Thursday, 24 January 2008

In search of Marcel Proust

I do not know what the primary purpose of literature is, but if it conveys the vaguest, most untouchable atoms of our thoughts, the shifting clouds of our sensations, of which we are continually forming and unforming with; if it is to give the world, the distant reader a flavour of an existence that is neither concrete or discernible but based on figments of imagination, imagination that relies on figures whose very essence is vapour, then we must stop and question our role as readers. For we as readers, as a disparate audience, we desirous of words and form from images, try to give these words a shape or shapes based on our reading of them, experiences and ideas perhaps as varied as the writer's.

But the great writer is able to distill, after a process of existing and understanding those key elements that are somehow common to all existence, in whatever shape or form life acquires. Nebulous, cloudy and vague yes, these are the very essence of our thoughts, the thin ephemeral edifice on which we base our critical and uncritical thoughts. There cannot be just one writer who singlehandedly brushes on a canvas or weaves a magical opium world for us, but somewhere between living and unliving, dream and waking, hope and sorrow, joy and pain, love and loneliness, there is an area where expression brims, where words swim, to which the lucky reader has access to. And if this gate, this door, this night, this day has a name, and if these are even vaguely touched, then we are in the vicinity of greatness and great writing.

Thus Marcel Proust. My access to Proust is not in his language but through an approximation, a rendering. However, that does not prevent one from knowing what can be potentially known, of a life lived and not lived, of thoughts thought, images seen, words read, nights named, heartbreaks numbered, pages flicked, pages flicking, past me, from our own lives, pages that others have read and will read on. And if these words let us somehow sublimate the flavour of our days, the essence of our unknown dreams, our dim memories, the pain of release and if all these and much more is discernible and describable, then we think of Proust, his language and the world he gives us, not interrupted but continuing.
Proust is a celebrated writer, known even to those who haven't read him. Proust's world is a mystery, for it is the essence of inner living, a world which possesses me most. In search of lost time is a celebration of writing for if writing is a dark art, a mysterious art, an unteachable one and one that saves, that affirms, then this work is a symbol of that writing, a kind of book that appears once in a generation of readers and writers.

The impulse to start this blog was one that emanated from nowhere and when I suggested it to Antonia ( Flowerville) and Alok ( Dispatches from Zembla), their enthusiasm was heartening. Their own beautiful and well written blogs also follow some laws, of somber melancholy and pale fire. Our aim is not a commentary on any specifics on Proust's great works but a rendering, a refrain on what it means to those who see the sun and shade between lines, which is the essence of literature. We will try to write on primary and mostly secondary writings on Proust in different forms and highlight important literature itself.

The name of this blog, The laws of night and honey was agreed on instantly for it is an emblem, a motif of all that is Proust. By being here, I hope that it helps us understand the great writer in more different ways and enhances our own understanding of our innermost lives.


Marta said...

Something beautiful is born here. I will keep my best wondering nights to visit you here

Kubla Khan said...

You are so welcome Marta....please do!
and this too is a wondering as you put it, of a feverish, feverish type.......