Old Friends

“Certain people, whose minds are prone to mystery, like to believe
that objects retain something of the eyes which have looked at them,
that old buildings and pictures appear to us not as they originally
were but beneath a perceptible veil woven for them over the centuries
by the love and contemplation of millions of admirers. This fantasy,
if you transpose it into the domain of what is for each one of us the
sole reality, the domain of his own sensibility, becomes the truth.
In that sense and in that sense alone (but it is a far more important
one than the other), a thing which we have looked at in the past
brings back to us, if we see it again, not only the eyes with which we
looked at it but all the images with which at the time those eyes were
filled. For things–and among them a book in a red binding–as soon
as we have perceived them are transformed within us into something
immaterial, something of the same nature as all our preoccupations and sensations of that particular time, with which, indissolubly, they blend. A name read long ago in a book contains within its syllables
the strong wind and brilliant sunshine that prevailed while we were
reading it. And this is why the kind of literature which contents
itself with “describing things,” with giving of them merely a
miserable abstract of lines and surfaces, is in fact, though it calls
itself realist, the furthest removed from reality and has more than
any other the effect of saddening and impoverishing us, since it
abruptly severs all communication of our present self both with the
past, the essence of which is preserved in things, and with the
future, in which things incite us to enjoy the essence of the past a
second time. Yet it is precisely this essence that an art worthy of
the name must seek to express; then at least, if it fails, there is a
lesson to be drawn from its impotence (whereas from the successes of
realism there is nothing to be learnt), the lesson that this essence
is, in part, subjective and incommunicable.”

… Marcel Proust

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  1. former music student
    Posted April 13, 2006 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    “An image presented to us by life brings with it, in a single moment, sensations which are in fact multiple and heterogeneous. The sight, for instance, of the binding of a book once read may weave into the characters of its title the moonlight of a distant summer night. The taste of our breakfast coffee brings with it that vague hope of fine weather which so often long ago, as with the day still intact and full before us, we were drinking it out of a bowl of white porcelain, creamy and fluted and itself looking almost like vitrified milk, suddenly smiled upon us in the pale uncertainty of the dawn.”

    Marcel Proust

  2. Allison
    Posted April 20, 2006 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Lest you think readers of this blog have drifted off elsewhere, we haven’t. Some of us are busy reading (or rereading) Proust… 🙂

  3. Anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2006 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Otherwise, some people were just observing Passover.

  4. Claire
    Posted April 23, 2006 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    that was just way too much for me to take in! gotta go read it again …keep our minds spinning jeremy! huggles

  5. bubs
    Posted April 24, 2006 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    omg omg omg still need to read Proust. Maya keeps hogging it. Huggles.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted June 20, 2006 at 12:17 pm | Permalink


    Do you have any recollection of a concert you gave in Lander, Wyoming in about 1996 with Zvi Plesser on the Community Concerts series? If so, please email ellenlee49@yahoo.com

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