Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

Different Thoughts

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It occurs to me that I have very little idea of how to approach a book for a second time.  Today I felt that I was getting closer to that point where, having inhaled all the classics, I will have to exhale and breathe in again.  (There will still be plenty of new books for me to read, but I feel that I have made a firm step in the direction of having read all that which I think is important for me to have read.  It feels – though no doubt it isn’t – that I’m halfway (or perhaps a bit more) there.)

Thinking of Proust yesterday – Proust the book, that is – I think, given the choice between it and Clarissa, I would take the Proust.  Both have that fastidiousness that probably infuriates a lot of people, but I think I prefer Proust’s fastidiousness to whathisname’s…  Richardson, that’s it.  (Don’t fail me now, brain, don’t fail me now!)  Proust, too, is a bit more expansive.  Plus the love and jealousy which Proust spends a lot of time describing is a bit more interesting to me than the moral dilemmas Richardson delves into.  Or maybe not.  They’re each good in their own way, obviously.

Thinking of Proust today – Proust the man, that is – and how he was a what-you-would-call-a-homosexual…  (Whenever I hear someone, who, by what they’re saying, one assumes is straight, say “homosexual”, there always seems to be something very ‘arch’ or ‘too proper’ about the way they say it, as if they’re treating the word and all it entails with metaphorical gloves on.  The same thing, too, happens, to a lesser extent, in a business setting, where someone may say to someone else, “I’m dealing with a client at the moment”, when the word “client” is overly abstract; someone at McDonald’s saying it, for instance, would be ridiculous.  Anyway…  I don’t know if I had a point there.)

It’s not about Proust, but homosexuality in general, I suppose; specifically love stories involving two men or two women.  I spend, as you might imagine, not a sizable amount of time thinking about such things, but I was thinking today about whether a gay love story is innately more powerful than a straight one.  Why?  Because there is – if it was set in today’s time, or perhaps a decade or two ago (although, assuming society’s progress stays the same for the next fifty years, it would cease to be an issue probably) – a built-in hurdle to be gotten over.  That is, society (and its attitudes) become a factor, and another trial for the characters to overcome.  And so, when the happy ending comes, the audience registers that more was overcome, and feels accordingly more moved.  Or am I being rather naive about all of this?  Who knows.  (Idea for best selling novel: gay love story set against the violent backdrop of World War II.  Not that I’m particularly interested in writing it myself, but anyone else who feels the urge to, be my guest.)

(I’m trying to think of some gay love stories that I’ve seen/read, to see if my theory holds up to the data, but I can’t for the life of me think of any at the moment.  There was Angels in America, but did that have a romantic ending?  Gosh, how my memory fails me sometimes.  There was that monologue in A Chorus Line, too, but that was more about parent’s acceptance, I think…)

(One day, I suppose, I must get around to watching Brokeback Mountain.  Perhaps that will settle things.)

I wonder why I haven’t had these thoughts until now.  It’s not like I haven’t read the first five books of Proust.  (I make note of my lack of thoughts on this subject as perhaps a positive thing in my life, for I have often feared that, given the same input, my brain will output the same thoughts; now it would seem that, given the same thing six times over, I think different things each time.  Does this mean that I’m ultra-creative?  Yeah.  Sure.)  Maybe it’s because I wrote about Proust being gay yesterday, and so it has made the connections more concrete in my mind.

Speaking of Proust – the book again – I’ve no idea how he’s going to end the entirety satisfactorily.  From what has slipped into my brain by accident, I think it’s going to be a case of, “and then I sat down to write this book that you’re reading”, but I’ll need something more than that to be satisfied.  (And perhaps I’ll be wrong about the “write this book” thing, and have heard an incorrect rumour.)

From Proust 6:

(Referring to an article of the narrator’s that he has just discovered has been published in the newspaper.)  “When I wrote them, the sentences of my article were so weak compared to my thought, so complicated and opaque compared to my harmonious and transparent vision, so full of gaps which I had not managed to fill, that reading them caused me to suffer, they had only accentuated my feelings of impotence and an incurable lack of talent.  But now in forcing myself to become a reader, if I delegated to others the painful duty of judging me, I was at least able to wipe the slate clean of what I had intended to do, by reading what I had done.  I read the article, struggling to convince myself that it had been written by someone else.  Then all my images, all my reflections and all my epithets, taken in themselves and with no memory of the failure of my aims that they represented, charmed me with their brilliance, their novelty and their profundity.  And when I sensed too great a failure, I took refuge in the soul of your average admiring reader, and said: ‘Well, how could a reader notice that?  There may be something lacking there, I admit.  But heavens above, they ought to count themselves lucky!  It’s full enough of good things as it is, far more than they usually get.'”

I, on occasion, read an old review of mine, and the double pleasure I get out of it – if I make myself laugh, for instance, having forgotten the joke and thus being able to approach it from the eyes of a general reader – is something very heartwarming.  I doubt the narrator, however, could actually separate himself from the article as quickly as he does in the book.  Still, I like the passage quoted.



Written by epistemysics

August 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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