The Corpse on the Bench

“It is absolutely impossible to identify with the infant my parents photographed, indeed so impossible that it seems wrong to use the word ‘me’ to describe what is lying on the changing table, for example, with unusually red skin, arms and legs spread and a face distorted into a scream, the cause of which no one can remember, or on a sheepskin rug on the floor, wearing white pyjamas, still red-faced, with large dark eyes squinting slightly. Is this creature the same person as the one sitting here in Malmö writing? And will the forty-year-old creature who is sitting in Malmö writing on this overcast September day in a room filled with the drone of the traffic outside and the autumn wind howling through the old-fashioned ventilation system be the same as the grey hunched geriatric who in forty years from now might be sitting dribbling and trembling in an old people’s home somewhere in the Swedish woods? Not to mention the corpse that at some point will be laid out on a bench in a morgue? Still known as Karl Ove. And isn’t it actually unbelievable that one simple name encompasses all of this? The foetus in the belly, the infant on the changing table, the forty-year old in front of the computer, the old man in the chair, the corpse on the bench?”
Karl Ove Knausgaard, Boyhood Island – My Struggle: Book 3

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