28 ene. 2011

Proust

I have a new epigraph for my blog:
Pour quelle autre vie réservait-il de dire enfin sérieusement ce qu'il pensait des choses, de formuler des jugements qu'il pût ne pas mettre entre guillemets, et de ne plus se livrer avec une politesse pointilleuse à des occupations dont il professait en même temps qu'elles sont ridicules.

The narrator, Marcel, is reflecting on Swann, who speaks in a snobby, dismissive tone about the high-society activities to which he devotes all of his time. The narrator finds this attitude contradictory. For what other life is Swann reserving his seriousness? All his judgments come in invisible quotation marks, since there is no authenticity in his life.

This epigraph in now way contradicts my other epigraph, the statement of Kenneth Koch that the very existence of poetry should make us laugh. This is a deep laughter, not a frivolous one.

It's all very good to have an appropriately modest sense of our mission as professors of humanities, or poets. We should never reserve our seriousness for another life, though.

3 comentarios:

Sarang dijo...

One is vaguely reminded of that Auden line (in Lectures on Shakespeare) --

I find Shakespeare particularly appealing in his attitude towards his work. There’s something a little irritating in the determination of the very greatest artists, like Dante, Joyce, Milton, to create masterpieces and to think themselves important. To be able to devote one’s life to art without forgetting that art is frivolous is a tremendous achievement of personal character. Shakespeare never takes himself too seriously.

Tom King dijo...

At what point does frivolous laughter become deep laughter? Does it have to do with duende?

Jonathan dijo...

God no.