Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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 …

These lines are from the poem by Alexander Pope, about the tragic love between Eloisa (Heloise) and Abelard – a girl fell in love with her teacher and secretly married, the teacher was castrated and entered a monastery, and their letters are still touching the hearts of many.

The 3rd line above was borrowed as the title for the 2004 romance movie I just watched, which starts Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Kirsten Dunst. This movie is one of the best romance movies I have ever heard of.

What is love? What is its nature? And which love is the greatest? In Chinese literature, I have read some great love poems. In one of them, the wife claims that her love will stop only when the heaven meets with the earth, the snow comes down in the summer, and the Yangtz river goes dry. It is clearly seen that this kind of love is unconditioned, and no impediment can stop it.

But how about the memory loss? I have learned something about dementia, which is most often seen as when the patients gradually or suddenly lose the memory and sadly, become unable to recognize the persons they love. If you have lost the memory of your loved ones, can you still love your lover? There is possibility that some people may still remain to feel familiar with and close to their lovers, yet still sadly, with the progress of the disease, these people are doomed to lose all cognition and don’t have any sense of love or hatred. Only a handful of dementia people, generally with traumatic brain injury, can recover from this gradual loss of the memory of love.

Some may wonder, since we are in a time of dramatic science and technology advancement, it is foreseeable that one day, we the human beings may be able to manipulate our memory, as already depicted in films like paycheck and this romance film. Yes, this film talks about the nature of memory and love, and, as I proclaims, the love that even memory manipulation cannot change is the greatest love.

Joel Barish (Jim Carry) and Clementine Kluczynski (Kate Winsley) have lived together for 2 years. Suddenly Clem feels boring of her life and comes to a company to erase all her memory about Joel. Surprised, Joel discovered what and how, and sadly, he comes to the same company to undergo the same procedure. However, while unconscious and trunks and trunks of memory being removed, Joel keeps thinking of their past: how they get to know each other, how they spend time together, having fun and having fight, and every detail of their life together. Definitely they have problems, and definitely he still loves her so much. And definitely she still loves him so much. Even they cannot remember of their past, they meet, as planned, in Valentine’s Day, in Montauk, NY, where they previously met, and this time they fall in love again. Lately they get to know their memory removing, and still, they decide to stay together (actually it is not explicitly said in the film; the two just agree to give each another try but I prefer to see them live happily together afterwards).

What a touching story! Even memory erase cannot stop the two from loving each other.

Yet, there is a question: Why Clem wants to remove her memory, just days before Valentine’s Day, and the reason being only boring? Is is because Clem impulsively pursuits happiness and when it seems away from everyday life, it’s time to dump the old lover and finds a new one? Well, human nature allows us to have stronger interest to new faces, and only think about the near future, and, most of all, "it takes so much time to stay together with a person only to find out you don’t know her/him at all."

It is so hard to know and love a person.

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One Response to “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

  1. okapi Says:

    strongly agree.

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