nerves

A brief interlude with Siri Hustvedt, whose The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves ties in with the letters to Tissot about nervous disorders and neurological complaints. At the very end of her book, she discusses the the autobiographical ‘I’ – a fleeting and ambiguous subject always created in face of ‘You’:

“Clearly, a self is much larger than the internal narrator. Around and beneath the island of that self-conscious storyteller is a vast sea of unconsciousness, of what we don’t know, will never now, or have forgotten. There is much in us we don’t control or will but that doesn’t mean that making a narrative for ourselves is unimportant. In language we represent the passage of time as we sense it – the was, the is, the  will be. We abstract and we think and we tell. We order our memories and link them together, and those disparate fragments gain an owner: the ‘I’ of autobiography, who is no one without a ‘you’. For whom do we narrate, after all? Even when alone in our heads, there is a presumed other, the second person of our speech. Can a story ever be true?” (S. Hustvedt, The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves, New York: Henry Holt, 2009, p. 198)

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