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”
When I teach I realise I am drawing on ideas that I have gathered and processed over many years, but little of which exists outside my head. If I compare a mental list of the main concepts and ideas that have preoccupied my thinking for the last few years, I find it bears little correlation with what I have written over that period.
Continue reading “Why I write (this blog)”
All this week I have been writing about organising inputs to the creative process, but at the end of the week I’m feeling overwhelmed from too many inputs. I need to switch off and reflect, but before I do here are the themes that are swirling round my head. I capture them so that they might be useful for another time.
Continue reading “Too many inputs”
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”
In my previous post I was talking about the experience of distance, and how, when understood as an experience, distance is no longer a fixed entity.
That post was triggered by some lines from Proust in which the narrator is talking about how his perception of local distances alters when he switches from rail transport to motorcar. Some further thoughts on this topic.
I recall how the distances between various destinations, and therefore the shape of the city itself, appeared to change when the London Overground, an orbital railway in the inner suburbs, opened. All of a sudden areas of the city that seemed far away felt much closer: South-East London, previously impossibly far, was now a nearby neighbourhood to where I lived in the North-East.
Such a step-change in the experience of city living demonstrates the transformative power of civil engineering infrastructure. Linking, drawing together, connecting – this is what engineers have been doing for centuries.
Continue reading “Transformative infrastructure goes both ways”
A morning walk up the steep hill to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Gard granted me panoramic views of the city of Marseille and the sea. I love the peaceful hum that can be extracted from high up of a limbering up for a day of activity.
I underlined these words yesterday in ‘In Search of Lost Time’. The narrator is talking about how his perception of distance was changed when, instead of travelling by rail, he starts to go by car.
Continue reading “The experience of distance”
‘We express the difficulty we have in getting to a place in a system of leagues and kilometres, which becomes false the moment that difficulty decreases. The art of distance, too, is modified, since a village that had seemed to be in a different world from some other village, becomes its neighbour in a landscape whose dimensions have altered.’ Proust, M. (1921). In Search of Lost Time, Vol 4. Sodom and Gomorrah. (C. Prendergast, Ed.) (Penguin Cl). Penguin Books.
I just read this great paragraph on the debilitating impact of false modesty on judgement.
Continue reading “The perils of false modesty”