June 12: my other life

Because I am not always that sociable and because there are certain times of the year where I might receive invitations for drinks or diners that I’d rather not accept, I find myself constructing an alternative social diary which often clashes with the real one. So I am unable to go out to the restaurant with some people because I have another already booked fictional meeting with someone. I find myself embroidering on the details of these fictional dinners (they are sometimes dates) so that if a question about them came from left field I could easily handle it.

I suppose we all have a fictional, alternative history, one that is ready to be revealed for public consumption but may have very little to do with what really happened. You might want to cover up what really happened for all kinds of reasons: shame; enbarrassement; the desire to protect others. It can be that over the years you have so elaborated the fictional version of a motive or incident in your past life, with each telling modifying the material to suit the new listener, that you have lost all contact with what once really happened, with what you once really thought. So that we might say that the more you recount your history, the more it becomes a lie.

There is a passage in Stendhal somewhere, I remember, wher he writes about his experience in the Napoleonic army crossing the Alps and after a moment he realises that what he has been describing is not his actual recollection of the event but is, rather, the description of an etching he has since seen of the famous crossing at St Bernadino or wherever it was. We are all living a lie.


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