They say you can't "unring a bell." It's an analogy that is often used to illustrate our incapacity to un-experience things, to erase lived-experiences from our bodies and minds. What I discovered recently is how particularly true that is in the classroom.
A few weeks ago in my Philosophy and Film course, we screened Werner Hertzog's film Grizzly Man for our "documentary" week. Grizzly Man tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, who spent thirteen summers in the Alaskan wilderness living with grizzly bears-- all the while filming his trans-species communion-- before being tragically attacked and killed by a bear in 2003. Treadwell was filming on the day that he died, though he did not have time to remove the lens caps from his camera before being attacked, so there remains only an audio recording of his (and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard's) gruesome death. Hertzog does not include that audio in his documentary. In fact, there is a scene in the film where we see Hertzog listening to the recording for the first time and then, afterwards, remarking to Treadwell's friend: "You must never listen to this." What is more, in a gesture practically verboten for documentary filmmakers, Hertzog instructs Treadwell's friend to destroy the tape.