Monday, November 09, 2015

A Reading of Proust: Take II

Wallace Fowlie (1908-1998), A Reading of Proust (London: Dennis Dobson, 1967; originally published in 1964).

There's so much to cover here that I'll compress these ideas into three snippets, with brief responses.

"[W]hat is communicated between two individuals is at best fragmentary and usually susceptible of radical misunderstanding." (p. 100). 

This reality is both comic and tragic. Anyone can know -- even from social media alone -- how often glancing is our actual communication, usually coming down to Iggy Pop's cartoon news watcher, reducing most responses to either "Approval" or "Frown." (Social media time is like a roadrunner). One's immediate circle will understood much more, but such deeper understanding will still be incomplete -- while our self-understanding will probably also remain incomplete and subject to change. 

“[W]riting is not a transcription but a reordering of life . . . [O]bjective reality is never fully knowable. All that we can hope to have from it is illusions, and the artist’s work is the record of these illusions.” (p. 109).

This is true regardless of genre, format, or intention. We simply cannot transcribe real (or fictional) lives -- even our own -- or events -- with anything close to full accuracy in the sense of chronicle or diary. If we tried, we'd be spending more time writing about one day than in having lived it in the first place. (See James Joyce, Ulysses, 1918-1920). 

“The artist looks at the world freshly and does not see it in the same way as others, trained by habit and custom, see it. . .”  (p. 109).

This is the best part of artistic impulse, no doubt. Even if there may very well be a lag time (if ever, except for the sporadic and blessed peregrine) before this freshness is understood by anyone else beyond a small coterie, it's worth the effort of trying.

Today's Rune: Signals.   


t said...

Robert De Niro says:
You talking to me?

Charles Gramlich said...

I readily agree with all those nuggets. Absolutely.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The Proustiest I have ever gotten was listening to authors answer the CBC's version of the Proust questionnaire and pondering my own answers.

Erik Donald France said...

Huzzah ~ thanks for the comments ~ t., funny. The novel will be published in traditional or ebook form, in time.

BB, that would be a fun double post on the questionnaire . . .

jodi said...

Erik-Thanks for my first real taste of Proust! Most of it is just common sense-I think!!