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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Proust For Our Time

If I had a choice between watching Dr. Phil interview Kim Richards (who apparently was a child actor and related to Reed Richards of The Fantastic Four) and reading Proust, it would be no contest.

That is essentially why we are so clueless.

I thought 50 Shades Of Gray was a bad idea whose time had come, but I always had been too much influenced by a simple interpretation of Siegfried Kracauer's thesis in From Caligari To Hitler, and the notion that literature and cinema reflects and leads society.

In the first volume of Du Côté de Chez Swann, we read of Mademoiselle Vinteuil and her female lover:

Perhaps she would not have considered evil to be so rare, so extraordinary, so estranging a state, to which it was so restful to emigrate, had she been able to discern in herself, as in everyone, that indifference to the sufferings one causes, an indifference which, whatever names one may give it, is the terrible and permanent form of cruelty.

Take your time. I had to read this four or five times to make sure I got it.

Simply put, the flowers of evil are always greener on the other side of the fence.  Les fleurs du mal sont toujours etc., etc., etc.
Since we are insensible to our own indifference and the suffering it causes, we seek extravagrant sadisms to pique our jaded interests.
The divide between the wealthy and others is increasing. Flotillas of peoples fill the Mediterranean seeking a better life, and if they do not die at sea to fill the evening news for us, they will be sent back to where they came from.

As we become indifferent to the hungry and the homeless, we are actually honing our cruel fangs of indifference. But we hide this truth from ourselves, and seek novel evils elsewhere.


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