A Paean to Proust

Marcel-Proust-Quotes-3

For me, Marcel Proust’s prose often outshined the objects they depicted. In Swann’s Way, a book I picked up shortly after graduating from college, flowers are likened time and again to stars. Chrysanthemums for instance, “kindle their cold fires in the murky atmosphere of winter afternoons.” The transmutation of ordinary landscapes into scenes of celestial wonder—this was one of Proust’s specialties.

It was partly his marvelous command of language and partly something else, a sensitivity that I couldn’t help but admire. This half-Jewish, highly asthmatic Frenchman was attuned to transcendence in a way few people are. He lusted after the beauty he saw in everything, and ultimately found salvation in its embrace. Proust’s descriptions don’t outshine beautiful things so much as they communicate their true worth, at least for us Romantics.

At regular intervals, amid the inimitable ornamentation of their leaves, which can be mistaken for those of no other fruit-tree, the apple-trees opened their broad petals of white satin, or dangled the shy bunches of their blushing buds. It was on the Méséglise way that I first noticed the circular shadow which apple-trees cast upon the sunlit ground, and also those impalpable threads of golden silk which the setting sun weaves slantingly downwards from beneath their leaves, and which I used to see my father slash through with his stick without ever making them deviate.

His sensitivity, his vital, ecstatic appreciation of everything from hawthorns to stained-glass windows, is something I admire, now more than ever, because I can feel it slipping away. When I was in school, when I was more or less paid to cultivate myself, this kind of sensitivity was not hard to come by. Everywhere professors pointed to this or that beauty; a vital, ecstatic engagement with life was inevitable. But when I left, when this ritual of appreciation was lost to me, it was only through Proust that I found it again. In a word, I admire Proust for his ability to, as another Romantic once put it, “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

– D. Schwartz

Swann's Way is the first volume of Proust's seven-part masterwork In Search of Lost Time. The novel recently made a cameo appearance in the film On the Road, an adaptation of the Kerouac novel starring Kristen Stewart.

Swann’s Way is the first volume of Proust’s seven-part masterwork In Search of Lost     Time. The book recently made a cameo appearance in the film On the Road, an adaptation of the Kerouac novel, starring Kristen Stewart.

Platitudes

We love to hate a good cliché. The shameful refrain that freezes the dance of our nimble language. Yet, in moments of weakness, we crumble under the weight of silence. We caulk the void with black holes and vacua. We victimize attentive winds with the lesser scripts of our Hollywood forbears.

It takes a fool to spin a phrase, and it takes a wit to forge one. But only a master of words and games can purge the lifeless banality of its tedium. Awaken the dead. Squeeze life from this shriveled effigy of language. Play a sweet song with muted strings.

A crestfallen man contemplates his tortured life, considers the varying degrees of precipitation. Life’s a motherfuckin’ bitch, he says. A wry smile, a gruff sigh, a work of rustic art.

Lights and tunnels, wings and prayers, beautiful words seeking salvation. We rescue them with a timely flourish and they, in turn, rescue us.

 

– Winch

Happy New Year Jeff!

JEFF prepared a 2012 annual report for his blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 Since stats are boring, JEFF also prepared a New Years themed sketch.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It Takes All Kinds

Written  by

 Daniel  Schwartz

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

INT.  ELEVATOR – NEW YEAR’S EVE

MARK is standing.  He’s in his early forties, business suit,
black hair all in place.

HARVEY is sitting, business casual.  He’s fifteen years
Mark’s senior.

Mark is on his BlackBerry.

MARK
Mark Zamorski speaking.  Yes,
Z-a-m-o-r-s-k-i.  I’m between the
34th and 35th floor at
Seven-one-two Lexington Avenue.
712, that’s correct.  No.  No that is
unacceptable.  To whom am I
speaking? David please connect me
to your supervisor.

Mark is TAPPING his foot.

MARK (CONT.)
Yes, hello?  Mark Zamorski here, who
is this?  Yes I realize it’s New
Year’s Eve.  Yes– I’ll hold.
(to Harvey)
The super is on vacation.  How long
you think?

HARVEY
Who knows?

MARK
(at his BlackBerry)
C’mon, c’mon.

HARVEY
Could be awhile.

MARK
Don’t say that.

HARVEY
You got somewhere you have to be?

MARK
Anywhere but here.  Ooh, my heart is
beating fast.
(clutching his chest)
Oh, that’s fast.

HARVEY
Easy there, easy.  Where are you
from Mark?

MARK
Here.

HARVEY
Well alright, what part?

MARK
I know what you’re doing.  It’s not
going to work.  They’re not putting
me through.  What are we going to
do?

HARVEY
I think we have to just ride this
one out.

MARK
Easy for you to say.
(clutching)
Oh, here we go again.  I think I’m
having a heart attack.

HARVEY
Sit down Mark.

Mark sits, still on hold.

HARVEY
You are not having a heart attack.
Now–

MARK
But we have to do something.  I have
to get out of here!
(clutching)
Oh Jesus.

HARVEY
You know I lost a million dollars
this week?

Mark stops short.

MARK
What?  Are you serious?

HARVEY
It’s not the sort of thing I joke
about.

MARK
Jesus.  What happened?

HARVEY
Someone bet on the wrong horse, so
to speak.

MARK
My God.  What are you going to do?

HARVEY
Cut my losses.  Nothing else to do.

MARK
Can’t anyone be held accountable?
(into phone)
Yes?  Five hours.  Really?  Isn’t
there anything you can do?  I
understand you’re getting another
call, but– hello?

Mark lowers his phone.

HARVEY
You okay there?  Might as well get
comfortable.

Harvey begins untying his shoes.

Mark watches and then nervously undoes one of his own.

MARK
Did you really…

Harvey nods.

MARK (CONT.)
I’m so sorry.

HARVEY
It happens.

MARK
It shouldn’t.

Harvey leans against the wall and closes his eyes.

Mark thinks for a moment.

MARK (CONT.)
(dialing)
Let me just try something.

HARVEY
(eyes closed)
I’m warning you, I don’t know CPR.

MARK
(into phone)
Hello? Yeah hi Rich, how are you?
Well, I’m in an elevator at 712
Lexington.  Yeah, the super is God
knows where and I got maintenance
giving me five hours.  Can you?  That
would be swell.

Mark hangs up.

MARK (CONT.)
Got a friend in the FDNY.  He may be
able to help us.

HARVEY
(straightening)
No shit?

MARK
(rubbing his chest)
Yeah.  Ooh, that was a bad idea.

HARVEY
Mark, stay with me.

MARK
Yeah, yeah I’m here.

Mark’s phone RINGS.

MARK
Hey, what’s the word?  Richie, I owe
you.  No, I do.  Alright, happy New
Year.
(hangs up)
One half hour!

HARVEY
You sneaky son of a bitch!

MARK
What did I tell you?

HARVEY
You didn’t, but I’m impressed.
You’re a resourceful fellow.

Mark undoes another shoe.  He’s still a little shaky.

MARK
Still, half an hour?

Harvey takes off his coat.

FADE OUT.

THE END