Remembering is Forgetting

by suu4leaf

But then again, much of our surprise comes also from the very fact that the person does show the same aspect. It would take such a huge effort to recreate whatever we have derived from outside ourselves, even just the taste of a certain fruit, say, that as soon as we receive the slightest impression, we slide gradually down memory’s gentle slope; and before long, without realizing it, we have gone a long way from what we really felt. Each new encounter is a readjustment, bringing us back to what we in fact saw. Faithful recollection of it was already lost, for what is called remembering somebody is actually a process of forgetting. For as long as we are still capable of seeing, however, no sooner does the forgotten feature impinge on our sight than we recognize it, and are obliged to straighten the line which had deviated; and so the rich and ever-ready surprise which made my daily encounters with these lovely young girls by the sea so beneficial and refreshing was a thing not only of discovery but of retrieval. Add to that the commotion inspired in me by what they meant to me (for that was never quite what I thought it would be; and what I looked forward to each time was not what I had looked forward to the time before, that having been supplanted by the thrill of the memory of our last meeting) and it will be clear that each of our outings suddenly turned my thoughts in a wholly unexpected direction; and this direction was never the one which, in the seclusion of my room at the hotel, I had forseen and calmly reconnoitred. It was now forgotten, abolished, each time I came back to my room, my head buzzing like a hive with words which had stirred me and which went on reverberating for a long time in my mind. A person lost sight of is a person destroyed; a person who reappears is a new creation, different from the one before and possibly from all previous incarnations. The minimum of variety that can exist in such creations is two. When what stays in our mind is the vivid flash of a bold glance, inevitably what will take us by surprise in our next glimpse, almost solely strike us, that is, will be a look close to languid, a gentle and pensive expression, overlooked in the former memory. It is this which, in our comparison of memory with the new reality, will colour our disappointment or our surprise; and by its notifying us that our memory had been defective, it will seem to be reality itself which was in need of refocussing. Then the aspect of the face that was recently overlooked, having now become for that reason the most unforgettable, the most real, the most accurately corrective, will itself become an object for us to dream about and recall. What we long for now is a soft, languorous look, an expression full of gentle pensiveness. Then the same thing will happen the next time: it will be the strange determination in the piercing eyes, the pointed nose and the tense lips which will cancel the disparity between our desire and the object it thought it had in mind.

—- Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower




 
 




 
(What caught me was the wallpaper in fact)




 
 
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