You have Proust to explain it now. I did the same with Everett for eight years. All that I can think about the wasted years is that they somehow prepared me for the good ones that came. When I fell in love with Everett for the first time, I was so happy that I loved that my parents had beaten on me for 27 years because I thought of it all as preparations for the good times that came for a while after meeting him.
You will read all that in my journals sometime, and you will think: “The bastard Marvin forgot what a jerk he was where Everett was concerned. He gave up his career and at least ten possible lovers. I won’t take any more of his advice.” I will be dead five years by that time. Why did it take you five years to read that part of the journal? I am not leaving them to you unless you agree to read them faster.
Did I tell you that I am thinking of becoming an official Marxist Therapist? I talked to my lawyer about it yesterday. I would not get paid, but I don’t want to get sued.
I did not read Marx until after my fiftieth birthday, and I did not start having real fun out of life until—maybe yesterday. No! It started when I was sixty, and I realized that I was going to finish writing a book, and that I was finally educated enough to know that what I was teaching was the most up to date one could be for our times.
I have Journals from May 21 1969-7 May 1972 and more from 1972 to 1974. In the second of those volumes, I found your typed poem: “Marvin the Marxist Mining”. Cheryl is mentioned on the first page of that volume. March 14 entry: “The play opens this evening. I’m still tired but resting and waiting for Roger to drop by. Must masturbate before he comes, or my poise will be gone.”
Do you want the journals? I seemed to be reading Proust on 9 June of that year. On June 5th: “Calls from Tim McShane and Nick Urfe today.” I will read more of it tomorrow. You were sure there. 6 August: “Dark and damp day. Making some soup. Think more about Tim.” Well! Well! Well! How much we do forget.
You appear first on 5 June. You called me. I gather that we did They Shoot Horses in Spring, 1972. There is no mention of you, however, until the 5th. I looked ahead, and there are more, but I want to read in sequence.
The surprises so far: 1) Roger was dominant in this period, but there were many other names mentioned and I cannot remember who they were, 2) it’s ironic because I was reading Proust at the time. I guess that I read some of it on that ocean voyage, and I was back finishing it. Actually, just looked at a page and it says: “Reading my way out with Proust. Starting all over again.” That was on 7 June. On 8 June: “. . . when depressed I must reach rapidly for some great work to read. Proust is helping. Concentration returned last night. Even for a while it relieved the pain.” 9 June, “The withdrawal continues into Proust.” Eleven June: “Up late-restless-even with sleeping pills. Reading Proust. Fascinating and disturbing. Suicide slowly facing, because of Proust, forcing myself to go back over – to remember my own pain’s past. Remember incidents and love affairs and all my pre-Marxist nausea. Understand Sartre better. Understand it all better. Less able to cope.”
Nick Urfe fell Proust-like in love with Cheryl, and she became his Sweet Cheat always gone, but fucking him when she returned. (For a low brow presentation either see or read Somerset Maugham’s, Of Human Bondage. In fact, if you have never read it, see the Bette Davis movie version. It could be you and your wife, and, if you are not careful, it will definitely be you and Cheryl.) It is interesting that in the same journal entries these names appear: Cheryl, Roger, Tim, Nick Urfe, and someone named Stan Parks. I am having remembrances of things past. I am glad now that I kept the journals. I wish that I had been more detailed.
You are making me want to rush back and read Proust. You know, we are having the most intellectual of relationships here. It has made me want to remember everything that was before, and I can recall nothing. Don’t be offended, however. I did your portrait–I still have it in the basement, and that says volumes. I remember Ken Mason, Toni Livingston, and the others vividly, but all thoughts of you have flown out of my head. Why? I keep thinking that it is because I felt so guilty at hitting on you so hard that I am suppressing all memory. Your reading Proust has made me want to remember those days. It is very frustrating. You must be patient, however, and remind me of what books we were doing back then. I know that we were in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? together, but the rest flies out of my head.
I painted your picture, and I have it in my basement. That means that you sat for me, and we undoubtedly hugged a lot. I probably made meals, and I wanted you: I probably said so. My memory, which is almost always good about things, blanks on you. When I try to fill in the blank, my only experience is one of guilt. Actually, I may have offended you but without your even noticing, and I need not have felt any guilt. It is that way in life. In a novel, there are always two visible sides, and they make sense: not so in our own lives. I could go on with this. It does interest me as I look back at my steamiest relationships and remember that I only learned after the fact that I was feeling and providing most of the steam. The other person really liked me, but not the way I liked them. Damn the inequality. However, when I think back, I had the better time. Only in retrospect. Proust is the only writer that ever got it right–at least for me. Unfortunately, all my thoughts about what the other person felt are speculations, and sections of stories that I wrote where they told me what they felt. I hate speculations.
