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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Madeleines, untainted by Flonase

Allergy is taking a toll on my sense of smell. I can only feel the awful odor of the nasal spray Flonase. My palette is tainted too, with an unpleasant taste of the medicine. Today it is particularly worse. Bored, frustrated and bound to my bed, I flipped through the worn out copy of Swann’s way, with quite a few yellow sticky notes and book marks. Like they say about music, some of these passages has a salutary effect. I feel better already ! Some consider Marcel Proust the greatest author who have ever lived. His writing is very simple and direct. It is magical. Here, taste for yourself:-

(From swann's way:)
My mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ’petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory–this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs. Whence did it come? What did it signify? How could I seize upon and define it?


I drink a second mouthful, in which I find nothing more than in the first, a third, which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop; the potion is losing its magic. It is plain that the object of my quest, the truth, lies not in the cup but in myself. The tea has called up in me, but does not itself understand, and can only repeat indefinitely with a gradual loss of strength, the same testimony; which I, too, cannot interpret, though I hope at least to be able to call upon the tea for it again and to find it there presently, intact and at my disposal, for my final enlightenment. I put down my cup and examine my own mind. It is for it to discover the truth. But how? What an abyss of uncertainty whenever the mind feels that some part of it has strayed beyond its own borders; when it, the seeker, is at once the dark region through which it must go seeking, where all its equipment will avail it nothing. Seek? More than that: create. It is face to face with something which does not so far exist, to which it alone can give reality and substance, which it alone can bring into the light of day.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Soni said...

I have not read Proust before yet! But I can already see the beauty of descriptions leap out of his writing. Bedazzled is a minor word to describe my feelings now!

I know you have told me umpteen number of times about his writing..this is sheer bliss!

As to your prolific writing, my mate, I cannot help but sit up and watch. Wish I had your interest and motivation to write..God gives talents but only a few utilize it. I dont belong to that exalted tribe - is it my bane?!

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