Monday, September 10, 2007

I began attending a writer’s atelier a few weeks ago. I thought it might be nice to meet other writers and perhaps get motivated by their work (read: steal their ideas). They don’t talk about writing so much as they talk about reading, which is even better. The only thing duller than writing is talking about writing- but hearing people discuss the authors they love is invigorating and educational. Add with that a new cool café chosen each Sunday and you’ve got yourself a party.

Yesterday we met at a café in the 4th, near our new apartment. The talk somehow (not steered by me) drifted to Marcel Proust and his “Remembrance of Things Past.” The story, as I recall, is about a man that bites into a Madeleine cake and the taste reminds him of his past. He wraps up this stroll down memory lane some 14 years and 16 volumes later –it should be noted that the only reason the book didn’t extend past 16 volumes is that he died. Death is, after all, the final editor. My feeling is that if you can’t say what you want to say in 16 volumes you need to hang it up- but my new friends of the writer’s meeting probably would not agree. The conversation was regarding whether it was better to read Remembrance of Things Past in the original French or do you loose it's essence when reading an English or Russian translation. This, in turn, sparked debate regarding which translation was better. In English it was decided that the the second edition translation was superior. While they bantered this about I thought to myself “mmmmm Madeleines be all tastin’ good n' shit…yea, real good. I needs to get me some madelaines baaaaaad.”

It was coincidental that they were talking about Proust. The day before Kelly and I had visited his gravesite at Pere Lachaise to see for ourselves if he was still dead. (Not to ruin the ending for you but he is.) I had an idea to bring you a new dead person each week in a set of posts called “I See Dead People”. We got a map to the (dead) stars at the front gate of the cemetery and commenced to find us some dead, famous people. Let me just say, thank god they are dead because it’s hard enough to find them while they remained stationary much less if they had been wandering about aimlessly.

Marcel Proust was born 1871-1922, he has remained dead ever since. May I present to you Marcel Proust. (Applause)

1 comment:

LDP said...

I’ve never read Proust, but I had my own “Remembrance” moment once. I was eating a Kit Kat, not a madeleine (because the French eat those), but really, as soon as I tasted it I saw my 6-year-old self sitting on a bench during my grade school recess, enjoying the chocolate and psyching myself into playing four-square. Not exactly 16-volumes’ worth of reminiscences there, but it was a pretty vivid experience.

Now, whenever I eat a Kit Kat, I see myself at 21, eating one as I stand outside that convenience store in Ann Arbor where I had my first Proust moment. So I have this remembrance of having a remembrance.

Yes, I’m lame.