Like ordinary couples, their days are spent in sweetness and quarrels. On the eve of Valentine’s Day in 2004, when Joel prepared a gift carefully and found Clementine to apologize for a recent quarrel, he was surprised to find that Clementine didn’t remember him at all. The original impulsive Clementine couldn’t stand the pain of quarreling in this two-person relationship and went to the Lacuna INC which is a clinic that helps people erase their memories and get her memory of Joel erased. Joel couldn’t forgive Clementine’s waywardness, and couldn’t stand the pain of losing her, so he also went to the ‘Lacuna INC ‘ and asked Dr. Howard to eliminate the memory of Clementine. After the failure of love, the first thing everyone can think of is to eliminate the memory of the other party from their own minds. Just like childhood sorrow and shame, they are buried in the corner of the soul, hoping that they will never touch that place. In the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, Mary uses the quote from Nietzsche saying that: “Blessed are forgetful for they get better even of their blunders.” If there is a clinic, you can completely remove the unpleasant part of the patient’s brain by unimaginable high technology. Then, will you go to visit on Valentine’s Day after the loss of love? After the unfortunate results of the past, is it really necessary to disappear? After choosing to escape, when faced with people who have had close relationships, it seems that he seems to be happy and ignorant of innocence. Can someone else think that nothing has happened? This kind of question mark is the kernel of the film. And this replies to one aspect of the working memory that the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” captures most effectively is a reinterpretation of memories in light of mental and emotional states, this aspect argues the experience of forgetting and remembering as it has been theorized in the literature of neuroscience.

Emotion is the subjective experience of the individual’s attitude to the objective things whether to meet their needs. In the movie “Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind”, Doctor Howard introduced the procedure about erasing people’s memory is an emotional core, when you eradicate that core it starts its degradation process, technically the procedure is brain damage. What this means that Emotions are attached very closely to memory, so it would make sense that getting rid of memory would entail erasing the emotion associated with it. Unfortunately, the result is technically brain damage, which, despite Howard’s reassurance, is a scary thought. Later on, the memory-clearing process started, and Joel walked in his memory. At first, Joel’s emotions were uneasy and pain when he recalled the time of quarreling with Clementine, and then he recalled the good times with Clementine. For example, they went to Frzee Charles together, he was very happy. Immediately he found that the time spent with Clementine, whether it was pain or sweetness, was precious. He didn’t want to forget this woman he loved. He wants to call it off during the procedure because his emotional was so strong, he was very afraid that to forget everything about Clementine. Therefore he’s off the map during the procedure and he opened his eyes. Afterward, Clementine and Joel didn’t become different people after their memories erased, even though their memories erased, but their emotions still there. Like Clementine became miserable, confuse, scary after erasing the memory. But she became happy when she met Joel at Montauk, she falls in love with Joel again. Both examples imply that the reinterpretation of memories in light of mental and emotional states.

Neuroscience also plays an important role in the study of memory, it has many other theories which also show that reinterpretation of memories in light of mental and emotional states. Compared with memory theory from many sources, such as Daniel Schacter’s Searching for Memory, Engel’s Context is Everything and Radiolab. These theories allow us to reflect on the “Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind” and critiques if they are theoretically related. For instance, in “Schacter’s Searching for Memory, Engel’s Context is Everything ” Daniel notes that to study emotion, researchers often ask their subjects to call up the saddest or happiest moment of their lives. Remarkably, it has been observed that the act of remembering sad episodes can bring people to tears moment, and remembering happy incidents can induce an almost immediate sense of elation. This means that emotion plays an important role in remembering, the emotional attributes of a stimulus do affect the way we perceive memory and process memory. Sad emotions will remind you of sad memories, happy emotions will remind you of happy memories. This example supported one aspect of remembering is a reinterpretation of memories in light of mental and emotional states. Another example from Radio lab also shows the reinterpretation of memories in light of mental and emotional states. In order to study the genetic mechanism of memory formation, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States underwent a slight electric shock to mice that entered a special cage. Within a few minutes, the mouse quickly became fearful of this special cage, the next time when they entered the cage, they trembled. Because when the mouse enters the cage, he will remember the sense of fear that this cage brings to it. The rat’s fear of electric shock reminded him of the memory of the cage therefore when the mouse enters the cage the next time he will tremble because he is afraid of receiving another electric shock. The cage is a bad memory for mice. This example expresses that reinterpretation of memories may not in light of current mental and emotional states.

All in all, all evidence supported that reinterpretation of memories in light of mental and emotional states. In contemporary neuroscience, researchers have taken a closer look at the relationship between emotion and remembering and forgetting they’re exploring further. Memory has great plasticity, and research in the laboratory is very limited. How to induce certain emotions, the researchers’ opinions are quite different. These are all obstacles in research. The relationship between emotion and memory is still a mystery in neurological research. 

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The Idea Of A Reinterpretation Of Memories In The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from
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