Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Please fly here at the speed of light

Gracias al Chuy llego a un texto de Oliver Sacks en el New Yorker. "The Abyss" relata la conmovedora historia de Clive Wearing, un hombre con una memoria de tan sólo unos segundos de duración, un devaneo entre el abismo de la amnesia y "las riendas que caen del cielo para sacarlo de él": su esposa y la música.

Clive no es capaz de mantener una conversación, pues olvida lo que escuchó o mencionó hace 5 segundos, tampoco puede saber cuáles son sus platillos favoritos o recordar una lectura o su pasado. Ni siquiera es consciente de no tener memoria. No es suficiente lo que pueda yo decir de Clive o del texto, es mejor remitirse a él directamente.

La memoria, una de mis obsesiones personales -literarias y no literarias- es, en palabras de Cortázar, una telaraña que teje una araña caprichosa, que decide arbitrariamente qué olvidar, qué recordar, qué reconstruir o qué inventar. Clive no puede hacer ninguna de las cuatro. Y eso es absolutamente desolador.

Breves extractos desgarradores del texto:

"Desperate to hold on to something, to gain some purchase, Clive started to keep a journal, first on scraps of paper, then in a notebook. But his journal entries consisted, essentially, of the statements “I am awake” or “I am conscious,” entered again and again every few minutes. He would write: “2:10 P.M: This time properly awake. . . . 2:14 P.M: this time finally awake. . . . 2:35 P.M: this time completely awake,” along with negations of these statements: “At 9:40 P.M. I awoke for the first time, despite my previous claims.” This in turn was crossed out, followed by “I was fully conscious at 10:35 P.M., and awake for the first time in many, many weeks.” This in turn was cancelled out by the next entry." (p.1)

Clive said at one point, “Can you imagine one night five years long? No dreaming, no waking, no touch, no taste, no smell, no sight, no sound, no hearing, nothing at all. It’s like being dead. I came to the conclusion that I was dead.” (p.2)

"The only times of feeling alive were when Deborah visited him. But the moment she left, he was desperate once again, and by the time she got home, ten or fifteen minutes later, she would find repeated messages from him on her answering machine: “Please come and see me, darling—it’s been ages since I’ve seen you. Please fly here at the speed of light.” (p.2)
"As Deborah put it: Clive was constantly surrounded by strangers in a strange place, with no knowledge of where he was or what had happened to him. To catch sight of me was always a massive relief—to know that he was not alone, that I still cared, that I loved him, that I was there. Clive was terrified all the time. But I was his life, I was his lifeline. Every time he saw me, he would run to me, fall on me, sobbing, clinging." (p.5)

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