One thing that other researchers have noted about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the centrality of Montauk in the storyline. Most people will have no idea why this is significant. As someone whose spent more time than I probably should trying to parse the Montauk "mystery," I can say that the setting is indeed significant to the film. Eternal Sunshine is primarily about the transcendent power of the Dreaming Mind when confronted by technological mind control interference.
I've been reading about the whole Montauk thing for over 10 years now and I still have no idea what is supposed to have actually happened there. It's one of these things that's gone totally meta- as in metastasis. Adam Gorightly tried to sift through all of the various Montauk literature and came away as perplexed as I am:
But as much as the Montauk Mythos seems naught — to many observers — but a pile of happy horses**t, it continues to attract serious researchers and spiritual searchers into its endless stream of mysteries. As Montaukian Investigator/Experiencer Chica Bruce related to me: "What I've come away with is that everything is true and that nothing is true… Any story (not just about Montauk - EVERY story) is ultimately irrelevant and useless to me outside of what it can teach me about Creation and the empowerment of humans via insights about how reality works. To this end, the study of the wacky world of Montauk has been extremely useful…But Gorightly also seems to think that the fact that so many major memes in the world of high weirdness- ritual abuse, UFOs, mind control, time travel, interdimensional physics- seem to have grafted themselves on to the Montauk mythos is evidence of some sort of convergence of some kind of energy:
“It is cosmically humorous to me that a story so full of seemingly deranged allegations does contain many valuable, penetrating truths about consciousness and the nature of reality. The Montauk mythos is repugnant to current consensus world-views and it puts off mentalities that are fundamentally invested in conforming with the hegemony.
Those who feel a need to bash the Montauk story are failing to understand what it is really about and are revealing their unflagging allegiance to certain stodgy mind patterns and core beliefs…”
What I think Gorightly is trying to say- and what I would agree with- is that the Montauk lore is significant because of the significance that so many individuals have invested into it. This brings us back to Jungian territory again- the Dreaming Mind component of conspiracy research. When a constellation of anxieties takes form in a complex (many would say convoluted) group of beliefs and suspicions about governmental black magic, Montauk becomes a sigil of sorts- a symbol triggering associations of an eternity of occult malfeasance by our so-called leaders.
The kernel of evidence behind the Montauk Project began with an actual series of radar invisibility experiments aboard the naval vessel the USS Eldridge in 1943. According to the legends, the experiment didn't work but the tests allegedly produced a sort of superweapon that alternately could drive enemy soldiers insane, bridge dimensional gateways, enable time travel, etc. etc. etc. Most of this work on this superweapon was allegedly done at Camp Hero, a military base in Montauk. It’s worth noting that the word ‘hero’ is almost certainly derived from Heru, the Egyptian rendering of Horus, and that Montu, the hawk-headed Egyptian god of war, came to be identified as an aspect of Horus in Egyptian religion. Which is kind of a no-brainer when you look at the two of them.
The Mystery school synchromysticism doesn't end there. There was an actual radar station in Camp Hero, which was operated by the 773rd Radar Squadron. The station and the 773rd were both deactivated on July 1, 1980. Interestingly, the sum of 7+7+3 is 17. And July 1st is notated as ‘1/7’ outside of the United States. The full name of the ship involved in the Montauk Project was the USS Eldridge DE-173. The “173” recalls the day of the death of Osiris, which occurred on the 17th day of the 3rd month of the Egyptian calendar, Athyr (named so for Hathor, of course). The Philadelphia Experiments began in 1943. 1+9+4+3 equals 17. It’s also worth noting that the word ‘Eldridge’ is roughly homonymic with ‘Eldritch’, a term referring to the supernatural powers of Elves.
The mind-erasing properties of Dr. Mierswiak’s device and the ‘reversal of time’ motif used in the storytelling of Eternal Sunshine tie in too neatly with Montauk Project and mystery school lore to be coincidental. I'm thinking that Kaufman ran across information on the Philadelphia Experiment and Montauk, and thought a memory-erasing mind control machine would be a great plot device in a romantic comedy. Which sounds pretty typical for Kaufman, come to think of it.
Either that or the CIA spooks who he encountered while writing Confessions of A Dangerous Mind fed him the inside scoop for this movie as well. I'm open to all possibilities when it comes to these films.