No Comment, Quotation — March 28, 2008, 12:00 am

Proust on Art as Transcendence

metsu-sick-child

Par l’art seulement nous pouvons sortir de nous, savoir ce que voit un autre nous pouvons sortis de nous, savoir ce que voit un autre de cet univers qui n’est pas le même que le nôtre, et dont les paysages nous seraient restés aussi inconnus que ceux qu’il peut y avoir dans la lune. Grâce à l’art, au lieu de voir un seul monde, le nôtre, nous le voyons se multiplier, et, autant qu’il y a d’artistes originaux, autant nous avons de mondes à notre disposition, plus différents les uns des autres que ceux qui roulent dans l’infini et, bien des siècles après qu’est éteint le foyer don’t il émanait, qu’il s’appelât Rembrandt ou Ver Meer, nous envoient encore leur rayon spécial.

Ce travail de l’artiste, de chercher à apercevoir sous de la matière, sous de l’expérience, sous des mots quelque chose de différent, c’est exactement le travail inverse de chose de différent, c’est exactement le travail inverse de celui que, à chaque minute, quand nous vivons détourné de nous-même, l’amour-propre, la passion, l’intelligence, et l’habitude aussi accomplissent en nous, quand elles amassent au-dessus de nos impressions vraies, pour nous les cacher entièrement, les nomenclatures, les buts pratiques que nous appelons faussement la vie.

By art alone we are able to step outside of our selves, to know what another sees of this universe which is not the same as our own, the landscapes of which would remain as unknown to us as those of the moon. Through art, instead of seeing one world, our own, we see it multiplied and as many original artists as there are, so many worlds are offered up to us, each differing as widely from the next as those which roll round the infinite and which, be their name Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us their unique rays many centuries after the hearth from which they emanate is extinguished.

The artist’s labor to discover a means of understanding that transcends matter and experience, indeed words, something different from their appearance, is of a nature counterposed to the operation in which pride, passion, intelligence and habit are constantly engaged within us when we spend our lives without self-communion, accumulating as though to hide our true impressions, the terminology for practical ends which we falsely call life.

Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu, vol. vii, Le temps retrouvé, ch. iii (1927) in À la recherche du temps perdu, vol. 3, pp. 895-96 (Pléiade ed. 1954)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

  • WilliamFreimuth

    message to Ego.

    Art is transcendence. Change and transformation are constant.
    Architecture is the poetic use of materials …….for our use and fulfillment.
    When we have mastered our weaknesses for personal gains we will attain unlimited heights.

  • WilliamFreimuth

    “As soon as we start putting our thoughts into words and sentences everything gets distorted, language is just no damn good—I use it because I have to, but I don’t put any trust in it. We never understand each other.”

    Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968)

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2015

Black Hat, White Hat

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Beyond the Broken Window

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Search of a Stolen Fiddle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Displaced in the D.R.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quietest Place in the Universe

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“Don sucked the last of his drink through his straw and licked his lips. 'The coast, to me, is more interesting than the valley.'”
Photograph by the author
Article
Fred Morton, who died this week in Vienna, at the age of 90, was a longtime contributor to Harper's Magazine and a good friend. "Othello's Son," which was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013, appeared in our September 2013 issue.
Photograph © Alex Gotfryd/CORBIS
Article
Beyond the Broken Window·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“By the time Bratton left the department, in 2009, Los Angeles had quietly become the most spied-on city in America.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Displaced in the D.R.·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“How is it possible that my birth certificate is invalid if I was born here?”
Photograph by Pierre Michel Jean
Article
The Quietest Place in the Universe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Gaitskell and his colleagues are approaching the revelation of a new order, a new universe, in which even light will be known differently, and darkness as well.”
Painting by Sebastiaan Bremer

Number of African countries with vaccination rates higher than that of the United States:

16

Iowa urologists reported that only a minor portion of locker-room teasing arises from “the presence of excess foreskin”; most teasing targets small penises.

A farmer in Surrey, England, was ordered by the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to tear down his cannon-equipped castle, which he had built secretly and then concealed behind hay bales.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today