Se souvenir, raconter, oublier

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Besides the values that guide them and the aesthetic criteria that give them a style, life stories are vehicles of remembrances, their material is the past and they require memory, which assures the preservation of what has been, as well as the continuity between what no longer is and the living present of interlocution or of writing. But, for a story to have the possibility to be told in the first person, it is not enough to assure both the unity of a life and of someone that lived it from birth to the moment of enunciation. The possibility to access, at every moment, any mnemonic material in such way that it can be verbally expressed is also required. Yet, a story co-extensive to the unity of a life and to all its memories seems to be more an ideal than a sharable reality because:
1) There are always more memories than time to tell them (cf. Funes’ paradox, according to J.-L. Borges), capacity to do so or disposition (from interlocutors) to listen to them;
2) Life stories lye upon choices of material and upon criteria that allow a distinction between a) what is and what is not relevant to tell, b) what can and what cannot be told. These distinctions are not only the result of volunteer choices, grounded on value and conscious criteria, they can also be involuntary and unconscious, resulting from forgetfulness.
We can thus formulate a series of questions that concern the silent reverse of life stories: Why do we forget? What do we forget? Does forgetfulness have an importance for life and for self-preservation? Are there any values that make forgetfulness a need, a right or even a duty that might be stronger than the will for memory and for truth? Or is forgetfulness only due to games of forces (both inter-psychic and social) that cause the loss of memory and impede the telling of life stories?
In this conference, I addressed these questions anew taking into account the works of P. Ricœur and M. Henry and their readings of Nietzsche and Freud.
Period1 Sep 2015
Event titleLife Stories : International Congress on Narrative Social Sciences
Event typeConference
LocationLisbon, Portugal
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Narrativity
  • Memory
  • Selfhood
  • Auto-affection
  • Forgetfullness
  • Life