Friday, January 25, 2008

Proust on reading

To read is "to receive a communication with another way of thinking, all the while remaining alone, that is, while continuing to enjoy the intellectual power that one has in solitude and that conversation dissipates immediately."
-Marcel Proust



bioephemera said...

I just read this quote too - don't remember where. But I disagreed somewhat. Although I suppose I do have more intellectual focus when alone, I find that far from dissipating my thoughts, dialogue is usually necessary to provoke synthesis and creativity - at least initially. Solitude is necessary for the maturation and execution of art, but it's in the presence of other minds that I feel inspired.

Earwig said...

Somewhere a Myers-Briggs test is screaming in a dusty folder.
"E! I! E! I!" it shouts from the prison of a long shut drawer.

Hungry Hyaena said...


Yes, in terms of synthesis, I think you are exactly right, but if I have not already familiarized myself with an idea (or set of ideas) through reading, I will retain very little introduced to me in dialogue (or even a lecture). When working through ideas - especially abstract ones - the mode of dialogue that I find most rewarding is letter writing.

Then again, if you're working through feelings, a good, long conversation can't be beat.


Whadyaknow? That refrain is also the standard back-and-forth between my brain and libido.

q and not u said...

I think you misquoted Proust, at least according to my translation. To wit:

To read is "to reenact David Tyree's reception with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII, and to then, still in character, pretend that you are ice-fishing as a celebratory taunt"