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Marcel Proust: The Poetry of Dozing, Waking and Awaking and inbetween
Life and Death
An essay on the essence of Marcel Proust’s literary effort in “In Search of Lost Time” (1906-1928), Part 2,
published on June 14, 2019

....... continued from Page 1 of this Post

We are aware that this is quite an argument we are proposing here and we have no idea whether it has been
made elsewhere before. Nevertheless, it seems as if the evidence would support our case. Just look at
Proust's narrative style
, for instance. This style is focusing much more on relaying everything that is "with
" in a given episode rather than caring for easy-to-follow time lines or the build-up of a narrative suspense.
On the other hand, there is no clickety-clack soundtrack coming with Mr. Proust's narration the sort of which
you tend to find in James Joyce's Ulysses or in Dada literature (see for instance Ernst Jandl's poetry). So, while
there is the free-wheeling subjectivity and the often contradictory and imprecise epistemology in the Proustian
narrative that otherwise also characterizes stream-of-consciousness literature, Proust's subjectivity not only
to clarify and elaborate contextual conundrums of existence but also pursues a very focused, almost
scientific approach when doing so. In other words, the Proustian goal is
to unearth a good part of the
mysterious, so far little understood groundswell of the interdependent human existence whereas Mr. Joyce
would probably contend himself with signalling the accumulated, yet fragmented and haphazard presence of it.
Mr. Proust's forensic approach is, therefore, best described as a unique mix of evolving character ambivalence,
convincing social and psychological analysis, artistic self-therapy and philosophical positioning, -  while, at
same time, always maintaining a strangely calm, patient and unhurried attitude of storytelling. To Noah denkt™
this is a larger-than-life narrative effort he is able to mount here, - an effort, hence, which has us believe that
the post-near-death-literature argument we have made above is accurate.   

In fact, it is Marcel Proust himself who points us towards the out-of-body-basis/inspiration of his literary project
He starts “La Recherche” with the narration of
a momentary sleep/dream-generated reality confusion the
sort of which a lot of us will probably have experienced ourselves sometime in our life.

Here is how Mr. Proust sets the tone for his work at the outset of “La Recherche” in the very first sentences of
Du Côté de chez Swann”:

    Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure. Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je
    n’avais pas le temps de me dire: “Je m’endors”. Et, une demi-heure après, la pensée qu’il était temps de chercher le
    sommeil m’éveillait;  je voulais poser le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains et souffler ma lumière: je n’
    avais pas cessé en dormant de faire des réflexions sur ce que je venais de lire, mais ces réflexions  avaient pris un tour
    un peu particulier; il me semblait que j’étais moi-même ce dont parlait l’ouvrage: une église, un quatuor, la rivalité de
    François I et de Charles Quint. Cette croyance survivait pendant quelques secondes à mon réveil; elle ne choquait pas
    ma raison mais pesait comme des écailles sur mes yeux et les empêchit de se render compte que le bougeoir n’était
    plus allumé.” (p. 45 Librairie Générale Francaise, 1992)

Without a doubt, his physical condition was conducive to having these kinds of out-of-body
. His very weak physical health which is a constantly present, first-in-line concern in “La
Recherche” not just for himself, but also for his parents, his grandma,
the Swanns, Robert de Saint-Loup and
others, never really improved. He was forced to spend years of his life in bed where he was often alternating
between sleep, wake and awake, or between being in a near-death dream experience of life and returning back
again to a Berger/Luckmann "every day reality" (see also footnote **). In the end Marcel Proust died at age 51
and the salvation he could get wasn’t of a physical kind but of spiritual/philosophical nature instead.  And it is
this C.G. Jung-like post-near-death tranquility which he is in essence communicating to us.

If our theory with respect to the mind’s out-of-body healing experience in “La Recherche” is correct, t
concept of "Lost Time"
therein would obviously refer to the fact that a good part of our physical existence is
haunted by a sub-conscious fear of rejection (fear of rejection by our loved ones, by our parents, by our peers,
by the markets and ultimately a fear of rejections by the Gods) which distorts our desires, aspirations and
pleasures and thereby effectively prevents us from experiencing “
the deepest peace, the most sublime beauty
and the most rewarding meaning
”. This perfect happiness which is “féconde en joies de maintes formes” is only
possible later on when we can relive our beautiful life to the full again without fear of rejection in the context of
our comatose transition to death when our body is largely passive but our mind highly active and fulfilling its
most sacred and supreme task. Once that happens
a different notion of time will guide our sense of

In other words, what Proust is alluding to in his work is that there is a very real prospect of joy, healing,
salvation for us via
the vehicle of our Mind (Bergson) even if that joy may only come when our body's vitality is
at a minimum or perhaps even moribund. (see footnote ***) There is hence hope for all of us who study
existence and literature in Cambridge, Yale or elsewhere or who bide our time on some Isla. The multitude of
abuse and disdain that we keep receiving from the likes of Aimée, Gilberte, the Verdurins, the Norpois and
many others will not haunt us forever. The day will come when we will be able to liberate ourselves from the
deep-seated fears of rejection, we suffer from. Once that happens we will be able to re-experience our
wonderful life in full and actually enjoy the pleasures it has brought to us.

So to confirm this Noah denkt™ would like to leave you with these final words by Marcel Proust himself::

    Du reste, quand le sommeil l’emmenait si loin hors du monde habité par le souvenir et la pensée, à travers un éther où il
    était seul, plus que seul, n’ayant même pas ce compagnon où l’on s’aperçoit soi-même, il était hors du temps et de ses
    mesures. (...)