I am following Thomas Hobbes as his work penetrates into all writings after 1688. As you see authors weave in the major themes, you understand why we look at fundamentalists as ignorant: we also understand why we interpret Marxist work as utopian. The dominant paradigm controls all media. You must read Kuhn before noon. The Copernican Revolution.
My remembrance is that the Remembrances started racing for me around Sodom time. However, that is the time that he really gets into the boy box sex stuff. Charlus was a wonder for me. Remember, there were no other books of this quality about the closet, and I was returning from a Europe in which I entered superb love affairs with several men, and their boy friends.
I have never stopped loving anyone that I loved. I was the one who called my first wife the other night. I even wrote her an e-mail. She did not respond. That is why she is an ex-wife. Superficial people don’t remember their things past. They never did them with passion. Remember, read the Bible for feudalism, Hobbes for capitalism, Marx for socialism, and Marvin for communism.
That first volume of Remembrance is hard to do if you don’t know where the roads lead.
There is no reason why you can’t have two, three, four, or five different women. Some will be better than others in bed, but they may all be fun. (Jeremy has already picked up two more since he returned to China, and he has already made it with Alice. But! Mary is waiting for tomorrow.) It is possible to have one hundred intimate and quality relationships. Work means teaching, tennis, basketball, reading, writing, cooking, dancing, and acting, to name only a few of the varieties of “use work.” We are not yet in the communist stage of history, but we are already showing how bounteous our appetites will be in the future because the process taking us to the beginning of real human history, the end of pre-historical times, has put the working class in charge. Stop specializing. We were both brought up to think that Proust had the answers: There will be one person, one career, and only one “real” passion. Our job? Too find that person, that one career, that one passion: to be all you can be by joining the Marines or becoming an “artist.” If we don’t find it, we fail: if it gets away, we are unhappy forever.
“The more Proust I read, the more of a Victorian scientist he seemed, a truth-seeker, Darwinian in outlook and methodology. Marcel’s ruminations on social change after his years in the sanatorium are a Parisian Origin of Species. Since society itself evolves very slowly over a very long time and any one person sees only one section of it, it seems to be immutable, as animal species seemed to be, as the geology of the earth seemed to be, before the long view of the 19th century scientists was directed at them.” —
Phyllis Rose, The Year of Reading Proust
Who is this Phyllis Rose? That is pretty good thinking on her part.
The Marx raincoat is the only apparel that I find acceptable. Unfortunately, with so much of the world anti-Marxist it means that you have to be stoical as well as cool until the other sleepers catch up. Remember The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner? It was written for us.
I did not read Marx until after my fiftieth birthday, and I did not start having real fun out of life until—maybe yesterday. No! It started when I was sixty, and I realized that I was going to finish a book I was writing and that I was finally educated enough to know that what I was teaching was the most up to date one could be for our times.
Marcel Proust was a bourgeois scientist who studied love. Remembrance of Things Past elucidates his discoveries. The greatest of these can be a comfort to us all. It is simply this: You always get what you want . . . as soon as you stop wanting it.
The Proust line, you get what you want only after you don’t want it, needs much Marxizing. That is a bourgeois truth: it is not a proletarian one at all. You are getting what you want now because you are not being petty bourgeois about everything in your world. Your writing will become more species directed, and your life will be more fun as you stop living it for one other: specialization is a disease in love as much as in art.
You have to realize that you are one of the two people in the world to have combined Marx and Proust as your tools for understanding specie’s life in the early twenty-first century. It gives you power to understand–or to control.
I was reading in Proust just now, and I saw in my writing, in the margin, R. C. 6/20/72 next to the line: “Life is strewn with these miracles, for which people who are in love can always hope. ” I got lucky that night, I guess, but I had to go to my journals to find out who R. C. was. I thought maybe Robinson Crusoe, but that made no sense. I don’t think that I will tell you who R. C. was. Read the journals sometime. But, in this volume some pink papers fell out. A Poem: Marvin the Marxist Mining. Do you remember writing it? It is sort of unbelievable to me that I was reading Proust when we met. (I actually know that I read the middle volumes, Sodom and Gomorrah, on the ship coming back from England in 1963.) But! The inscription in the first two volumes that I have is dated 1961. Joyce gave me the next volumes in December 1966. What a jumble. What am I going to do with all these journals?
