Monday, March 30, 2015

To study myself with precision and cruelty

I spent the warm months of early autmumn sitting on a bench in the rocky garden, writing. In appearance they were notes for a possible book, at least that's what I called them. I wanted to cut myself to pieces — I said to myself — I wanted to study myself with precision and cruelty, recount the evil of these terrible months completely. In reality the thoughts revolved around the question that Carrano had suggested to me: was I like Mario? But what did that mean? That we had chose each other because of affinities and that those affinities had ramified over the years? In what ways did I feel similar to him when I was in love with him? What had I recognized of him in myself, at the beginning of our relationship? How many thoughts, gestures, tones, tastes, sexual habits had he transmitted to me over the years?

In that period I filled pages and pages with questions of this type. Now that Mario had left me, if he no longer loved me, if I in fact no longer loved him, why should I continue to carry in my flesh so many of his attributes? What I had deposited in him had surely been eliminated now by Carla in the secret years of their relationship. But as for me, if all the features that I had assimilated from him had once seemed to be lovable, how, now that they no longer seemed lovable, was I going to tear them out of me? How could I scrape them definitively off of my body, my mind, without finding that I had in the process scraped away myself?
— from The Days of Abandonment, by Elena Ferrante.

The hard part is telling us apart. And what of the ossified bits? How do I scrape him off without marring any bit of my real self? What is my real self, anyway?

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