    Certes on peut prétendre qu’il n’y a qu’un temps, pour la futile raison que c’est en regardant la pendule qu’on a constaté n’
    être qu’un quart d’heure ce qu’on avait cru une journée. Mais au moment où on le constate, on est justement un homme
    éveillé, plongé dans le temps des hommes éveillés, on a déserté l’autre temps. Peut-être même plus qu’un autre
    temps : une autre vie. Les plaisirs qu’on a dans le sommeil, on ne les fait pas figurer dans le compte des plaisirs
    éprouvés au cours de l’existence. Pour ne faire allusion qu’au plus vulgairement sensuel de tous, qui de nous, au réveil,
    n’a ressenti quelque agacement d’avoir éprouvé, en dormant, un plaisir que, si l’on ne veut pas trop se fatiguer, on ne
    peut plus, une fois éveillé, renouveler indéfiniment ce jour-là ? C’est comme du bien perdu. On a eu du plaisir dans une
    autre vie qui n’est pas la nôtre.

Excerpt from : Marcel Proust: Sodome et Gomorrhe (Source WikiSource)


Footnote * : Here is the German original text of C.G.Jung quote we have provided on page 1 of this post:

    Bei seinem Herzinfarkt im Jahre 1944 erlitt C.G. Jung Zustände von Bewusstlosigkeit, in denen er Visonen von
    unglaublicher Eindrücklichkeit und Schönheit erlebte. Diese Bilder waren so mächtig, dass er sich dem Tode nahe fühlte.
    (…) Aehnlich wie in den Schilderungen Hampes  waren Jungs Erlebnisse vollkommen real. (…)  In den Erinnerungen
    (von C.G. Jung) heisst es:  “Ich hatte das Gefühl, als ob alles Bisherige von mir abgestreift würde … Aber etwas blieb:
    denn es war, als ob ich alles, was ich je gelebt und getan hätte, alles, was um mich geschehen war, nun bei mir hätte …  
    Ich bestand aus meiner Geschichte und hatte durchaus das Gefühl, das sei nun Ich.”  
    Die Jenseitswelt oder das, was Lebende und Zurückkehrende von ihr erspähen können, ist ganz anders, als was man
    sich gewöhnlich vorstellt. Es ist der tiefste Frieden, die sublimste Schönheit und der erfüllteste Sinn; Rückkehr ist ein
    zitiert aus: Aniela Jaffé, Liliane Frey-Rohn, Marie-Lousie von Franz: Im Umkreis des Todes, Zuerich 1984, p.50f

Footnote ** :  The effects of dozing or better repeated on-off dozing if we can call it that have also been
elaborated elsewhere in German fictional literature. Here is an excerpt from Adelbert von Chamissos Reise um
die Welt:
    “Bei der Schiffsordung, die ich früher beschrieben habe, zu welcher noch hinzukam, dass das Licht abends um zehn Uhr
    ausgelöscht wurde, konnte unser Einer nicht alle Stunden, worin er still zu liegen verdammt war mit festem bewusstlosem
    Schlaf ausfüllen, und eine Art Halbschlaf nahm einen grossen Theil des Lebens mit Träumen ein, von denen ich Euch
    unterhalten will. Ich träumte nie von der Gegenwart, nie von der Reise, nie von der Welt, der ich jetzt angehörte; die Wiege
    des Schiffes wiegte mich wieder zum Kinde, die Jahre wurden zurückgeschraubt, ich war wieder im Vaterhause und
    meine Todten und verschollene Gestalten umringten mich, sich in alltäglicher Gewohnheit  bewegend, als sei ich nie
    über die Jahre hinausgewachsen, als habe der Tod sie nie gemäht.

    Ich träumte von dem Regimente, bei welchem ich gestanden, von dem Kamaschendienst;  der Wirbel schlug, ich kam
    herbeigelaufen, und zwischen mich und meine Kompagnie stellte sich mein alter Obrist und schrie: aber Herr Lieutenant  
    -  In drei Teufels Namen! “

    Adelbert von Chamisso’s Werke: Reise um die Welt. Erster Band,Kap : Von Unalaschka nach Californien, Leipzig 1836 ,
    S. 179f  

Footnote *** : With respect to the (self-)healing quality of the human mind once the body's vitality has been
severely reduced it should also be of interest to note that in Greek-Roman times and in early Christian times
pilgrimages were undertaken to trigger this kind particular "purification" effect. Jas' Elsner and Ian Rutherford
have done some work on this and we would like to provide you with an excerpt from "Pilgrimage in Graeco-
Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods"  :(

    The richest source for the multiple aspects of sacred experience in the Antonine period are the recollections contained in
    the Sacred Tales of Aelius Aristides.

    Aelius Aristides’ experience at the sanctuary of Asclepius at the springs of the Aesepus (in the beginning of the fourth
    Sacred Tale) significantly documents how the pilgrimage trip becomes a process of mystical purification. The motivation
    for the trip is consciously expressed as the need to return to the roots of the author’s interior and physical sickness.
    The awareness of having to close an eternal cycle, that is, to end a sickness where it had been conceived,
    transforms the real journey into spiritual and mental one, as well as recapitulating the memory of the disease. We could
    almost say that the journey to the springs of the Aesepus turns into an itinerarium mentis in Deum of the pagan religious
    experience of the Antonine period.
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appropriate or suitable for him. And to leave no doubt as to what this means we urge our user to also note our extended

The Healing Effect of Marcel Proust's Literature,  The literary style of Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time";
The Concept of Time in "À la Recherche du Temps Perdu", Meaning of Time in Proust's "In Search of Lost Time",
Interpretation of Marcel Proust