23 June 2012

Speak, memory

The ghastly conclusion is that a government might claim the right to silence an individual, much as Deza claims his right to silence himself. This safe, static silence is abhorrent to Marías. To him conversation is as natural as air; it is an essential, egalitarian activity. In the words of Wheeler, it is “what most defines and unites us ... the wheel that moves the world.” It is the one pleasure we all may enjoy in equal measure, a commonality that binds us in our shared humanity as creators of our world. As Marías writes at the beginning of his autobiographical novel Dark Back of Time, “I believe I’ve never mistaken fiction for reality, though I have mixed them together more than once, as everybody does, not only novelists or writers but everyone who has recounted anything since the time we know began, and no one in that known time has done anything but tell and tell.” In effect, Marías is arguing for the conversation’s immense importance to civilization — that we collectively breathe the fabric of reality into reality through fictions we tell as truths. Talk is fragile, can be misinterpreted, can be put to malign uses; it is subject to our moods and whims. But if we do not speak, our thoughts die with us.

From an essay on Javier Marías by Scott Esposito in Los Angeles Review of Books. (Thanks, Suze!)

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