A year after the Wachowski’s introduced us to The Matrix, future directorial star Christopher Nolan gave us an equally stunning film that explored the twin themes of reality and identity: Memento. A friend and I analysed Memento in-depth a few years ago and came to realise that the two films are interconnected. In The Matrix, Morpheus informs Neo that his doubts about the ‘reality’ of his world are “Like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad”. He presents Neo with a choice between red and blue pills. In The Matrix we’re shown what happens when Neo chooses the red pill, whereas in Nolan’s Memento we’re shown what happens when the other side of the probability waveform collapses. In other words, the world of Memento is a parallel reality, the reality Neo finds himself in after choosing the blue pill, a world in which (to paraphrase Morpheus) Neo ‘wakes up in bed and believes whatever he wants to believe’.

The film’s central character is Leonard (Leo), played by Australian actor Guy Pearce. Leo suffers from anterograde amnesia after being struck on the head during ‘the incident’: a botched robbery by heroin addicts, which resulted in his wife’s rape and murder. Although Leo shot and killed one of the perpetrators, police did not believe his account that a second intruder was present. Convinced that his wife’s murderer is still at large, Leo is on a mission to find and kill ‘The One’ responsible for taking her away and destroying his ability to make new memories. Due to his memory problems, Leo can only keep track of the ‘facts’ by tattooing them on his own body and trusting his ‘instinct’. This leaves him vulnerable to manipulation by various predatory characters who use Leo for their own ends. The characters in question are ‘Teddy’ and ‘Natalie’ played by Jo Pantoliano and Carrie Ann-Moss, who also appear in The Matrix as Cypher and Trinity respectively.

mementophotos

The events in Memento are told in reverse chronological order, so the beginning is the end and vice versa. By starting at the beginning (which shows Leo killing Teddy) and working backwards, Nolan allows us to see how Leo’s distortions of the truth play out as an endless sequence of self-pity and self-deception as he searches for ‘The One’. In fact, the film goes much, much deeper than this and shows us that Leo has locked himself in an endless closed loop in which he searches for, and kills, ‘The One’ over and over again. The ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ of this are fairly complex, so I’ll endeavour to keep the explanation as simple as possible.

To help others understand his ‘condition’ Leo tells the story of Sammy Jankis, a former accountant suffering from the same affliction. As a former insurance investigator, Leo was assigned to investigate Sammy’s case to determine whether he was faking it. Ultimately, Leo dismisses Sammy’s condition as mental rather than physical and the insurance company refuses to pay out. Sammy’s distraught wife – a diabetic – designs the ultimate test in an attempt to get Sammy to ‘snap out of it’: she asks him to give her repeat doses of insulin at set intervals. As Sammy is unable to remember administering the first dose, he gives her a second, then a third. His wife slips into a coma and dies, Sammy is confined to a mental institution. The point here is that Leo’s memory of Sammy is false. At one point we’re shown an image of Sammy in hospital, and just before the scene cuts away we see Leo sitting in Sammy’s place.

LennyHospital

Leo’s memories of his wife’s death and his quest to find ‘The One’ are fictitious. Teddy tells Leo the truth shortly after Leo kills Natalie’s boyfriend, Jimmy, in the belief that he is ‘The One’. The truth is that Leo’s wife survived ‘the incident’ and was subsequently killed by Leo in the same way ‘Sammy’ killed ‘his’ wife. Sammy was a ‘faker’, whereas Leo’s own ‘condition’ is not physical but mental – he is ‘out of his mind’, physically capable of making new memories but psychologically unable or unwilling to do so. Teddy (a corrupt police officer) has been taking advantage of this by manipulating Leo to kill drug dealers such as Jimmy. He shows Leo a picture of himself taken shortly after a previous killing of ‘The One’. Unable to accept the truth, Leo destroys the evidence Teddy gives him and writes down Teddy’s car licence plate as a ‘fact’ that will later lead him to identify and kill Teddy as ‘The One’ responsible for his wife’s death.

The point is this: Leo is ‘The One’ just as ‘Neo’ is ‘The One’ in The Matrix. But Memento is The Matrix upside-down and ‘through the looking glass’. Shortly before Neo exits the Matrix for the first time, Cypher refers to The Wizard of Oz and says “Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy ’cause Kansas is going bye-bye”. In Memento, the reverse scenario plays out: when Leo kills ‘The One’ his world changes from black-and-white to colour, just as Dorothy’s world goes technicolor when she arrives in Oz. Leo goes ‘over the rainbow’ and wakes up to find himself in bed in ‘some anonymous hotel room’ trying to figure out who the hell he is and what he’s doing there. Leo has left the ‘real world’ and re-entered the Matrix. As Teddy says: “You’re living in a dream world kid”.

