Friday, December 01, 2006

I am a laggard!

I am late, I know, running far behind the pack in the high cone of dust kicked up by all y'all's sandalled feet, but here I come, charging across the plains as I begin to flicker through the pages of Swann's Way in earnest. I just finished the Combray section, and was stunned, staggered, stupefied and electrified all at once by the following passage near the end:

When, on a summer evening, the melodious sky growls like a tawny lion, and everybody is complaining of the storm, it is the memory of the Meseglise way that makes me stand alone in ecstasy, inhaling, through the noise of the falling rain, the lingering scent of invisible lilacs.
How incredibly gorgeous and evocative and melancholy and delightful is that? Inhaling the lingering scent of invisible lilacs through the noise of the falling rain? How perfect! I am, as you can tell, enraptured.

And what a delightfully beautiful and sumptuous section the Combray part turned out to be! I was never an overt fan of the beginning, where Marcel seems to spend his whole time wracked with woe and weeping and trembling over not receiving a good night kiss from maman (yes, yes, I know there's much more to it than that, including numerous passages and descriptions and the like that take the breath away), but the following expansion of the village life was wonderful. Literally. I've ranted and raved on my own blog already about all this, so shall refrain from degenerating into the same trumpeting notes of delirious ecstasy, but man oh man, can this guy write!

Actually, there was a part in the book where he talks about how, when walking home, he'd oft see a rock or a cloud or a wreath of flowers and feel a delight, an upsurge of energy and enthusiasm that spurred him on to divine the secret behind the thing, but which he allowed to dissipate with mere promises that he'd work on it properly later on.:

I would stand there motionless, looking, breathing, endeavoring to penetrate with my mind beyond the thing seen or smelt... It was certainly not impressions of this kind that could restore the hope I had lost of succeeding one day in becoming an author and poet, for each of them was associated with some material object devoid of intellectual value and suggesting not abstract truth. But at least they gave me an unreasoning pleasure, the illusion of a sort of fecundity, and thereby distracted me from the tedium, from the sense of my own impotence which I felt whenever I had sought a philosophic theme for some great literary work.
This, in short, cuts to the bone and lays bare my slap dash blogging style. To sit down and truly put my brain to work, to essay serious criticism requires more focus and effort than I am like to give; rather, I ejaculate my enthusiasm in happy burbles, and then turn to the next page, my desire to communicate satiated through a brief and momentary effusion. Proust is a weed whacker, splicing and dicing left and right and shearing our illusions from the reality beneath. Ah!


Blogger Stefanie said...

Your happy burbles that describe Proust as a weed whacker are marvelous! That part you quote about the rain and the lilacs is gorgeous. Have you gotten to the hawthorns yet? Maybe that comes later. But that part made me want to run out and hug hawthorns like our young narrator does.

4:41 PM  

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