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Des
Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 01:55 am:   

I think Proust's In Search Of Lost Time is unique in literature in the way it deals with the person as a series of discrete selves (as they change places within the person over time *and* as they sometimes exist in any one individual concurrently) -- where these selves can be seen to watch each other and judge each other from a distance (evaluating, condemning, praising...) and even empathise with each other (but not fully empathising or then they wouldn't be discrete!). Selves as Elves.

Des
http://www.nemonymous.com
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 04:35 pm:   

Des, does Proust only imply the idea of discrete selves, or does he write about it directly - and, if so, do you happen to know in which book?

Kirsten
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Des
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 11:38 pm:   

Kirsten, It is implied throughout, with various direct references - a definite example of the latter I recall being in the volume I'm currently re-reading (the volume containing The Captive and The Fugitive) ... and when I've managed to find it again , I'll be back here to quote it. Des
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Des
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 12:08 am:   

Ah, found it! - towards the beginning of The Fugitive, a passage ending:
"There were some of these 'selves' which I had not encountered for a long time past. For instance (I had not remembered that it was the day on which the barber called) the 'self' that I was when I was having my hair cut. I had forgotten this 'self', and his arrival made me burst into tears, as, at a funeral, does the appearance of an old retired servant who has not forgotten the deceased."

Apparently, I'm now told, the Portuguese writer Pessoa treats 'selves' in a similar way. I think he calls them heteronyms!
Des
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 03:14 am:   

That's correct. Pessoa had over 80 heteronyms.
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Des
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 05:07 am:   

Heteronymous? This Pessoa discovery is a real revelation to me. Has anyone else come across his heteronyms? I understand from the internet that "he wrote under numerous "heteronyms," literary alter egos with fully fleshed identities and writing styles, who supported and criticized each other's work in the margins of his drafts and in the literary journals of the time."

Back to Proust, another writer who I feel has the Proust ambience (but in a different style of prose) is Patrick Hamilton. One of my all time favourite novels is HANGOVER SQUARE: but don't read it if you're a man dogged by romantic obsessions and already feel down in the dumps!
;-)
A genuinely moving and life-changing masterpiece, however.
Des
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 07:44 pm:   

Thanks, Des!
I was thinking about these different selves (a heteronym sounds like it should be in a bestiary) affect memory; the way they tinker with it. For the book I'm writing at present I've been going through my childhood memories, and have realised to what a large extent they are reconstructions. Both the physical components of the memories and the emotions attached to them have, I'm positive, been overwritten many times by successive Kirstens - sometimes quite deliberately, more often accidentally, as though the selves play Chinese whispers.
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paulw
Posted on Tuesday, June 24, 2003 - 05:23 am:   

One of the reasons that reading Proust was so liberating for me as a writer was his treatment of selves -- hey, this guy's doing what all the writing programs insist you can't do: namely, give wildly disparate characterizations to the same character, and what's more, insist that any kind of logical persistence of character or, better, identity, over time is an illusion, or anyway only part of what's actually going on.
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des
Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2003 - 05:52 am:   

Here is a remarkable quote recently highlighted for me at the beginning of 'Nothing But The Truth' a novel by Samuel Lock:


"I had arrived then at the conclusion that in fashioning a work of art we are by no means free, that we do not choose how we shall make it but that it is pre-existent to us and therefore we are obliged, since it is both necessary and hidden, to do what we should have to do if it were a law of nature, that is to say discover it."
Marcel Proust
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 01:56 pm:   

It's Marcel Proust's birthday tomorrow (10 July). I think I shall celebrate it by dunking a Petit Madeleine in tea whilst listening to Cesar Franck's Violin Sonata. What will everyone else be doing?
Des
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des
Posted on Saturday, October 18, 2003 - 01:00 pm:   

Only Proust can describe boiling milk thus:

