Monday, September 28, 2009

The Places of Past Memories

I just completed Swann's Way, the first part of Marcel Proust's magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time. It is an absolutely beautiful book. It captures the always escaping evanescence of our memories, but fully sensually. It is the luxurious perfume that triggers something within us and sets out minds into places in our past, places that can never be the same again because we have changed. Lost places are the other dimension of lost time that slip on by, wafting and then dissipating in the air. The last line of the book captures the temporality of place beautifully:

The places we have known do not belong only to the world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. They were only a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; the memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.

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

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