Friday, December 24, 2010

Leaving Just 'A' Memory?

There is a scene towards the end of the movie Hannibal where Ray Liotta, sounding incoherent in an apparent drunken stupor, is suddenly revealed to the camera with his brain showing. Anthony Hopkins has removed his skull-cap with the kind of surgical precision reserved for evil, educated, geniuses like him. This goes back to my earlier point about my fear of Vulcans - pure logic and no emotion results in irrefutable justification for any act. Liotta is blissfully unaware (and will soon not remember what blissful or unaware even means) of his condition as Hopkins takes pieces out of his brain, fries them and feeds them to him, thus creating a feedback loop the likes of which have not been seen since Catch-22. If Liotta were an earthworm, he might have gotten his lost memories back when he was fed his own brain parts. But that's another topic.

As for parts of your brain losing significance as they are dispatched unceremoniously, could there be a more potent metaphor for Alzheimer's than that scene?

If there is one disease thats scares the neurons and synapses out of me, it's Alzheimer's. Consciousness, thought, memory, intelligence, and creativity are constructs that have no business existing in a biological structure subject to all kinds of damage - there has to be some kind of a backup structure to at least reduce the dependency of the software on its medium. Music left the CD when it went the mp3 route (and that is now happening with movies too), and was no longer subject to usage and environmental vagaries like scratches, smudges, dust, decay etc. We are a sum of our memories, and if they start getting randomly or methodically erased by this confounding disease, then what's left? What meaning does existence have if all the lights upstairs are switched off and Elvis has left the building? Waking up one morning with a Jason Bourne identity crisis feeling is not very appealing. Bourne slowly got his memories back (and was 'bourne again'), but Alzheimer's is a one-way descent into hell with the last possible memory (if any) being a snapshot in your mind like Thelma and Louise frozen mid-air while running their car off the cliff.

This is the only disease that wipes the very core of our existence while leaving our shells intact, and leaves no room for an encore!

Daddy's flown across the ocean. Doesn't look like he intended to leave any memory.

Post title:  Courtesy 'Another Brick in the Wall Part 1, The Wall by Pink Floyd'

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