“It comforted me to think that even if you sometimes have memory gaps, all the details of your life are written somewhere in invisible ink.”
“I did not want to quantify my life. I let it flow by, like mad money that slips through your fingers. I wasn’t careful. When I thought about the future, I told myself that none of what I had lived through would ever be lost. None of it. I was too young to know that after a certain point, you start tripping over gaps in your memory”.
Invisible Ink by Patrick Modiano is an enigmatic, dream-like, melancholic, beautifully written novel which contemplates the existentialism of memory, its gaps and its missings that make up one’s existence, growing old and how our perception changes over the years, the connections that we make throughout our lives and how we recall people, places and times written in invisible ink on the pages of our own history.
The title of the book, Invisible Ink is a metaphor for our memories. Our memory is like the page with invisible writing that reveals over time important details about our lives that were previously unnoticed.
On a surface, Invisible Ink tells a story of a private detective, Jean Eyben who thirty years earlier was briefly involved in the search of a missing woman, Noelle Lefebvre who vanished from Paris. That case continues to haunt him decades later. Despite the passage of time, the pieces of Noelle’s life story keep overlapping with the detective’s life throughout the years that follow. As he gets older, Jean learns to notice things he did not as a younger self and slowly comes to the realisation how much of that cold case involves his own life.
Invisible Ink evokes melancholy, nocturnal walks across vintage Paris. This time Rome –“the city of forgetting” does also play the role in Modiano’s novel. Typically for Modiano there is always this unmatched philosophical depth and mystery in his poetic writing. Modiano’s books are like an addiction to me. They always provide me with the feelings of solace and calmness. His writing is reassuring, strangely comforting.
“And do we know any more about ourselves, judging by own lies and omissions, or my involuntary lapses?”
I am afraid that once you have all the answers, your life closes in on you like a trap, with the clank of keys in a prison cell. Wouldn’t it be better to leave empty lots around you, into which you can escape?”– Invisible Ink by Patrick Modiano