“I’d need only close my eyes, even today. It wouldn’t take any effort—on the contrary, the slightest distraction of a memory brimful of trifles, of petty joys, would be enough to summon that ghost. Distraction from the shimmering opacity of life’s offerings. Only a moment would suffice, at any moment. Distraction from oneself, from the existence that inhabits and possesses us, stubbornly, obtusely: the obscure desire to go on living, to persevere in this obstinacy for whatever reason, or unreason. It would take only a single instant of distraction from oneself, from others, from the world, an instant of non desire, of quietude this side of life, an instant when the truth of that long-ago, primal event would rise to the surface, and the strange smell would drift over the hillside of the Ettersberg, that foreign homeland to which I always return.
It would take only a moment, any moment, unguarded, at random, out of the blue, at point-blank-range. Or just the opposite: a carefully considered decision.
The strange smell would immediately invade the reality of memory. I would be reborn there; I would die if returned to life there. I would embrace and inhale the muddy, heady odour of that estuary of death.”
Jorge Semprún, Literature or Life. (trans. Linda Coverdale)