Film As Philosophy: Epistemology In Memento

Philosophers Noel Carrol, Paisley Livingstone, Bruce Russell, and Murray Smith, have strong views about film. Russell and Livingstone consider film anathema to philosophy because film is about visual entertainment and philosophy about verbal argument. Smith fences film from wise study because film is vague where philosophy is rigorous. These claims are frankly silly. Visuals and words work together; workaday film and philosophy is rigorous and vague. Their claims against film and for words reveal biases: a “prejudice against the nonlinguistic” to quote Noel Carrol. Biases that mislead people who wish to learn useful wisdom about ‘life’ or ‘reality’. Arguably, philosophy nowadays is defined around ventured arguments and points. Yet philosophers talking about taking film from the table ironically demonstrates the reach of film as philosophy; were it factually out of the question that philosophy be film, then no philosophers would be arguing against it. Historically and geographically, too, images and epiphanic realisation have been granted philosophical status. Think of philosophers like Lao Zi or Albert Camus. And public citizens offer diverse definitions of philosophy, ones evoked through film more than journal arguments. I want to make an example of this clear. I choose Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) because the plot, script, shots, and genre techniques are cerebral, and if one film can count as philosophical, then film-as-medium definitely can be philosophic. We will look at narrative frames, open-ended interpretation, and the quest for truth in Memento. First, though, I should, with several spoilers, summarise the movie.

Memento is about a man, Leonard, with retrograde amnesia. Leonard can form no new memories. He can contain thoughts for minutes but nothing ever sticks. He is on a quest to avenge his assaulted dead wife. He lives to kill her killer, a killer vaguely named John G. To make things yet more complicated, scenes are cut-and-pasted in partially reversed order, so instead of going from A to B, scenes run B-A,B-A,B-A in the present-tense story, colour, with Cs thrown in that show his long term memory in black-white, past-tense, and occasional flashbacks, that merit no big-letter, where present tense and past tense divisions collapse on screen. So, as Leonard makes sense of what is happening, we do the same, piecing together the plot and second-guessing characters’ intentions. Characters include a drug dealer Leonard kills at the start (Jimmy), Jimmy’s girlfriend who misleads Leonard (Natalie), a former cop corruptor-or-friend to Leonard (Teddy), a drug dealer associate who chases after Natalie and Leonard (Dodd), and a hotel clerk who cheats Leonard out of money, at the anonymous Discount Inn (Burt). Let us return to philosophic themes.

Narrative Frames 

Geoff McGregor claims Memento in chronological and inverted order “is the same narrative, but different narration”. McGregor assumes narration separable from “the narrative”. Yet, narration in word-plot is inseparable from picture narrative in practice. Memento invites viewers to believe, for example, that Natalie manipulates Leonard to avenge her murdered boyfriend, Jimmy. Katherine Weese tested this. Weese tested her students’ viewing experiences; her students believed, wanted to believe, that Natalie acted to avenge Jimmy’s murder. Weese calls this “(mis)reading Natalie” because the fact that Natalie caused Leonard to kill Teddy is a plausible coincidence. Memento offers no evidence for viewers to attribute vengeance to Natalie. Instead, viewers bring the reading and construct their narrative in co-construction of the signifiers from films, plays, and scripts viewers have read before.

Howard Suber, a film professor at UCLA, concurs that intentionality is foremost in drama with viewers attributing goals to characters and linking cause-and-effect more rigidly than in the chaotic real world. Memento invites viewers to attribute vengeful intent to Natalie through sequence, the ’how’, instead of words, the ’what’. Presenting Natalie as abrasive early-on primes readers to attribute malevolent intentions to her later. Nevertheless, if the sequence were altered with kind-Natalie preceding deceitful-Natalie then viewers’ narratives would change as well. Sequence alters facts. Narration affecting narrative is no cinematic or poetic licence alone, but is a commonplace. A surgery outcome study, for instance, found that framing affects what facts are concluded. Doctors informed that “the one month survival rate is 90%” or “there is 10% mortality in the first month” resulted in 84% agreeing to the first and 50% to the second, despite logical equivalence. In court-cases too, the sequence information is shown in colour guilt perceptions. That study finding is analogous to how viewers discern guilt perception in Memento on shifting ground. Therefore Memento engages with questions about how-we-know that generalise to real-world problems. Problems about ventured verbal arguments and facts. Memento is philosophical then at least to the degree that knowing about how perceptions shape what we know is philosophical – a central tenet in epistemiology. A more workaday example, however, shows how viewers’ epistemics change from the film. The actor who played Natalie, Carrie-Anne Moss, says “I’ve seen [Memento] five times, […] and I’ve seen it differently each time now’”. Her pluralist interpretation is rendered through its framed design. Interpretation and object are thrown into question since there are as many Natalies as there are interpretations of her—Natalie afterall is fictional. Memento itself has a plurality in different versions – chronological and original – that suggest different readings. Readings that change with each watch. Guy Pearce, who plays Leonard, recounts how Memento changed his epistemology as well: “I think back to experiences in my life where I look at something, like I look at a photo and base a memory around that, and go, I actually don’t really know if that memory’s really true. Is it?”.

