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Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4 
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Post Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
LOST MEMORY OF SKIN

Russell Banks

Part two, chapters; one, two, three and four



Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:37 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
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What are your thoughts on the Professor? He seems to have some secrets of his own and I'm wondering if his motives should be questioned.


I moved the above over here as we learn a lot more about the professor in these four chapters. He is a very interesting character. Here we have someone very, very different from the Kid. He is smart, super smart, one in a million, yet very emotionally detached from his family and his own feelings. His eating habits are bizarre and his disassociation from this behavior as well as his own body shows quite a lack of emotional intelligence, or maybe just lack of emotions?

He does view the Kid as just a specimen to study, but he doesn't seem to view his own life a whole lot differently.



Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:02 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
smileyface123123 wrote:
I think the professor sees Kid as an object, instead of a person. He looks at him as if he were a bug under glass. The professor appears to care what happens to Kid, but I think it is for his own selfish reasons.

I think we have to separate the Professor as a person from the Professor as a researcher and professional in his field. As a researcher, the validity of his research (ie - interviewing the Kid and what may come beyond that) depends on maintaining the integrity of the research process, whatever personal considerations may exist, whether they stem from the Professors life or from liking the Kid or wanting to help him, these considerations have to be kept strictly out of the research process. So, inevitably, the Kid is like a bug under glass and it has to be this way if the research is to mean anything. I don't think we should see the Professor as distant or unfeeling, he is just doing his job. It will be interesting to see if a friendship develops between them because this will make this professionalism very diffcult to maintain. Also, it will be interesting to see if the Professor is actually interested in research or has alterior motives and is using research as a ploy.

I enjoyed the scene where the Professor arrives at Benbow's and meets the 'colourful' characters there. Quite interesting how this plays out, complete with stories of 'Nam'. I found this scene quite plausible - the damage done to Vietnam war vets by their experiences in the war can have a huge impact on their functioning in society and I believe many vets have ended up on the very perimeter of society, somewhat like the Kid. The Professor is different though, apparently a war vet although that might be a lie, but he has a prestigious position with a major, mainstream institution .. perhaps he isn't doing so well despite this, and his problems are expressed a bit differently, as weird eating habits or in other ways.



Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:32 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
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I don't think we should see the Professor as distant or unfeeling, he is just doing his job.


Perhaps, but it does seems that there is something a little more personal under the surface, and, he doesn't seem to be anymore feeling when it comes to his personal life. I kind of like him.



Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:16 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
The Professor is an odd duck but I think likeable, highly intelligent, distinguished researcher and academic but quirky personal life, including over-eating to satisfy his 'cells' and unusual sex life ... it is quite easy to wonder about this guy and his motives .. he is befriending the Kid, perhaps ingratiating himself with the Kid, doing him considerable favours on the QT, perhaps this is part of his research approach or maybe he has other motives. Its interesting that the Kid calls him Humungous and a few other things (haystack I think) ... I'm not sure if its simply the Kid's personality/lack of social skills to use such mocking names or if its a defence mechanism to keep people at a distance.

I wonder as well about the Kid's comments that Benbow (and Calusa) is like a movie set. Seems to me that the Kid (and maybe the Professor) may be living as if on a movie set, a stage I guess ... as if life and what it brings their way is not real to them, that they are just playing a part. The Kid says he wants to leave Benbow because it is like a movie set but I get the feeling that he cannot escape the part he has to play, even if he lives somewhere else.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:39 am
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
At this point I'm still wondering what the Prof's personal demons are. I guess we'll find out.

Perhaps the Kid sees his surroundings as a movie set because he has spent so much time alone and on the computer. Without going off on a tangent about how overexposure to TV and computers can affect children, I'm wondering how the kid's upbringing may have affected his touch with reality.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:05 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
I took it, from these 4 chapters, that at this point in the story The Kidd did NOT want to leave Benlow - he doesn't want to go back to the Causeway.

The Kid seems interested in what the professor is telling him - about Captain Kidd, etc. He seems interested in the history of the place.

I'm liking the professor - so far. Hope he's not going to disappoint me.



Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:37 am
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
WildCityWoman wrote:
I took it, from these 4 chapters, that at this point in the story The Kidd did NOT want to leave Benlow - he doesn't want to go back to the Causeway.

The Kid seems interested in what the professor is telling him - about Captain Kidd, etc. He seems interested in the history of the place.

I'm liking the professor - so far. Hope he's not going to disappoint me.



I'm still not trusting the Prof. We'll see what happens.
I agree, the Kid definitely does not want to go back to the Causeway. I don't know quite how he's going to cope with his new pets.



Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:52 am
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
The professor is extraordinarily smart, and I think he feels a bit above other people. He does not think anything of trying to manage Kid's life so he can have him as the subject of his research. He is able to blend in with other people as he did with the two Vets at Benbows, but as nice as he seems to be with them, I think he is somewhat on the outside looking in, observing. He tries to get out of Kid the nature of his crimes, but Kid does not tell him. I think Kid is wary of him, wondering what he wants out in exchange for his kindness. The professor does go out of his way to make sure Kid can stay at Benbow's by paying Benbow, but I still think it is for himself instead of for Kid's benefit.



Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:13 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
The professor creeps me out. I think the kid is smart to be warry of him. What do you guys think about the professor's weight? His weight may be a big reason I don't trust him. I feel that he is consuming people. Is he truly helping the kid and the men under the causeway or is he feeding off them? Do you think the professor's weight has any meaning?



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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
Suzanne wrote:
The professor creeps me out. I think the kid is smart to be warry of him. What do you guys think about the professor's weight? His weight may be a big reason I don't trust him. I feel that he is consuming people. Is he truly helping the kid and the men under the causeway or is he feeding off them? Do you think the professor's weight has any meaning?


The weight issue is interesting. Does it make the Prof. an outcast like the sex offenders? I'm not sure if Banks is using this in some way, or not. However, I do think that the Prof's secrecy has something to do with the theme. His life has been one of disguises and deception which gives him something in common with the Kid.



Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:42 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
lindad_amato wrote:
Suzanne wrote:
The professor creeps me out. I think the kid is smart to be warry of him. What do you guys think about the professor's weight? His weight may be a big reason I don't trust him. I feel that he is consuming people. Is he truly helping the kid and the men under the causeway or is he feeding off them? Do you think the professor's weight has any meaning?


The weight issue is interesting. Does it make the Prof. an outcast like the sex offenders? I'm not sure if Banks is using this in some way, or not. However, I do think that the Prof's secrecy has something to do with the theme. His life has been one of disguises and deception which gives him something in common with the Kid.

In my view, Banks depiction of the Professor goes beyond a 'weight issue' .. he really emphasizes massive size and glutonous eating habits. I'm not sure about the significance of this but I think its safe to say he might encounter some level of social ostracization. His size may have another significance as well ... it would be really hard to miss him in a room or for him to disappear into a crowd. He may also tend to dominate in a group, especially because he is big and smart and has the gift of the gab. His size doesn't bother me but his gross eating habits do. If he has an eating disorder, then I guess this reflects underlying psychological issues? Suzanne's point about 'consuming people' is an interesting take on it ... sounds a little cannibalistic.



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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
It is his glutonous eating habits that makes him more endearing to me, or perhaps endearing is the wrong word, palatable might be better. Without this, he is so devoid of any emotional at all. With the eating it seems that he is burying his inner self with food. He has detached his analytical mind from his body, which includes all physical and mental feelings. Definitely underlying psychological issues. I don't think he means harm to the Kid, but I doubt very much that he is able to care very much about anyone else in any kind of real sense.



Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:03 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
I can see 'palatable', good double meaning. Although I find it a bit gross, his gluttony does make him more human, a clear human foible or weakness, otherwise the Professor is quite cold-blooded ... except for his friendship with the Kid. Maybe the Kid is his only friend .. or maybe he's not a friend at all and he is just using the Kid for his own purposes. As the story continues, I think the Kid is fairly perceptive and cautious about the risk of his connection with the Professor.



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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 2, chapters; 1-4
The professor thinks about remembering that social norms between him and the Kid are going to be different. The Kid explains dumpster diving etiquette at one point. This is something that the professor most likely has not learned. By the professor keeping the idea of differing social norms in mind, he is most likely going to ask about Kids background and stories about the everyday life of Kid for examples of social norms for both sex offenders and homeless males.

By being willing to help Kid out, I do not believe the professor is effecting his data or research in any way. It is typical for researchers to offer some type of compensation. He is not offering exorbitant amounts of money or any other kind of compensation he can not afford. He is offering to donate items and help Kid with a job. He most likely will not choose a method right away as a job may set Kid on the path to stable housing which will negate his ability to use Kid for research on homelessness.

Kid's interest in the captain seems childlike. He is drawn in by the idea of the treasure map and even brings up "x marks the spot". He wonders whether this is how Kydd marked his treasure on the map. I feel the author is again showing us the maturity level of Kid and is using this to rally up further support of the Kid.

Kid's childlike interest adds to my concern of him living in a place where prostitution is a regular occurence. I'm not sure of the legality of this where the Kid is, but if this is illegal where he is, it may add another sexually related charge to his record, resulting in a violation of probation. This would cause major problems for the Kid. It will be interesting to see how this atmosphere effects Kid and the choices he makes.



Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:18 pm
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