The Notebooks’ Diaries Day 3: When all we need is Love & Memory

An intro first? Here. | Also: Day 1 & Day 2.

 In a very beautiful text entitled in all simplicity – and then again all beauty – ‘’Par coeur’’[1] (‘’by heart’’), Charles Malamoud talks about the inseparability of love and memory in the vedic concept of Smara. From poetry to classical foundational texts, from theatre to the actual learning process, ‘’what is present in Love, is the memory and the consequence of its destruction, and therefore its absence. Its own body denied, it is nothing but the very flame that consumed it’’ (299)[2]. I thought about that text today and how much I remembered loving it, back when it was assigned in my université days. Of course. I had to remember and love it. Again. The multiple references to flames, fires, combustions, burnings, made me also look back to yesterday’s reflections on Mysore Narasimhachar Srinivas’ ‘’Remembered Village’’[3], and the loss of his field notes in a fire. The ethnography was finally forged in the burning memory of Srinivas. From the ashes of his notebooks. Reading my own notebook today (the third one), with ‘’Par Coeur’’ on the side, I thought about just that: love and memory, and the love and memory that the notebooks are made of.

I was surprised by how much I remembered from those notebooks. I have to admit that the first one, a couple of days ago, was a little heavy, a little boring, too much of a déjà vu I didn’t want to see again. But day after day, I started to remember not only the love of the moments that were coming back, but also the love felt at those moments, and how much, in most cases, I just hadn’t forgotten. I remember most of my notebooks. Reading day after day I let go of all the imperfections in the lines, of all that was forgotten in those moments: forgot to ask for an additional explanation, forgot to get that location and that name right, forgot to talk about that issue in more details… There was of course a lot of forgetting and upsetting. But also some very nice surprises: in the forgetfulness I found a new notebook to be born: the ‘’There and Back Again’’ notebook: with all the things I want to see again, all the questions I want to ask for, all the places I want to go back to, all over. Remembering those little forgotten pieces, remembering that I hadn’t forgotten much, because I loved so much. In the absence of some memories, love was to be found again: the love for ‘’the field’’. A field defined, loved, remembered in its sounds, places, people… A field loved and remembered in the sounds, the ones keeping you awake – and that you love just for that, for you are not the only one in the night no more – the iron clinking of the blacksmith setting the rhythm of dreams to come, the muezzin un-hold call to release the sleep, finally. And the early dawn sounds of how-can-you-speak-so-much-so-fast-right-on-spot mat-mate. A field loved and remembered in the places, the ones built in this mortar made of the cracking soil violence and of the enveloping moist fondness. The mortar that gets under your skin, at the roots of your hair, that scratches your eyeballs. The mortar that doesn’t wash off, no matter what. A field loved and remembered in its people, the ones that I already knew and loved, the ones that I loved and who can not be re-membered no more for they are lost, the ones that I don’t know yet, fear to meet, fear to love, eager to meet, eager to love.

I didn’t realize. All this time. When they were closed, left out, untouched, that the notes were present in their very absence, all along. Because overall, they were made ‘’Par Coeur’’. By heart and with heart.

Ithaca, April 2, 2014, Emiko Stock.

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[1] Malamoud C. 1989 ‘’Par cœur. Note sur le jeu de l’amour et de la mémoire dans la poésie de l’Inde ancienne’’, Cuire le monde, Paris, La Découverte, 295-306.

[2] My own translation of the French.

[3] Srinivas M. N. 1976 ‘’The Remembered Village’’, Berkeley, Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, UC Berkeley.

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One thought on “The Notebooks’ Diaries Day 3: When all we need is Love & Memory

  1. Pingback: The Notebooks’ Diaries Day 4: Closing notes | ChamAttic

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