Proust, constructivism and listening to clients

This week I underlined this sentence from Proust’s Finding Time Again. 

“Even at the moments when we are the most disinterested onlookers of nature, of society, of love, or art itself, since every impression comes in two parts, half of it contained within the object, and the other half, which we alone will understand, extending into us, we are quick to disregard this latter half, which ought to be the sole object of our attention, and take notice only of the first, which being external and therefore impossible to study in any depth, will not impose any strain on us: we find it too demanding a task to try to perceive the little furrow that the sight of a hawthorn or a church has made on us.”

Proust, M. (1927). Le Temps Retrouvé (Finding Time Again) (C. Prendergast (ed.); Ian Patterson tranlation). Penguin Classics.

This sentence comes in the middle of Proust’s revelation about what his work as a writer should be: to translate his inner world to the outside. He finds much greater richness in understanding the impression that the world makes on individuals than understanding the surface, objective qualities of what is being observed.

Things I take away:

Continue reading “Proust, constructivism and listening to clients”

Reading Proust – volume 5 update

It wasn’t what I was expecting but volume 5 of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time ends on a cliff-hanger. It is incredible how such separate threads from five previous volumes are starting to brought together: a narrative arc that I could never see converging has in fact been much closer to convergence than I expected.

I’ve been reading In Search of Lost Time – Proust’s epic explorationg of memory, art, adolescence and decisre – on and off since 2007. It is one of those books that lots of people have heard of, some know two things about it (the long sentances and the flood of memories provoked by dipping a madeliene cake in his tea) but I’ve hardly found anyone who has actually read it. So in 2007 I decided to give it a go (in English!).

Continue reading “Reading Proust – volume 5 update”

Book notes – The Hidden Life of Trees

Black and white image of a tree canopy in winter, looking a bit like a series of river tributaries joining together.

It feels right as I take on my new role at Hazel Hill Wood to read the Hidden Life of Trees. This is an evolving post based on notes I take as I read through the book.

From the foreward: ‘The author’s deep understanding of the lives of trees, reached through decasdes of careful observation and study, reveals a world so astonishing that if you read his book, I believe that forests will become magical places for you too.’

Continue reading “Book notes – The Hidden Life of Trees”

Reading fast and slow

I’m a slow reader. The problem is I can’t seem to retain things unless I write them down or sketch them out. It means that I read very few books each year, but it also means those ones I do read I know really well. This is great when you want to be able to recall a concept while standing in front of a workshop, but it is not so good for reading new content. The pile of books I now want to read is now far greater than I’ll ever get through. The smartest stuff I’ve read about productivity tells me that doing things quicker is a fool’s game. So maybe I need a different aproach.

Continue reading “Reading fast and slow”