February 27, 2009

Still waters run deep

I did not know there was a real man recently in the news who had the same ailment that Aamir had in the recent Hindi movie, Ghajini, until I read this NYT book review of The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.

Last December the death of a man named Henry Gustav Molaison made headlines in The New York Times and around the world. He was famous in scientific circles for not being able to remember anything new longer than 15 minutes, due to an accident. He had spent the later part of his life in a Connecticut nursing home being a subject known only as H. M. in psychology experiments.

A similar malady, but a more humane fate, has befallen the “professor” in this deceptively elegant novel, which was a best seller and a movie in Japan. A car accident has robbed him of the ability to remember any new memories for more than 80 minutes. For him time stopped in 1975, when he was a prominent math teacher and the famed pitcher Yutaka Enatsu was mowing down batters for the Hanshin Tigers. He lives in a ramshackle cottage in his sister-in-law’s backyard, doing math puzzles and walking around with reminder notes stuck to his suit, the most prominent of which says, “My memory only lasts 80 minutes.”
This is one of those books written in such lucid, unpretentious language that reading it is like looking into a deep pool of clear water.But even in the clearest waters can lurk currents you don’t see until you are in them.  
Life is like that...no? The mind harks back to that old phrase/idiom: Still waters run deep...but I think its been rendered even more powerful here by the image of a "clear" pool of water running deep and fraught with ominous currents that you don't quite recognize until you are caught and swept away by them.

And so it goes...

P.S. Btw, the movie, Ghajini, was apparently loosely based on (aka "inspired by") the acclaimed and well-made English movie, Memento.  Though I have not seen the movie, I believe it had many script loop-holes and was not well-executed. However, I should add that Aamir's acting and commitment to playing the character in the movie has more or less been universarlly praised.

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