Further evidence that Leo is cycling through the same events in a fictitious ‘reality’ appears in the film’s numerous overlap shots. As one main sequence ends the next sequence begins with a repeat of the previous sequence’s ending. These short sequences ought to be identical but contain subtle differences. Leo parks his car in a slightly different location, the position of dollar bills counted by Burt the motel clerk changes, Leo wakes up on his left side, then wakes up on his right side, and so on. Through them we learn that each sequence is taken from a different iteration of the loop: Leo is repeating the same events over and over again.

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Each killing of ‘The One’ ends with Leo being informed of the reality of his situation, a reality he rejects. He then goes ‘over the rainbow’ to Oz and wakes up in bed, willing to believe ‘whatever he wants to believe’ and covered in ‘freaky tattoos’ – his own memento mori. The illusion is so strong that even Natalie’s kiss (in The Matrix he is brought back from the dead by Trinity’s kiss) fails to shatter it. Natalie wants Leo to ‘remember me’, she repeatedly asks “You don’t remember me?” – but Leo’s response is always negative.

Throughout the film Leo seems desperate to believe the ‘reality’ of his dream world: he is obsessed with so-called ‘facts’, he bangs on tables to demonstrate the ‘reality’ of his world, he says the world doesn’t just go away when we close our eyes. The end/beginning of the film has Teddy/Cypher imploring Leo/Neo to “help me find my keys”. Lenny ignores him, drives away and engages in a philosophical monologue with himself as he struggle to reconcile himself to the world he sees around him. His conclusion: “We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I’m no different”.

Here in the so-called ‘real world’, the anniversary of 911 and has just come and gone, bringing its own set of bizarre mirrors and synchronicities.

On the Eve (as in Adam and Eve – “would you Adam and Eve it?” is Cockney rhyming slang for “Would you believe it?”) of the anniversary a double rainbow appears over Manhattan, seeming to start at the site of the Freedom Tower erected on the ashes of the Twin Towers. According to the bible, the rainbow is God’s own memento – it signifies His promise never to repeat the events of Noah and The Flood.

Freedom Tower

And on the anniversary of 911 itself, a crane linked to the Bin Laden business empire is struck by lightning (think Zeus) during a freak storm and crashes into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, one of Islam’s most holy sites, killing over a hundred people.

The individual who took the ‘rainbow over Manhattan’ picture just happens to be CEO of a company named “The Leverage Agency”!

mosque_crane

On the same day the world remembers the events of 911, when planes attacked the twin icons of the capitalist system and its relentless pursuit of profit, a disaster occurs in the holy city of Mecca, the spiritual home of a faith created by the Prophet Mohammed. One attacks the Profit, the other attacks the Prophet.

Coincidentally – if you believe in coincidence – on the very same day a story emerged about the discovery of a new species of dinosaur dubbed the ‘Lightning Claw’, so-called because its claw resembles a grappling hook. The fossilised remains were discovered ‘over the rainbow’ at Lightning Ridge in Australia (Oz).

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3230689/Lightning-claw-dinosaur-Australia-23-ft-long-predator-largest-carnivore-region.html

Moreover, at the beginning of last month a private plane owned by the Bin Ladens and carrying three members of the Bin Laden family crashed at Blackbushe airport in the UK, killing all on board.

Hampshire-plane-crash

Doesn’t this bizarre sequence of events stretch the boundaries of credibility? What exactly is this construct called ‘reality’ that we so readily take for granted? Does it exist in quite the way we think it does? When we open our eyes is it ‘reality’ that we see? Or it just our collective self reflected back at us, flipped around, turned back-to-front, and repeating endlessly?

A few years ago, we thought we killed ‘The One’.

osama-bin-laden1-640x360
Osama bin Laden – complete with Blackbushe beard.

But it doesn’t seem to have made any difference, because we’re still killing ‘The One’.

Drone Strikes

And even this hasn’t made any difference, because we’re still trying to hunt down and kill ‘The One’.

