Swann's Way

Swann's Way

As a Student at school I kept hearing that reading and study of the humanities was very important to becoming a good Architect. As an Architect over the last 30 years I have continued to read the old and the new. Culture changes, but not by much. People are people.

So I took up reading Swann's Way by Marcel Proust who lived from 1871-1922 in France.

He is known for his extensive voice on details that he witnessed or dreamed up. I believe it was the age for dreaming. Look at other artists from the period like Wright, Sullivan, Le Corbusier, Van Der Rohe, Gropius,  Gaudi, Aalto, Matisse, Picasso, Klimt, Rodin,  Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Baum , and others. They could see, interpret, and represent in their fields what they saw in their mind. Below are a few excerpts taken in with my context?

  • For my final enlightenment. I put down my cup and examine my own mind. I alone can discover the truth. More than that: create. It is face to face with something which does not exist, which alone cam make actual, which it alone can bring into the light of day. But the indisputable evidence, of its felicity, its reality, and in whose presence other states of consciousness melted and vanished. I want to try to make it re-appear. I trace my thoughts to the moment at which I drank my first spoonful of tea. I shut out every obstacle, every extraneous idea.
  • What was prized above everything else in the world, namely, a natural air and an air of distinction? Or you could just be ignorant of architecture.
  • You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.
  • All my conversations with friends bore upon actors whose art., all together as yet I had no experience of it, was fist od all its numberless forms in which Art it-self allowed me to anticipate its enjoyment. Between one actor’s tricks of intonation and inflection and another’s the most trifling differences would strike me as being of incalculable importance. I would arrange them in order of talent -- hardening in my brain and hampering it by their immovability.
  • I saw an external object, my consciousness that I was seeing it would remain between me and it, surrounded it with a thin spiritual border that prevented me from ever touching its substance directly; for it would somehow evaporate before I could make contact with it ----
  • It’s always proceeded by a zone of evaporation. on the sort of screen dappled with different states and impressions which my consciousness would simultaneously unfold while I was reading, and which ranged from the most deeply hidden aspirations of my being to   the wholly external view of the horizon spread out before my eyes at the bottom of the garden, what was my primary, my innermost impulse, the lever whose incessant movements controlled everything else, was my belief in the philosophic richness and beauty of the book I was reading ----
  • Entrust with the secrete of truth and beauty, things half felt by me, half incomprehensible, the full understanding of which was the vague but permanent object of my thoughts.
  • Mobilize all our spiritual forces in a glittering array – open the gates of an unknown world.
  • Constantly reaching out from my inner self to the outer world, toward the    discovery of truth, came the emotions aroused in me by the action in which I moved.
  • ---persons arouse in us can be awakened except through a mental picture of those joys or misfortunes, and the ingenuity of the first novelist lay in his understanding that, as the image was of the one essential element in the complicated structure of our emotions, so that simplification of it which consists in the suppression, pure and simple ----   is I a great measure perceptible only through our senses.
  • Impenetrable to the human soul – one’s soul can assimilate ---- the feeling of this new order of creatures appear to us in the guise of truth, since we have made them our own, since it is in ourselves that they are happening --- every emotion is multiplied ten-fold – dream more lucid and more abiding – sets us free within us all the joys, we are able to distinguish ---
  • Happy discovery –
  • Some piece of imagery he would make their beauty explode into my consciousness --- realizing that the universe contains innumerable elements---
  • I was so filled with happiness, that I felt that it had so entirely relieved my mind of its obsession with the steeples and the mystery which lay behind them, as though I myself were a hen and had just laid an egg, I began to sing at the top of my voice.
  • Its symmetrical arrangement, its notation, its expressive value, he had before him something that was no longer pure music, but rather design, architecture, thought, and which allowed the actual music to be recalled. This time he had distinguished quite clearly a phrase which emerged for a few moments above the waves which emerged for a few moments above the waves of sound.  – a world of inexpressible delights --- slow       rhythmical movement --- toward a state of happiness --- yet prices – change of direction—fresh movement -=-=- rapid, fragile, melancholy, incessetnat6, sweet, with it toward new vistas----passionate longing – image of a new beauty which deepens his own sensibilities’ –pursuit of ephemeral satisfaction---
  • The immeasurable keyboard – millions of keys of tenderness. Of passion, of courage, of serenity, which compose it, each one different from the rest as one universe differs from another, have been discovered by a few great artists who do us the service, when awakened in us the emotion corresponding to the awakened emotions corresponding to the theme they have discovered.
  • Face the eye of reason – explicit --- so original a force, preserve the memory – conception of love and happiness = our notion of light, of sound, of perspective, of physical pleasure, the rich possessions’ wherewith our inner temple—
  • Decorated with works of art calculated by their designer to gladden the eyes of whoever may ultimately sleep therein, the subject being in keeping with the locality and surroundings of the house for which the rooms are planned.
  • Besides, nature, by virtue of all feelings that it aroused in me, seemed to me the thing most diametrically opposed to the mechanical inventions of mankind. The less it bore the imprint, the more it offered for the expansion of my heart.
  • Alternation of images had effected a change of front in my desire, and as abrupt as those that occur in music – a complete change of key in my sensibilities. Simple atmospheric variations—
  • A leaf torn from another chapter in the interpretation of the calendar of Happiness—
  • It all depends on the exclusive changes of the seasons and the weather.


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