Remembering L’ Amant(English.ver)

je suis la préférée de sa vie


I am his favourite part of life

L'histoire de ma vie n'existe pas. Ça n'existe pas. IL n'y a jamais de centre.


My life story doesn't exist, there is no such thing. There is no core to create a story.

(L’amant:Marguerite Duras)

Zoetrope

We became beautiful even the things we fought about when the storm passed. Love erases what was bothersome through the purification of memory. The cruel parts and the painful things evaporate. Perhaps if one could go looking for a ‘shape’ (a pebble) lying on the banks of the river of oblivion, it would be one of the many stones that have been uniformly arranged. In those days, even if you thought of it as a special gem, it would have rolled away without being polished. Because it was too much work to pick him up, it was the end, As long as it was too much work to go looking for him, it was the end.

My boyfriend of a few years asked me what my first love was like, and I spoke in a haze, my semi-questioning narrative tone mixing with my English. I would call out ‘maybe’ as if it were not my own experience. This usage would inherently be a strange sensation in English-speaking countries. Maybe it’s my memory, maybe it’s strange. Nevertheless, it is ‘Maybe’ when it comes to my memory.

This ‘L’ Amant’ by Duras is probably a memory of his first love. The protagonist has not recognised love in the work for a long time. In my experience, men often remember their first love stories.

He remembers his first lover vividly. It was as if that woman would come to the surface and stand just by listening to him. I can even see the two of them kissing in hiding in an unmanaged cinema in a foreign country. The words he spoke were like a simple picture of a zoetrope, an easy to understand scene, but his memories were in constant motion, as if they were untainted.

I reflected back on his clean afterimage on the metro train on the way home. His narrative of ‘she’ seemed to love him all the time. The date they made love, which never came back, but the way he narrated it was love. Perhaps it was not jealousy of the other woman, but jealousy of the way he remembered her and her kindness. Because I could not remember in that way. It was at this point that I thought back to Marguerite Duras’s Mistress – Laman. I felt defeated that she remembered her first love with an overseas Chinese, which must have been her talent as a writer. I was not sure about my first partner, because I didn’t remember mine very well. My undifferentiated adolescent thoughts were deeply rooted, probably because it was a painful experience. The only way for my wretched self to remain rational was through contemplation, including philosophy. When the surprises from him were gone, all I could hope for was my own inspiration. *Pure ego was a difficult thing. Once I lost the way I related and functioned and positioned myself as someone I was not supposed to love, I would not allow myself to have loved. The past always pulled my choices. So I keep forgetting for the sake of the new man. I found that if I mixed alcohol with stabilisers, the memories of yesterday would fly away like in a drama or a film. Even the notes I wrote down because I missed him are forgotten in the morning. I remembered that and I kept forgetting as a break. Yet, the only thing that accompanies me and grows with me is the ego. How I spoke of love, even though I was lonely, was also affected by my growth. The words of love remain, but the feelings of that time are gone from me. I no longer rejoice and love as I did on past anniversaries. I revise those poor words, as if I were reading someone else’s novel, and transcribe them as if I were loving the ‘time’. This has become my style of writing, which is regarded as calm.

Returning to L’ Amant, the characters in the work have no names. The film creates a moment in human history when names cannot be left in history. The family of a girl who has been deceived and impoverished lives in Indochina, a French territory. There, the girl spends an affair with an older overseas Chinese man she meets. The man was contractually married to another woman, but he tells the girl he loves her. However, the girl tells him that it was for money. After the wedding, the girl waits at the ‘usual place’ for him to come back, but he never arrives. The girl, who can return home thanks to his ‘support money’, notices that his car is parked. She puts her elbows on the handrail, just as she did when they met.

The scene on the boat, where the girl realises she loved him, has entered the minds of many readers.

The realisation that ‘I am no longer sure that I did not love him’ and the death of the younger brother, whom the girl loved, overshadowed the realisation. Chopin’s Waltz No. 10 in B minor, OP 69-2, which echoed on the vessel, was the piece that led the girl to give up the piano, but it must have finally completed in her mind. The inability of the fingers to keep up with the score as she faced it signaled the end of her as a performer. Yet in the written world she completed Chopin’s music. She succeeded in making the reader listen. She used the novel to make Chopin heard. Such a player has never existed.

The word image, which appears frequently in the work, Duras described all the glances and memories of her girlhood as images. In French, image can also mean reproduction or replica. The girl in the work is also a likeness of herself. In the film, the scene in which the girl’s feet are placed on the vessel railings is made to look impressive.

