Ceci n'est pas une madeleine


I had a funny experience this week -- a remembrance of something past and forgotten -- a lacuna about forgetting. I wrote here about Proust and about an essay by A.S. Byatt on the connections between weaving and text. What I had forgotten was that I had begun Walter Benjamin's short essay 'The Image of Proust' about two weeks prior, and left it unfinished when I mistakenly returned it to the library. I somehow absorbed his ideas and even his turns of phrase without realizing it. More specifically, I forgot that I read and transcribed the following passage just two weeks before that entry:
For the important thing for the remembering author is not what he experienced, but the weaving of his memory, the Penelope work of recollection. Or should one call it, rather, a Penelope work of forgetting? Is not the involuntary recollection, Proust's memoire involontaire, much closer to forgetting than what is usually called memory? And is not this work of spontaneous recollection, in which remembrance is the woof and forgetting the warf, a counterpart to Penelope's work rather than its likeness? For here the day unravels what the night was woven. When we awake each morning, we hold in our hands, usually weakly and loosely, but a few fringes of the tapestry of lived life, as loomed for us by forgetting. However, with our purposeful activity and, even more, our purposive remembering each day unravels the web and the ornaments of forgetting. This is why Proust finally turned his days into nights, devoting all his hours to undisturbed work in his darkened room with artificial illumination, so that none of those intricate arabesques might escape him.
I forgot this -- forgot also that the next paragraph begins 'The Latin word textum means 'web.' I forgot this even after Byatt's article [which points to Kathryn Sullivan Kruger's essay in the exhibition catalog -- an essay in which she 'collects words that connect weaving with storytelling: text, texture and textile, the fabric of society, words for disintegration - fraying, frazzling, unravelling, woolgathering, loose ends'].
There was something kind of lovely about this forgetting.