Friday, October 28, 2016

THE CONSTANT PRESENCE OF GOD IN PROUST's MASTERPIECE


  




I stopped reading Mauriac's book on Proust,  when he said that God is absent from a "A la Recherche..." .  It is rather "blind" to not "feel" the divine dimension, if for just a hint of it, in Proust's text, beginning with his recognizing and sharing of beauty,  with the immense depth and generosity  of his thought. 
It should be also considered that, in often placing the truth of the heart over that of facts, ie. the intensity of a subjective state, over that of objective reality,  the Proustian text asserts the  value of authenticity over that of objetive reality; individual essence, or soul, above transience. In believing that  there is an individual truth to each of us (some are lucky to discover "the hour of truth" before that of death, according to him) Proust identifies this truth to  the book each is intended to write and "has already been written", inside of us, that is, to a work of art that precedes us, and to an essence, at the same time. What we have to do is to decipher what is deep inside, and transcends, therefore, the possibility of our coming to fulfill it; what can only belong to the order of spirit.  
   Proust gives the reader the opportunity of experiencing  the divine presence for himself, rather indoctrinating the latter with a mere concept, of it. He doesn't spell the word G O D, because he doesn't need to. Proust is all words and, at the same time, the overcoming of words. Through his text, he takes the readers by the hand through his deepest spiritual experience, allowing them to make this experience their own and soar high above, with him. But if he'd asserted his faith directly,  he would have committed, to use his words, a "grand indelicatesse". He would have written a book that would be like an object with a "price tag on", to use, again, his words. Metaphors, which are often used in Proustian descriptions, assert nothing directly, escaping, thus,  the one sidedness of concepts; they are transmitted to the heart.  It is also transmitted from heart to heart, Proust's departing from the most personal and concrete element,  his individual  experience, in a  confessional style that is a giving of  the very best of himself; the effort and search of "his" truth, in a poetic exuberance of  thought, that makes it universal. More than universal, his sentences, and the whole of his text, have the cosmic circularity that makes it self-sufficient. In it,  the use of metaphor,  as well as the  intimate relating of the narrator's personal life, are equally fundamental traits  of Proust's style, and equally point to his faithfulness to the physical dimension of reality, he goes from the small and the apparent simple, to the great; from brief facts to the endlessness  of essence, from amorality to sanctity, from matter to spirit.
Through the Proustian "lenses" the reader sees, in his own self, depths that he would never have been aware of without these "lenses";  the depths of his own soul. Identifying individual truth to essence, and to artistic creation,  Proust transmits the divine presence, that which is sublime and above factuality, much more than the word "God" would. 
   Here are examples of the evoking of  religions dimension, through the poetic beauty of Proust's words:  In Le Côte de  Guermantes, after a long, descriptive passage  of pear trees the narrator contemplates,   he compares their white flowers  to angels, mentioning even a biblical story:  "Ces arbustes que j'avais vu dans le jardin, en les prenant pour des dieux étrangers, ne m'étais-je pas trompé, comme Madeleine quand, dans un  autre jardin..... elle vit une forme humaine et "crut que c'etait le jardinier?  Gardiens des souvenirs de l'age  d'or, garants de la promesse que la realité n'est pas ce qu'on croit, que la splendeur de la poésie, que  l'eclat merveilleux de l'innocence peuvent y resplendir et pourront être la recompense que nous nous efforcerons de mériter, les grandes créatures blanches....... n'était-ce pas plutôt des anges?"
  The miracle of beauty is the transmission of a reality so much higher and intense that it dims everything that is not part of it. Thus absolute, it speaks for God. Speaking for Him is the most powerful quality of Proust's words,   his sharing his awareness of the divine presence. 
   This Presence is also expressed in Proust's talking, through Swann, about "la petite phrase", coming to the breath- taking conclusion that,  "Peut-être est-ce le néant qui est le vrai et tout notre rêve est-il inexistant, mais alors nous sentons qu'il faudra que ces phrases musicales, ces notions qui existent par rapport `a lui, ne soient rien non plus. Nous périrons, mais nous avons pour otages ces captives divines qui suivront notre chance. Et la mort avec elles a quelque chose de moins amer, de moins inglorieux, peut-être de moins probable." In not asserting directly the existence of an after life,  Proust, yet again, leaves the  hinting of it to be experienced by  the reader  himself:  the conviction that death cannot put an end to  "ces captives divines", these messengers of God; the spiritual reality which is above everything:   "Swann n'avait donc pas tort de croire que la phrase de la sonate existat réellement." and, "...ele appartenait pourtant `a une order de créatures surnaturelles..." The pungent experiencing of what Proust generously transmits is, much beyond a proof, or a mere assertion of the divine presence, the evoking of Its reality. 
   Identifying, as mentioned again, artistic creativity to the truth of the essential order; the timelessness of the divine, Proust doesn't make of it an indoctrination.  With the same humbleness and generosity, he offers the reader, instead, the experience of such identification, when eloquently saying: 
"... au fond the quelles douleurs avait-il (Vinteuil)  puisé cette force de Dieu, cette puissance illimitée de créer?"
Divine presence and  that which is the source of creativity, our highest self, are at one, giving us the precious clue to fulfill God's ways to one and each of us.







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