"The man who has become completely deaf cannot even heat a pan of milk by his bedside without having to keep an eye open to watch, on the tilted lid, for the white hyperborean reflexion, like that of a coming snowstorm, which is the premonitory sign it is wise to obey by cutting off (as the Lord stilled the waves) the electric current; for already the fitfully swelling egg of the boiling milk is reaching its climax in a series of sidelong undulations, puffs out and fills a few drooping sails that had been puckered by the cream, sending a nacreous spinnaker bellying out in the hurricane, until the cutting off of the current, if the electric storm is exorcised in time, will make them all twirl round on themselves and scatter like magnolia petals."
From `The Guermantes Way' by Marcel Proust
***************

I can now say I'm closely heading towards the end of my second reading of Proust (after thirty odd years when I first read it in the early seventies) -- and this second reading has taken me nearly three years. It has been wonderful. I shall start again from the beginning, as it is hugely addictive.
Des
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, October 18, 2003 - 01:12 pm:   

I think I shall have to read Proust sometime. Perhaps when I am a little older and less impatient. How much of an advantage, I wonder, will it be that I already enjoy madeleines dipped in tea?
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 08, 2003 - 09:08 am:   

I finished Proust today for the second time. This time, it has taken me nearly three years. (The first time was in the early seventies when it only took me a few months).
It becomes harder and more fulfilling...
Des

Cocteau on seeing Proust's corpse, with the MS of A la Recherche piled on the mantlepiece: 'That pile of paper on his left was still alive,like watches ticking on the wrists of dead soldiers.'
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 04:08 am:   

Proust's longest sentence! Something I've been wanting to discover for ages - has just been established for me.


Cities of the Plain
(Sodom et Gomorrhe)
[Vol. 4 of Remembrance of Things Past--
(À la Recherche du temps perdu)]

"Their honour precarious, their liberty provisional, lasting only until the discovery of their crime; their position unstable, like that of the poet who one day was feasted at every table, applauded in every theatre in London, and on the next was driven from every lodging, unable to find a pillow upon which to lay his head, turning the mill like Samson and saying like him: "The two sexes shall die, each in a place apart!"; excluded even, save on the days of general disaster when the majority rally round the victim as the Jews rallied round Dreyfus, from the sympathy--at times from the society--of their fellows, in whom they inspire only disgust at seeing themselves as they are, portrayed in a mirror which, ceasing to flatter them, accentuates every blemish that they have refused to observe in themselves, and makes them understand that what they have been calling their love (a thing to which, playing upon the word, they have by association annexed all that poetry, painting, music, chivalry, asceticism have contrived to add to love) springs not from an ideal of beauty which they have chosen but from an incurable malady; like the Jews again (save some who will associate only with others of their race and have always on their lips ritual words and consecrated pleasantries), shunning one another, seeking out those who are most directly their opposite, who do not desire their company, pardoning their rebuffs, moved to ecstasy by their condescension; but also brought into the company of their own kind by the ostracism that strikes them, the opprobrium under which they have fallen, having finally been invested, by a persecution similar to that of Israel, with the physical and moral characteristics of a race, sometimes beautiful, often hideous, finding (in spite of all the mockery with which he who, more closely blended with, better assimilated to the opposing race, is relatively, in appearance, the least inverted, heaps upon him who has remained more so) a relief in frequenting the society of their kind, and even some corroboration of their own life, so much so that, while steadfastly denying that they are a race (the name of which is the vilest of insults), those who succeed in concealing the fact that they belong to it they readily unmask, with a view less to injuring them, though they have no scruple about that, than to excusing themselves; and, going in search (as a doctor seeks cases of appendicitis) of cases of inversion in history, taking pleasure in recalling that Socrates was one of themselves, as the Israelites claim that Jesus was one of them, without reflecting that there were no abnormals when homosexuality was the norm, no anti-Christians before Christ, that the disgrace alone makes the crime because it has allowed to survive only those who remained obdurate to every warning, to every example, to every punishment, by virtue of an innate disposition so peculiar that it is more repugnant to other men (even though it may be accompanied by exalted moral qualities) than certain other vices which exclude those qualities, such as theft, cruelty, breach of faith, vices better understood and so more readily excused by the generality of men; forming a freemasonry far more extensive, more powerful and less suspected than that of the Lodges, for it rests upon an identity of tastes, needs, habits, dangers, apprenticeship, knowledge, traffic, glossary, and one in which the members themselves, who intend not to know one another, recognise one another immediately by natural or conventional, involuntary or deliberate signs which indicate one of his congeners to the beggar in the street, in the great nobleman whose carriage door he is shutting, to the father in the suitor for his daughter's hand, to him who has sought healing, absolution, defence, in the doctor, the priest, the barrister to whom he has had recourse; all of them obliged to protect their own secret but having their part in a secret shared with the others, which the rest of humanity does not suspect and which means that to them the most wildly improbable tales of adventure seem true, for in this romantic, anachronistic life the ambassador is a bosom friend of the felon, the prince, with a certain independence of action with which his aristocratic breeding has furnished him, and which the trembling little cit would lack, on leaving the duchess's party goes off to confer in private with the hooligan; a reprobate part of the human whole, but an important part, suspected where it does not exist, flaunting itself, insolent and unpunished, where its existence is never guessed; numbering its adherents everywhere, among the people, in the army, in the church, in the prison, on the throne; living, in short, at least to a great extent, in a playful and perilous intimacy with the men of the other race, provoking them, playing with them by speaking of its vice as of something alien to it; a game that is rendered easy by the blindness or duplicity of the others, a game that may be kept up for years until the day of the scandal, on which these lion-tamers are devoured; until then, obliged to make a secret of their lives, to turn away their eyes from the things on which they would naturally fasten them, to fasten them upon those from which they would naturally turn away, to change the gender of many of the words in their vocabulary, a social constraint, slight in comparison with the inward constraint which their vice, or what is improperly so called, imposes upon them with regard not so much now to others as to themselves, and in such a way that to themselves it does not appear a vice."
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 08:21 am:   

