Sunday, April 1, 2012

Umberto Eco on Fog

I have referred several times obliquely to Umberto Eco's fascination with fog in The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, a book that makes memory loss a topic. Here is an interview in which he explicitly comments on it:
Apart from the fact that I was born in the fog, my memory is full of foggy visions, and I adore fog (to such an extent that I collected an anthology of literary pages about fog, from Homer to our time); fog is an inevitable metaphor for the loss of memory. The irony is that Yambo has lost his own personal memories but not his cultural memory: Thus he is obsessed by words about fog, words of the authors he remembers, about something (the fog) of which he has no more visual memory, because it belonged to his private, personal life.
Not that I am an expert on memory, but I am far from sure that "fog" is an inevitable metaphor for the loss of memory. If you do not remember that you have forgotten, there is no fog, not even any sense of loss. And that is a real problem for others who interact with you. There may also be anxiety — especially if others keep telling you that you have forgotten. And that is a problem for you and the other.

In other words, I am more than doubtful about Eco's "conceit." Just as I found the approach in his last novel too much like Blumenberg's conceit.

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