Noah denkt™ - The Power of Balanced Reasoning
Marcel Proust No. 4: Waking up to the Reality of Abuse, or: the Incredible
Reach of the Stockholm Hostage Syndrome
A two-in-one meditation on the weird love/hate-hex POTUS 45 is casting about himself in light of
Marcel Proust’s “Sodom and Gomorrah”, first drafted on Sept. 27, published on Oct 15, 2019; Part 2 of 2
..... continued from Part 1 .....
Part 2: Does an already haunted really long for more and new bewitchment?
The storytelling in “Sodome et Gomorrhe” slowly finds its way to explaining why the narrator ultimately
decides to seek and push for an emotional hook-up and cohabitant liaison with a woman (Albertine)
about whose emotional untrustworthiness he is in little doubt and whose personality he doesn’t
In his own words, the narrator describes his abandonment to Albertine as follows (We have re-arranged the
sequencing of his statements a little bit to clarify them even more):
« … j’étais trop porté à croire que du moment que j’aimais, je ne pouvais pas être aimé et que l’intérêt seul pouvait
attacher à moi une femme. Sans doute c’était une folie de juger Albertine d’après Odette et Rachel. Mais ce n’était pas
elle, c’était moi ; … » (Sodome et Gomorrhe, p 508)
… Elle m’offrait justement - et elle seule pouvait me l’offrir - l’unique remède contre le poison qui me brûlait, homogène
à lui d’ailleurs ; l’un doux, l’autre cruel, tous deux étaient également dérivés d’Albertine. (Sodome…, p. 503) …
Mais les mots [d’Albertine]: “Cette amie, c’est Mlle Vinteuil” [with which Albertine confirmed that she was in deed « liée
avec l’amie de Mlle Vinteuil »*] avaient été le Sésame, que j’eusse été incapable de trouver moi-même, qui avait fait
entrer Albertine dans la profondeur de mon cœur déchiré. Et la porte qui s’était refermée sur elle, j’aurais pu chercher
pendant cent ans sans savoir comment on pourrait la rouvrir. (…) Son vice maintenant ne faisait pas de doute pour moi.
… Je n’avais jamais vu commencer une matinée si belle ni si douloureuse. … Je m’entendis moi-même pleurer.Mais
à ce moment, contre toute attente la porte s’ouvrit, et le cœur battant, il me sembla voir ma grand-mère devant moi,
comme en une de ces apparitions que j’avais déjà eues, mais seulement en dormant…. (Sodome …., p 512f)
(*Context : The narrator had earlier on in Vol. 1 by chance witnessed Mlle Vinteuil and her girl-friend committing « avec
une brutalité voulue » « des profanations rituelles » over a photo of Ms. Vinteuil’s recently deceased father. This
observation had profoundly shocked the narrator (Du Côté de chez Swann, p. 207f) and Albertine’s acknowledgment of an
existing or earlier relationship with Ms. Vinteuil’s lesbian friend had then triggered an irresistible love/hate spell which
fatefully had the narrator be bound to Albertine]
In the humble opinion of Noah denkt™, these excerpts make it painfully clear that the narrator’s fatal attraction
towards Albertine has more to do with a psychological need on his part to address and perhaps alleviate a
personal, unresolved tension or trauma experience than it has to with the personality of AlbertIne herself. She
may be a uniquely qualified conduit for the narrator to help him get in touch with these otherwise stacked away,
personal black holes but she is in no way an end in herself in that relationship. In other words, the narrator
himself is to some extent abusing Albertine to reach out to a subconscious desire and/or memory of an earlier
abuse that he or someone in his family may have been exposed to either as a victim or as perpetrator. And he
is doing so by consciously subjecting himself to a new abuse which will come to him by way of the repeated
carefree and oftentimes reckless scheming and betrayal of Albertine.
In fact, it is the narrator himself who supports this interpretation when he later points out:
« Comme par un courant électrique qui vous meut, j’ai été sécoué par mes amours. Je les ai vécus, je les ai sentis :
jamais je n’ai pu arriver à les voir ou à les penser. J’incline même à croire que dans ces amours (..) sous l’apparence
de la femme, c’est à des forces invisibles dont elle est accessoirement accompagnée que nous nous adressons comme
à d’obscures divinités. C’est elles dont la bienveillance nous est nécessaire, dont nous recherchons le contact sans y
trouver de plaisir positif. Avec ces déesses, la femme durant le rendez-vous nous met en rapport et ne fait guère plus. »
(Sodome … , p. 511)
In other words, what the narrator really needs is not the love of Albertine but “the benevolence of these
obscure and mysterious forces and goddesses” that so far keep haunting him. After all, one might add, it
is them and only them that can set him free.
Now, of course, it is for us, the reader (and perhaps your Captain who,by the way, no longer wants to be a
Captain) to speculate what these traumas/dark forces/inclinations are which the narrator needs to come to
terms with. Could it be that these desires/traumas are in some way related or akin to the Vinteuil profanation
experience? Could it be that his much beloved grandmother and/or his mother are in some way involved in or
connected to the abuse conundrum? After all, it is a mesh-up of his grandmother and his mother (one real, one
figuratively appearing in a vision) that presents itself to him in the very moment he, the narrator, is most shaken
by the realization that there might be indeed an opportunity for existential clarification opening up for him by
way of an Albertine hook-up.
