Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Readings: Don't Play that Song

In the section “Swann in Love” from the novel Swann’s Way, Proust depicts the protagonist Swann as he is stricken to the heart by a “little phrase from Vinteuil’s sonata”. Swann hears--as he wanders among the guests at a society gathering, mooning over the absent Odette--a “little phrase that spoke to him of the vanity of his sufferings”:

Its destiny was linked, for the future, with that of the human soul, of which it was one of the special, the most distinctive ornaments. Perhaps it is not-being that is the true state, and all our dream of life is without existence; but, if so, we feel that it must be that these phrases of music, these conceptions which exist in relation to our dream, are nothing either. We shall perish, but we have for our hostages these divine captives who shall follow and share our fate. And death in their company is something less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps even less certain.
xxxxxxxx~ Swann's Way, Marcel Proust; tr. C. K. Scott Moncrieff

I don’t know how he can bear to listen. There are songs I can’t play. Boxes I can’t open. Letters I dare not read, ever again--or dispose of either. Ergo: Don't Play that Song