Memento therefore persuasively demonstrates fallibility in inferring and attributing given partial evidence. More evidence never clears epistemic ambiguity in Memento.

Despite first-hand acquaintance with script, character, and film, both Moss and Pearce have never concluded reconstructing Natalie and Leonard from cues like memories, notes, and photographs. And as Pearce makes clear, that altered his epistemology—how he thinks, doubts, and evaluates his world in, and from, pictures—in a manner Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason presumably has not.   

Psychiatry evidence also supports a thesis in Memento; a thesis that autobiographical memories, for example, are framed through pictures instead of words. So Memento is epistemological about how we know, in surpassing linguistics. The confines of verbal argument moreover never constitutes Leonard’s epistemics. His knowledge is improvised from assertions, ‘facts’, he assumes to be true from polaroids and tattoos. The whole film shown with no moment without Leonard is also a character-frame built for the audience. As Nolan explains, Leonard:

He’s a wonderful means for examining our own process of memory. Research gave me a grounding in memory and the way it works. Then I just looked at  myself,  and  the  way  I  store  things  in  my  mind.  Once  you  start  examin-ing the process, you rapidly realise how inefficient that system is, and how interpretation  is  involved;  how  many  different  devices  you  use,  such  as notes and photographs. It’s one of the things that people who enjoy the film tap  into,  because  it  makes  them  think  about  that  in  themselves.

Leonard himself is a fictional device, a “means”, to illustrate how making sense is system bound, device mediated, and subjective. Leonard may be considered an extreme case for making sense of framed time and experience, being unable to consolidate memory but his extreme case illustrates just how frame-relative time and experience are: for a whole swathe of experience to be wiped by brain injury demonstrates how partial and subjective and framed interpretations become.

His aberrant experience of not-time and not-memory are as valid as anyone else’s; his experiences demonstrate how framed all experiences turn out to be. Although in workaday life we take it for granted, Memento challenges us to question our interpretations from partial evidence by taking the familiar and given and making them unfamiliar and strange. As is evident in Leonard’s reliance on photography as an extension of memory. Leonard uses a representation system to get by, yet so does everyone. Making his index of facts and knowledge ephemeral draws attention to how our own more stable representations are still just that, representations rather than read-outs of facts wholescale. 

The authority we accord to memory is actually just as subject-relative a signifying process as an external system; I take the opposite lesson from Joseph Levine’s argument that the mind being a computational processor summing inputs gives reason for drawing a line to privilege the interior mind above external inputs. Without object input, there would be no mind at all! Moreover, the lines between objects and thoughts are versatile. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, for instance, uses literal paper labels—signs—on patients’ bodies, carried notes, and movements incongruous to ‘voice’, to reconstitute self-knowledge. This technique of mind reconstitution is an embodied process reliant on input objects, a representational system of the same kind, but never extent, as Leonard’s representation system. Leonard trusts photos, tattoos, and notes as thoughts, whereas therapy subjects alter their thoughts with labels. Therefore Leonard, in his extreme condition, demonstrates further how label-representations play a constitutive, even prescriptive, role rather than a descriptive one. Whereas therapy subjects presumably like to think the labels are tools for them, for Leonard his tools in a sense constitute him. His representation system is a substitute for his long-term memory.

Leonard relies on conditioned behaviours (subconscious habits) and physical cues (notes, photographs, tattoos) to substitute for his amnesia. Audiences are deliberately placed in these peculiar “epistemic shoes”. Conditioning, cues, and search for answers are ready analogues for audiences making sense of Memento. Note the participatory verb, making sense. Audiences are literally processing and reasoning, in becoming rather than collecting or piecing together Memento objectively, they do so with a share in the partiality and difficulty suffered by Leonard, and by his extreme extension, to a degree by everyone. Such as the endless forum members who discuss the ‘real’, ‘true’, or ‘final’ meanings of Memento. 

