Tag Archives: film

Wall-E, collector or hoarder?

S. loves WALL-E, and even though her attention wanes, she thinks the love relationship between Eva and WALL-E is charming. In fact, she says of Eva, “hers his mommy.” When the film was televised recently, I suddenly reanalyzed the scene where WALL-E takes Eva to his home.

WALL-E’s job is to compact trash and stack it up. In the process he finds all kinds of treasures, some only a robot would think to keep. I find this activity heart-warming, probably because I imagine my grandfather doing the same during his trash collecting days. He was always unearthing treasures that he stored up until he died.

WALL-E brings Eva to his home to show her his collected treasures and makes the effort to impress this fancy new she-bot with the things of earth: lighters, light bulbs, television, and a plant growing in a shoe. That is, of course, the turning point in their relationship.

The question I’ve been grappling with in my work on memory hoarding, however, is when collecting crosses the line into hoarding. Sure WALL-E’s place is a bit like the set of Sanford and Son, but he has everything neatly arranged and organized in trays that rotate so he can easily access them. He lives alone, can easily move about, and he uses many of the discarded scraps that he finds, especially the spare robot parts.

WALL-E’s collecting brings him out into the world, is a source of pride, and generally a social behavior. He is only too happy to bring Eva around to see his stuff. Had he been a robot-hoarder, he’d likely be less eager to bring by a lady-friend. Hoarding continually proves itself to be an isolating activity in which the relationship to stuff takes precedence over the relationship to loved-ones. Family is slowly ousted by things and friends are not welcome into the hoard. Fear and embarrassment seem to dictate much of what the outside world is allowed to see.

When the object of collecting, however, is memory itself, and sharing that memory becomes a social project, is it hoarded? Or would hoarded memory also necessarily isolate the individual?

reviewing the past

Yesterday I began to upload footage shot on mini-DV cassettes in 2005 and 2006 onto my computer. The most important parts, or at least what I remembered being there, were from a trip to Senegal in 2005.

Confronted with the images from my past, I first felt twinges of nostalgia for countries where I’ve had both love and joy. The shaking of my unprofessional hand, and the spinning images taken from inside a car as we drove by a baobab forest, however, left me somewhat nauseated. I had attempted to capture every moment, so as not to forget. Hoarding memory. What I remember of Senegal is quite different than what I see on that film.

And then the camera turned on me in a very long scene chronicling family visitation in the hospital after my nephew’s birth. My discomfort and pleasure holding the infant was apparent on my face and in my voice. It pained me to watch myself look up at the cameraman, my ex-husband, to ask him to take a picture. I saw how I looked at him like a child who needed to be ordered around. I saw in that brief moment the child we did not have together, that I miscarried. I heard his uncertain voice, tentative, like always. And then I easily edited him out of the footage. I removed the clip of me looking up, and I saved the film to give to my step-brother for Christmas.

What I remember of that day is nothing compared to the laboring over the film – the time it took to upload and the multiple trips back through it to properly edit the files together. My memory is now altered, skewed, and preserved differently, for me and for my family. My account, now fiction, is about to be disseminated as truth; yet, it feels more honest not to share that exchange of glances and few words that were likely unheard the first time.