Lieux de mémoire

He had lived alone for fifteen years. He had been alone, almost totally for five years. He lived in absolute isolation from any family or friend. He hadn’t conversed with anyone, apart from work situations, in nearly five years. Splendid isolation. He subsisted on his own imaginative resources, which were immense. There was a bottomless well of repressive strength and creative force in him. He lived on memory, in memory. He was of memory. Yet, because of isolation, he no longer made memories. So few significant events had occurred that he did not remember the near recent past. It was not that things did not happen; it is not the case that he had no experiences. It was just that they weren’t worth remembering. He lived almost entirely in the present. In the moment. One day was like every other day. Only the year changed. Because of isolation, he doubted that he was remembered; he was no longer memorable to anyone. He made herself unmemorable. He forgot people as easily as he was forgotten. He had taught hundreds of students over the years, yet he could recall only a few. Most were consigned to the universe of the forgotten. He rarely could match their faces to their names. He stopped bothering to do so — what did it matter to him? For him? For him, they were those taught from afar even in a seminar. They remained separated apart from the precious texts they digested together. Or not. The classroom, where he lived almost his entire life, was a performance space. He had worn the masks of student and teacher/professor. The masks became him — yet, they remained performative. Behind the mask of intellect there was another self, the self of experience, accumulated experience: the self of reflection. His performative self did not reflect on itself; it acted upon words outside it. The text.

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