Sunday, February 01, 2009

Noted: Marguerite Duras

In The Square, a young woman and an older man, a traveling salesman, are talking:
"It's true that we're talking of different things. Travel or cities by the sea are not the things I want. First of all I want to belong to myself, to own something, not necessarily something very wonderful, but something which is mine, a place of my own, maybe only one room, but mine. Why sometimes I even find myself dreaming of a gas stove."

"You know it would be just the same as traveling. You wouldn't be able to stop. Once you had the gas stove you would want a refrigerator and after that something else. It would be just like traveling, going from city to city. It would never end."

"Excuse me, but do you see anything wrong in my wanting something further perhaps after I have the refrigerator?"

"Of course not. No, certainly not. I was only speaking for myself, and as far as I am concerned I find your idea even more exhausting than traveling and then going on traveling, moving as I do from place to place."

"I was born and grew up like everyone else and I know how to look around me: I look at things very carefully and I can see no reason why I should remain as I am. I must start somehow, anyhow, to become of consequence. And if at this stage I began losing heart at the thought of a refrigerator I might never even possess the gas stove. And anyway, how am I to know if it would weary me or not? If you say it would, it might be because you have given the matter a great deal of thought or perhaps even because at some time you very much disliked one particular refrigerator."

"No, it is not that. Not only have I never possessed a refrigerator, but I have never had the slightest chance of doing so. No, it's only an idea, and if I talked of refrigerators like that it was probably only because to someone who travels they seem especially heavy and immobile. I don't suppose I would have made the same remarks about another object. And yet I do understand, I assure you, that it would be impossible for you to travel before you had the gas stove, or even perhaps, the refrigerator. And I expect I am quite wrong to be so easily discouraged at the mere thought of a refrigerator."

"It does seem very strange."

"There was one day in my life, just one, when I no longer wanted to live. I was hungry, and as I had no money it was absolutely essential for me to work if I was to eat. It was as if I had forgotten that this was as true of everyone as of me. That day I felt quite unused to life and there seemed no point in going on living because I couldn't see why things should go on for me as they did for other people. It took me a whole day to get over this feeling. Then, of course, I took my suitcase to the market and aterwards I had a meal and things went on as they had before. But with this difference, that ever since that day I find that any thought of the future--and after all thinking of a refrigerator is thinking of the future--is much more frightening than before."

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