Thursday, January 29, 2009

Proust and Photography

I finished reading the slim volume about Proust and Photography, Brassai: Proust and the Power of Photography. What a great book! Brassai was a comtemporary of Proust, and he writes in such a lucid manner (hail to the translater, too), and has so many interesting things to say about Proust and his love, nay, his obsession with photographs and of course his obsession with the image. Brassai gives scads of examples and quotes from Proust's writing, not just "Remembrance" but earlier work and non fiction.

I was quite taken with it. Inspired, I read a few more pages of The Guermantes Way and am determined to finish it before the end of February.

Brassai mentions Poulet and Painter and all the old Proust sources I used to be so familiar with. So many years have passed since I was an undergraduate, but a lust for academia has never quite left although the vocabulary and ways of thinking are, well, gone. When I embraced technology in its many modes I left something behind, although academia and technology requite critical thinking and not making a priori assumptions, there is a still a huge difference, and I don't think I could return to academia withhout a great deal of reprogramming of the brain paths, if you will.

Viva Proust and viva photography. Proust leaves one with so many images. Church spires, the sea at Balbec, the dining room, the Duchesse de Guermantes, the hawthorns, the Combray church windows. Endless wonderful images, as crisp as an apple. Thanks, Marcel.

The other Odette

Friday, January 23, 2009

Proust and the New England Winter

By no means have I given up on either Proust or this blog. We had Christmas, company, snow, more snow, and did I mention snow?

Your faithless Odette has been cooking up a storm and also writing, writing, writing. She left Proust for a bit and read Water For Elephants and a Carl Hiaason book, both good. She is working on her robot fish short story and her new novel and also the last novel which an agent is showing some interest in and she needs to make a few changes.

When you open the patient for surgery, so to speak, you always find a diseased gall bladder as well as the appendix, and things proceed from there.

It is a job keeping the birds fed, the Scottish Highland cattle fed with fruit and veggie treats, the cats fed and medicated, food in the house and on the table. We are applying to work the census, visit D.C. and life is just very busy, almost intense.

Proust would understand. I am going to finish the Guermantes book. I really am.

Did I mention snow? And the inauguration? Alas Marcel, I feel so guilty.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Photography In Proust

My mother's Brownie Camera.

Happy New Year or Bonne Annee! Whatever. Forgive for the missing accents. Tooooo lazy.

I've been reading Photography in Proust, a little gem of a book, which I've almost finished. The author, who was a contemporary of Proust, has a lot of interesting things to say about Proust's work, not only Lost Time but other writings.

He makes his point about Proust using photographic techniques and even incorporating photography into his writing to a degree that was unusual at that time.

My mother, who grew up in a small Kansas town in the twenties, always had a Brownie camera, and photographed her friends endlessly. The town of Newton, KS has several excellent photographers who did portraiture. I'm always amazed when I get out those old photos.

The point is that the author is not exaggerating Proust's or the public's interest in photography. Of course Proust was obsessed with all the arts: music and painting above all.

Can't wait to finish the book and get back to Proust, whom I did not finish before 2009. Just have to get beyond The Guermantes Way, my bete noire, as it were.

My bad!

The other Odette