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:

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

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

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

March 2015

A Sage in Harlem

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Man Stopped

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Spy Who Fired Me

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Giving Up the Ghost

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Invisible and Insidious

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
No Slant to the Sun·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“She didn’t speak the language, beyond “¿cuánto?” and “demasiado,” but that didn’t stop her. She wanted things. She wanted life, new experiences, a change in the routine.”
Photograph © Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos
[Browsings]
Burn After Reading·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

William Powell published The Anarchist Cookbook in 1971. He spent the next four decades fighting to take it out of print.
“The book has hovered like an awkward question on the rim of my consciousness for years.”
© JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis
Article
The Fourth Branch·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Both the United States and the Soviet Union saw student politics as a proxy battleground for their rivalry.”
Photograph © Gerald R. Brimacombe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Article
The Spy Who Fired Me·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In industry after industry, this data collection is part of an expensive, high-tech effort to squeeze every last drop of productivity from corporate workforces.”
Illustration by John Ritter
Article
Invisible and Insidious·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly.”
Photograph © 2011 Massimo Mastrorillo and Donald Weber/VII

Hours per day that a death-row inmate in China wears hand and ankle restraints:

24

A multidisciplinary team detected cardiac arrhythmia in the works of Beethoven.

There was a run on cases of 5.56mm M855 green-tip rifle bullets, after the White House moved to ban their manufacture and sale because they can pierce police armor.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Driving Mr. Albert

By

He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.

Subscribe Today