Moncrieff: 259-269; Patterson: 177-184
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel hopes the music will continue so that he can “discern the essence of the identical pleasures which I had just experienced three times within the space of a few minutes, and having done so to extract the lesson which they might be made to yield.” Real impressions vs. false impressions. “I understood clearly that what the sensation of the uneven paving-stones, the stiffness of the napkin, the taste of the madeleine had awakened to me had no connexion with what I frequently tried to recall myself of Venice, Balbec, Combray, with the help of an undifferentiated memory; and I understood that the reason why life may be judged to be trivial although at certain moments it seems to us so beautiful is that we form our judgment…on the evidence not of life itself but of those quiet different images which preserve nothing of life…” The simplest thing or gesture “remains immured as within a thousand sealed vessels…” “…the true paradises are the paradises we have lost.” Marcel feels himself ready to undertake his work of art. “And this cause I began to divine as I compared these diverse happy impressions, diverse yet with this in common, that I experienced them at the same moment and at the same time in the same context of a distant moment, so that the past was made to encroach upon the present and I was made to wonder whether I was in one or the other. The truth surely was that the being within me which had enjoyed them because they had something in common to a day long past and to the present…” “…the being which at the moment I had been was an extra temporal being…and only this being had the power to perform that task which had always defeated the efforts of my memory and my intellect, the power to make me rediscover days that were long past, the Time that was Lost.” “The life of the mind” does not mean logical reasoning…”there had been reborn within me a veritable moment of the past, my appetite for life was immense.” Was it more than just a moment of the past? “something that, common both to the past and to the present, is much more essential than either of them?” “The being which had been reborn in me…this being is nourished only by the essences of things, in these alone does it find sustenance and delight.” Intellectual observation of reality is generally disappointing. “But let a noise or a scent, once heard or once smelt, be heard or smelt again in the present and at the same time in the past, real without being actual, ideal without being abstract, and immediately the permanent and habitually concealed essence of things is liberated and our true self, which seemed — had perhaps for long years seemed — to be dead but was not altogether dead, is awakened and reanimated as it receives the celestial nourishment that is brought to it. A minute freed from the order of time has been re-created in us, to feel it, the man freed from the order of time.” Still sitting in the library, Marcel hears the “shrill noise of water running through a pipe,” and is transported to the dining room at the hotel at Balbec, “Fragments of existence withdrawn from Time: these were perhaps what the being three times, four times brought back to life had just now tasted, but the contemplation, though it was of eternity, had been fugitive. And yet I was vaguely aware that the pleasure which this contemplation had, at rare intervals, given me in my life, was the only genuine and fruitful pleasure that I had known.” The unreality of social pleasures, of friendship.
This was an incredibly rich and for me, complicated section to grasp. I hoped that by writing up the synopsis, by trying to get this part down to its essence, I’d have a better feel for it, and would be able to come up with several profound things to say. But I find that I’m going to have to think about this a bit more, and hope that tomorrow’s reading will help me to understand it better – right now I feel somewhat like Marcel, getting glimpses of something, realizing its importance, but finding the meanings still out-of-reach.
Moncrieff: Pages 269-281 “To this contemplation of the essence of things I had decided therefore that in future I must attach myself…” through “…and once more deposits tourists outside forgotten churches.” Kindle locations 3469-76/3610-18
Patterson: Pages 184-197 “I had therefore decided to cling on to this contemplation of the essence of things…” through “…and once again sets the tourists down in front of abandoned churches.” Kindle locations: 3392-99/3622-29