Good news from the recovery front: yesterday I confessed to my physical therapist that I hadn’t worn the brace much for the past week. He sighed and scolded, but when Kevin had me walk around the office to observe my gait, he seemed impressed.
Apparently I’m only able to get by without my brace because my quad has recovered strength relatively quickly; I’ve been faithful about doing my exercises. I’m still at high risk for re-injury, and it’d be better if I wore my brace, especially during situations in which I have little control of my environment (around children, in crowds, etc.), but Kevin seems to think that, for the most part, I’ll do fine without it.
Kevin also introduced me to several new exercises yesterday which, when combined with the batch of new exercises he introduced last Thursday, means that I have an almost entirely new regimen compared to a week ago. Awesome! Unless one has been through this, one cannot realize how tedious the same exercises become when repeated day-in and day-out.
When we measured my range of motion at the beginning of the session, I was able to obtain 125 degrees of flexion without assistance. Rock on!
I started to read Swann’s Way yesterday. Perhaps not co-incidentally I managed to take in 125 pages.
I love it.
I love Proust’s long, convoluted sentences and paragraphs, his introspective nature, his obsession with details. I love his philosophy, his perception, his ability to capture the inner life and to put it into print.
Some favorite bits:
- “The fault I find with our journalism is that it forces us to take an interest in some fresh triviality or other every day, whereas only three or four books in a lifetime give us anything that is of real importance.” Proust argues, in a pre-MTV world, that journalism leads to short attention spans, glosses over stories, attempts to pare the complex to just a few sentences. His method, obviously, is the reverse: he sometimes focuses on mere seconds, devoting eight pages to the moments during which one awakes, for example.
- “Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves, and not anything else, and by the immobility of our conceptions of them.” How zen is that? This is similar to the social personality passage about which I raved previously.
- “I became at once a man, and did what all we grown men do when face to face with suffering and injustice: I preferred not to see them.”
- “The wall of the staircase, up which I had watched the light of his candle gradually climb, was long ago demolished. And in myself, too, many things have perished which, I imagined, would last for ever, and new structures have arisen, giving birth to new sorrows and new joys which in those days I could not have foreseen, just as now the old are difficult of comprehension.”
- Young Marcel is fascinated by the theater, though he’s never seen a performance. He’s obsessed with the actors and actresses, and, with his friends, he rates them and ranks them according to their greatness. (A kindred spirit!)
- “[I stood] still on that spot, before that steeple, for hours on end, motionless, trying to remember, feeling deep within myself a tract of soil reclaimed from the waters of Lethe slowly drying until the buildings rise on it again.”
- There’s a portion of the novel—Proust’s thesis, really—which is very similar to my favorite segment from Amelie.
There are many other wonderful bits; I’ve marked up my book with heavy underlining, and I’ve scribbled notes throughout the margins.
I had started to worry that few people were going to complete Swann’s Way in time for book group, had become defensive because of the aspersions cast upon the book by my fellow readers, but now that I’ve actually begun to read it, I no longer care what the others think; if they are unable to appreciate the Swann’s Way, or are unwilling to even try to read it, it is their loss and not mine.
Perhaps, though, I could offer the other book group members some advice. First, remember that much of this is meant to be—and is— funny. It’s not all serious. Secondly, as I told Aimee, it helps to worry less about “getting” every little detail, helps to be unconcerned with the plot and the characters; one is better served by plowing headlong through the text, allowing oneself to be surrounded by Proust’s words, overwhelmed by mood and atmosphere.
From the introduction to the edition I’m reading (emphasis mine):
One of the publishers to whom Swann’s Way was submitted sent it back with the words: “I cannot understand why a gentleman would employ thirty pages to describe how he turns and returns on his bed before going to sleep.” Since that time many would-be readers have doubtless laid the volume down with a similar reflection but the loss has been theirs alone. Proust knew with uncommon exactness what it was he was about; he has a purpose in everything that he does, and even what appear to be digressions of inordinate length actually occupy a carefully proportioned and predetermined place in a structure whose architecture can only be understood when one stands off and regards it as a whole. The first rule for reading him is, therefore, complete submission…
Yes, this is a book I love. I’ve already decided that I will continue, read the second volume, Within a Budding Grove.
I wonder: what authors move others to this level of passion? What books inspire this degree of adoration in my friends? Is it common to find a writer whose internal monlogue so resembles one’s own?
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