Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013.08.28 Proustian Spirituality

Recently some good old women friends and I were wondering as we do about those funny little lifts of soul we don’t quite know how to name or explain. Happification? Perhaps just being alone without noise is enough to help focus attention and actually see or hear what the world has to offer our senses. 

This is an excellent practice for writers. Just observe and drink in, then write. OR the reverse. Either way it makes for a good piece of writing, prose or poetry.  You just never know what the details will reveal, and I don't think it's the devil, who has mistakenly reported to be in the details.

One of my seminary professors back in the 80s said there were only three simple rules of prayer: STOP. LOOK. LISTEN. Same rules for a writer.

Marcel Proust had such a famously arresting moment, a  moment when details suddenly exploded to reveal, let's just say, a world beyond the world. The concentration of memoir writing can be a little like that.  Proust wrote about it in Remembrance of Things Past (1871) All it took was a pause.

Marcel tasted some cake with tea, which released a flood of memory and more, the kind of experience I call Godde: 

"I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory — this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?"

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