I read more Hobbes yesterday, along with more Proust. Hobbes in a brief chapter early on is trying to figure out what makes people crazy, or what makes us say a person is crazy, and he finds all sorts of reasons and causes. He has taken us there by going through Imagination, Speech, Reason and Science, Intellectual Virtues, and now their Defects. For Hobbes, for example, crazy people might believe they are God.
Hobbes does the first scientific investigation of “human nature.” His take, modified by all writers after him, especially Proust in the twentieth century, will capture the imagination of all thinkers. Freud is going to nail it down as science. Hobbes found the “essence” on which all relationships, political and social, are built. It was this human nature thing, never changing, the building blocks, the atom.
Marx and Darwin split Hobbes’ atom, but not many have noticed that yet.
Proust, some two hundred and fifty years after Hobbes, comes along, and, using the lives of those who have private property as his principal model, he convinced budding blooming working-class intellectuals that he spoke to about their lives. He tried to convince them that his problems with Odette are theirs with your wife or Everett. We projected into Swann’s life, and we that way we learned that it is the human condition to repeat, to suffer, to long, to be jealous–we learned that we must accept that we reproduce over and over again the same results in our social relationships that we did when we were children because it is “human nature” to do so. Marcel will become Swann because he practiced jealousy, love, and possessiveness with Gilberte. He will repeat, over and again, just as Swann does. He will come to love the jealousy as much as the loved object. We all Wait for Godot, and Godot won’t come, but we wait, and we learn that he won’t come, but the waiting for Godot is the entire life–the waiting becomes the only pleasure–that becomes the art of being smart. That is how Proust does Hobbes, but not before Locke, Defoe, Swift, Fielding, Richardson, Adam Smith, Paine, Blake, and Wordsworth reinforced the Hobbesian methodology and ideology. Darwin and Marx began the struggle against Hobbes. Oh! It was there in Blake and Rousseau, certainly in Shelley, but they did not have the microscope–without the microscope you do not know change. All this said, everyone around you believes the Hobbes to Proust line.
Did you make a mistake? It is only a mistake in the Hobbesian kingdom. I repeated Everett about ten times after I finished with him, and I think that I was still doing it when I met you. Somehow the Marx acted as a prophylactic against that repetition. I am still not totally free of it, of course. Custom, use, repetition are how we learn. It is how Robinson trained Friday, and how we train our students and children. Remember, Friday went up to Robinson, and Robinson did not say: “Hi! My name is Robinson. What’s yours?” He said, “My names is Master, and I will call you Friday.” Now we would say, “Your name is so-and-so, and human nature is. . .” The Catholic in you helped you to escape some of the damage. You were not going to buy original sin, but that came too late to get you to take in whole hog the bourgeois paradigm. You had on a feudal rubber.
Okay! I will have to tell you all the secrets. It probably means that you won’t need me as an adviser anymore, but it is the final weapon that I have for serious mourners. The only security blanket–until the revolution ends the pain of individualism–is in learning to do art and methodology by yourself. The art you are already learning to do excellently: the art of playing, reading, cooking, painting, journal keeping, gardening, playing basketball, teaching, making love to someone else if you are lucky, talking to someone else in a comrade way if you are even luckier, masturbating, dreaming, and searching the new methodology for flaws. The doing of new methodology is lonely, frustrating, and rewarding. No one is going to love you for being a Marxist.
Hobbes’ methodology was flawed, but he believed in it, and those who came after him accepted it as well as the ideological implications of his conclusions. He wrote that about each individual alone in a state of nature: each swearing to uphold the state that would protect their own life, liberty, and property–especially property. In doing this, he separated everyone except those who, in the privacy of their space, invited someone to share, as their family, that area. (Wives swear to obey the husbands, husbands take oaths to the kings, kings use the law to beat up all those who try to take private property from those who have it–especially to punish those who have no private property to exchange but their labor power.) Hobbes wrote, of course, for only those who had private property: no one else would even be allowed to vote for three hundred years. Tim lives in that modern state where workers do vote. Before that happened, however, the state so beat up the minds of the working class, that they thought that they had private property to protect. This started with public education. (see Dickens, Hard Times.) Working people were taught that personal property was the same as private property, and they fought for king and country to hold onto their underwear while throwing grenades at those who would attempt to take away Rockefeller’s oil.)
