Klosterman by kristinatodd


									Kristina Johnson Klosterman Essay 7/14/2008 Pr. M. Schultz Saved By the Bell, Transciency and the Temporality of Memory In Chuck Klosterman’s article “Being Zack Morris,” he explores the idea that there may in fact be something more to Saved By the Bell than a perfect pretend high school made up of a few stereotypical students.. He notes that Saved By the Bell was enjoyable simply because there was no need for effort or thought while watching, and everything always turned out alright. For this same reason, he understands that we really shouldn’t enjoy it because it is basically garbage. It is more important to note that Saved By the Bell did not have a deeper meaning purposefully, instead it arose from the “Tori Paradox.” One season, after Tiffany Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley left the show to pursue outside projects, a character named Tori shows up as their replacement. There was no mention of why Kelly and Jessie disappeared, or where Tori came from. Life went on as per usual on the show, with no mention of the two missing girls. This went on for the rest of that season, but Tori disappeared during the graduation special airing on NBC to be replaced by Thiessen and Berkley. There is no explanation for Tori’s disappearance or the other girls’ seemingly random reappearance. Kelly and Jessie were just back. To circumvent any questioning of the missing characters, episodes featuring Kelly and Jessie then featuring Tori were played back to back. It asked the viewer to assume that the other two girls were simply not part of the scene, but still present. For example, whenever Zach attempted to scam Tori, it was implied that Kelly and Jessie were in the cafeteria, at the mall, out sick and so on. Interestingly, no one ever mentioned them in these episodes and no one even recognized that they previously existed. They were never introduced to Tori, and they were never spoken of when not in the particular episode. It’s not as if these are random side characters, these are main characters that had been in the show since the beginning.

This seems surreal when you watch the show every day. The characters become such a huge part of the show that they can’t just disappear. Every little change is noticed. The more you think about it, it seems to reflect real life social groups. In a show about high school, it was probably the only realistic part. It’s probably the only part anyone actually experienced in high school. Friends move in and out of social groups never to be heard from again, and it seems that their absence is rarely noted for long. A lot of people are unable to remember their friends from high school, college, work that they stopped being around often. Their faces and names slip away, but when you think back about it, it seems like they weren’t missing from those parts of your life. Your memory makes it seems like they were there the whole time, even though you really only spent a couple of hours with them a day at most. Even for the friends that do move in and out of social groups like Kelly and Jessie, we assume when thinking back that they never left. As Klosterman realizes, it’s only when they remember things we don’t that we realize they weren’t there for everything. We skip it over as if it never happened. Coming and going has become perhaps more normal than it should be. The Tori Paradox was a lazy way for NBC to avoid thinking of a new script and an explanation for why the characters had to leave, but viewers didn’t really seem to notice. It seems so ridiculous, but perhaps we do that so much in our own lives that we just accept it and move on. This is what is great about the “Tori Paradox” Klosterman points out; of course Saved By the Bell isn’t real, but then neither is most of what we call reality. We rewrite our memories to suit us; we insert important people in situations they didn’t share and our memory selectively deletes absences without much comment. Perhaps Klosterman has touched something deeper than the transiency of life; yes, all things are inconstant and always changing, but there seems to be more to this. While we accept this inconstancy rather than trying to fixate a single moment, our memory tends to ignore the absence altogether. We may not be able to fixate on things, but our memory certainly does. It even writes our favorite people into our favorite moments. Just how trustworthy is memory then? Thousands of studies have been done on memory, particularly the way one’s memory occasionally lies. Consciousness is a stream, and it is nearly impossible for a person to separate each moment from another as each can be divided infinitely. What we

perceive to be as something wonderful and exciting right now might become old and boring or forgotten in a matter of moments. Our memory stores bits of pieces of past and present events, not the whole event in its entirety. Memories that feel like a movie are in fact mostly made up of our imagined idea of that particular event, and may be very different from what actually happened. We only see what we remembered. In other words, “the unity of the present to the past is constituted by retentions” (Kvale, 10). Douglas agrees that we use memory to define our past; he too states that memory is a series of information we retain and use to define chronological time. If we only hold bits and pieces, it makes sense then that we so soon forget our dear friends when they leave our social groups. It also makes sense that because we remember them being close, we write them into important moments in our lives. Douglas runs into the same wall that I have: how do you know if memory can be trusted at all when we remember what we want for specific reasons and we ourselves create these memories with some intention? “Thus we find a curious metaphysical circularity in the way memory and time support

and refer back to one another. Past events and entities prove the most ambiguously existential (actual) of all potentialities, since their status in this respect is largely derived from memory. Yet, the liminal reality of that-which-has-gone-before is essential to the causal determination of all present identities, including the very intentional agency that creates those memories” (Douglas).
Klosterman writes this piece as someone who watched two straight hours of Saved by the Bell every afternoon during college, but I have maybe seen three episodes of the show. Klosterman wisely asserts that "temporality is part of the truth," and our different perspectives have greatly influenced our view of the show; at the same time, what he is reaching for in relating Saved by the Bell to our tendency to overlook the comings and goings of the people close to us is not something foreign to anyone. Klosterman argues that Saved By the Bell was actually accurate as to the reality of social groups in this

period; groups of friends are always losing and gaining regular members for totally unrelated reasons. When members are not present, their absence is seldom mentioned or even noticed. I have to agree when Klosterman argues that Saved by the Bell is a lot like life. People come into our lives and then leave for long periods of time, but we often don’t even notice they’re gone until something dramatic happens or they return. They are either forgotten or vaguely remembered. So, by filming the final episode before the rest of the season, Saved By the Bell finally accurately depicted real human relationships and our memory’s tendency towards temporality.

Works Cited
Douglas, E.R.. "Temporality, Intentionality, the Hard Problem of Consciousness and the Causal Mechanisms of Memory in the Brain: Facets of One Ontological Enigma?." Michigan State University EReports. Michigan State University. 7 Aug 2008 <http://www.chronos.msu.ru/EREPORTS/douglas_temporality.htm>. Kvale, Steinar. "The Temporality of Memory." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology Volume 5, Number 11974 pp. 7-31. 7 Aug 2008 <http://docserver.ingentaconnect.com/deliver/connect/brill/00472662/v5n1/s2.pdf?expires=1218120149&i d=45420116&titleid=1403&accname=Saint+Louis+University&checksum=9FAA364ED37FBA6DAFD92 6C6C3C30A8D>.

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