European Diary

Mnemosyne’s Tricks

Writers incline to solipsism, and I’m no exception.  To write is to presume that your words matter to others, and this places you at the center of the universe you’re describing, with its sun, its Earth—to say nothing of the small potatoes of associated planets—revolving around your person.  Thus the Copernican in me ever wrestles the geocentric, and one of the ways in which this happens is through the medium of Google.  An hour of looking oneself up on the internet every couple of months both furnishes damning evidence of one’s marginality and seductively reaffirms one’s centrality.

The method has something of a bonus attaching to it—namely, that all of a sudden the writer finds himself in medias res, in the ebb and flow of somebody else’s story, and watching his own presence cast a shadow over another, unfamiliar author’s narrative is a bit like seeing a character in one’s own novel come to life, stop its progenitor in the street, and ask for directions.  And so I must apologize for the lengthy quotations that follow.  Bear in mind that, to my eyes, these are scenes from a roman à clef of which I have neither beginning nor end, just the middle part courtesy of Google.  All I can tell you is that its title is Air-Bird in the Water: The Life and Works of Pearl Craigie, that its author’s name is Mildred...

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