Friday, June 30, 2006

Notes Perdu

I hate nights like tonight. I have to sleep (NOW) and I have too many thoughts to write them all down, or even remember them all. So I have to scrawl these notes to myself.

1. The public square as a place where people go to be alone. (McLuhann) The strange way it seems impolite to make social contact in this social setting. We hardly notice how strange that is.

2. How different in Proust! The famous scene with Marcel and the girls on the beach is social in a way that seems impossible, and obsolete. Proust is the greatest novelist in the sense of being an obsessive collector of these perfectly preserved moments crystalized in amber.

3. And he is describing a society that is nearly ossified, in which time does not pass. When Marcel sees his first plane overhead and breaks down weeping, it is because he recognizes the introduction of speed, which will make his world obsolete. This is as catastrophic a flight as that which destroyed the World Trade Center. It similarly destroys a world.

4. Temp perdu, then, is not lost time only in the sense of a lost era- it mourns as well a lost way of time, a lost form of time. The way that Proust's characters experience time shapes their existence, and that way is destroyed by the 1920s, in the onslaught of relativity and existenz. The mind creates new ways to protect itself. This is why compulsive behaviors, like Proust's, are so modern.

5. Without modern speed, there would be no autistics.

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