It was bound to happen I suppose. I’ve come across a book that I believed I had read, only to realize that I probably haven’t. It’s funny the tricks that memory plays. I’ve read a synopsis of this book, now, and I have no recollection of it whatsoever.
I have a memory of hanging out with a couple of friends in a dorm room in college, and reading aloud a book of Lewis Carroll’s. I had assumed that it was this book. Now I’m thinking, rather, that it was his long poem PHANTASMAGORIA, but ultimately I don’t know the truth of it. I’m almost wondering if that even happened at all. I mean, it does sound like something I might have done in college, sitting around and reading Lewis Carroll poetry aloud. Prompted, I expect, by my repeated ravings about THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK, which I memorized in its entirety.
At any rate, I’m amused by the way that memories fade and rewrite themselves, and even those that seemed solid, scatter like mist when pushed against. Some people have described to me the way certain songs hook memories out of the pool of thought, and I’ve certainly experienced that, too. Books, for me, do a similar kind of thing. Often, recalling a particular book will bring to mind not just thoughts and feelings and memories about the book itself, but some or all of those things from the time and place in which I read it. For example, thinking of Dickens’ PICKWICK PAPERS, calls to mind the heat and light and slow watery meanderings of my time in Greece.
It’s alarming, then, when a book that I may not have actually read in any fashion becomes a hook for a memory that probably did. It’s such a thin and fragile construction, our memory, that we rely on for our sense of self, more illusion than anything else. And so we all rumble and bumble about, filled with our mutual self-certainties, blissfully unaware–or is that just me, mostly–of how our selves teeter on such a tall, rickety construction of thought and memory.
At any rate, I should probably (re?)read SYLVIE AND BRUNO.