Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tyler's Journal

Jessegirl, who previously wrote the article "Oscars and Remember Me", has written an article that focuses on Tyler's diary in Remember Me. The article, first posted on our sister site Regards Sur Le Film Remember Me was written in reponse to a challenge to write something about an illustration. To see the original illustration, please click here: Tyler's Diary and Illustration

Tyler's Journal
By Jessesgirl

In general, we can say that journaling is a way of coping with loss. Loss provokes introspection, which, in turn, uses the written word to acknowledge what cannot be spoken. One must, after the death of a loved one, communicate with that one, and with oneself. If one has an artistic outlet, music or visual art, that might be the route one takes, to express the inexpressible. But for those with few skills in those areas, words must do, must be enough. And so, Tyler ‘talks’ to Michael. He journals.

Off the top, I’ve thought of three purposes for Tyler’s journal and they bleed into each other. They are Tyler’s need to process the tragedy, his need for privacy while doing so, and his need to honour and pay tribute to his brother.

We needed time to think, to discuss, and to blog after we saw this film.
This allowed it to seep into us and then to sit inside us, while doing its alchemical work. So Tyler needs the journal, to process his loss, to ponder and help him understand, and ultimately forgive Michael. The journal is the way to make the journey. Grief is a journey.

While Tyler merely audits his outer life—school, job, relationships—he engages fully in his inner life. There, he takes on gruelling studies, constantly testing himself, always pondering at the deepest level. That’s the place Michael must have gone, to the place where one goes to find the meaning of life and to act on what one finds there. Tyler, too, has to delve into himself and act on what he finds there. And it is one scary place, like the underworld.

Tyler has to find Michael there and like any seeker in the place of the dead, Tyler is afraid. He knows only that he must find his brother, rail against him, question him, find answers, cry for him, love him and forgive him. Tyler knows all that and it is extremely daunting work. It is the great unknown, and Tyler goes there fearing only that he might not be able to return. And it is excruciating work, like cutting an open wound, exposing his worst terrors.

Tyler goes anyway. He has to. He is compelled. He must ferry himself down into the depths of his soul, explore, find answers or some resolution, and then come back up again. Or die. It is exactly that significant. It is a matter of life and death.

And when, or if, he returns, he will be transformed. Nothing short of that will allow Tyler to return and engage in ‘real life’ again. The journal is his tool, his pen the pick axe which will excavate these inner recesses of his soul so that he can bring them to light. At this point in his grief he needs that journal like he needs air. Have you noticed how he carries it around with him, how he secures previous pages with elastic bands, how it is there with him in his father’s office that day?

We don’t know what is in the journal except when we hear Tyler’s voice over, for example, when he addresses Michael about the son castrating the father, or when he tells Ally he needed to tell ‘someone’ about her. Aiden doesn’t ask, or, probably doesn’t want to know. Janine jokingly wonders whether he’s writing anything bad about her, but respectfully, she doesn’t really pry.

As with many diary-type journals, Tyler’s is very private. Getting a good look at it would be getting a look at not just his thoughts, but also his soul. He sits there in the diner, a regular, and the waitress brings him something and instructs him to ‘eat’. You don’t think of things like eating when you journal that way. Time gets away from you because you are totally absorbed. The world around you, even in a busy diner, with people talking, coming and going, with the noises of cutlery and dishes, with the cacophony of sounds from the city street intruding, all is just white noise. You don’t hear or see it. You are in the underworld with your brother, groping in that dark, hoping you can hear his song, him strumming his guitar. You are in a private world. That is your real world and the outer one recedes in a blur.

I’ve always thought that Craig’s intrusion into both Ally’s journal and Tyler’s was violation, never mind its purpose. Imagine Tyler coming home to find Craig not just inside his home, not just inside his bedroom but inside his journal, inside his most private life. How much did he read, I always wonder? How much does he know of Tyler’s ranting, his secrets thoughts and feelings, all uninhibited and uncensored as they would be in a journal? For this adversary to violate his privacy like that must have mortified Tyler. For this man to see his soul, his wound.

For in that journal would be things only meant to be between Tyler and his God. The journal is the womb for Tyler’s transformation. In it is the fragile embryo which must stay hidden until it can survive the light of day. It contains nothing less than the new life which will come out of Tyler’s grief. It is that powerful.

Honouring-Finally, the journal is a place of honour. It is where the memory of Michael is realized and stored. We honour lost loved ones in various ways, with reverent acts and rituals. We etch their names onto granite on grave stones, create videos and other visual memorials, and so on. We tell each other stories. We know, instinctively, that we must never forget.

But we also honour them with our pain. The absence of the loved one hurts, and we record our suffering in journals. This is, in itself, a way of paying tribute to the dead. The last mark their presence left on you might be pain, but even that is a tribute. If that loved one didn’t matter, then it wouldn’t hurt so much. And if he or she didn’t make a difference in our lives, we wouldn’t try to remember.
The journal is not just Tyler coming to terms with his brother’s loss, with the manner of it, with his own feelings about mortality; it is his way of remembering Michael. The dead always shout: “Remember me. Don’t forget me. I lived. I mattered.”

I’ve said this before, elsewhere. Tyler is a touchstone, leading us to the kind of remembrance we all need to cultivate. The film leads us to those deep places within ourselves which we need to find, in order to become more fully human. That’s why we can’t get this film out of our heads. Exploring those places within ourselves can be painful, but this excavation is necessary. “It is important that you do it, because nobody else will.” And no one else will do it the way you do it.

It is significant that after Tyler dies, what we see in the ashes is the remains of his journal. It did its work for him, but through it, he still speaks. He knew, in the end, that his brother could hear him, so he told him the most important things:
“I love you. I miss you...And I forgive you.”


Heidi said...

Another excellent article by jessegirl-love all of your perspectives on Remember Me. I wish more people would have understood the more meaningful aspects of Remember Me. The journal itself is such an essential part of this's almost as if it's another character.

This is one of my favorite movies. Ever.

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

Beautiful article jessegirl - but you already know that. Wink**

jessegirl said...

Aw, shucks, thanks. Yeah, Tyler's journal is one of my favourite characters, Heidi.

Kate said...

This is beautiful, thoughtful article. I teared up towards your conclusion.

I already had a tremendous appreciation for this film, but you are cultivating a much deeper one. I identify so much more with Tyler now that I really think about his journal and its purpose. I will be watching again as soon as I can.

Anonymous said...

I love this film, it is truly remarkable - I really enjoyed it!

I have one question that you may be able to help me with, do you know where I can get hold of a journal the same as Tyler's (Robert Pattinson's)

Thanks! If you want you can contact me with details at .... Thanks again, Joey

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