In Search of Lost Time 3-8-2022

Love stinks, yeah yeah

— from “Love Stinks” by The J. Geils Band

Surely, Swann must feel this way. Or at least he pretends to. Swann has fallen in love with Odette, a person who is not intelligent, is not good looking, and lacks class. She borders on being, and may be, a prostitute. In the least, she’s an escort. The intelligent Swann, however, has fallen in love with her because of how he palimpsests (I just made a verb) her via art, as mentioned in the previous post. As the story progresses, he experiences what I am calling “love paranoia,” “love jealousy,” “love obsessiveness,” “love anger,” and “love dumb.” That means he doesn’t trust her with another man and that he doesn’t even really know what love is. In other words, he suffers from what Proust calls “a paroxysm love” (311). In other, other words, he is going crazy because he thinks he is in love, and it is creating emotions for self-dramatic effect.

Here is what I mean: Odette has started hanging out with another man named Forcheville, who is a recent convert to the Verdurin’s cult and who has the hots for Odette. The Verdurins even prefer him to Swann, and they probably prefer him because Swann won’t convert. Swann becomes “love jealous,” which leads to “love paranoia” and “love obsessiveness.” Not only can he not stop imagining implausible actions between Odette and Forcheville, but he has to spy on them, and he does so in a most “love dumb” manner. After Odette made Swann leave her place before he wanted to, Swann went home. Then his “love dumb” and “love jealous” mind started creating fictive certainties about what the two were doing. He imagined Odette made Swann leave earlier so she could be with Forcheville. Swann’s “love obsessiveness” dwelled on this until he decided to go spy on her apartment. He saw the light on and heard voices, so he knocked on the window until someone answered. If Odette answered, he was going to use the lame excuse that he was in the neighborhood at midnight and was just checking in on her to see if she was feeling better. It’s the lame excuse of a teenager. Then someone answered, and it turned out he was at the wrong apartment. Later, he asked a friend spy on her.

What Swann thinks is love is a creation of his imagination, which leads me to realize Swann does not love Odette. It does not seem plausible that Swann could love her since she is not attractive, not intelligent, and lacks class. In fact, I think Swann does all of this out of self-indulgence. It’s like she’s an experiment to occupy his time and generate feign emotions. Swann is clearly lonely and not capable of love. He’s a lady’s man but incapable of love.

I’m writing about this because I identify with Swann. It helped me understand a previous version of myself, who has experienced many of the above described emotions. However, mine were not as extreme, and I did not stalk someone or hire a spy, but I was in love. Proust’s ability to get inside a character so deeply and detailed creates a character that is real and translates over into the real world beyond the page. Reading Proust is becoming therapy, at times. Oh, my old, stupid self. I was so love naive. Swann and I experienced a love “embellished by . . . ignorance” (319).


Exclamation Points:

As of page 155, there was only one exclamation point. That has changed. I am currently on page 324, and there have been 33 more exclamation points. On page 297, there was even a triple exclamation point!!! and between pages 312 and 313, there were ten, count them ten, exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t know why I am tracking this, but I am!


Word of the day:

pneumatic machine (318) — a tool or instrument that utilizes compressed air. I’m sure you knew that, as I did. What I didn’t know is that this device existed before the publication date of Swann’s Way on November 14, 1913. According to Britannica.com:

In the 17th century, the German Otto von Guericke experimented on and significantly improved compressors. In 1829 a stage, or compound, compressor, which involved compressing air in successive cylinders, was patented. Cooling by jets of water sprayed into the cylinder during compression was introduced about 1872; later, a better system of cooling by the use of water-jacketed cylinders was developed. In the United States the first compressor used in large-scale work was a four-cylinder unit for the Hoosac Tunnel, at North Adams, Massachusetts, in 1866.

So it’s much older than I thought.


Thanks for reading.


And now for your listening pleasure:


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