One at a time may be the only way. After all those revolutions, marches, slogans, we still have only Catcher in the Rye as a plan. Okay! that’s it. I am your Catcher: don’t fall, however, because I am sixty-six and the weight will kill me. You can pretend to fall, however.
There are good lines in Proust, too many of them to ever copy out. I will have to go to my diaries to see what I put there from the first reading. I am still not certain when I read the thing. I know that I started with Sodom and Gomorrah when I did it seriously, and then went back to the beginning. I am interested in my old underlinings.
He is amazing, isn’t he? I was thinking often last night, I am just at the end of Gilberte now, how much you must be reading yourself and your wife into this read of yours. I think that I was finished with Everett when I picked up the reading about the time I knew you here. I was right in the middle of him when I was reading Sodom and Gomorrah. Did I tell you that Everett surfaced about a month ago? Sad stuff.
Beware of one thing from now on: everything only seems to accelerate. We know, however, that ideas don’t change history, they just tell us more about where we are. If the “class” gets the correct material ideas, however, history can move even faster, and the point is to speed the already changing history. Start teaching now: you’re just beginning to realize your power to educate. Unfortunately, some people “seem” uneducable. You can tell it by the fact that they still believe in God. Don’t interrupt them too much because that would be cruel. You can fuck them, however.
It is incorrect to use the terms “educable” or “uneducable” as if people were doing it on purpose: in fact, everyone is learning much everyday, even Darwinians who still believe in God. Almost all Americans are taught that there is a God, and that if they don’t like the one their parents gave them, that they should search for the one they like. Rarely do they have a crisis that leads to the conclusion: “There is no God!” The fact that more working-class people are discovering that is reassuring. As I have told you, I think that we are already in the socialist stage of history. That is why it is possible that a nice Catholic boy like you can be thinking of fucking everyone–at least the lady ones.
You are an amazing reader. This one quality is what separates you from other people who try to solve their personal problems. You keep adding new raw material to the abundance already there. If you ever stop that, you will start trying to solve your problems with out-of-date solutions. So called grown-ups always make that error. It is now time for Darwin, Kuhn, and Hobbes. (Hobbes wrote Proust.) It has to do with dependence, but it has more to do with Catholics in marriage than he could know. Even I had a hard time seeing this until we went to your neighborhood. I would have missed it entirely if I had not been reading so much about the Church during the past months.
Let me put it as simply as I can. One of the sacraments is Marriage, and you married. You may not believe in God, the Pope, or Christianity, but you have produced the sacraments within you so that you can only crave passion, love a woman, and have a family monogamously. You were chained (trained) early, and you cannot break those religious bonds without a superman effort. My hope is that Marx, Proust, and the readings that you will do, will help to loosen those chains, but some things are too deeply ingrained to change much over one lifetime. I am so sorry now that I chose a sexual specialty. How could I know better, however. My parents, my school, my friends, my books all said the same thing: one place, one time, one partner—and better in the dark. I rebelled enough to invert the thing–see St. Genet again–but it cost me. I cannot fuck everyone who wants to fuck me. I do more than most, but I cannot do all that I would wish.
Specie’s life. We all cease to be Americans, whites, blacks, French, Rwandans, Gays, Straights, women, and men. We realize that we are part of a species that has a history that connects everyone in that species. We become Darwinian-Marxists who have read Proust to help ourselves go beyond where we are.
I am freed from that silliness by having read Proust and then Marx and then Proust again and then more Marx, Darwin, and Kuhn. It is my life, and I won’t waste it on speculation. It took me until 66 to get here: do it by 56. Show me up, boy. Be happier than I am a decade earlier, and I will die of even more happiness.
One of the most important traits of a Marxist is patience. Without a well-developed characteristic of forbearance, you cannot exude optimism about the future of our species, or even of your own life. This patience comes from knowing the laws of historical development. It comes from blending Marxism and Darwinism with the insights gained from reading descriptions of bourgeois behavior found in Proust. Patience without passion leads to martyrdom: passion without patience leads to hysteria.
Blend, blend the raw materials the way that we have been discussing for such a long time, and you will both understand and attract everyone to you, your writings, and your model for living a sane life.
