“When you're young - when I was young - you want your emotions to be like the ones you read about in books. You want them to overturn your life, create and define a new reality.”- Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending.
I hate it when I fall in love with a new book.
First, there is the regret of not having read it earlier. Of wishing, you were the first to read it and recognising the pure genius it was. Then, there is the anger that other people are reading it and loving it, or worse still not getting it. Then, the despair and wondering why you hadn’t thought of all those things the author said. When you read them, they’re quite plain to see. Your very own- Wednesday d’oh moment.
Julian Barnes’s, Sense of an Ending, is a beautiful novella. Spun with little insightful sentences of pure magic- the book takes you on a ride of nostalgia, memory and regret. This makes me want to talk of regret and memory.
I always thought regret was a short- lived human emotion. Almost, like an indulgence. I regret x/y/z thereby, claiming that I know I could’ve/should’ve done better and next time --I really will. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Pollyanna intention behind regret- but I question its effectiveness. On most of us.We all hold close to us, things we regret and wish to redo.
Does this give us a different perspective in Round Two?
Do we really draw from the earlier regretful experience and phoenix-like respond to new situations? Or do the bits of us, even the regretful bits, mark and smudge every experience? Sure, post-Regret, we camouflage the bits better, but aren’t they always there?
Mr. Barnes and his wonderful characters talk so much about memory.
Memory, is one of my favourite psychological tools.
All literature, poetry and art comes out of memory. But like all literature, poetry and art- memory is b****y convenient. As we go along, we change slightly the contours of what actually happened to what we thought was happening.
It is easier and much kinder, that way. The shock of realizing that you lived your life, formed your dreams, your regrets and plans based on a version of reality, would be too much to bear for the best of us.
What intrigues me is the point when the contouring starts.
Everything starts from a Moment.
As the Moment is unfolding-- we have already accorded intent, anticipated the outcome and judged ourselves silly. Of course, there is retrospective insight which we attribute to the Moment. The sum total of the aforementioned is what makes our precious memory. It is a beautiful amalgamation of all that we love and fear most- quite the devil spawn.
I could go on, but like Mr. Barnes said- “.. cockteasing is also a metaphor: she is someone who will manipulate your inner self while holding hers back from you.”