Memory remembered.
August 13, 2008 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Memory remembered. Does writing seek out words the better to stir and un-numb us to life—or does writing provide surrogate pleasures the better to numb us to experience?

The author revisits the gritty Roman neighborhood of his youth.
posted by semmi (15 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Does writing, or reading, I should have said.
posted by semmi at 1:29 PM on August 13, 2008

Very evocative of Cinema Paradiso. Which is a great compliment, being that that's my favorite movie of all time.
posted by Mr. Palomar at 1:48 PM on August 13, 2008

Ha! Andre Aciman was a professor of mine at Bard College. He's a really good guy, incredibly intelligent. I'll have to read this article when I get a chance.
posted by shmegegge at 1:51 PM on August 13, 2008

Dude . . . wait. What?
posted by John of Michigan at 2:38 PM on August 13, 2008

Does writing seek out words the better to stir and un-numb us to life

Good clean prose is a kick in the pants. The best compliment I can pay to a piece of writing is that, somewhere in the middle, I put it aside and fall to revising some old half forgotten text file. Thanks Prof Aciman.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:41 PM on August 13, 2008

Aciman's memoir Out of Egypt (mainly about his family's life in Alexandria) is superb.

shmegegge: How does he pronounce his name? I tentatively say "AH-jim-ahn" (with Turkish c = j), but not with any confidence. (He showed up in this LH thread but didn't respond to my question.)
posted by languagehat at 3:19 PM on August 13, 2008

It probably should, but I always skip to the end and read the last page first, which numbs me to what I'm reading more than it does to life.
posted by XMLicious at 3:38 PM on August 13, 2008

Borges has a poem where he says that a poem of a tiger can never be a tiger, no matter how well written it is; it can only be a poem. A description will never be the thing it describes. As such, reading or writing is never going to be life... but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its own merits. The real question is: does a specific piece of writing numb us to the joys of the written word? Or does it make us excited about them?
posted by Kiablokirk at 4:10 PM on August 13, 2008

Words, like tigers, can eat your head.
posted by Haruspex at 4:36 PM on August 13, 2008

"Language is a virus."

-Wm. Burroughs
posted by kozad at 8:19 AM on August 14, 2008

lh: I've heard it two ways, and I have difficulty remembering which way was in his voice and which way was how others said it.

1. Ass-ih-min. (no joke intended)
2. Ahss-ih-min.

I'm inclined to go with number 2. I can remember what his voice sounds like, reedy with some gravel to it, high register but not girly, slight accent but flawlessly spoken english. But I cannot for the life of me recall how he said the phrase "My name is Andre Aciman, and before we continue the class I feel I should warn you that, although this class is called "Modernism in a Classical Mode," I hate Modernism."

The truth of the matter is that he never bothered correcting me if I ever pronounced it incorrectly, and it's entirely possible that I've said it both of the way described above at various points during the brief time he was my professor and advisor.
posted by shmegegge at 11:22 AM on August 14, 2008

ha! reading that link you provided, I see you were talking about Durrell. It was that very class I just mentioned that introduced me to Durrell, who I now think of as one of my favorite writers of all time. small world.
posted by shmegegge at 11:26 AM on August 14, 2008

Thanks, shmegegge!
posted by languagehat at 2:01 PM on August 14, 2008

wow, metafilter continues to amaze. so guess who just wrote me an email?

Professor Aciman told me that it's pronounced with a short A sound, as in Cat. He then asked me to mention that he remembers me very well, and among other things remembers that I was almost always unspeakably late for class, which is undeniably true.

What a remarkable thing.
posted by shmegegge at 6:31 PM on August 14, 2008

That makes me exceedingly happy. Thank you, (the unspeakably late) shmegegge and Prof. Aciman, and I will add that vital information (obtainable only from the horse's mouth) to my post.
posted by languagehat at 8:24 AM on August 15, 2008

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