I see the virtue in this ambivalent epistemology, so I disagree with Weese’s claim that her students misread Natalie. On the contrary, attributing vengeance to Natalie could be correct because no criteria falsifies either way. Just like Leonard is stuck between both John and James G without ever knowing either way. Weese’s belief is akin to a visual illusion, where she sees a rabbit and her students see a duck; yet she wishes to correct that it is really the rabbit’ agnostically seeing both is most accurate.

Granted, there definitely are misreadings. Memento is no different. Consider for an absurd example a proposition like ‘Teddy is an alien’ or that ‘Leonard has no tattoos’. Memento however never offers such low-hanging fruit. Instead it boasts an ambivalent epistemology where final answers and resolution are averted with indeterminacy—leaving many options and vacillation between possibilities—open in its design.

Open-ended Re-interpretation 

At the end, Memento comes full-circle. Leonard asks “where was I?”. The quest for answers is infinite like a “mobius strip”, says Jonathan Nolan, a co-creator. Christopher Nolan nonetheless maintains that he knows who is good and what happens for real in the film. He describes Memento as “linear but in reverse order”, presupposing Memento viewers see, or should accept, the same model as him. Memento is linear in that each frame follows exquisitely from the former. Yet Memento’s narrative is not linear in experience. On the contrary, an attentive viewing shows how linear thinking misleads as a direction-biased model for understanding. The fact that both Nolans, who collaborated on the script concept, disagree about the model for Memento demonstrates how diverse and open-ended interpretations can be.

Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Memento as linear is a choice rather than a read-out of the film. This is demonstrated by what does and does not get, typically, modelled as linear. Consider a Taijiquan performance for comparison, with set-moves, beginning, and end. Seldom do these get described as linear. The movements are dynamic and each iteration unique. Despite having an end the experience is more than just a sequence but an embodied cognition; the same physicality holds in watching a film. Eyes dance over screen, a tummy rumbles, a film scene evokes another scene onto the internal projector, a hand flinches in empathy. As the philosopher Henri Bergson says, instead of seeing orange independently as a composite of colours, a viewer sees—is ‘in’ or ‘becomes’ orange—with only second thought for the composite parts that we come to learn form orange. As philosophical and abstruse as it sounds, viewers in a sense are Leonard, and the mind experiencing Memento extends its repertoire about what we know and how we known. A suitable criterion for philosophy. It is rewarding to puzzle over why we consider a film static and linear whereas we never do a tajichuan performance or a dance; perhaps it is to do with perceptions in real-life dimensions versus those played out within a screen with digital tape allowing one to run metaphorically ‘forward’ and ‘back’.

Memento’s sequences demonstrate how extrapolation from space to time goes awry. Past and present alternate and the past bursts into an all-encompassing present in pseudo-flashbacks on screen. Memento represents our knowledge as more contingent than the literalised metaphor of linear, or arrow, times. Indeed I estimate that Memento has thirty-two segments at 2-10 minutes; with each segment viewers begin again like Leonard. The segments alternate between “objective” black-and-white and “subjective” colour, past and present. Yet separation between past and present lapses, with elements of present entering past, like Leonard in Sammy’s chair, and past entering present like his wife’s murder occupying our shared mind’s eye (the screen). Colour eventually bleeds from a polaroid across the screen, subtly eliminating the black-and-white; subjectivity and objectivity converge. Leonard speculates about whether Sammy recognises him, and Sammy’s wife’s intentions. Narration is past-tense but Leonard and watching, remember, is present; words are past and images present; tenses exposed as verbal constructions.

Leonard identifies with Sammy or Leonard is Sammy, or Sammy is Leonard?

Audiences reason about Leonard from present images and words, sometimes in conflict. Teddy claims Sammy was real but fraudulent. Sammy “never had a wife” and Leonard lives “a dream” where Leonard would continue his quest “even if I wasn’t in the picture”—note The Picture pun! Leonard does continue his quest with Teddy taken out of the picture—killed and un-developing on a polaroid. Re-interpretations however compete between characters and within characters. For example, Leonard confabulates his past with verbal and non-verbal sometimes in confrontation.

