This split in the cognitive and pragmatic approaches has a major influence on the claim of memory to be faithful to the past: this claim defines the truthful status of memory, which will later have to be confronted with the truth claim of history. In the meantime, the interference of the pragmatics of memory, by virtue of which remembering is doing something, has a jamming effect on the entire problematic veracity….”
Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting
Struggling with French philosophers, I am put in mind of a grade school incident. Back then I had a nemesis, a smug, blonde, blue-eyed fellow. He had read The Little Prince and was remembering and recommending it to another bright young boy, one whose good opinion I actually cared for and courted. When I inquired where Monsieur Smug had obtained his copy of this interplanetary, symbolic adventure, M. Smug proudly dressed me down by saying, “What does it matter where I got it? It’s for smart people. You won’t need it.”
There. Reading Ricoeur I have experienced a cognitive memory, one that just pops up. Yet, I have applied pragmatic memory, an act of seeking in this case more vicious details to better revel in the bitterness of childhood. And so, to truthfulness… is it fiction? Is all that came to mind about Monsieur Smug true? Or is it colored by the desire to experience again and reposition the conflict to gain a new victory?
Despite the “entire problematic of veracity” I am still, deliciously, invigoratingly, filled with the desire to punch someone smug right in the nose. There must be some truth in the fiction-making of memory.