Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Remembering things differently

Our self-narratives are stitched together from half-remembered fragments. I’m learning this through sharing memories of childhood with my brother. What has become a significant event for me has been forgotten by him, whereas his version of fact is often differently remembered by me. So when Siri Hustvedt writes: 'There is no clear border between remembering and imagination', it strikes a resonant chord. I love the way she talks about how we re-imagine ourselves in narration. 'Time is a property of language, of syntax, of tense' is another favourite. These are both in The Sorrows of an American. But I also recently read her essay on the same themes and this weaves in these threads with the topic of identity 'Identities, identifications anddesires cannot be untangled from one another. We become ourselves through others, and the selfis a porous thing, not a sealed container. If it begins as a genetic map, it is one that is expressed over time and only in relation to time...We do not author ourselves, which is not to say that we have no agency or responsibility, but rather that becoming doesn’t escape relation.' Granta 104. These sort of things occasionally get posted in Blogtrax which seems to have decided to ban me of late. Hustvedt is here and here, but if you want a more intimate and sustained view, this is from the Australian tour.

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