Words of Others

Beyond the Object

Clarice Lispector:

“Certain aspects of seeing were like “flowers on the grave”: what was seen came to exist. Joanna didn’t expect visions in miracle or announced by the angel Gabriel, however. They surprised her in things she had already set eyes on, but suddenly seeing for the first time, suddenly comprehending that the thing had been alive all along. Thus, a dog barking, silhouetted against the sky. It stood on its own, not requiring anything else to explain itself – An open door swinging to and fro, creaking in the silence of an afternoon- And suddenly, yes, there was the thing. And old portrait of someone you don’t know and will never recognize because the portrait is old or because the person portrayed has turned to dust — this modest lack of intention brought on a good, quiet moment in her. Also a pole without a flag, upright and mute, erected on a summer’s day — face and body blind. To have a vision, the thing didn’t have to be sad or happy or manifest itself. All it had to do was exist, preferably still and silent, or order to feel the mark in it. For heaven’s sake, the mark of existence – But it shouldn’t be sought since everything that existed necessarily existed – You see, vision consisted of surprising the symbol of the thing in the thing itself.”
pp. 37-38, Near to the Wild Heart

Marcel Proust:

“If my parents had allowed me, when I was reading a book, to go visit the region it described, I would have believed I was taking an invaluable step forward in the conquest of truth. For even if we have the sensation of being always surrounded by our own soul, it is not as though by a motionless prison: rather we are in some sense borne along with it in a perpetual leap to go beyond it, to reach the outside, with a sort of discouragement’s we hear around us always that same resonance, which is not an echo from the outside but the resounding of an internal vibration. We try to rediscover in things, now precious because of it, the glimmer that our soul projected on them; we are disappointed to find that they seem to lack in nature the charm they derived in our thoughts from the proximity of certain ideas; at times we convert all the forces of that soul into cunning, into magnificence, in order to have an effect on people who are outside us, as we are well aware, and whom we will never reach.”
p. 88, Swann’s Way (Lydia Davis trans.)

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