Sep 2015

The date is Sep 17, 2015. I have unearthed an assignment for CS101 from four years ago. It was the only CS class I took during my college days.

Nov 17, 2011. S101 A. HW9 Written Problem

Jue Yang

The psychology thriller Memento uses a recursive narrative. The protagonist, Leonard, has anterograde amnesia and could not form any short term memory after his wife’s death. He believes that she was raped and murdered by a person named John. G and tattoos “clues” on his body to find the murderer for revenge.

The director, Christopher Nolan, tells the story in two parallel timelines: one is chronological (shot in black-and-white) and the other, in reverse order of the actual sequence of happenings (shot in color). The movie is a recursion for the audience in that each time a forward-and-backward iteration takes place, one can “examine preconceived notions in a different light.”[1] The base case in the narrative is the ending when the two timelines converge. Here is my attempt to express the recursive storytelling in the Python language:

def memento(story, storyReverse):
 	 if story == storyReverse:
 		return True
 		return memento(storyContinued,storyReverseContinued)


A graph shows how fragments in one timeline relate to those in the other.[3] However, Leonard’s amnesia is not recursive itself. His revenge algorithm is rather an infinite loop since he does not have any base case to refer back to. Due to his condition, even when he finds the murderer and kills him, he does not remember this instance. “The purpose of the fragmented reverse sequencing is to force the audience into a sympathetic experience of Leonard’s defective short-term memory, where prior events are not recalled.”[4]

[1] “Memento (flim).” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_%28film%29

[2] "Memento Timeline" by Dr Steve Aprahamian - Picture of a chart created in Microsoft Excel.Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Memento_Timeline.png#/media/

[3,4] ibid