The mechanics of emotion

It’s possible she was there from the beginning, or maybe she came over later, either way I had the feeling from the start that she was there because of me, and this apparent oversight or lapse of memory is but further proof that the mechanics of emotion, about which we are so curious in this novel, are obscured by the very emotions operating in us, so that we can never say anything meaningful about it; it’s almost as if every occurrence were obstructed by our own sharply focused attention; consequently, in retrospect, we recall not what happened but the way we observed what happened, what emotional response we had to the event, which itself becomes hazy and fragmentary under our observation; we do not perceive the happening as a happening, a change as a change, a turning point as a turning point, even though we expect life to keep producing changes and dramatic reversals, for in each change and reversal, however tragic, we expect redemption itself, the uplifting sensation of “This is what I’ve been waiting for,” yet just as attention obstructs the event, change is obstructed by anticipation, and thus the really momentous changes in our lives occur unnoticed, in the most complete silence, and we become suspicious only when a new state of affairs has already got the better of us, making impossible any return to the disdained, abhorred, but ever so secure and familiar past.

— Peter Nadas, A Book of Memories, trans. Ivan Sanders

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One thought on “The mechanics of emotion

  1. Heathway Hornchurch says:

    Translated clearly from a language which does not believe in periods.

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