EXCLUSIVE: ‘There’s drones in the air!’ How paranoid Jihadi John lives in fear of death from above – as revealed by two men who had a terrifying car ride with ISIS knifeman

jihadi john

Do you buy this? Any of it?
Does any of this still look and feel ‘real’ to you?
Have you ever had a dream that you were so sure was real?
Or do you still need a mirror to remind yourself who you are?

Are we – collectively and literally – out of our mind?

memento-poster

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46 thoughts on “911: A Memento Mori

  1. The day before news was published of ‘Bones found in South African cave are Homo naledi, a new species of ancient human relative, say researchers, but some experts are sceptical of find’

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/sep/10/new-species-of-ancient-human-discovered-claim-scientists

    South Africa is ‘The Rainbow Nation’:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_nation

    With mum’s death last weekend, this week has been filled sorting out ‘mementos’. Fantastic write up, Hugo, of the of Memento/Matrix synchronicities. You nailed it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. GOI, I had the strangest dream last night, difficult to explain. A strong sense of movement as if being pulled, then a woman’s voice, a sensation of being kissed and stroked all over my body. At the end the woman tells me she is providing a ‘service’ for which ‘payment’ is required. For some reason the entire transaction – the communication itself – seems to be broadcast through my smart phone. I’m alarmed by this because I’m unable to pay. I ask what she means by ‘service’ and ‘payment’ and who had ‘booked’ the ‘service’ and she has a discussion with someone in the background, then tells me that I booked the service and it’s part of a regular and longstanding arrangement. When I ask how long the arrangement has been in effect she replies “3000 years”!

        The rest of the dream was even stranger. I have made contact with the ‘other side’ and want to write a book about it. Then I find myself in a school with a black man who seems to be a sports star (basketball I think) who tells me an announcement is going to be made to reveal the other side’s existence, pre-empting my book. I’m disappointed but happy to receive an invitation to the announcement. I’m then shown a brochure about the ‘transportation system’ used by the other side and it’s bizarre: a picture of two tubes (one ‘fat’, one ‘thin’) through which water flows – this is how the others enter our world. A kind of binary system. Then I find myself in a garden where the others are being hosted – it’s a kind of genteel tea party. Their language is very strange – it is recognisable but archaic, full of obsolete words.

        Very vivid, very bizarre!

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        1. Hugo Jesus, I read your comet your dream earlier today but just now I am able to comet back, and I’ve had time to think about it.
          Interesting! to say the least….
          It sounds like the dream was great, until it got weird? Here is what first comes to mind:
          3000 in Roman numerals is MMM.
          Mmmmmmmemory. Memes. Water. MWMWMWMW. Currents. Water currents. Electric currents. Currency. (SHE wants payment!)
          Through your smart PHONEY
          Was it SIRI?
          Are you SIRIUS? Because two tubes (22 or 55 or tutu or ISIS) carrying water (memories, data) for MMMMMMMMM sounds like SIRUIS A and SIRIUS B are communicating MEMory.
          Two tubes, one bigger than the other (Sirius A and Sirius B). Binary star system.
          Siri is IRIS backwards. Iris is messenger of the gods. Did she say how she wanted to be paid?
          😀

          the tea party

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hugo, brilliant 🙂
    I was just thinking that I need to watch Memento again. Its been years and when I watched it, it really struck a chord. At the time, I wasn’t aware of exactly why I was drawn to these types of movies, but I definitely was and I thought they were way too rare.
    Memento, David Lynch movies, Kubrick, (and I have found the HBO series True Detective to fall into the category, too) and they all seem to “go to that place” that describes the murkiness of 3D reality.
    I don’t know if you watched the tv series “Twin Peaks”, but there was also a movie, Twin Peaks, Fire Walk with Me, that was a prequel and was about the death of Laura PALMER.
    “She’s dead! Wrapped in plastic!”
    One of the geekier things I have done, is when I ordered the magazine, ‘Wrapped in Plastic’, which was a publication for the fans of Twin Peaks and David Lynch. I think I had five different issues. I sold them and wished I hadn’t because they are collector’s items, no doubt.

