Winter 1997 • Vol. XIX No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1997 |

When a Kiss Is Still a Kiss: Memories of the Mind and the Body in Ancient India and Hollywood

I. Sexual Memory in India Is the locus of memory the mind or the body? Most Americans assume that it is the mind, but other cultures are not so quick to jump to that conclusion, or even to take the question seriously in the first place. Where the issue is debated at all, it is often in the context of stories about sexual masquerades or lost love in which the plot hinges on someone's ability to remember, and therefore recognize, the true lover. "The Recognition of Sakuntala," for example, a play composed in India during the fourth or fifth century of the common era, explores the elusive nature of memory through the story of a king who marries a sage's daughter and then forgets her, "like a drunk who does not remember the story that he told before," as the text puts it. The play continuously validates the evidence of somatic memory, as when the king's body remembers his marriage: "Though I do not remember the sage's daughter, or any marriage, still my aching heart contradicts me."

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