!
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des
Posted on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 09:13 am:   

That post's almost as creatively spare as 4'33", Nicholas! ;-)

For purists, here is that Proust sentence in the original:

Sans honneur que précaire, sans liberté que provisoire, jusqu'à la découverte du crime; sans situation qu'instable, comme pour le poète la veille fêté dans tous les salons, applaudi dans tous les théâtres de Londres, chassé le lendemain de tous les garnis sans pouvoir trouver un oreiller où reposer sa tête, tournant la meule comme Samson et disant comme lui: "Les deux sexes mourront chacun de son côté"; exclus même, hors les jours de grande infortune où le plus grand nombre se rallie autour de la victime, comme les juifs autour de Dreyfus, de la sympathie - parfois de la société - de leurs semblables, auxquels ils donnent le dégoût de voir ce qu'ils sont, dépeint dans un miroir, qui ne les flattant plus, accuse toutes les tares qu'ils n'avaient pas voulu remarquer chez eux-mêmes et qui leur fait comprendre que ce qu'ils appelaient leur amour (et à quoi, en jouant sur le mot, ils avaient, par sens social, annexé tout ce que la poésie, la peinture, la musique, la chevalerie, l'ascétisme, ont pu ajouter à l'amour) découle non d'un idéal de beauté qu'ils ont élu, mais d'une maladie inguérissable; comme les juifs encore (sauf quelques-uns qui ne veulent fréquenter que ceux de leur race, ont toujours à la bouche les mots rituels et les plaisanteries consacrées) se fuyant les uns les autres, recherchant ceux qui leur sont le plus opposés, qui ne veulent pas d'eux, pardonnant leurs rebuffades, s'enivrant de leurs complaisances; mais aussi rassemblés à leurs pareils par l'ostracisme qui les frappe, l'opprobre où ils sont tombés, ayant fini par prendre, par une persécution semblable à celle d'Israël, les caractères physiques et moraux d'une race, parfois beaux, souvent affreux, trouvant (malgré toutes les moqueries dont celui qui, plus mêlé, mieux assimilé à la race adverse, est relativement, en apparence, le moins inverti, accable celui qui l'est demeuré davantage), une détente dans la fréquentation de leurs semblables, et même un appui dans leur existence, si bien que, tout en niant qu'ils soient une race (dont le nom est la plus grande injure), ceux qui parviennent à cacher qu'ils en sont, ils les démasquent volontiers, moins pour leur nuire, ce qu'ils ne détestent pas, que pour s'excuser, et allant chercher comme un médecin l'appendicite l'inversion jusque dans l'histoire, ayant plaisir à rappeler que Socrate était l'un d'eux, comme les Israélites disent de Jésus, sans songer qu'il n'y avait pas d'anormaux quand l'homosexualité était la norme, pas d'anti-chrétiens avant le Christ, que l'opprobre seul fait le crime, parce qu'il n'a laissé subsister que ceux qui étaient réfractaires à toute prédication, à tout exemple, à tout châtiment, en vertu d'une disposition innée tellement spéciale qu'elle répugne plus aux autres hommes (encore qu'elle puisse s'accompagner de hautes qualités morales) que de certains vices qui y contredisent comme le vol, la cruauté, la mauvaise foi, mieux compris, donc plus excusés du commun des hommes; formant une