May 16, 2010

posted by Heather McShane

I started reading Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust before I went to bed the other night. Here’s some of the text from the Overture to “Swann’s Way,” which is the first volume of the book:

“Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves and not anything else, by the immobility of our conception of them. For it always happened when I awoke like this, and my mind struggled in an unsuccessful attempt to discover where I was, everything around me revolved around me through the darkness: things, places, years. My body, still too heavy with sleep to move, would endeavor to construe from the pattern of its tiredness the position of its various limbs, in order to deduce therefrom the direction of the wall, the location of the furniture, to piece together and give a name to the house on which it lay. Its memory, the composite memory of its ribs, its knees, its shoulder-blades, offered a whole series of rooms in which it had one time or another slept, while the unseen walls, shifting and adapting themselves to the shape of each successive room that it remembered, whirled round it in the dark. And even before my brain, lingering in cogitation over when things had happened and what they had looked like, had reassembled the circumstances sufficiently to identify the room, it, my body, would recall from each room in succession the style of the bed, the position of the doors, the angle at which the daylight came in at the windows, whether there was a passage outside, what I had had in my mind when I went to sleep and found there when I awoke.”

Isn’t that lovely? I thought of the above passage when I woke the next morning, when this was my overture:



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