The Leonard who judges isn’t accurate but instead weighed brain firings none of which are definitively ‘his’ all-time judgement, depending on firings not performed and prior social elication. His judgment depends on what Natalie gives or doesn’t give; that knowledge is contingent is a common-place philosophical claim; Memento embodies an experiment to show it. For example, after Natalie manipulates Leonard into hitting her and after losing his memory of hitting, Natalie performs a damsel-in-distress role to evoke Leonard’s sympathy and righteous anger. Leonard however looks at his hand for a moment before dismissing his knuckles’ intuition that his hand hurts because his hand hit her. She says she told Dodd about Lenny’s jaguar, rousing suspicion. Leonard asks why, consults his hand, and shakes his head in internal disbelief.

His brain, therefore, weighs in favour of her fabricated story rather than objective events hinted at by his body—his brain confabulates by dismissing subjectivity. He, therefore ‘chooses’ to believe the narrative which favours his conscious bias. Notably and ironically it is such touch certainties as his knuckles hurting—“I know what that’s going to feel like when I pick it [a glass ashtray] up. See? Certainties.”—that he uses to defend certainties against Natalie’s claim that “you can never know anything for sure”. His faith in mechanical objectivity of notes, and even conditioned gender expectations, betray him when Natalie takes pencil and pen away and plays his expectations to her advantage; he would fare better to genuinely trust subjective, embodied, judgement above notes or social cues here. 

Leonard’s gestures also suggest a ‘dialogue’ within his character. Leonard’s hand ‘speaks’ to him and the rest of him doesn’t ‘listen’ per his head signifying ‘no’. Such internal dialogue indicates how reasoning is more than verbal argument—choosing the logical spoken argument actually misleads him where attending to his knuckles would rightly lead him. Some philosophers argue Memento is philosophic because it offers explicit arguments. On the contrary, Memento is philosophic because it goes beyond offering verbal arguments; demonstrating embodied emotive reasoning. 

Part of Leonard cherishes belief in “mechanical objectivity” (objects and records being objective where mind and thoughts are subjective) despite it leading him astray. His photos and written facts provide him direction but he nonetheless follows them or discounts them when it suits him. To get by, one must forget and compress, just as Natalie pleads Leonard to do: “Trust yourself, trust your own judgement, you can question everything; never know anything for sure!“ We have however the burden of short-term memory whereas Leonard outsources his. Leonard forgets Natalie whereas we remain caught in indeterminacy whether Natalie lies to manipulate Leonard, to save herself, or tells white lies for Leonard, or all of these. There is, moreover, irony in Natalie’s message for Lenny to trust his own judgment because she manipulates her judgment into such advice. Instead of the pristine epistemology most philosophers and scientists aspire to, Memento actually represents messy epistemology in embodied life with its uncertainty and ever-moving epistemic aims.

The Failed Detective’s Quest

One can say Leonard’s choice is mechanically subjective in relying on objects or tools above his skin, since all rests on a knower, “the precondition to knowledge”. The choice to notate “do not believe his lies”, and burn away the polaroid of Jimmy is not mechanical objectivity but mechanical subjectivity. Leonard chooses to lie to himself and seldom considers his mind worthy of the distrustful scrutiny he demands and investigates in others. Teddy says, “yeah you’re an investigator. Maybe you should start investigating yourself” to counterbalance Leonard’s fixation on finding ‘the truth’ he cannot remember for longer than 10 minutes. Yet Leonard once again puts faith in technology rather than ‘memory’: he cites how detectives “make notes and they draw conclusions” ignoring that note-taking in the first instance is subjective. 

Lenny’s confident air in the lunch scene where he debates Teddy on the veracity of memory has dramatic irony, because by believing naively in objectivity Leonard is especially subjective. Dramatic irony because we come to know who Teddy is more than Leonard himself. Lenny lectures Teddy about how unreliable memory is, how tenuous eyewitness accounts are, how he ought to “ask the police” how they conduct an investigation. But his notes and photos never tell him what to do—Leonard does that. For example, in interpretively assuming “his lies” to mean everything Teddy says. In this very scene, Lenny’s signifiers don’t tell him the facts. Teddy is really (once at time?) Officer John Edward Gamel whereas Leonard is a brain damaged former insurance investigator. Who has more claim to know how detectives work? Leonard sophistically omits facts to persuade, as well, such as his belief the cops failed him in their adherence to fact: “I was the only guy who disagreed with the cops, and I had brain damage.” The appeal for Teddy to “ask the police” has, again, dramatic irony because Leonard appeals to their competence here but laments their incompetence both earlier and later; their incompetence is even the supposed prime-mover behind his quest.