Regardless of human sentimentality and the search for love, the Mekong River flows unchanged, passing trade and people. Water has no ego, no desire, and while it lives, it invites death. The Mekong River has always existed, but it carries so many people that the water flow does not remember. Where does the ‘moment’ go, where does it go through the ego? Where does lust go when it stirs so many hearts? Where do touches and expectations go? Memory does not contract eternity, it forgets as it grows old. Recollection, that ship of remembrance, seldom departs. It is easy to write about yesterday’s lost love. But it lacks the ingredient of ‘time’ to say that it was love. Only the story of wanting to believe it was love is made up. It is only when you really try to make it a ‘work of art’ for love that you realise the meaning of that sailing. Who decides on that sailing? I realise that it is divine.

The vessel can be traced back to whether it was true if there was a record of that sailing, but nothing can remember whether the girl was in love or not. The girl puts her elbow (or foot, in the film) on the fence of the vessel. The essence of the imago had no foothold, but the vessel was the only evidence of contact with the entity. Why did Duras write about her memories of her teenage years, month after month? Speculation and the reader’s curiosity became the wind that ruffled the girl’s hair and, safely, she succeeded in preserving her first love. Like the success of a long cruise. The first divine revelation for the girl was on the vessel . The first time after she left the overseas Chinese, until she realised it was a gift from God. It is impossible to see the wake waves she noticed in the darkness. The pattern of the water surface under the vessel is left to the imagination. She can only wait for the next divine revelation to see how difficult it is to try to write that pattern.

Regardless of human sentimentality and the search for love, the Mekong River flows unchanged, passing trade and people. Water has no ego, no desire, and while it lives, it invites death. The Mekong River has always existed, but it carries so many people that the water flow does not remember. Where does the ‘moment’ go, where does it go through the ego? Where does lust go when it stirs so many hearts? Where do touches and expectations go? Memory does not contract eternity, it forgets as it grows old. Recollection, that ship of remembrance, seldom departs. It is easy to write about yesterday’s lost love. But it lacks the ingredient of ‘time’ to say that it was love. Only the story of wanting to believe it was love is made up. It is only when you really try to make it a ‘work of art’ for love that you realise the meaning of that sailing. Just who decides on that sailing? I realise that it is divine.

The vessel can be traced back to whether it was true if there was a record of that sailing, but nothing can remember whether the girl was in love or not. The girl puts her elbow (or foot, in the film) on the fence of the vessel. The essence of the imago had no foothold, but the vessel was the only evidence of contact with the entity. Why did Duras write about her memories of her teenage years, month after month? Speculation and the reader’s curiosity became the wind that ruffled the girl’s hair and, safely, she succeeded in preserving her first love. Like the success of a long cruise. The first divine revelation for the girl was on the boat. The first time after she left the overseas Chinese, until she realised it was a gift from God. There was no way she could see the wake waves she noticed in the darkness. The pattern of the water surface under the vessel is left to the imagination. She can only wait for the next divine revelation to see how difficult it is to try to write that pattern.

I know that a secret relationship, like a shady relationship, is a disconnected world between the two of us. I know too that we don’t introduce it to our friends and we don’t talk about it with our families. The advantage lies in not showing the ugly side. The ones with a time limit, such as an overseas Chinese who has to return to proper upbringing for a girl, who will marry someone else in the future, don’t show the ugly part. Even though it is only destined to be the dinner in which it is convenient, human greed wants to cross the borders it protects. The man decides to live with her, but the girl refuses. The fact that the girl not understand the ending was the place where she would come to the usual meeting after the man’s marriage. She thought he would come to embrace her again. Understanding the significance of that not coming, love is objectified, and the author writes while acting out her girlhood.

The happy memories modulate into a transposed and melancholy narrative when the relationship ends.

As she said, ‘I am eighteen and old.’

But that is not enough to write about love. Cruelly, when you write about love between people, you have to love the past again. Worst of all, you have to love him in the past again. You have to love him in the past again, even if he belongs to someone else and has forgotten you. It can be a cruel thing to love a time that will never return. This seems a cruel task, but the writer may embrace this cruelty. Because it is a divine revelation.

Last

Sad narratives carry more expectations than words. The heart is not confined to the frame of words, but the heart is an image and a dream. The memories of the past seem to dream that the story is only sad now, but that one day it can be told that it was ‘love’.

Even if it is a sad story, the past becomes love in the hands of the writer. Lost love waits with the brightest of loneliness to be picked up as a precarious foothold. Always waiting for the other side to not fail to pick it up, too.

Even the things I didn’t want to talk about at that dinner, and even the very people I was with at that dinner, are waiting on the other side. For example, in my case, even the words of a prayer, but on the way to get there, there is an accumulation of things that I have drunkenly discarded. It is God who sees through that. Memories mean returning to the hiding place again and again, but in that hiding place, I see the light that shines into the bedroom, which has gone from passion to emptiness. If you have seen the light, it is a God-given revelation.

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