franc-maçonnerie bien plus étendue, plus efficace et moins soupçonnée que celle des loges, car elle repose sur une identité de goûts, de besoins, d'habitudes, de dangers, d'apprentissage, de savoir, de trafic, de glossaire, et dans laquelle les membres mêmes, qui souhaitent de ne pas se connaître, aussitôt se reconnaissent à des signes naturels ou de convention, involontaires ou voulus, qui signalent un de ses semblables au mendiant dans le grand seigneur à qui il ferme la portière de sa voiture, au père dans le fiancé de sa fille, à celui qui avait voulu se guérir, se confesser, qui avait à se défendre, dans le médecin, dans le prêtre, dans l'avocat qu'il est allé trouver; tous obligés à protéger leur secret, mais ayant leur part d'un secret des autres que le reste de l'humanité ne soupçonne pas et qui fait qu'à eux les romans d'aventure les plus invraisemblables semblent vrais, car dans cette vie romanesque, anachronique, l'ambassadeur est ami du forçat: le prince, avec une certaine liberté d'allures que donne l'éducation aristocratique et qu'un petit bourgeois tremblant n'aurait pas en sortant de chez la duchesse, s'en va conférer avec l'apache; partie réprouvée de la collectivité humaine, mais partie importante, soupçonnée là où elle n'est pas, étalée, insolente, impunie là où elle n'est pas devinée; comptant des adhérents partout, dans le peuple, dans l'armée, dans le temple, au bagne, sur le trône; vivant enfin, du moins un grand nombre, dans l'intimité caressante et dangereuse avec les hommes de l'autre race, les provoquant, jouant avec eux à parler de son vice comme s'il n'était pas sien, jeu qui est rendu facile par l'aveuglement ou la fausseté des autres, jeu qui peut se prolonger des années jusqu'au jour du scandale où ces dompteurs sont dévorés; jusque-là obligés de cacher leur vie, de détourner leurs regards d'où ils voudraient se fixer, de les fixer sur ce dont ils voudraient se détourner, de changer le genre de bien des adjectifs dans leur vocabulaire, contrainte sociale, légère auprès de la contrainte intérieure que leur vice, ou ce qu'on nomme improprement ainsi, leur impose non plus à l'égard des autres mais d'eux-mêmes, et de façon qu'à eux-mêmes il ne leur paraisse pas un vice.

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des
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 11:14 am:   

Crucial!

"Perception of present reality is a disappointment, and only the imagination can provide lasting enjoyment, in its quest for what is absent."
From Proust And The Sense of Time by Julia Kristeva (1993)
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des
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 03:26 am:   

Unspoken irony below. Do you agree?

"It was Proust's thesis that writing could recover time lost in reality, and yet the unspoken irony is that in reality you also lose
time just in order to write." (Anonymous)

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Trent
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 09:23 am:   

Hey, des,

Sorry I took so long to come around for the discussion.

I remember the tea episode most vividly, where a sip conjures a memory, but more gradually erodes the memory... which I thought so true.

