|utilitarian poetry ftw (edited in gimp).|
for anyone wondering, this is a scene from sebastian gutierrez's girl walks into a bar, which was just recently released on youtube (go platform innovation!). the film is an artistic triumph, though it may be largely unimportant in a philosophical sense. nevertheless, it contained the line that inspired me start to examine the role of memory in consciousness and perception.
consciousness, in a modern sense, might simply be awareness of the self. so, in a sense, this girl is right - if we consider the "self" a series of interconnections of subjectively accumulated data, then we are entirely dependent on the brain's capacity and ability to store that information over time (memory) in order to reach and maintain a self-deterministic existence. translation: if we are the center of our own universe, then all we are and have depends on our memories.
from this standpoint, it seems to me like the existence of memory loss is one of the biggest weak points in the case for a utilitarian reliance on subjectively derived reality. if through mental malfunction we can't remember previously processed facts, events or even identities, then our subjective reality narrows as our mind deteriorates.
if we choose to make reality ultimately subjective, then we become masters of the reality we know. and yet, in the case of our mental deterioration or obstruction, any cognitively capable person (including our past self) has the right to claim that we don't grasp enough to live at an optimum level for us. we thus become incapable of realizing our full subjective reality, while we present ourselves with an inferior picture of reality - the reality experienced by the deteriorating self.
with this in mind, we can now no longer say that we are progressively experiencing the enlightenment of the self. more than that, we can no longer claim a static understanding - we are moving backward. this is troubling because a largely biological process (the distortion of the mind over time) becomes a factor that determines who we are and how we see the world against our will. thus, we have not only surrendered control to all possible external worlds (the a posteriori), but also had the essence of who we are wrested from our grasp by natural occurrences (like disease, aging, etc.)
i guess when you come down to it, this is only one of the many possible examples that could demonstrate that subjectivity only functions as an insecure and ultimately egotistical grasp for control. is modern society really composed of individuals who have never considered this claim?
this is not an argument for arbitrary objectivity. this is the long-form for a hauntingly persistent question on my mind:
what is real?