A man disappears in New York, then finds himself in Chicago with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. He has an echo of his own name, a sense that the person who dropped him off was “his brother” and a sense that he wants his old identity back, whatever it is.

In comparison, you have Unknown White Male, the documentary (right?) about a British New Yorker who also loses his own memory of his own identity.

Both were financially stable white men living in New York. One was an attorney, the other a stock broker. One was last seen in the regular routine of his old life while driving his car out of his office parking garage, the other was riding the subway near Coney Island. Both of them got moving but left something precious behind. Why?

This kind of retrograde amnesia is supposed to be very rare, outside of fiction. But how any people without cars and stock-broker money become victims of this kind of phenomenon and never get found? How much of our memories are we shedding every time we ride in the car or on the train, to keep our minds unencumbered enough to move? How much have you forgotten about yourself, the people you knew and the things you’ve seen? Normally these memories come off like flakes or fibers from your brain, like scales coming off a snake coiled in your head. Why is it, then, that sometimes the whole memory gets sloughed off like a snake’s skin?

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comments ( 3 )

  • Replytaylor 28 Feb 2006

    These men are obviously subjects of the government’s “memory regulation” experiment. The initial subjects were probably drifters and vagrants, but now the spooks are using the wealthy to determine how tracable this process is. Why pay for physiological tests if your subject will do it for you? Those who will be the eventual targets have money as well…

  • ReplyAlison 3 Mar 2006

    A non-serious response to your serious post:

    1) Both these men live in NYC.
    2) Both these men were in high-pressure jobs
    3) There is apparently a large amount of coke use in high-pressure jobs in NYC
    4) This coke use is spurred on by lack of sleep caused by the high pressure job
    5) High pressure + lack of sleep + coke = major memory loss

  • ReplyZimmsha 6 Mar 2006

    I have a love hate relationship with my own memory. I have great recall for faces (too many years of working in retail and service industry), but sometimes forget things that I said 10 minutes ago. Then there are the times that…uh…what? Where am I? Snakes? Who’s talking about snakes? Where? Get ’em off me! GET ‘EM OFF ME!