‘ In the smallest as in the greatest happiness, there is always something that make happiness is happiness: the ability to forget, or to say it more scholarly, the ability to feel for a time outside history ‘ (Nietzsche, Seconds Considerations)
This quote by Nietzsche perfectly illustrates the thesis of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a beautiful philosophical movie of the 90’s, along Gattaca. Against Locke and most philosophers, who considers the memory as the foundation of identity and thus the stability of the individual, Eternal Sunshine supports to the Nietzsche’s thesis that forgetting is vital to humans, memory, and thereby the memories it accumulates, weighs about man and paralyzes his action. Amnesia is presented as a lightness, a source of creativity and freedom. Instead, the “hypermnesic” (inability to forget) would be pure retention, pure nostalgia. Outside of time, says Nietzsche, the man pulls his historicity, tastes pure present, conquers and feels his freedom.
Eternal Sunshine Analysis
Directed by Michel Gondry and released in 2004, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of a couple who only see the bad side of their relationship. Clementine decides to erase from his memory all traces of their relationship. Devastated, Joel contacts the inventor of Lacuna, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, that he also pulls out of his memory all souvenirs that connected with Clementine.
A pharmaceutical tablet that could erase the memory of an individual is still part of science fiction, but let’s face it, if we had the opportunity to benefit from such a pill, there are certain moments of our existence as we would like to erase from our memory.
Constantly looking for personal development and improvement, the Man would like the people around him adhere to his life goals. As soon as he enters into a relationship, the individual is inclined to idealize the person he meets on a regular basis. This idealization ensures that the individual will love to believe that his ambitions could become his own and by dint of persuasion, he could bring to consider things as he sees them. His partner would then become its reciprocal and not simply its complement.
Human beings not only to love without expectation, but he likes rather according to what the other could bring against expectations and its goals. Rather than seeing our love as the person who could give consistency to our being, the loved one is simply subordinate to our desire for perfection.
The moment the relationship is progressing over by our desires and the other no longer complies with the idealized image we had built in the early morning of love, we feel frustrated and sometimes we think to end the relationship to continue our quest for the perfect soul mate. However, we should always keep in mind that through a person seen in the beginning of the relationship does not fade with time. We too often forget that human beings are made and contrast what is considered a “defect” can be a personality trait that differentiates it from its fellows.
That’s what Joel realizes when undergoing the process of erasing his memory: it is the idiosyncrasies of Clementine that he liked, his spontaneity, his impulsiveness, his loquacity, in short, the characteristics of its personality contrasts with his. And it is this opposition between the two personalities that lead first to friction between the couple, then break. But they are also opposites that attract.
The phrase “… meet me in Montauk …” should have a place in the pantheon of the best quotes from the film.
The four little words uttered by Clementine, is meant hard, as if it breathed through his mind, want to tell Joel to return to Montauk, the place of their first appointment. When he awoke, Joel will have no memory of Clementine. Thus, their love story would disappear forever from their common memory. This was not the case because returning to Montauk, the lovers resume their love affair despite the fact that they are aware that one day it will end.
Nietzsche’s influence on the philosophy of Eternal Sunshine
This film is a beautiful metaphor of the Nietzschean concept of eternal recurrence of all things. Moreover, an employee of Dr. Mierzwiak, Mary Svevo, recited twice a famous aphorism by the philosopher: “Blessed are the forgetful, for They Get Even the better of Their blunders.”
This theme returns again to Nietzsche, especially the theme of the Eternal Recurrence. This theory of eternal recurrence, whose Nietzsche inherits from the Stoics, is a thought experiment would be to ask, before you act, if you would do the same choice for all eternity. In short, the question: what I want now, do I want it forever? Nietzsche made the issue as a test of greatness of action and nobility to the man who can answer “yes” to this question. However, both characters are placed in this recurring situation , returning the same and they accept each time to relive their choice. They do not learn, draw no lesson from their experiences and their suffering, like amnesiacs. They choose the intensity of life in a dull wisdom which they can not do that. We can say that Joel and Clementine are Nietzschean characters because they are pure becomings, transcendence of suffering, in short pure affirmation of life.
The last scene of the film seems to be a conclusion that no impression of lucidity hug and kiss any languorous are exchanged. Both sides are aware of the reality of their situation, are willing to start their life in love, to forget that they had failed the first attempt, as they believe that the good times they live supplant times of pain they will suffer inevitably.