Marx and Proust together but throw in Darwin some time. Did I tell you to read Stephen J. Gould on Ever Since Darwin. Darwin lightens up Marx and assures you that you are correct. There is lots of unhappiness out there, and only having control of the new paradigm can keep you balanced. Without Darwin, Marx, and Proust there is no possibility of survival without cynicism. Only working-class people can do it without reading, and that is because they live within the process rather than as its critics. Once we started to read, bourgeois infections spread throughout our thinking processes. When you are a kid first jumping into books, you think that they are all products of objective creative individuals. You don’t learn how lethal books can be until you get a translator: Marx and Darwin translate Proust. P’s message is not for all times: he was not a scientist of the human condition; he was a student of bourgeois human nature. Someone may think of Proust as a Great Man and pick out a theme and think it is a permanent flaw, and then say, “I will try not to be that perverse,” but you don’t escape bourgeois ideology that easily. Without a translator-magic-ring decoder containing Marx and Darwin, you come out lonelier than when you entered.
It is when you combine Proust with Marx that Proust is the opposite of depressing. Because then you see a world where people get what they want when they want it, not when they don’t, which is an absurd contradiction, possessive love, capitalism. Surplus and people starving.
You can’t find happiness in another person, but you can find it in other people.
There is not a chance in the world that you could do this after reading so much Proust. You’re too rich in Proust now for that to happen. My God, you even figured out that Plato was dumb. What about Socrates? He could have escaped out the back door and had all the boys he wanted. He stayed for hemlock. Duh!
How you can still doubt yourself as a reader, I don’t know. I guess that you believe in “genius.” “If I were really any good, I would have come out of the womb writing Hamlet.” It does not work that way. For the working-class writer, he must first find income. All novels, plays, and criticism before 1960 were written by petty bourgeois and bourgeois writers. We are just inventing working class art. My take is that it won’t be a novel, it might be a play, but it probably won’t be criticism. It could be the biography of a working-class hero, so write it. This is working class art. When we go beyond socialism, art has to be living life. There will be no writers or artists. At least, Marx says that explicitly.
Proust says what we want is not to live forever; what we really want is the same lifespan, but we want to see it from every perspective, every point of view, all of society (the whole species). We don’t want to live forever; we just want to do it all.
Proust is bourgeois, and he had everything. I want to live forever.
There are no children, friends, or workdays in Marcel’s life: there is only passion, highs and lows. If someone else is doing all the work, the owner has time to navel gaze. Once again, Proust tells us about the side of ourselves that imitates bourgeois mannerism–or, even worse, imitates petty bourgeois types imitating bourgeois mannerism.
The loneliness, the uniqueness, inversion means to feel like the only one who is like this and then perhaps to discover that what you are is a secret society that puts the masons in the shade.
You have to locate the field that you functioned in, and then try to work out the details of why this way and not that way. Obviously, part of your field was competition, big time. You probably confused the resistance to everything with specific resistance to you, and you went out to conquer. That is the simplest explanation. I could work on it more, but inversion is the theme. Proust does that over and over again, so it should not be difficult for you to understand. What is difficult to comprehend, I suppose, is that you were as inverted as I (and everyone else) was, albeit in different ways. We function in a field, and when we are children, we have no analytical tools to unpick the forces producing us–unless we are lucky, and we are born black or broken. We have a chance in those cases to figure out that something is wrong with the world. You had no reason to think that anything was wrong. You just had to make it. When it was easy, it seemed worthless. After all, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp” says Browning. We bought it.
Eat what is at hand and stop worrying about what you want more or cannot have.
A New Life. Maybe you should put the Bernard Malamud book of the above title on your agenda too. Yes! Kuhn could still be alive. He was the most important thinker about science in the 1950s. Two important books: one of the is The Copernican Revolution and the other The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The first will make sense of Hobbes. If you want to follow the Marvin line as my students are doing you would move to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Newton, Locke, and Defoe to see the first working out of the fresh bourgeois paradigm. (I have not been able to figure out Milton ever, but I have one book to reread and that may do the work. There is one exception to that statement. Milton’s Areopagitica fits tightly into the text of the new paradigm.) If you wish to read the best theoretical work it is by C. B. MacPherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Macpherson has written several introductions to Leviathan. Check to see who wrote yours. After that, I have been showing students how Richardson, Fielding, Hogarth, Cleland (Fanny Hill), Adam Smith, and Edmund Gibbon add to and develop the paradigm. We are marching to Freud, Proust, and Golding through the remainders on this semester’s agenda: Tom Paine, William Blake, Jane Austen, and Mary Shelley. If you wish, you and I can go the rest of the way through the nineteenth century English novel. It is better though to pick it up with the French novel and do Stendhal. Do you know Stendhal?