You quote in the interstitial section was certainly one of the better passages. I particularly liked the thoughts regarding memory:

"I need only, to make them reappear, pronounce the names Balbec, Venice, Florence, within whose syllables had gradually accumulated the longing inspired in me by the places for which they stood...." [He goes on to mention how contradictory weather alongside these names conjures their places.] "at the same time more different from anything that the towns of Normandy or Tuscany could in reality be, and, by increasing the arbitrary delights of my imagination, aggravated the disenchantment that was in store for me when I set out upon my travels. They magnified the idea that I had formed of certain places on the surface of the globe, making them more special and in consequence more real." This amounts to the common wisdom that we remember things better than they were, yet he speaks of it as if it were a good thing while most think this an unfortunate effect. That's cool.

But what again made the passage interstitial to you? the imagination of filling in these places with places of your own devising?

I know it's blasphemy for me to suggest this, but don't you suppose more would and could appreciate Proust abridged, using just the tastiest morsels?

So, from the above anonymous quote you mentioned, do you mean that Proust used such an irony implicitly? I wouldn't think so myself since I felt implied was the attempt to get down every [remembered] detail of life as even the text you quoted states: "magnificently overloaded... which I did not know the one to choose, so impossible was it to sacrifice any," which sums up Proust's purposes quite well.

Take care.

Trent
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des
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 09:37 am:   

Hi, Trent.
Starting with that anonymous quote above:
"It was Proust's thesis that writing could recover time lost in reality, and yet the unspoken irony is that in reality you also lose
time just in order to write." (Anonymous)

I think the unspoken irony is a mistaken inference by 'Anonymous'. For me, the act of writing creatively or artistically or imaginatively forms its own time zone -- an add-on to the normal time-flow with which you'd be otherwise bestowed.

Mad?

But then, having dwelt on it - there is a grain of truth there, even if I say so myself. We create new worlds with our various arts (maybe
pretentiously?) but they *are* new worlds, places and visions that would not otherwise have existed and they contain a time of their own...

Extrapolating -- by immersing ourselves in art (as recipient or creator) allows us to spend extra time in these worlds. A time that
overlaps with *real* time, but these 'times' being simultaneous doesn't prevent them from also being aggregating. Hmmm, des rambling...

As to the Proust quote I put on one of the Interstitial boards, I think you are right when you speak of "the imagination of filling in these places with places of your own devising".

But I don't yet fully understand what 'Interstitial' is menat to mean. Proust (together with my own concept of Nemonymity - without being pretentious, hopefully) seems to be the essence of Interstitiality. Otherwise, Interstitiality is just a blatant label to further artists' careers without furthering their art.

BTW, it would be anathema to me to abridge Proust !!! (Hodgson's Night Land, maybe, but not Proust).

Des


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des
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 10:34 am:   

Having thought the above unthinkable thoughts, I put some of these ideas of mine on the Proust discussion forum and evoked these two responses already:


"No! not rambling! The idea of art creating worlds which are then entered and lived in is provocative. In a satiric aspect, it reminds me of Nabokov."

"That is quite interesting... We could see reading, and art in general, as pure and perfect forms of alienation. while we are in those "created" worlds (and times), we are "gaining time"; but when we return from there, we realize that "real time" kept on passing, and we are struck by changes and urgencies. It reminds me of a character from a novel of Brazilian Erico Veríssimo (the novel
is called "Caminhos Cruzados", "Crossing Paths") and one of its characters is a poor and unemplyed man that spends his time reading romantic novels (Victor Hugo's) while his wife and small child starve to death. Quite paradoxal?..."

BTW, do you dare me to post the following on an Interstitial thread? ;-)

"But I don't yet fully understand what 'Interstitial' is meant to mean. Proust's concept of 'selves' (and Pessoa's heteronyms?) (together with my own concept of Nemonymity - without being pretentious, hopefully) seems to be the essence of Interstitiality. Otherwise, Interstitiality is just a blatant label to further artists' careers without furthering their art.

Des
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Trent
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 12:12 pm:   

Des,

Well, I believe any group should be aware of legitimate criticism. It should help hone what they are attempting to do. Your criticism is valid and not cruel. I would think that those wishing to further the cause of their movement would want to look into what you have to say and patch up possible holes in the lifeboat.