Lenny says “memories are just interpretation, not a record and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts”. On a first watch, we may infer Leonard is correct because he makes claims to facts and Team-Nolan frames Teddy to appear ingratiating, misleading him off his trail. On the contrary, after another watch, Teddy might well be out to help Leonard, because without memory in an adversary, Teddy could just as well steal the $200,000 and skip town than buy Leonard lunch and solicit a new lifestyle. There is moreover a piquant parallel between Leonard believing what he sees above what he hears. Film is uniquely placed to put this truism into practice in a philosophic way that journal articles and conventional philosophy cannot achieve. So, again Memento is quite philosophical in its epistemiology and reflexivity about such epistemiology.

Despite what Natalie, Teddy, and Leonard say to the contrary, it is what viewers see, and visual signs which persuade us to weigh competing timelines as more-or-less plausible. (Seeing Leonard in Sammy’s chair for a split second, say.) Nolan remarks that he is always surprised viewers assume Teddy is John (or James) G, for instance, because there is no reason to disbelieve what Teddy says. But this case illustrates what Nolan says elsewhere—people believe what they see above what they hear. Weese and Nolan nevertheless seem to subscribe to correct interpretations of events in the film. Because to be surprised by viewers’ insistence of another version of events and to label other readings mis-readings suggests some interpretations are true and alternatives false, or at least more correct. But that is simplistic: instead the film elicits plural interpretations through deliberate obfuscation and misdirection. There may be no reason to disbelieve Teddy, as Nolan says, but there is no evidence to definitely believe Teddy either. For the duration of a first watch the misreading of Natalie, identified by Weese, is for many, the correct reading, valid until another watch suggests doubts to otherwise. That lack of conclusion or a correct answer is arguably pertinent to why Memento predicates itself, subversively, on the detective mystery genre, on noir. We turn there next.

Detective Noir and The Quest For Answers

Leonard is an investigator on a quest to discover a rapist murderer. In the beginning the motel telephone provides a stand-in for an interior monologue, through which he narrates his hardboiled bitter experience, quest, discoveries. Instead of a solipsistic monologue he speaks to someone. By talking to the phone, Nolan persuades audiences to adopt the interlocutor role—inferring what is said and why. The black-and-white images paired with the transitory motel setting clues-in the audience—if they recognise the signs—that Memento is a murder mystery; it begins with a murder handily framing and priming genre expectations. The noir genre is pertinent because genre perceptions alter the narration and interpretation of what audiences assume and infer. Nolan is definitively schooled in how genre works, and subversion; as a literature graduate whose book choice, for desertion on a desert-island, is the labyrinthine stories of Jorge Luis Borges. Borges notably plays with signs and signifiers in his labyrinthine works, per an infinite library. Nolan appears similarly to play a labyrinthine ploy with signs; Memento is irresolvable and iteratively infinite. You may initially think this a far-reach but Leonard’s wife, Catherine, repetitively reads the same text presumably finding new significance. She reads a tattered white book with words out-of-focus; finding a titleless book and editing words always out-of-focus suggests deliberate prop use to invite inter-text readings. Leonard counters her that “I always thought the pleasure of a book is not knowing what happens next” which is ironic given Leonard’s life becomes a ‘text’ suffering too much from just that. Memento toying with infinite signification is also evident in its para-text: a mental-institution-styled DVD with dead-end menu options plus obscure website material. And, I note, an infinite regress DVD cover picture.

Nolan makes a labyrinthine plot with distrust characteristic of noir. Yet Memento novelly subverts generic epistemic plotting: admitting no solution to the mystery. Borges, Deborah Knight and George McKnight notably define detective fiction as formulaic with two basic properties: a. Murder b. Solved investigation. Borges showed how interesting the genre becomes, however, in disrupting perfect question-answer, problem-solution structure. (Borges honoured its tight structure with geometry in Death and The Compass, a story in Nolan’s book-choice.) Nolan identifies Memento’s question-answer dynamic as “dialectic”. Dialectic is a philosophy term for question and answer coming to a conclusive final synthesis, a synthesis ostensibly closer to truth. Memento achieves the same disruption of genre as Borges does. For example, in answering the whoddunit question at the beginning with the main character killing and working back from there to have the audience guess why. The neatness of dialectic historically prized in philosophy and detective fiction alike is disrupted in Memento. Because it starts with the answer to ‘whodunnit?’ and leaves it to audiences to fabricate questions for why. Instead of a line from mystery-to-solution Nolan criss-crosses the timelines of inquiry so they become confused. The simplicity of whodunnit lapses with epistemic confidence in a solution shattered: for example, that Leonard killed his wife (per flashes of memory where he injects insulin rather than Sammy Jankis) and thereby never achieves revenge. Leond might not even conceive of revenge accurately since there is no one else to avenge against and her death accidental on his part or orchestrated by her.

