Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone

I’ve been getting a surprising number of hits from people searching for more information on Doug Bruce, subject of the documentary, Unknown White Male (my review). A Washington Post story yesterday explored the possibility that Bruce’s story may actually be an elaborate hoax, although little substantial evidence is given that he might be faking.

The film’s director, Rupert Murray, adamantly insists that that he would not participate in this type of hoax, pointing out that it would severely undermine his credibility as a filmmaker. Skeptics include Hans Markowitsch, a neural psychologist, who points to the film’s conspicuous lack of a medical or psychological explnation for Bruce’s condition, and several acquaintances of Bruce’s, who point to his dexterity in conversations about certain topics (Middle Eastern politics), while claiming no memory of George Bush, Bono, or (to name one example from the film) the Rolling Stones.

I’m certainly in no position to judge whether Bruce’s story is a hoax or not. As my original review of the film suggests, it’s a fascinating story, one that genuinely tackles important questions about what constitutes identity and what relationship memory has to identity. As the Post story points out, it will be difficult to establish conclusively whether or not the story is a hoax, and I’m not sure that it matters that much. Perhaps I’m being a bit too glib, but I think the skepticism about Bruce’s story–expressed almost exclusively in press materials and not in the film itself–makes these questions about memory and idntity all the more compelling.

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