In any case, you will keep your poise by a diet of continued great reading. By the end, you may have your own thesis, but for now you can follow me.
I am quite eager to read Remembrances again, but I am also going to put Gibbon’s Decline and Fall on my list.
Everett called last week to tell me that: 1) his friend of 30 years had died, 2) the friend died in a fire, 3) the fire was in their condo, 4) Everett was in Texas at the time, 5) he owns the three flat that they lived in, but it had to be rebuilt after the fire so no tenants, 5a) he slept on a friend’s couch for months until she kicked him out, 6) he does not drive, 7) he has no friends, 8) and he has not worked in twenty years. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, How was the play? I felt as if I should go to Boston to see him, but I don’t know that I can face any of this. Everett was a depressant when he had everything that one needed to have in the Gay world. Now! ouch.
It is a terrible surprise when you suddenly realize that you are not thinking of the missed loved person any longer. I have experienced that, according to my journal, more times than just Everett. There are some people that still hold on, my friends Paul and Barry for example, who keep me enthralled because I still think that we could have fun together. Where passion was concerned, as in Everett’s case, only sympathy remains, and then only when I think of his awful life there in Boston. Right now, Adam and I have finished, roughly, but I seem to be glad that chapter is closed. The “kiddie” years are ending.
Money does bad things in capitalist society. It pollutes all relationships, and there is only way that I have ever been able to keep the fetishism at bay: by having enough to cover expenditures and suppressing all thoughts of unpleasant expenses and contrasts with what others have immediately. If I need a new furnace, I buy quickly, pay the bill, and get on with my journals. I don’t negotiate when caught in the trap. If I have a friend who has too many more toys than I do, I stay away from visiting too much. The hard part always is if there is not enough. I don’t change houses or jobs, and that saves a lot. I once abandoned both and lost twenty thousand dollars in less than a year. I got very angry at myself, and I went on a mad budget until I felt that I had made much of it back by skimping. At 66, I don’t want any more skimps.
There is no difference between hetero and homo in the field of Hobbes function. It is the same ache, the same simplicity, and the same waste of time. It is also powerful, sexy, and produces powerful specialized love stories. Mainly, a sound and a fury signifying nothing–except one’s whole life.
Proust’s analysis of homosexuality–he calls it inversion–reifies the subject. When I read him, however, I began to understand myself a bit better because I needed to hold the subject steady in those years. After reading Saint Genet, I began to realize something more about the field of inversion that Proust left out. To understand Proust, Charlus, or Genet, you need to locate them in capitalism where specialization becomes necessary–and separation–and oneness alone. I understood everything after reading Marx until I read Hobbes and Kuhn.
Proust and Joyce are produced by the nineteenth century. The first ones on their block to have Freud and Einstein. They never knew Marx, however, and they hardly noticed the Russian Revolution. More “Modern” than revolutionary.
Charlus is the most inverted character in all perverse literature. In a fearful way, I sometimes identify with his antics. (Not his class, of course.) I don’t remember enough details to tell you specifics, but Proust explains all.
Proust defines it, holds it, and prepares us all to think of it as a permanence. This is “black,” this is “women,” this is “Gay,” and this is “American” are statements that reify. They all do a disservice to productive thinking. When I first read Proust, he made me think of myself as a Charlus. I got my class and my appetite wrong for years after: you have to read Proust while wearing a Marxist prophylactic or you will become cynical and pompous.
I have taken a leaf out of my own advice book. I am reading today. During the semester, I find it difficult to get deeply into a book, but I decided that I better start practicing for long days alone like today. The house is not sad at all, but it is quiet, very quiet. I have to decide how to shatter that quiet, and I am electing for classical music, but I don’t have much in my CD collection. I would like to burn some, but burning is not for me until my friend Bill gets here on Thursday. he is supposed to be my guide into this toy. Marvin will need lots of toys around the house as the future unfolds. The thoughts of retirement, as you may suspect from signs here and there in my letters, are beginning to take hold. Sometimes, they shatter my self-confidence. Then I think that I am breaking new ground: a Marxist-Darwinist journal keeping sorting out type retiring. It is difficult to accept that only classes change history, not philosophers or diarists. What is to be done? Still the best question.
