The Blurry Side of Memories

In Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Artist of the Floating World, Masuji Ono seems to have trouble remembering the past and does not seem to remember clearly if he does. He struggles mainly with memories of times with his students and others who do not hold him in high regards anymore and are quite offended by his presence in the current time. I believe that Ono struggles to retain memories that may affect his perception of himself, and that if he did remember them correctly, he would not know who he was anymore. Ono is in a state of denial of his past and is subconsciously distorting his memories so that he does not have to face his past mistakes.

While reading Ishiguro’s novel, I made some connections to the ideas of memory that I have witnessed in my own life. In my high school’s Concert Choir, we sang Donald McCullough’s We Remember Them which is a tribute to the holocaust victim’s of World War II. The song is actually the prayer poem of remembrance for the holocaust victims and is a beautiful way to remember them. As I sang We Remember Them, I was gripped with the emotions of the song and all the memories contained within these lyrics:

At the rising of the sun and at its going down

                                    We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter

                                    We remember them.

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring

                                    We remember them.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer

                                    We remember them.

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn

                                    We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends

                                    We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as

                                    We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength

                                    We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart

                                    We remember them.

When we have joy we crave to share

                                    We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make

                                    We remember them.

When we have achievements that are based on theirs

                                    We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as

                                    We remember them.

 

Blurred Face

Another connection I made to the ideas around memory was in a movie I recently watched, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In the movie, there is a couple who ends up breaking up very dramatically and their relationship was very destructive overall. The woman decides to have her memory of the relationship erased and upon finding out she has done this, the man decides to follow suit. In the movie, we follow the man through the memories of his relationship as they fade and disappear from his mind. Throughout the film, many interesting techniques are used to show this erasure of traumatic memory such as the blurring of faces and scenes fading into black. His confusion of his memories is also demonstrated very well as objects begin to move around in his memory and he does not seem to understand what is going on. This really reminds me of Ono in the sense that he seems very confused at his memory and does not understand what is occurring specifically in those memories at times.

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