SENIOR MOMENTS: MEMORY, FORGETFULNESS & RESERVATIONS by Donal Kennedy


“I am so an outstanding forgetter that, along with all the rest, I forget even my own woks and writings.” I quote Gore Vidal’s translation from the French essayist Montaigne, who supposedly made the remark at the age of 66. Vidal was having the same problem at the age of 79, as he recorded in the second volume of his memoirs “Point to Point Navigation.” As I had read the first volume “Palimsest” only weeks beforeI had noted that Vidal occasionally repeated stories he’d written decades previously.

I’m now 11 years older than Montaigne was when he made his remark and two years younger than Vidal was when he made his. And I find myself writing things I’d written decades earlier in various papers,  or even in blogs here in the past four years. As I have always written what I believed to be the truth I’m relieved to find that Ithere’s no shame in my repeating it.

But I’ve no claim on the genius of Vidal nor the reputation of Montaigne (whom I’ve never read, even in translation). So I can’t claim, with Montaigne -“People are constantly quoting me to me without my realizing it.”

 Montaigne is much quoted by Vidal, but the longest quotation he gives is on an Essay on Lying –

“Lying is an accursed vice.If we realized the horror and weight of lying we would see that is more worthy of the stake than other crimes.  I find that people waste time punishing children for innnocent misdemeanours, tormenting them for thoughtless actions which leave no trace……Once let the tongue acquire the habit of lying it is astonishing how impossible it is to make it give up.”

Montaigne lived in the 16th century, and, if Wikipedia is right, died at the age of 59. But, he might in his Senior Moments, have imagined himself older?

Until 20 months ago, when I had a MINOR stroke, I imagined myself a teenager. I know better now, but when out of sorts I imagine myself a centenarian.

But,back to Montaigne. Like the Protestant preacher who supposedly said “St Paul said, and I partly agree with him” I have my reservations.

When Irish academics and journalists recycle the lies put about long ago by our country’s paid enemies, I think the stake would be too good for them. Let them stuff themselves with the Wages of Sin and Shake Hands With The Devil while their bellies and pockets are still  full.

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