Obviously, the 4th volume doesn’t give us a definite resolution in this respect. What we know though for the
time being is, that the specter of abnormal, aberrant and perhaps abusive behavior is very much a relevant
factor inside the perimeter of the narrator’s family and ancestry. Let’s not forget that
- the narrator’s grand-father probably had an alcohol addiction problem (“Bathilde! viens donc empêcher ton
mari de boire du cognac!” Du Côté de chez Swann, p. 54),
- that the grand-father’s brother Adolphe, an ex-military commander, seems at one point to have suffered
from a “grand chagrin” (Du Côté …. P. 121);
- the cousin of the narrator’s grand-father is a foul-mouthed sociopath to whose debasing rants Bathilde’s
sisters Celine and Flora have to turn a deaf ear in order not to lose their mind altogether over them;
- Leonie, the widow of M Octave, and the daughter of that grand-father’s foul-mouthing cousin eventually
ends up bed-ridden with depression and a panicking anxiety of strangers and the unknown,
- the narrator’s mother is seriously afraid of crossing her husband,
- the narrator’s much beloved grand-mother, Bathilde, couldn’t wait to leave the house and go for long
walks in all sorts of weather only to be finally able to breathe freely again.
Hard to imagine what other evidence could still be needed in order to justify the conclusion that something
pretty nasty must have gone on in the narrator’s family, - perhaps on the great-grand-parents level but more
likely in the general male-female gender relationship -, which continues to fuel the narrator’s “étouffements”
and “chagrins” even beyond “Sodome et Gomorrhe”.
Naturally, it is particularly the latter hypothesis of endemic and widespread abuse in gender-relationship which
supports our elsewhere expressed view that the trauma processing element in “La Recherche” is not just
personal, i.e. author-related but pertains to historically accrued psychological devastations in the social,
national and international arena as well. After all, it cannot be denied that manifestations of human
insensitivity, hurtfulness and malice are by no means scarce in “La Recherche” and that they clearly transcend
the sphere of the narrator’s immediate family. For your reference, here are some examples of such pervasive
- Morel’s treacherous, “let’s see what I can get out of him”- nature,
- the cold-heartiness of the Verdurins,
- the career opportunism of Cottard,
- the Cocotte-element in Albertine’s, Odette’s, Rachel’s and Bloch’s character,
- Gilberte’s reckless discarding of a friend,
- Charlus’ erratic, narcissistic, love-sickness,
- the hotel owners dictatorial streak,
- Françoise’s loyal but loveless service and attachment to the narrator’s family,
- M de Norpois’ ridiculous society posing
- and perhaps even (but we are not entirely convinced about) Swann’s infatuation with Odette.
In fact, some of the rampant malice listed above even leads to very conscious efforts either to subjugate and
oppress (Charlus vis-à-vis Morel, the Verdurins and their Wednesday Group (Cult)) or to surrender and
capitulate (Saniette, Cotttard, Brichot).
So why do free people accept to be bullied by highly irascible bosses with short fuses?
All of this, clearly, takes us back to the strange enigma of the earlier invoked squeamishness that even battle-
hardened military leaders tend to show when being asked to publicly denounce the unhinged nature of their
former boss. Could it be that it is an unresolved tension of previously suffered abuse which fuels the present
fumbling? Could it be that it is the experience of previous malice which predisposes the victim to, when in doubt,
prefer new, additional abuse rather than to go for an intellectually clean break? Could it be that we all carry in
ourselves some memory of by now well stacked-away experiences of maltreatment which not just resonate with
POTUS 45’s own ailments but which has us equally harbor some secret hope that by acquiescing to Trump’s
intimidation/supplication-spell we could somehow set ourselves free from the dark forces and goddesses that
keep ruminating in our soul? - Or, is it that the psychological desolation in post-Gallia Belgica, post-Gallia
Celtica and post-Germania Inferior is so much different from that of post-Irak-/post-Afghanistan-/
Obviously we cannot make this determination on our own. What is clear though is that the respect for the
people's vote-argument which some ex-administration officials tend to infer in order to justify their half-baked
silence over the Trump abuse is not covered by the Federalist Papers' tyranny-of-the-masses concern. So
additional soul-searching is clearly needed here to safeguard the Land of the Free from future
self-centered rulers who, like Erdogan, Putin, Trump and other nation-state champions take pride in their
notoriously short fuse.
Perhaps we can help you in this investigation by reminding you that Mr. Proust was not the only one to
diagnose a serious and widespread moral vulnerability in the post-Napoleon era. Here is how Alfred de Musset
puts it in Chapter 2 of his 1836 Confessions of a Child of the Century. We’ll leave you with this and hope that
you can find some support and comfort in this.
During the wars of the Empire, while husbands and brothers were in Germany, anxious mothers gave birth to an ardent,
pale, and neurotic generation. Conceived between battles, reared amid the noises of war, thousands of children looked
about them with dull eyes while testing their limp muscles. From time to time their blood-stained fathers would appear,
raise them to their gold-laced bosoms, then place them on the ground and remount their horses.
Never had there been so many sleepless nights as in the time of that man; never had there been seen, hanging over the
ramparts of the cities, such a nation of desolate mothers; never was there such a silence about those who spoke of death.
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