Saturday, February 16, 2008

Noted: Marcel Proust

From The Guermantes Way:
Each of our actions, our words, our attitudes is cut off from the "world," from the people who have not directly perceived it, by a medium the permeability of which is infinitely variable and remains unknown to ourselves; having learned from experience that some important utterance which we eagerly hoped would be disseminated [...] has at once, often because of our very anxiety, been hidden under a bushel, how immeasurably less do we suppose that some tiny word which we ourselves have forgotten, which may not even have been uttered by us but formed along its way by the imperfect refraction of a different word, could be transported, without ever being halted in its progress, infinite distances [...] and succeed in diverting at our expense the banquet of the gods! What we remember of our conduct remains unknown to our nearest neighbor; what we have forgotten that we ever said, or indeed what we never did say, flies to provoke hilarity in another planet, and the image that other people form of our actions and demeanor no more resembles our own than an inaccurate tracing, on which for the black line we find an empty space and for a blank area an inexplicable contour, resembles the original drawing. It may happen however that what has not been transcribed is a non-existent feature which only our purblind self-esteem reveals to us, and what seems to us to have been added does indeed belong to us, but so quintessentially that it escapes us. So that this strange print which seems to us to have so little resemblance to us bears sometimes the same stamp of truth, unflattering, certainly, but profound and useful, as an X-ray photograph. Not that that is any reason why we should recognize ourselves in it. (pp. 368-369)

1 comment:

LK said...

Oh, I long to start this one! LOVE it!