Wednesday, January 02, 2008


From the third and last chapter of "Time Regained" ... looked apt to me as something to think of when a new year starts, with thoughts and fears about what future might have in store for us:

"How many times in the course of my life reality had disappointed me because at the moment when I perceived it, my imagination, which was my only means of enjoying beauty, could not be applied to it by virtue of the inevitable law which only allows us to imagine that which is absent. And now suddenly the effect of this hard law had become neutralised, held in suspense by a marvellous expedient of nature which had caused a sensation to flash to me—sound of a spoon and of a hammer, uneven paving-stones—simultaneously in the past which permitted my imagination to grasp it and in the present in which the shock to my senses caused by the noise had effected a contact between the dreams of the imagination and that of which they are habitually deprived, namely, the idea of existence—and thanks to that stratagem had permitted that being within me to secure, to isolate and to render static for the duration of a lightning flash that which it can never wholly grasp, a fraction of Time in its pure essence. When, with such a shudder of happiness, I heard the sound common, at once, to the spoon touching the plate, to the hammer striking the wheel, to the unevenness of the paving-stones in the courtyard of the Guermantes’ mansion and the Baptistry of St. Mark’s, it was because that being within me can only be nourished on the essence of things and finds in them alone its subsistence and its delight. It languishes in the observation by the senses of the present sterilised by the intelligence awaiting a future constructed by the will out of fragments of the past and the present from which it removes still more reality, keeping that only which serves the narrow human aim of utilitarian purposes. But let a sound, a scent already heard and breathed in the past be heard and breathed anew, simultaneously in the present and in the past, real without being actual, ideal without being abstract, then instantly the permanent and characteristic essence hidden in things is freed and our true being which has for long seemed dead but was not so in other ways awakes and revives, thanks to this celestial nourishment. An instant liberated from the order of time has recreated in us man liberated from the same order, so that he should be conscious of it. And indeed we understand his faith in his happiness even if the mere taste of a madeleine does not logically seem to justify it; we understand that the name of death is meaningless to him for, placed beyond Time, how can he fear the future?"


KUBLA KHAN said...

AT around the time you posted this, i posted a comment re the combined blog re proust.....carl jung called this synchronicity!
anyway, glad the idea sounds okayish.....and
to repeat once more....your blog is really one that has always inspired me alongwith Antonia', keep at it!

Alok said...

yes synchronicity. or probably it is just that we surround ourselves with people (online and in real life) who have similar thoughts about things.

antonia said...

hi alok, this is a wonderful passage