Memento and the Embodied Fabula: Narrative Comprehension Revisited

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Abstract

Although Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000) has been the subject of numerous critical examinations, the unique manner in which the film’s reverse-chronological dramaturgy interweaves the spectators’ cognitive-analytical attempts to ensure causal-linear coherency together with a corporal-affective sensation of temporal loss remains underexplored. This I believe is due to the inability of prevalent narratological terms of cutting across the current divide and uniting on the same conceptual plane the cinematic spheres of the cognitive-analytical, evaluative, and interpretative, on the one hand, with the visceral, haptic, and sensory-affective, on the other hand. As an attempt to carve out a conceptual ground where these key facets of the cinematic experience can be unified in a nonhierarchical and nonreductive manner, I propose an embodied reconceptualization of the cognitive-formalist concept of the fabula. In order to do so, however, it is necessary to dispute a series of dominant assumptions about cinematic spectatorship and narrative comprehension that automatically come with this narratological concept.

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