Memory, Imagination, and Consciousness in Funes the Memorious and Meursault
Consciousness separates humans from sense perceiving “garbage heaps.” Jorge Luis Borges, in “Funes the Memorious,” and Albert Camus, in “The Stranger,” explore the causes of consciousness. They are philosophers who write fiction to answer the question, “What makes us aware?” An imperfect memory and imagination define our reality. Funes can be aware of other realities because has a perfect memory. Meursault reveals that the missing element for Funes to possess consciousness is imagination. I will define consciousness, assess memory and imagination as essential, discuss metaphor as a manifestation of consciousness, and isolate the affect of the awareness of other consciousness’.
Without memory, we could not compare a past object or idea with a present one. Memory allows us to enhance past objective observations with present sensory perceptions. Because we have an imperfect memory, that is, we cannot remember every detail, we embellish. We give a past idea or object an identity independent from the external world because we perceive and imagine it differently than our initial sensory reaction. We change our original reaction with our imagination. Thus, creative people experience life more vividly. In the process of consciousness, we first remember something imperfectly, and then qualify it with other embellished thoughts. The act of thought, then, is not consciousness. Thought is the comparison of one object to another. We are not conscious because we notice a difference between two things. Once, we embellish the relationship however, we create an internal reality that is an imperfect copy of our true sensory reaction. We possess consciousness when we discern our personal, dynamic reality from the outside world. Thus, consciousness of multiple realities creates a sense of self. We are conscious individuals because our senses do not limit our perception of the external reality. It is undeniably ours because we use our imagination to alter it. Therefore, consciousness is the awareness that our created internal reality differs from the external reality.
Camus’ introduction of Meursault devoid of an effective memory reveals how close pre-accident Funes is to consciousness. Meursault realizes that, “I did it as it came to me, but I tried my best to please Raymond because I didn’t have any reason not to please him” (32). He does not write the letter for Raymond because he can remember Raymond being a great friend in the past. He writes it because he can think of nothing better to do. Because he lacks an active memory he has nothing to compare current feelings to past ones. He lives from moment to moment because he lacks memory. Camus reveals the reason for Funes’ frustration of his past life. Borges writes that Funes, “had been what all humans are: blind, deaf, addlebrained, absent minded ... he looked without seeing, listened without hearing, forgetting...