Yes! One aspect of the retirement that I am concentrating on heavily is the renewed writing in the journal. If you ever do read it, you will have my prescription for retirement. My friend Ruth used to tell me that there was nothing good about getting old, and that I should not believe anyone who tried to convince me about “golden years.” Nevertheless, she always thought that if you stick around, you should do your time happier than anyone else–without hurting yourself or anyone else unnecessarily. (Lots of qualifications in that one.) I studied her carefully, especially after she retired. As I remember now, she stayed on working until into her seventies. However, she only had a part time job, it was at the University of California, and she never went to work before 1. She was secretary for the Committee on Prizes, so all she had to think about was how to comfort losers while she was meeting all the winners: talk about posh jobs for someone born to be a Catcher in the Rye.
Reading on the Russian Revolution, and it is distracting me wonderfully well. Slept lots of hours, and that seems the key to my dealing with my worst moods. Nevertheless, I should explain to you in what is our first holiday season together here that I go into winter doldrums. It has to do with the holidays. I start hating people around Halloween, and I don’t come around again until after New Year’s. In some years, I decide that it is best to join them than fight them. Last year was one of those. I gave more Christmas presents than any Jew in the history of the holiday. This year is more typical: Bah! Humbug. Around 22 December things change because the sun heads back in my direction. I do try to break the moods as much as possible. A laid-back Thanksgiving with older folks is going to work for me this year.
You absolutely would not have believed my performance today. I handed back 25 percent f grades, and they were still glued to their seats—and actually laughing so much that we had to stop to breathe. I am being very, very funny these waning days. I am waning, but in a funny, cute, dimply kind of way.
Speaking of dialectical thinking, I was watching a long, long, long, long, boring, but fascinating, presentation of homosexuality on film through the decades. Of course, they showed scenes from Rebel Without a Cause, Boys in the Band, and Tea and Sympathy. There were many attempts to evaluate the difference between lesbian and homosexual themes, but what came across mostly was that “fag” continues an acceptable term in films for bad guy use, and the good guys always want to use “gay” instead. No one thinks that it is ridiculous to have categories at all. We are Black, White, Gay, Asian, Peruvian, and French. The Israelis have to own the largest Ghetto in the world, and “natural” history demands that Kosovo be a nation. As the obvious happens, the end of sexual differences, the demise of the national state, the eradication of ethnic biases, and the production of a god less explanation of phenomenon, the makers of culture celebrate diversity. I fell asleep thinking of such things, and I understood that no one understands what is going on except for me. Everyone has it wrong but me. Any normal person would say that a person needed a doctor if he thought that: surely, his friends should think to lock him up before he hurts someone. No chance that I will hurt myself! I’m right! They’re wrong. I will buy a new computer, and then get a better car to drive it home. I can’t cure the madness, but I won’t let it interrupt my fun and good mood. Meanwhile, all the stupid people rush around the world trying to make diplomatic break throughs. Pompous assholes. they finally figured out how to solve Serbia. Throw billons at the people and they will shut up and fuck anybody while stoned. Throw billions at the Jews and Arabs and watch them shop to decorate the universal holy land of everyone’s faith before ending faith. God needs killing–again. Blow up the churches.
I know that no one will ever stop seeing me “Jew,” “Gay,” “Queer,” “Prof,” or “Commie,” but I would not respond favorable to any of those labels. Call me Mickey or Marxist, Marvin is okay if it is sounded in the familiar way, and you do that way. (So do my secretaries.) As for the rest, I will sleep with anyone that does not smell and attracts me no matter what language they use, but I won’t think highly of them if they reify me. The sadder thing is that they do it to themselves. “I am a Jew, and I am proud enough of it to kill Arab kids for ‘our’ holy land. It is ours! Ours! Ours!”
You don’t have to know shit about classical music if you are a Marxist. All you have to know is when classical (feudal) music ends, and bourgeois (capitalist) music begins. It is the same with the novel, accept there are no feudal novels: capitalism invents the novel. Capitalism may also invent classical and bourgeois music: one represents primitive accumulation—baroque music–the other starts with romantic music. Beethoven is the first of the romantics, and Brahms is the second. Bach is the last of the classical–maybe Hayden too. The romantic music becomes rough as capitalism invents imperialism, world wars, and atom bombs. (Symphony Fantastic, put it on now, by Berlioz, gives us the capitalist industrial revolution. Play it while you read my lectures if they get on the net. I am being impatient with my secretary. she set up the web page, but I want her to put the lectures there. Nag, nag, nag. I am afraid that I will die before I finish. It is possible now.
