Translated from the French by the author and Sixteen Rivers poet Lynne Knight, I Know (Je sais) is a collection of 469 observations on life and the universe by a scientist whose eye for detail is keen and whose sense of humor is refreshing. The book is profound without being ponderous, instructive without being pedantic, and engaging even at its most serious. Although I Know (Je sais) was inspired by Joe Brainard’s I remember and Georges Perec’s Je me souviens, it remains unique. Thanks to Ito Naga’s unusually perceptive and fluid mind, the range of the book is enormous, from light rays and irony to the animal world to human love and disappointment.
Here is a sampling of the 469 observations:
1. I know that it’s tempting to see signs in coincidences.
10. I know that we always think of the Beyond as deep space. Why not as a rabbit hole?
13. I know that even astronomers forget that the Earth keeps rotating when they go home.
299. I know that everyone once came out of a woman’s body and that this just seems unbelievable.
300. I know that my body did experience being born, even though the sensation is buried forever.
302. I know that if we could go backward in time, birth would be as terrifying as death.
388. I know that on waking up last night, for a few seconds I was unable to remember where I was: a feeling of freedom that faded away, the way a gilt-head sea bream loses it colors when taken out of water.
389. I know that in the world of dreams, it’s reality that seems strange. That’s why, at night, we break into a cold sweat when we think about the day.