C h a p t e r 2 C. D. C. Reeve TWO BLUE RUINS: LOVE AND MEMORY IN ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND L OVE AIN’T OVER TILL IT’S OVER . . . and it ain’t over then, either. When our lover has gone for good, there are still memories to haunt us, still mourning to be done, as hard and harrowing as for the dead. If only we could short-circuit the whole grim process. It’s with that wish that Lacuna, Inc. enters the picture. Plug your brain into its memory eraser, give the technicians the information they need to target
the right memories, and before you know it the damned spot will be out. “To let people begin again,” gushes Mary Svevo (Kirsten Dunst), the adoring secretary of Howard Mierzwiak, Lacuna’s guru, “it’s beauti- ful.” True, when Mary discovers that her own memories of her love affair with Howard have been erased, her tune changes. “I have since decided that this is horrible . . .,” she says. But then, by the time she makes the discovery, her love has re-asserted itself. Watching Howard at his eras- ing work, she recites the lines of Alexander Pope that provide the film’s title, kisses him, and says “I’ve loved you for a very long time.” The roots of her love lie so much deeper than Lacuna’s machines can reach, it seems, that erasing her memories, far from destroying her love, leaves it intact but somehow cursed—doomed in its unawareness of the past always to lead to the same awful nowhere. The depth of love, indeed, is pretty much the film’s central theme. Unaware, after receiving the Lacuna treatment, that he has been having a relationship with her for the past two years, Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) meets Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) at Montauk. “Why,” he confides to his journal as he sees her looking at him in the coffee shop, “do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?” One answer, the film suggests, lies, like so many of love’s answers, in childhood: “She’s not looking at me,” Joel’s childhood self says of his mother, as his adult self visualizes a childhood scene, “No one ever looks at me.” A little later, that same childhood self says, “I want her to pick me up.” Then the adult self, as if experiencing the desire all over again, comments, “It’s weird how strong that desire is.” Joel’s loving response to any woman’s attention, in other words, was formed early. He has fallen in love with Clementine before. But even when he fell in love with her the first time, during their initial meeting in Montauk, he was repeating himself, falling again in ways he had already fallen long ago. That’s one reason Clementine can so readily be assigned roles in his childhood memories, whether as his mother’s friend Mrs Hamlyn or as his own childhood sweetheart.
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- Kate Winslet, Joel, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Clementine, Montauk, New York, Clementine Kruczynski