Sometimes I wish movements or periods could interact within the same timeframe. We tend to act superior to prior timeframes, which I'm not sure we would have had we lived in those times or had carried on meaningful discussions (such as your comments above do without simply trying to piss people off).

I've been watching old Buster Keaton films and am really much more interested in what's going on around the films, so to speak. For instance, "Our Hospitality" has Keaton involved in the old Hatfields vs. the McCoys routine (a period in the early 1800s of Kentucky, I believe, where families feuded on the scale of small wars). The film pokes fun at the early 1800s' simple locomotives (a small dog can fast-walk at the same speed.... They lift the rail to the side to get around a donkey) and "traffic jams" that include a bicycle and a couple of horse-drawn carts (the policeman tells his buddy that that intersection is getting dangerous).

It would be hard for us to make fun of the early 1800s since it is so distant to make connections, but we can make fun of, say, the early 1900s when the film was made. After all, we could tease Keaton about his "fast-paced" society... just as some future generation will mock our naïveté about whatever we took so seriously.

That's why challenging thoughts are important and so, too, are your thoughts on Interstitiality. Adam Roberts just made some keen observations on New Weird that it may want to address if they want to survive and/or evolve:

http://s1ngularity.blogspot.com/2004_01_04_s1ngularity_archive.html#107373527591 762816

You and Roberts are doing these movements and their patriots a huge favor by challenging what they stand for. Challenges will weed out the weak-willed yet allow the cream to rise. Otherwise, people will look back on these movements and remark on their naïveté.

(I don't buy everything Roberts says, however, and will comment shortly... hopefully.)

***

I will say that the act of creation is far more difficult and meaningful than the act of destruction, so I tend to ignore vitriol--at least try to. I admire what these guys are doing to inject vitality into the genre. I suspect that, if we keep an open mind, people will look back at this period with envy for its high creativity... that is, if these movements are able to defend themselves against the valid criticisms and ignore the minor complaints.

The period of the 1950s in American poetry marked a divergence in purpose that has branched into a tremendously rich diversity it is today. This may be what SF is about to embark upon. If so, if we can remain open to possibilities, it may become more creative than other areas of fiction. We may attract the most innovative writers writing.

I know an editor working on bringing back a Campbellian sense of SF without the sometimes unmerited burden that subsequent generations have placed upon it. There are valid criticisms of that era, but much of it is hollow, which brings me back to the Keaton movie: I wish Campbell were here to defend himself against the valid criticisms and to scoff or ignore the petty and/or invalid ones. Anyway, this editor has already got a few major names to sign on. I'm excited for him.

I say all this with some vested interest. In my own anthologies, one actually asks writers to come up with their own movements, so to speak, which is exactly what writers should be doing to invigorate the genre (I should close it to unsolicited subs. If you have any ideas, des, feel welcome to submit them). Another is one that Geoff Ryman came up with--one I think will blow-out SF with a tremendous vitality, getting people to reconsider what the genre is. At the moment, Geoff's super busy with a Canadian anthology, writing, and other business prospects. I need to find out what we must do to interest a major publisher, so that we can move on to interest other writers.

Back to Proust: I wish I had known we were reading Proust at the same time. I might have gotten more pleasure from the reading--at least we could have discussed the passages that something interesting going on (I subscribe to the common literary wisdom of excising irrelevant kitchen-sink bits ala Hemingway or Forster or whichever modern novelist).
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des
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 02:18 pm:   

Thanks, Trent. I think there is more going on here than I am knowledgeable enough to encompass, and your take on Buster Keaton is very interesting. Have you read 'The Book of Illusions' by Paul Auster about a silent film star (and indeed the story 'The Vanishing Life & Films of Emmanuel Escobada'in Nemonymous~2) which may be relevant. I think we're talking about labels-to-sell or labels-to-identify. I believe in the latter, if at all, and then only as late-labelling. But a whole prior aeon of literary tradition is not going to change over night and indeed it shouldn't. But things need to be questioned and thrown into new lights.
But not only literary. And why is it only writers' names, for example, on the top of every other page of a story as well as embedded up front as part of the 'form' itself, in contradistinction to many other art forms that merely depend on various levels of late-labelling?