Memento illustrates how epistemic systems of representation are embodied and subjective with knowledge, answers, and truth quests pertinent to real life. For example, Leonard’s condition is real. Some people do live without the ability to consolidate memory so the contingency of their minds precludes universalist statements about what is true or false to them. No truth or falsifying claim about Memento can be true for them for long. Just like Leonard.

You may object that this is a broad, sweeping, interpretation but the movie invites broad swept interpretations. For example, in reading Natalie, audience members believe in a contingent truth that other evidence contradicts but because of the temporal limitations of sequencing that truth is constructed and lasts. The blank open book motif is also a blatant sign. Yet my point is firmer, per the bias for linguistic evidence, with debated epistemic certainties. Leonard appeals to the same material certainties that philosophers, like Bertrand Russell, consider doubt worthy yet tangible. Admittedly, however, some timelines and certainties in Memento are more plausible than others. For example, I guessed at Teddy’s good intentions taking Leonard to lunch by considering that he could alternatively leave town, steal from, or kill Leonard; if he were the real John G or cared just about the money and Jaguar. As Gerald Graff explains, “we can usually at least distinguish between relatively more defensible and less defensible guesses about contexts, and that is all we need to do in the practice of interpretation”. That Teddy is the real John G is less plausible than someone else being John G, but there is no criterion to falsify one interpretation false and another true. 

After all, there is no real world for truths about the characters to correspond with, except the worlds created in watching. Hence the synecdoche use of a vague name like John (or James?) G and grammatical determiners ‘a’ and ‘my’ which implies John G is no person but a type, category, class. Indeed Leonard kills Teddy because Teddy reveals “I’m a fucking John G!” rather than because Lenny discovers Teddy is the Jonathan Gammel. Leonard affirms this to himself in amending a photograph of Teddy to deceive his future self:

I’m not a killer. I’m just someone who wanted to make things right. Can’t I just let myself forget what you’ve told me? Can’t I just let myself forget what you’ve made me do. You think I just want another puzzle to solve? Another John G. to look for? You’re John G. So you can be my John G. Will I lie to myself to be happy? In your case Teddy, yes I will.

His account has inconsistencies but inconsistency is not mutually exclusive with epistemology: reinterpretation and subjectivity are integral. For example, his view as no killer when deciding to kill, the belief he wants a puzzle to solve being wrong whilst making another puzzle, and confirming what Teddy claims that “You don’t want the truth. You make up your own truth”, by amending Teddy’s photograph. Epistemology may seem a grand word, but Memento illustrates how visual ‘how’ influences knowledge of what, how embodied and subjective knowledge is, and how subject to quasi-infinite inquiry, reinterpretation, and limits is the project of epistemic philosophy.In conclusion, Memento does philosophy, in its play with narrative framing, open-ended interpretation, and a perennial detective quest for truth. Memento has implications for epistemic interpretation and viewers’ sense of philosophy. Such philosophy may be reduced ironically to a list of assertive, verbal, points: its epistemology relies on multisensory systems of representation that are signified, embodied, and subjective; the form of presentation alters ‘the facts’ or propositions themselves as the sequence in which scenes are arranged changes how audiences’ read characters and intentions; the medium can constitute message; constant re-interpretation of Leonard’s world exemplifies how subject-relative and contingent is epistemology; and subversion of detective genre with its neat problem and solution into the mobius strip quest of Leonard pursuing truth, answers, objectivity in particular holds analogue for the epistemological quest in general. Nevertheless, such points do not do justice to the experience of Memento. Seeing and experiencing Memento in each iteration amounts to more than words can explain; the embodied process of epistemological interpretation surpasses mere linguistic words. Such (re)discovery is at the heart of Memento’s epistemic philosophy.

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