June 25th, 2008

Proust book

Proust continues!

Well! After my research trip to Paris last weekend (which I did _without_ my book), I am back to The Fugitive, where I'm now at page 509. While reading in the last few days, I found a reference to the church in Combray, and I thought, "You couldn't possibly have seen that in it, because it doesn't exist! It's just a tacky, worn down little church in the middle of nowhere with an utter lack of stained glass!" But then I thought that what he described was an amalgamation of many churches, and that it isn't really right for me to try to impose the reality of Proust's childhood on the deliberately misnamed places in his book. It's actually a bit like the David Sedaris frou fraw going on (as I read in the New York Times last week and as scarlettina mentioned in her journal), where somehow there is this expectation that a work that seems autobiographical is actually a representation of reality. It's actually kind of like a template an author can use to tell a story - some outlines, some details may be provided from reality, but the author is busily creating his own world to his own purposes, none of which requires a faithful reproduction of reality - in fact, it would be worse for it.

I hope that I can actually get back to my recreation of these places I had in my head - it would be a lot purer. And I should really think about that Proust short movie I want to do, now featuring shots of my childhood summer home and the associated church. I bet it would be really neat.

For the record

I believe the official Miss Manners' guide to party manners goes, "I invite whom I choose and whose company I enjoy. If those who are invited don't get along with each other, that is their problem and they are free to decline the invitation if they feel they are incapable of restraining their resentment for the course of an evening and for the purpose of showing their friendship with me - it's not my job to choose one or the other."

I need to get a copy of her etiquette book. It seems the questions she answers keep coming up a lot and I need a good reference!

"The flower of the civil rights movement"

God, today's column by Maureen McDowd had the most gorgeous metaphor in it (taken from Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic), which I will now quote: "[Obama] is ... not the seed but the flower of the civil rights movement."

Yes. That is it, perfectly. Please be our next president.

In other, digestively upsetting, news, the Justice Department has upended the right of members of the civil service to be chosen without regard to their political affiliation (this being the true face of "political correctness," not what the conservatives complain about when they say their freedom of speech is being crimped, but rather true Orwellian control at the root).

Meanwhile, this article about the "sworn virgins of Albania" really caught my eye - declaring that you are a man when the man of the family has died, and then being treated like one for the rest of your life ... in such a conservative society? Fascinating!

Review of "The Quiz" now up

Perhaps I'll regret not going to see Candide tonight, but, hey, maybe the weather will be crappy on Sunday and I won't want to go to Brighton and I can catch it then. That said, I don't know when else I was going to see The Quiz if I didn't go tonight ... review now up on my other blog. ("The Quiz" is about "The Grand Inquisitor" from The Brothers Karamazov.)

Sadly, I think I was motivated to some extent to see this show because I wanted to pump up the stats for my site - if I don't go to a show for two weeks, what the heck am I supposed to write about? But J and I had dinner at Trafalgar Square beforehand and walked from the theater to the Houses of Parliament afterwards, so we still managed to enjoy the nice day despite hiding out in a theater for an hour. I was actually motivated to walk toward Westminster because of the book The Amulet of Samarkand that I've been reading ... the protagonist keeps looking at them out his bedroom window and dreaming of a day when he'd have enough power to be there. I was just at a good bit when I put the book down last night, perhaps I can get in ten minutes before I fall over dead asleep ...