No Comment, Quotation — August 14, 2007, 12:00 am

Proust on the Intellect and the Past

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Every day I place less value in intellect. Every day I see more clearly that if the writer is to repossess himself of some part of his old impressions, which is to say, to reach something personal… then he must put it aside. What intellect restores to us under the name of the past, is not that. In reality, as soon as each hour of one’s life has died, it embodies itself in some material object, as do the souls of the dead in certain folk-stories, and hides there. There it remains captive, captive forever, unless we should happen upon the object, recognize what lies within, call it by its name, and so set it free. Most likely we may never happen upon the object (or the sensation, since we apprehend every object as sensation) that it hides in; and thus there are hours of our life that will never be revived: for this object is so tiny, so lost in the world, and there is so little likelihood that we shall come across it.

Marcel Proust, Contre Sainte-Beuve, projet de préface (ca. 1905), in the Pléiade ed., p. 211 (S.H. transl.)

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