Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Proust, Proust's Double, and Me, Part 2

On August 12, 2008 I wrote:

"I was reading about Proust yesterday, quite by chance, prompted by an article linked to by the 12534, in which a line amused me, “The previous owner loved period houses but was too tall to live in them.” How tragic! Not really. “Previous owner” is rich – “so he set about creating a house that was spacious and comfortable while still evoking an earlier era.” (God the Times is ridiculous.) This reminded me of Prof. Stambolian describing Proust’s exquisite neurasthenia. Proust was allergic to most everything, including flowers, which he loved but could only behold in tormented fashion from behind glass because inhaling their fragrance might trigger a suffocating asthmatic attack and literally be the death of him.

In musing about this I discovered an article that discussed how Proust treasured photographs, something I hadn’t known or had forgotten."

…Proust stored his personal photographs out of sight in the bedroom’s rosewood chest of drawers. The only collection Proust ever permitted himself, this cache of images included photographs of actresses, friends, and family… Each photograph was, for Proust, a keepsake, a souvenir, a fetish. Photographs were also, importantly, incitements to writing… Proust’s private photograph collection functioned as “a prodigious reservoir he could draw from to compose his characters.” Yet Proust was careful not to look too long or too closely… he explains, “my memory, fatigued by drugs, is so faulty that photographs are very precious to me. I keep them as reinforcements and do not look at them too often so as not to exhaust their powers.
[Diana Fuss, The Sense of an Interior, p. 199]

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