A Body of Texts

Memento and Mētis

in Screen Bodies
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  • 1 Department of English, University of North Carolina Wilmington, USA
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Abstract

This article applies materialist rhetoric to Christopher Nolan's 2000 neo-noir film Memento and positions its protagonist Leonard Shelby, a man with a brain injury that prevents him from making new memories, as a figure of mētis: a classical concept addressing the cunning ability to respond to the contingent, kairotic moment by engaging situations through a reciprocal process of change. As evidence for its assertion, the article examines Leonard's relationship to his shifting bodily archive of tattoos, handwritten notes, and annotated Polaroid pictures. It also aligns him with the ancient hero Odysseus and the sophistic rhetorician Gorgias, two classical exemplars of mētis. Leonard's mētic existence informs how contemporary selves emerge from networks of objects both physical and virtual.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Jeremy Tirrell is an associate professor in the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Department of English. His primary research focus is the intersection of rhetoric, technology, and media. His work appears in venues including Enculturation: Intermezzo, Kairos, and the edited collections The Scary Screen and Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition.

Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

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