Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

“I Have Done What I Designed”

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Michel de Montaigne circa 1590
Michel de Montaigne

And also for this design of mine ’tis convenient for me to write at home, in a wild country, where I have nobody to assist or relieve me; where I hardly see a man who understands the Latin of his Pater noster, and of French as little, if not less. I might have it better elsewhere, but then the work would have been less my own; and its principal end and perfection is to be exactly mine. I readily correct an accidental error, of which I am full, as I run carelessly on; but for my ordinary and constant imperfections, it were a kind of treason to put them out. When another tells me, or that I say to myself, “Thou art too thick of figures: this is a word of Gascon growth: that is a dangerous phrase (I do not reject any of those that are used in the common streets of France; they who would fight custom with grammar are fools); this is an ignorant discourse: this is a paradoxical discourse; that is going too far: thou makest thyself too merry at times: men will think thou sayest a thing in good earnest which thou only speakest in jest.” “Yes,” say I, “but I correct the faults of inadvertence, not those of custom. Do I not talk at the same rate throughout? Do I not represent myself to the life? ‘Tis enough that I have done what I designed; all the world knows me in my book, and my book in me.”

Michel de Montaigne, “Of Custom, and that we should not easily change a law received,” Essais, trans. Charles Cotton
Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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