(urth) e: memory and Suzanne (offshot of Typhon's nature)

Gerry Quinn gerry at bindweed.com
Mon Oct 17 15:23:22 PDT 2011

> > > > > > > From: Marc Aramini 

      > Gerry, if we accept the premise that strikes the narrator, he can't
      > remember the event.  If we don't accept it at face value, his guess 
      > of never meeting Suzanne is correct.  I made the connection of why 
      > she is named Suzanne Delage: the return of involuntary memories 
      > that were repressed or misunderstood on an unconscious level.

      Jerry Friedman has posted the passage from Proust.  In that, Suzanne Delage is a woman Proust was meant to meet but never did.  Seems like sufficient reason.

      > There is a plague that leaves people crippled and unable to be 
      > photographed, a crippled widow across the street,he states neither 
      > of us are crippled are invalids. 

      It leaves them *quarantined* and unable to be photographed.  And who says the widow is crippled?  I can’t see it anywhere!

      >  His repression is working to the opposite on everything about her.  
      > He isn't even sure it's spanish influenza, which is WEIRD.  

      Not so weird even if it was the 1918 epidemic.  Parents probably tried to protect their children from learning too much about it.  But it could have been a later, milder flu epidemic.  Maybe people overreacted to flu for a bit.

      > His memory is faulty about events concerning her; his story of her 
      > being in the pie club and not knowing her friends doesn't add up 
      > considering the wife of his friend says of course you know whose 
      > she is, don't you etc etc.

      I see nothing odd here.  Boys couldn’t join the pie club.  His friend’s wife (who he has known all his life) was probably at school with him and Suzanne, and just assumed he knew her.

      > But once again, if he forgot the extraordinary event (its in a fantasy
      >  collection remember) HE CAN'T REMEMBER IT NOR BE TRUSTED 
      > THE PREMISE OF THE STORY, and incorrectly.

      What he read in the book was:
      “every man has had in the course of his life some extraordinary experience, some dislocation of all we expect from nature and probability, of such magnitude that he might in his own person serve as a living proof of Hamlet’s hackneyed precept2-but that lie has, nearly always, been so conditioned to consider himself the most mundane of creatures, that, finding no relationship to the remainder of his life in this extraordinary experience, he has forgotten it”

      In fact, what happens in the story is not so very far from this: certainly there is a dislocation of probability, and the narrator had forgotten it until he thought about it.  And at the end he still does not, perhaps, recognise the implications and how important it has been for him: that might also be considered a kind of forgetting.  

      Just because it is in a fantasy collection doesn’t mean there have to be ghosts or vampires.

      > You tend not to believe in supernaturally unreliable narrators so let's 
      > just agree to disagree, I can't convince you of this, it is implied by the 
      > premise and the title that this story is about the unreliability of memory 
      > and the repression of supernatural events.  Doesn't it suck more as a 
      > mundane story in which he never met a girl, though?  Is that why he 
      > alludes to a text all about the power of forgotten memories to transform 
      > everything you believe?

      The title is explained well enough by it being the name of a girl the narrator should have met but never did, just like the girl in Proust.  And I don’t think the story sucks at all – in fact, I like it a lot.  The best fantasy is often that which is closest to reality.

      - Gerry Quinn
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