Saturday, August 8, 2009

Conceptions of Things

Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves and not anything else, by the immobility of our conception of them.

(Marcel Proust, Swann's Way, In Search of Lost Time; trans. Moncrieff, Kilmartin, and Enright)

I started reading Proust's magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, today. I might finish it within a year, although I doubt it. This statement about the moment of awaking from dreaming just a few pages in has been, I think, something that permeates the folds of his narrative so far--our fixed conceptions of things versus the things themselves, which, in fact, are never accessible, and the turbulence churned by the assailing of our fixed conceptions when challenged by an incongruent conception equally fixed. The unfixed moment between waking and dreaming, between our conceptions of things as themselves and someone else's conceptions of things as something else, creates convolutions of space and time that keep turning back on themselves unable to reestablish any fixed conceptual point. Yet it is an old problem, one of the signum and the res.

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