This era will be remembered as our Vichy period, that shadowy era in France where the Nazi collaborators sought to blend in with the general population, but were continuously called out, and interrogated, whereupon they fabricated elaborate denials and intricate webs of deceit. The GOP must be held accountable, but history suggests there will be incentives to forget. In time everything is forgotten. In such ways does history repeat itself. The first time as farce, the second as tragedy. To remember is to resist. And to risk ones life. Even the simple act of noticing can make one a prophet. Prophets, as we know, have short lives. Collaborators shape shift, deny, deflect, reinvent themselves. The Vichy period in France is an empty hole of memory, a void. Patrick Modiano remembers. It is his one true literary obsession. For this heroic act of remembering in an age of forgetting he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature in 2014. He has not stopped remembering. But his novels are filled with gaps, fade outs, ellipses, false starts, unreliable narrators— even the love stories are detective stories, where lovers struggle to create reference points as the world disappears, where a street name and a reference to a local café are desperate attempts to claw back into existence a world well lost. Those who naively believe that the whole truth about this brutal lawless criminal white régime will one day be revealed are advised to read Modiano and try their best to ignore him. In an age of forgetting remembering is heroic.
Gary Percesepe is an editor at New World Writing.