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By Alberto Jori

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Erasing the traces of one’s own . . further and further lost . . ” (40). This only possible journey is based on an always shifting point-of-origin. It is a movement “toward,” rather than “from,” a movement that leads to the imaginative merging point of Beirut and the narrator’s Moroccan childhood village, the present and the past, self and other, the Jew and the Arab. Inside and Outside the Orient or Between Arab and Jew We [Jews] wanted to love Algeria. But it was too early or too late. —He´le`ne Cixous, “My Algeriance” Benillouche’s struggle with his conflicted position, “forever marked by the Orient” but “forced to reject it,” results, as I have argued, in his (failed) attempt to escape the Orient.

Outside of himself” (51, 221). The loss of the self in the very finding of an other is not so much a movement directed by the resemblance between self and other as it is a sudden experience of “losing one’s ground”: a stream of images that empties the self of its illusion of coherence, leaving it wandering restlessly. Thus, Nessim’s leap into memory advances through a growing sense of losing him- 33 H I S T O R Y , M E M O R Y , I D E N T I T Y self and finding himself as other: “Nessim or maybe Yehuda Ben Youssef, is he the first or the other?

This work of memory brings Nessim simultaneously closer to and further away from his own past, as it leads him to follow instead a path presented to him by the gaze of other: “Suddenly Nessim abolishes all traces of his past, this boiling mass of memories, of images and sensations attacks him from all sides. . Nessim looks at the child, who looks back at him. The child looks at him intensely, erasing his own traces . . further and further lost . . ” (40) This process of intersubjective recognition as the “only possible journey” replaces the idea of memory as a movement of the self, turning reflectively “back” on itself.

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