Back to Proust, my favourite passages (about the yellow patch on the wall) are shown here (my *two* posts dated March 2nd 2003):
http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/8/140.html?1059750519


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des
Posted on Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 01:44 am:   

An interesting article on Proust here;
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2004/01/hitchens.htm
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Anne S
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 07:45 pm:   

Des,

Over the past two months I have embarked on re-reading Remembrance of Things Past which, like you, I have not read for over thirty years.

I am reading the editions I first bought in 1968 translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.

Despite the fact that I find Marcel extraordinarily whimpy, and feel impatient with the extended soul searching, I think I will probably read on to the end.

I am on Volume 2 of Within A Budding Grove at the moment.

As I only read it on the train to and from work, it will certainly keep me going for some time.

I love long books for this reason.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:29 am:   

Hi, Anne, that's the edition I read in the early seventies. There have been other translations since - and the one I read recently was 'Scott Moncrieff & Kilmartin revised by DJ Enright'. Apparently, there's been an even better one since.

Marcel: wimpish? Maybe, but the retroactive gem-like thoughts (that *happen* (and wouldn't happen without it) to emanate from the personal description of his wimpishness) as crytallised in a prose of tentacular texture certainly, for me, enhances The Ominous Imagination which we users of the Night Shade Boards all share in one way or another, I guess.
des
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des
Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 12:52 pm:   

Sorry, 'enhances' should be 'enhance'.
des
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Anne S
Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 11:51 pm:   

Hi Des,

I am aware of other translations of Remembrance of Things Past, in fact I do have Volume 1 of another translation, but I still hear good things about the original Moncrieff translation so decided to re-read that edition.

When I first read the books, I was, needless to say, considerably younger, probably took myself way too seriously and thus found Marcel's sensitivity quite understandable. This old cynical self is not so tolerant. How Proustian!

I will acknowledge that the writing at times is quite wonderful and that encourages me to persist. Proust certainly is concerned with the finer details of each character. His observations are acute and exact and his understanding of human nature is quite profound.

"Ominous Imagination" ? Maybe. Marcel is highly susceptible to imaginative wonderings and projections, we all are to some extent, some more than others.

Anne
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Anne S
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 02:07 pm:   

Finished "Remembrance of Things Past" on the train this morning. Considering that I have exclusively read it all on public transport it really did not take me that long to read after all.

I'm now very glad I did re-read it. I found it all very worthwhile and quite engrossing.

What shall I read now? I've been living with Proust for so many months now, it will be difficult to find a replacement. I wish I owned Powell's "Dance to the Music of Time". That would be perfect.
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des
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 11:20 pm:   

Congratulations, Anne. I find each reading of the big Proust novel is a rite of passage. and yours was certainly this in more ways than one!

I recommend Elizabeth Bowen as your next rite of passage (if you've not read her before). She will retain the texture and feel of Proust for you in her many novels and stories. My favourite writer of all time. Start with The House In Paris and radiate out into her manifold works. An endless joy. (She says somewhere she was a great fan of Proust).
(I'm doing EB for Stephen Jones' new Best Horror 100 book).
des
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 01:22 am:   

Anne: if you like Proustian language and techniques, why not try Italo Svevo's Confessions of Zeno? Svevo was hugely influenced by Proust.

Or Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet... that's quite Proustian too.

This is assuming you haven't read them yet.
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AnneS
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 02:03 am:   

I have not read Svevo and I don't think I have read any Elizabeth Bowen though I may have. I re-read Durrell a couple of years ago.

I shall go seeking Svevo and Bowen. Any excuse to go and lurk in second hand bookstores.

It was most curious and quite uncanny reading Proust - art imitating or more accurately portraying life.

I went to the funeral of an old friend this past Wednesday, and at the wake afterwards I couldn't help but be reminded of Proust. It was similar to the Princess de Guermantes party in Time Regained.There were loads of people I used to party with 20 or so years ago, all gone grey and in some cases quite unrecognisable.

I did not, however, have any great revelations on Lost Time.

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