Memories Go However You Want Them To Be

At one point in Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then an image of Leonard drawing flickers into the frame and Brent, as the narrator of the film, announces the flood scene. He says, unassumingly, "You add embellishments and those embellishments become the center of the story. There's Leonard drawing the blueprints on cardboard. And this is the flood scene. Memories go however you want them to be." For me, this has always been a giant turning point in the film, a stated point of separation between Leonard's own story and the story that Brent as an artist wants to tell. This statement also greatly considers history as a whole responding to the things we remember, however inaccurate or embellished, as a collective conscious. Every story is serving a purpose, the reality of a moment will never be again (which can even extend to the nature of film as a medium too, existing in moments, literally in Gravity's animated case, that fade into and out of existance as quickly as they are [re]produced).

Since the film has been in a lot of documentary film festivals and the set currently resides in Louisville Kentucky, the actual home of Leonard Wood who was the inspiration for the framework of this story, a lot of talk about the reality of Gravity seems to be humming. So, when I heard about this symposium at NYU called Second Thoughts On the Memory Industry, I knew I had to see some part of it. Dealing with different ideas of memory, whether it be journalists and their concern with the easily forgotten stories of evil or architects who have helped establish memorials to tragic past events, each lecture focused on our ability to remember the forgettable or forget the memorable.

I was only able to make it to one event (pictured directly below) and it was probably the most fitting of all! Ben Katchor, a social critic/comic strip artist/wonder presented a piece called Memorial City. It was a sort of slide show of his drawings with perfect live musical accompaniment by the pop/jazz Mark Mulcahy Trio (Mark Mulcahy, oddly, being the sound behind Pete & Pete a formative tv show from my memorable childhood!) that told the tale of a town where physical memorials were ruling, where even the place someone choked on a pretzel was worth chiseling into stone and erecting a statue. At one point he satirized (loosely quoting) "our loss must take physical form to forget" this really struck a chord with me after having just finished rebuilding Gravity, creating a physical form to sort of remember a person but moreso a time- our current time that is focused on the spiritual, a thing far from the physical.

Gravity is (partly) a story about the confusion of religion and faith in a time when very real wars are being fought over them and, like in themes of Memorial City, a time when we are urged to support form and abstraction (and the economy) at a point of monumental loss. To add to this, I spent my birthday at Gettysburg National Park (pictured) a place where monuments obstruct every landscape as memorials to a time when people were also fighting for ideals too but, unlike some current battles, the ideals of the American Civil War were as humanely concrete as every plaque that stands in remembrance. I guess what I have taken away from all of these recent events is that history is a fluid thing and it is not so much the facts and statues that remain as the way we choose to manifest these facts and statues in our current society. I really hope watching Gravity is a filmic memory that audience members will form into what it is they feel is worth remembering.



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