Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Miraculous Disincarnation

There is another tremendous scene towards the end of Swann's Way. The young boy of the story begins to anticipate a journey to Italy. His anticipation and wonder of this foreign land begins a process of increasing excitement within him.

During this month - in which I went laboriously over, as over a tune, though never to my satisfaction, these visions of Florence, Venice, Pisa, from which the desire that they excited in me drew and kept something as profoundly personal as if it had been love, love for another person - I never ceased to believe that they corresponded to a reality independent of myself, and they made me conscious of as glorious a hope as could be cherished by a Christian in the primitive age of faith, on the eve of his entry into Paradise.

And in a nod to my own childhood fascination with Atlases.

And for all that the motive force of my exaltation was a longing for aesthetic enjoyments, the guide-books ministered even more to it than books on aesthetics, and, more again then guide-books, the railway time-tables.

I was genuinely becoming excited as his anticipation grew until its climax. This climax was triggered by his father's words for him to be prepared for the weather there. (And in good Proustian style most of the following is all one sentence)

At these words I was raised to a sort of ecstasy; a thing I had until then deemed impossible. I felt myself penetrating indeed between those 'rocks of amethyst, like a reef in the Indian Ocean'; by a supreme muscular effort, a long way in excess of my real strength, stripping myself, as of a shell that served no purpose, of the air in my own room which surrounded me, I replaced it by an equal quantity of Venetian air, that marine atmosphere, indescribable and peculiar as the atmosphere of the dreams which my imagination had secreted in the name of Venice; I could feel at work within me a miraculous disincarnation; it was at once accompanied by that vague desire to vomit which one feels when one has a very sore throat; and they had to put me in bed with a fever so persistent that the Doctor not only assured my parents that a visit, that spring, to Florence and Venice was absolutely out of the question, but warned them that, even when I should have completely recovered, I must, for at least a year, give up all idea of travelling, and be kept from anything that was liable to excite me.

Oh snap! The young boy dissolves so fully into the imagination (his disincarnation) that his body begins to suffer from withdrawal. No further energy to comment at this point.

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