It would seem that identity lies in the permanence of something that works as the witness of existence. By this we mean something that certifies that this existence is real. Real, according to Lacan, in that one can always go back to it. As real as parents to a child, who knows that if he or she cries they will come for him or her, or as unreal to him or her as if that does not happen.
In this new unknown world all that would remain would be thoughts without duration, because, as put forth by Candeau (Candeau, 2002), without the remembrance of its origin, without the conscience of itself, everything falls under the control of immediacy.
Let us look at an example: in the film Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan (2000), Guy Pearce’s character (Lenny) has no short-term memory so cannot form new memories. He lives in snapshots of life; his only form of memory are the sentences that he tattoos on his body and his Polaroid camera which he uses to take snapshots to remember who people are and where he lives. As a consequence of this memory problem, nothing is certain, nothing is clear, especially his identity. However his only pursuit is to find his wife’s killer and that is the only thing that motives him to live, just to resolve this issue.
Socially speaking, Maurice Halbwachs (Halbwachs, 1950) defines the notion of collective memory as a certain kind of past conscience apparently shared by a group of individuals. This society produces fundamental perceptions such as unions between places, people, ideas, etc., calling up memories that can be shared by its members.
But the only thing that the members of this society would be sharing is the oblivion of their alternative identities, other moments or circumstances. That is the collective sharing of a non-memory, since maybe, in the collective memory the addition of oblivions is higher than the addition of memories.
© Sebastian Guerrini, 2009