Posts Tagged ‘Swann’s Way’

Late Night Moments with Proust

July 17, 2014
Proust Collage and French Editions

Proust Collage and French Editions

I dined with Legrandin on the terrace of his house, by moonlight.  “There is a charming quality, is there not,” he said to me, “in this silence; for hearts that are wounded, as mine is, a novelist whom you will read in time to come asserts that there is no remedy but silence and shadow.  And see you this, my boy, there comes in all our lives a time, towards which you still have far to go, when the weary eyes can endure but one kind of light, the light which a fine evening like this prepares for us in the stillroom of darkness, when the ears can listen to no music save what the moonlight breathes through the flute of silence.”

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

The hour is drawing late.  I have read and written since about 4:30 this afternoon.  I taught summer school from 7:30 till 12:45.  But there is no school on Fridays, and that is very good, since sleep is nowhere near at this point for me, and I am deeply stirred by these beautiful words, even in translation.  I am perpetually amazed that a French author can resonate so deeply with me, knowing that I am reading an English translation, and wondering at the same time what it must be like to read him directly in his own language.  What amazing feeling and insight!  As I read these words, I had the soulful harp music playing from Hilary Stagg’s CD “The Edge of Forever.”  The ethereal quality of this music is no doubt enhancing the kind of reading I’m doing tonight.  I am committed to reading Proust because he wrote from a perspective that we experience primal re-visitations of warm memories from our past, often triggered by some sensation of taste, hearing, touch, smell or vision.  I have always held firmly to that conviction, and love reading his work.

I have posted a small collage I did of Proust some years back, and added some photos of his early publications that were sent me last year when I placed in a Proust competition sponsored by one of our WordPress bloggers.  

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog ro remind myself that I am not alone.


A Day More Proustian than Warholish

March 9, 2013
Acrylic on Canvas in Martin High School Library

Acrylic on Canvas in Martin High School Library

My Spring Break should have started yesterday at the end of school, but I believe it actually began tonight at 7:03.  That was when Something Happened (I love that title from the Joseph Heller novel, and loved the novel–it should be read by every man over 40).  Now I feel a real Break, a real potential for cleansing, for enlightenment, and am glad to have enough “juice” in me to stay up awhile tonight and try to record some meaningful thoughts.

Among the plethora of books I’m trying to read at the same time (such a bad habit), there is included the Andy Warhol Diaries.  Geez, the man can be so vacuous!  It’s been reported that he suffered dyslexia, and therefore didn’t write.  The Diaries  are actually transcribed from daily phone calls he made to Pat Hackett.

So, with feeble humor, I begin this blog in Andy Warhol Diaries fashion, and promise to do it only once:

Woke up at 8:25 this morning without the alarm.  Showered, dressed, drove to Kroger and bought basic groceries ($45.30, 4 miles).  Cooked breakfast in the kitchen.  Spent three-and-a-half hours cleaning a study that I had abandoned over a year ago (second bedroom in the house) and gathering information to file my taxes.  Watched on TV the St. Louis Blues beat the San Jose Sharks in overtime 4-3 and was glad.  Got a voice mail at 7:03.  Filled up my gas tank ($58.92) and returned some belongings to a friend ( 83 miles).  Drove home through a hellacious rainstorm.

Great stuff huh?  Imagine someone buying a book with 807 pages of that.  I just did, and I’m reading it.  To be fair, I am gleaning the occasional Pop Art history from his daily musings, but wow, I have to plow through so much vacuous verbiage to mine those facts.

And now, the actual day:

Following breakfast I settled into my comfortable living room reading chair and continued my reading of Proust (Swann’s Way).  I could not get past this story:

[Legrandin] came up to us with outstretched hand: “Do you know, master booklover,” he asked me, “this line of Paul Desjardins?

            Now are the woods all black, but still the sky is blue.

Isn’t that a fine rendering of a moment like this?  Perhaps you have never read Paul Desjardins.  Read him, my boy, read him; in these days he is converted, they tell me, into a preaching friar, but he used to have the most charming watercolour touch—

Now are the woods all black, but still the sky is blue.

May you always see a blue sky overhead, my young friend; and then, even when the time comes, as it has come for me now, when the woods are all black, when night is fast falling, you will be able to console yourself, as I do, by looking up at the sky.”  He took a cigarette from his pocket and stood for a long time with his eyes fixed on the horizons.  “Good-bye, friends!” he suddenly exclaimed, and left us.

I could not stop laughing.  To put it in context, the author thought he had been snubbed the day before outside church by Legrandin.  Now, while walking, he runs into the man again, and out comes all this verbiage over one line of a poem that is supposed to be profound, and then just as quickly, the man walks away.  No conversation.  No exchange.  Just a quick moment to pontificate, and then move on.  I laugh as I recall the many, many times this has happened in my past and present.  Not just that kind of treatment from someone putting on superior airs, but that kind of insipid advice to look to blue skies when the woods turn dark.

But the line that actually made me record this was: “in these days he is converted, they tell me, into a preaching friar, but he used to have the most charming watercolour touch.”  Ahhhh.  I spent most of the day digesting that.  I guess I’m going to adjust my goals to include some line about trying to learn to write (and blog?) with a “watercolor touch.”

Not long after Proust “tagged” me, I suddenly, while texting a dear friend, was pointed to a new direction in watercolor that had been in the back of my mind for a few days.  And after these texts settled, I suddenly “saw” what I want to do next.  But alas, it is 10:53 now, I am still in the mood to read and write in my journal, and it’s raining cats and dogs outside and the Man Cave is smelling kind of moldy.  I also don’t enjoy the garage lights too much after dark, preferring instead to let the natural light flood in through the garage door windows (or even open the door completely, weather permitting).

So instead, I post this 3 x 4′ acrylic canvas I painted as part of a series of “book covers” for the Martin High School library (where I teach full time).  And tonight, I choose to sit up late and read some more of the Nick Adams series from Ernest Hemingway, most particularly the two-part “Big Two-Hearted River.”  That has been one of my favorite short stories since high school, and though I will not be able to journey to Colorado this Spring Break to fly fish for trout, I know I will again some day.  Meanwhile I enjoy it vicariously by reading Nick’s story.

My plan is to begin this new series of watercolors tomorrow, and begin posting them as they emerge.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the Hemingway canvas.

Thanks for reading.