    I don’t know if you saw Fire Walk with Me, but if someone read the summary of it without watching it or asking the questions that we do here and on Merovee, then it sounds pretty fucked up….
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Peaks:_Fire_Walk_with_Me

    The “man from another place”, gormonbozia, the black lodge, the log lady, “the thread will be cut!” and “Bob”, are all symbols of things that manifest in 3D reality and Twin Peaks (along with other Lynch films) explores other dimensions.
    “Would you like to ask it something?” (log lady asks people if they’d like to ask the log something).
    http://images.8tracks.com/cover/i/001/170/330/85971.original-145.jpg?rect=0,0,480,480&q=98&fm=jpg&fit=max

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Memento is possibly my favourite film. When Roob and I analysed it a few years ago I discovered a YouTube version that had been reconstructed in chronological order based on the director’s scene sequence numbers. It was amazing! It’s since been deleted though. There seems to be another version of it split into 12 parts, but it’s blocked in the UK. Don’t know if you can access it from the US?

      I did watch Fire Walk With Me years ago and remember being freaked out by it, especially the Bob character. Think I need to watch it again. I knew Frank would appear somewhere – he always does! 😉

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  3. The movie Fire Walk with Me has a great cast (except Laura Flynn Boyle and Sherilyn Fenn weren’t in the movie and that was disappointing) but anyway, David Bowie had a cameo.
    He plays Philip Jefferies, a long-lost FBI agent, who knows of the Lodges and their inhabitants. (the Lodges are inter-dimensional). Special agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLaughlin) wants his help at the beginning as he starts the Laura Palmer case and watches David Bowie’s character, Philip Jefferies, walk into the FBI office on a security camera, but then it gets static-y and he sort of disappears into the static, insinuating multiple realities. Dale Cooper walks into the hallway to see Jefferies, but he is no where to be seen. He is perplexed after seeing him on the screen, via security camera, but he can’t find his physical body anywhere. IMO, Lynch is giving a clue as a ‘message from the program’ about frequencies and manifestation and reality. Actually he does this all throughout the movie and the series, but that one was a literal example. What you see on a screen doesn’t mean its real, or “real” in the sense of a human body’s perception.
    Something else I noticed is that the town of Twin Peaks is on the border of northwest united states and Canada. Lots of “crossing the border” and when they do, they go to a cat house called One-eyed Jacks. It involves things that are “illegal” like drugs and prostitution.
    In the twin peaks world, Shelley, (Leo’s girlfriend) offers ‘pie’ at the Double R diner….

    but across the border, another “pie” is offered….

    And there you see it again, with masks, prostitutes, and powerful men, going to have sex in a hidden and private place.

    So while I’m typing this, I have to reference wiki about a couple of actor’s bios, because some syncs are popping up again in a movie/series from twenty + years ago!
    Eric Da Ra plays LEO, husband of Shelley who serves pie at the diner, but he likes to cross the border and go to One-eyed Jacks. Eric Da Ra’s birthday is March 15 and I just thinks its interesting because 3/15 (plus or minus a couple of days) is an important date to me and Frank.
    Speaking of Frank, Frank Silva, who plays “killer BOB”, an inter-dimensional character, was born on October 31. He died at the age of 44 from complications from AIDS. (a fucking disease!)
    Even crazier, I happen to be looking at this today, September 13, and referencing his wiki page. Have a look at the date of his death.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Silva

    Liked by 1 person

      1. GOI, that whole ‘Armageddon’ theme. When the latest round of nonsense between North and South Korea ended in August the headlines read “Armageddon Averted”. On the same day, One Direction announced their intention to split in conjunction with the release of the video for their latest single “Drag me down”. This is a still from the video:

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That pic was taken a couple of months ago. We went to DC earlier this year and went to the Air and Space museum. Best. giftshop. ever. It was part gift shop, part toy store, had awesome t-shirts, anything and everything to do with space. I told him he could pick out something and chose that orange NASA suit. He also has a helmet.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. They look very similar! Did you finish watching it yet? Who was your favorite? I thought it was great acting, again with this season. When I saw Rachel McAdams was going to be cast, at first I didn’t think she was gritty enough. She proved me wrong. And Vince Vaughn (Frank 🙂 was awesome. Loved the scene of what he did to the casino. But I think my favorite was Ray Velcoro. I loved how he and Frank would sit face to face in the inter dimensional bar, as they were mirrors of each other.
        I happened to notice an article one day, about how the lyrics were slightly different in the opening song, a few episodes, here and there….
        http://cohencentric.com/2015/07/02/the-nevermind-variations-mysterious-changes-in-true-detectives-theme-song-by-leonard-cohen/

