…she concluded with the wisdom invariably shewn by people who, not being in love themselves, feel that a clever man ought to be unhappy only about such persons as are worth his while; which is rather like being astonished that anyone should condescend to die of cholera at the bidding of so insignificant a creature as the common bacillus.
And this malady, which was Swann’s love, had so far multiplied, was so closely interwoven with all his habits, with all his actions, with his thoughts, his health, his sleep, his life, even with what he hoped for after his death, was so entirely one with him that it would have been impossible to wrest it away without almost entirely destroying him; as surgeons say, his case was past operation.
Et cette maladie qu’était l’amour de Swann avait tellement multiplié, il était si étroitement mêlé à toutes les habitudes de Swann, à tous ses actes, à sa pensée, à sa santé, à son sommeil, à sa vie, même à ce qu’il désirait pour après sa mort, il ne faisait tellement plus qu’un avec lui, qu’on n’aurait pas pu l’arracher de lui sans le détruire lui-même à peu près tout entier: comme on dit en chirurgie, son amour n’était plus opérable.
[We try to discover in things, endeared to us on that account, the spiritual glamour which we ourselves have cast upon them; we are disillusioned, and learn that they are in themselves barren and devoid of the charm which they owed, in our minds, to the association of certain ideas; sometimes we mobilise all our spiritual forces in a glittering array so as to influence and subjugate other human beings who, as we very well know, are situated outside ourselves, where we can never reach them. On cherche à retrouver dans les choses, devenues par là précieuses, le reflet que notre âme a projeté sur elles; on est déçu en constatant qu’elles semblent dépourvues dans la nature, du charme qu’elles devaient, dans notre pensée, au voisinage de certaines idées; parfois on convertit toutes les forces de cette âme en habileté, en splendeur pour agir sur des êtres dont nous sentons bien qu’ils sont situés en dehors de nous et que nous ne les atteindrons jamais.]
M. Proust – Swann’s Way
I put that in brackets as I had to contain these thoughts in something. Every chapter on Proust’s novel is what he found inside, in his head, in his very own associations. You can see how deep he descended as he mourned that people really differ from how we imagine them. He only dreamed of ‘mentally eating’ everyone, taking everything in, dismantling all the phisical outlines. He was a romantic genius yearning for the power to play with the world as if it was clay. Or his imagined clay, even more flexible.
You might even say that he had an obssesion of doing what only the time itself was able to do; that is to effortlessly reshape all things on earth, from tiniest grains of sand to the highest, never unfrozen mountains.
read on —->
My grandmother, as I learned afterwards, had at first chosen Mussel’s poems, a volume of Rousseau, and Indiana; for while she considered light reading as unwholesome as sweets and cakes, she did not reflect that the strong breath of genius must have upon the very soul of a child an influence at once more dangerous and less quickening than those of fresh air and country breezes upon his body.
We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we have already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds those ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognise and to which we listen.