Pitfalls of Memory
Peter Milward S.J.
It was as if in my beginning, in my moment of birth, God said, “Let there be light!” And to my astonishment, there was light. It was the light of the world, the light of my discovery of the Old World. And then, no doubt, like all other babies newly born to the world, I cried. For this fact I have the authority of Lear, who says, “When we are born, we cry that we are come/ To this great stage of fools.” When I was born, I was no doubt aware of people moving around me. At least, I became aware of them once I could open my eyes. At first, it was so dazzling. I could hardly see anything. Then, once I found I could see, I saw not just “a white celestial thought”, but various beings of various colours, moving around me in various ways. Everything was various, and strange. Even through my tears I found I could laugh. Everything was so funny. Everything was happening on a kind of stage. And the actors on the stage were all fools. At least, for that, too, I have the authority of the Bible. What does the Bible say? It is the wise man who says, “Of fools the multitude is infinite.” Yes, already in those early thoughts of mine, I was thinking in terms of both Shakespeare and the Bible. Or rather, I found that both Shakespeare and the Bible had anticipated me.
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