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I did. We watched the first 7 episodes straight off. A real binge 😀 The last episode had to wait until the following night. With an after cabbying treat of Maccy D. I did mention something about the theme tune to Steve regarding one of the later episodes. It sounded more gospelly to me, stronger women’s voices. I didn’t knot eyes a change in the lyrics 😉

          It was all about the rearing of children. The best of the lot was the Frank character, who bulked at adoption but had done exactly that in becoming a father figure to his gang, every one he had dealings with. I thought the scene in in the kitchen when Ray confronts Frank is awesome:

          Hugo, Casper (ghost/spectre/spirit) is the person that links the 4 main characters (Ani, Ray, Paul – the detectives and Frank who’s rise and fall is as spectacular as…

          There’s a whole lot more; I’m not sure if Hugo wants the spoilers 😉

          Like

    1. Damn, died September 13th – that’s today! I noticed this on the Wiki page: “Lynch accidentally caught him on camera when his reflection appeared in a mirror, and thus was born the character of Killer BOB”. That just about says it all!

      Like

    1. GOI, that VALIS game! You couldn’t make this stuff up! Ying and Yang, the King of the Dark World (a chthonic deity? Pluto?), sword of VALIS LOL! So many of these synchs, they make a complete mockery of what we tink of as time and space. Just like me with The Three Stigmata following me around everywhere. But it looks like the Palmer-era could be coming to a close – just a single ‘arch’ remains standing. A single ‘degree’ perhaps? The Royal Arch?

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3229268/Pictured-ISIS-destruction-2-000-year-old-temple-Palmyra-left-just-one-arch-standing.html

      Like

      1. HUGO,
        I watched the cosmic coincidence video again because I wanted to see the Bruce Almighty clip again, and he says “am I in heaven?” and Morgan Freeman says “no, this is mount everest”.
        I couldn’t believe it when I saw this (I took a screen shot):

        Look at what that box says! Silva! (VALIS). Its nuts. Silva is not a name that I see every day. Now all of a sudden!
        I’m not sure if it was a comet made on here or merovee, but the word “martial” or “marshall”.
        My boy astronaut, the One Direction pic, and also in the cosmic coincidence, Britney’s “Oops, I did it again”, its space themed and seems to be on Mars, given the colors, the orangey-red.

        Roob, BRING HIM HOME?!

        Like

        1. In the Victorian era mirrors were made by silva-ring glass.

          As you know, my world seems to revolve around Philip K Dick novels – a total mindfuck based on the mindfuck that all his novels are mindfucks!

          Like

          1. The last minute or so is the best – he explicitly states that our ‘reality’ is an artificial computer-generated illusion. Also, he refers to the changing of variables, which remnds me of our conversation on Merovee about constants and variables. He seems to associate the changing of variables with the creation of parallel ‘realities’.

            Like

  4. Impossible?

    Terrible?

    Or…miracle?

    Following from Clicky’s incisive comment (Clicky is the smartest one of all of us, which is why she doesn’t have to write anything), there is this welcome from The Program:

    Which raises the question: If you are dreaming, what happens when you wake up?

    Welcome to The Program.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vik, re: Hugo’s dream and Hurley, I just refreshed my Daily eMail inbox and this appears as the top story.

      “Hugh’s looking at you! Grant takes a stroll with ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley… who is NOT amused when he is distracted by a leggy young passer-by”

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3232820/Elizabeth-Hurley-ex-boyfriend-Hugh-Grant-step-casual-jaunt-actor-gets-distracted-pretty-shorts-clad-young-woman.html

      Like

  5. I just watched The Zero Theorem today. Then I check out the comments here, and, unsurprisingly, I see you have posted a still from The Zero Theorem.

    The Bob Tower at Ground Zero

    Like

    1. I’m still asking why I know Vik. Still waiting for an answer. I re-watched the second half of Interstellar tonight, then this story pops up: “Could humans accidentally send aliens a COMPUTER VIRUS? Scientists warn of dangers of interstellar spam”

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3234583/Could-humans-accidentally-send-aliens-COMPUTER-VIRUS-Scientists-warn-dangers-insterstellar-spam.html

      I know it’s not real, I know ‘it’ knows I know. I have to assume that I know because ‘it’ wants me to know, that there’s a reason – but I just don’t get it. You say we have to ‘know what we want’? Why? So we can receive ‘what we want’ knowing that what we receive isn’t real? That makes no sense to me at all.

      Like

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