The Years

Annie Ernaux

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6 Fragments (saved in 2018)

All the images will disappear. [...] They will all vanish at the same time, like the millions of images that lay behind the foreheads of the grandparents, dead for half a century, and of the parents, also dead. [...] Thousands of words, the ones used to name things, faces, acts and feelings, to put the world in order, make the heart beat and the sex grow moist, will suddenly be nullified.

Everything will be erased in a second. The dictionary of words amassed between cradle and deathbed, eliminated. All there will be is silence an no words to say it. Nothing will come out of the open mouth, neither I nor me. Language will continue to put the world into words. In conversation around a holiday table, we will be nothing but a first name, increasingly faceless, until we vanish into the vast anonymity of a distant generation.

Other people's memories gave us a place in the world.

When she can't sleep at night, she tries to remember the details of all the rooms where she has slept. [...] She doesn't know what she wants from these inventories, except maybe through the accumulation of memories of objects, to again become the person she was at such and such time.

She would like to capture the light that suffuses faces that can no longer be seen and tables groaning with vanished food, the light that was already present in the stories of Sundays in childhood and has continued to settle upon things from the moment they are lived, a light from before. To save.

To save something from the time where we will never be again.