Born on this day.
Memory may be omnipotent and indispensable, but it’s also terribly fragile. The menace is everywhere, not only from its traditional enemy, forgetfulness, but from false memories, like my often repeated story about Paul Nizan’s wedding in the 1930s. The Church of St.-Germain-des-Prés, where he was married, is crystal clear in my mind’s eye. I can see the congregation, myself among them, the altar, the priest~evenJe an-Paul Sartre, the best man. And then suddenly, one day last year, I said to myself-but that’s impossible! Nizan, a militant Marxist, and his wife, who came from a family of agnostics, would never have been married in a church! It was categorically unthinkable. Did I make it up? Confuse it with other weddings? Did I graft a church I know well onto a story that someone told me? Even today, I’ve no idea what the truth is, or what I did with it.
Our imagination, and our dreams, are forever invading our memories; and since we are all apt to believe in the reality of our fantasies, we end up transforming our lies into truths. Of course, fantasy and reality are equally personal, and equally felt, so their confusion is a matter of only relative importance.
In this semiautobiography, where I often wander from the subject like the wayfarer in a picaresque novel seduced by the charm of the unexpected intrusion, the unforeseen story, certain false memories have undoubtedly remained, despite my vigilance. But, as I said before, it doesn’t much matter. I am the sum of my errors and doubts as well as my certainties. Since I’m not a historian, I don’t have any notes or encyclopedias, yet the portrait I’ve drawn is wholly mine with my affirmations, my hesitations, my repetitions and lapses, my truths and my lies. Such is my memory.