map 1: §18 --> I §81 --> §18 --> Bif B §146 --> Bif B §147 --> Bif B §148 --> Bif B §149 --> Bif B §150
map 2: pp. 75, 253, 254, 75, 76, 77, 384, 385, 386, 387, 388, 389, 390, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395
Memories and curiosities are shoved aside more and more rapidly as obsolete, in a "stock rotation" that affects not only books in bookstores, films in theaters, and the music on "Walkmans," but also, and at least as rapidly, yogurt brands, ideas, opinions and convictions, scientific theories, animal species, friendships, loves (77).
To live, and to live as a unified whole, requires that one be able to think a continuity of being, it requires the certainty (illusory but persistent) of having lived without interruption. And this certainty itself requires a setting, a framework, a background both geometrical and temporal, without discontinuities. For a "self," the real beginning of life isn't birth (which, strictly speaking, is as internally unthinkable as death)—and is even very distant from birth (384-5).
But how does one recognize oneself? I am not at all certain that I don't actually have to depend for this recognition on those external memories provided by photographs, and a certain number of photographs can constitute an ordered documentary sequence, punctuating the years at not-too-distant intervals: stable witnesses to time, much less subject to doubt than internal memories, but far more indifferent. (And this is independent of the fact that photographic representations look at you from the outside, and present a different face from the one that we see in the mirror.) (390)
I would say I still don't know how it is I haven't ever finished Swann's Way
by Proust, considering particularly how beautiful Lydia Davis' translation of it is, but the year-long pause in this project easily answers the question. (In a sense, the interruption in this project constitutes an interruption in my life. (There are those who would like to believe that my current residence in Germany is an interruption of my life. (Now might be the time to trot out that beautiful line from a John Lennon song ("Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" from the album Double Fantasy
(the album, incidentally, that introduced me to Yoko Ono's music, which, these days, I find far more interesting than Lennon's solo stuff (For the longest time, I considered myself (if one takes Tom Robbins' assertion that there's only one relevant question when trying quickly to ascertain something about someone else's psychology; that question being "Who is your favorite Beatle? (a question which becomes less and less relevant as the years go by)) to be a John person (the rebel!), but now, after both coming to terms with the fact that Abbey Road
's B side is awesome because
of Paul (and in spite of John) and familiarizing myself with Paul's "early" solo work (McCartney II
came out ten years after the Beatles had split), I realize I've been a Paul person (the cute one?) all along.), probably because there always seems to be some larger conceptual concern behind her work (whereas John just wanted to make Rock-n-Roll (not, in and of itself, an unworthy goal, just not where my interests lie))) that has become both cliché and somehow twee (Lennon? the rebel? twee?): "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."))) But, obviously, a work like The Loop
(or a project like the great fire of London
) could not exist without Proust's initial plumbings/dissections of memory. The problem with an assertion like "one cannot understand Roubaud's masterwork without having read Proust" is that it creates a slippery slope: One cannot understand Proust without having read X; one cannot understand X without having read Y; one cannot understand Y without having read Z; Z = the whole of classical literature (all the Greeks and all the Romans).
I will . . . refrain from entering the race to break the record for "earliest memory," into which autobiographers have thrown themselves ever since some first pioneer among them came up with the idea and decided that he possessed this "thing," a "first memory" (I don't know who this was, or even when it happened: who is the author of the "first memory"? (a written memory, that is)) (Robert Graves seeing Queen Victoria at the age of one, or Tolstoy in his little bathtub at two, are among the most ridiculous I have ever read) (392).
A question I regularly (and uselessly) ask myself is where did it start to go wrong?
If we could just put "Come Together" and "Something" on a different album, get rid of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," "Oh! Darling," and "Octopus's Garden" altogether, and turn the A side of Abbey Road
into a 25-minute version of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," the world would surely be a better place.