Numbered Days (‘To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life,’ part 6)

5.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t done a stitch of work on this book these last few days, at the crucial moment for the deadline [delai] I’ve given myself for telling the story of my illness [pour raconter l’histoire de ma maladie]; I’ve been passing the time unhappily, waiting for this new verdict or this semblance [simulacre] of a verdict…but today, January 11, which should have been the day of the verdict, I’m biting my nails down to the quick, having been left entirely in the dark about something that is perfectly clear to me [sur ce que je sais deja], because I tried calling Dr. Chandi at his office, but couldn’t reach him…. So here I am tonight without the results, upset at not knowing them on the evening of January 11 the way I’ve been expecting to ever since December 22, having spent last night, I might add, dreaming that I wouldn’t have them….  [E 59; F 68-9; emphasis added]

Even “at the crucial moment,” chronology yields to radical temporal disorder.  Not only does the scheduled simulacrum of an appointment that is to deliver the simulacrum of a verdict fail to take place; not only does his dream prophesy that failure before the fact; but we are reminded that Herve knows already [deja] what he is supposed to find out “today, January 11.”  Indeed, he has perhaps known it for years, as we have already read thirty pages earlier, where he attests that in October 1983 “I told myself that we both had AIDS.  In an instant [en un instant], this certainty changed everything, turned everything upside down, even the landscape, and this both paralyzed and liberated me, sapped my strength while at the same time increasing it tenfold; I was afraid and light-headed, calm as well as terrified.  I had perhaps finally achieved my end”  [E 30-31; F 39].

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Filed under Books, Culture, Death, History and historiography, Reading and writing

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