Listen to the Emperor concerto written to celebrate Bonaparte. I think that Beethoven changed the name of the symphony when he understood what a monster Napoleon could be. The concerto was written at the same time that Wordsworth is growing cool on the golden side of “human nature.” The romantics turn into reactionaries. You need my lectures before I die. The first one is online. Read it and let me know what you think.
Samuel Richardson. Be prepared to be embarrassed, but don’t feel too bad: the English department neglects the history of the novel because they only care about style. Richardson invented the psychological novel, and he also invented the soap opera.
Very important to approach music, and everything else, historically. Marx does it backwards. He starts with a commodity, and asks, “How did that get here.” Start with a symphony, novel, and a you and ask the same question. You will soon find yourself doing history. Proust, as you are seeing, knows history. That is why his novel is so full. Try Tolstoy for someone who knew history.
Know Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740. A very, very good book. It does not have the passion of Kettle, but he is better at Marx and history.
I am doing everything right, of course, but everyone else is doing it wrong, so I look wrong, but I am right. I cannot figure out how I became so anti everything that others do: family, marriage, nation, army, flag, church, and even universities. It is an autobiographical problem for me, especially as Proust is doing to me what he did to me on the first go-round: he is making me self-involved. I certainly did not need any extra impetus to spend my time naval gazing, and in winter.
I entered Sodom this morning with the story of Charlus, Jupien, and Marcel listening through the vent. My remembrances of things past include opening this volume in 1963, the first that I really read of Proust if I discount the attempt to read the novel in 1955, when I got into, but not through, Swann’s way. I understand on this read why so many people stop there, and I think that I would recommend for anyone who loves men that they start with this volume. They will want the rest of the story after this first introduction to the Baron and his playmates and to Proust talking about his “types.” I find underlinings here that any clever biographer would want to note, and I again wonder whether I copied these lines into the journal of 1963. It sits across the room, but I don’t want to cross over to open those volumes because it is winter, and it is enough to have Proust making me morbidly introspective without adding my own introspections from the past to the being alone in the house day after day in winter.
I am in an uncompromising mood today. Maybe “fury” would be the correct word. I will explain when I get there, but I no longer “think” things. I know that belief in God, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, America, capitalism, countries, genders, races, and classes as permanent is dumb, and even dumber is the idea that we worship these forms forever. Such ideas are causing the waste of the species and, more importantly today, my life.
Do you realize that there is not a pleasant character in Remembrance?
Hobbes invented the paradigm. Proust is writing to you about these people a century earlier. They just got richer, more spoiled, and very bored. As neither Gore nor Bush can do use work, they want to run the plantation of wage slaves for entertainment. If you don’t believe that human nature changes, you want either to torture it so it will shape up and behave, or you want to coddle it so it will kiss your ass better. This is the Hobbes-Locke division on possessive individualism played out three hundred and fifty years later by Democrats and Republicans with cameras and action. It is very wasteful, but these fights decode the system. Why it should need any more decoding after the blow job in the White House, I don’t know? We will not know that we are in a new stage of history until everyone is comfortably reading Darwin. That will be the first obvious sign.
You will need the history of the English Revolution to understand Bunyan, but he is very important. The Christian that will not live in England after the “Puritan” revolution fails goes to jail rather than participate in the Restoration. Jail for eleven years! He writes Pilgrim’s Progress in jail. He answers the question: How to live in Sin City when Mammon rules? You withdraw into yourself. He is the first of the Wordsworth Romantics to face living where capitalism reigns. The good man, like Thoreau, goes to jail. Writers from Bunyan to Beckett present the same theme over and over again–see Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett.
Money matters are at the center of everything in bourgeois societies, indeed they star in all our plays, and they can depress terribly. If the problem is not solvable, then you don’t think about it.
We all function in a field, but we are only made aware of all the egoism involved in it when a crisis occurs. We don’t bother about how capitalists operate until their actions produce a health crisis through, say, tobacco-making. Once we are aware of it, however, watch out: revolution is possible against the whole system that permits it.
What is fascinating is to see the Sermon brought back by bourgeois society. Bunyan and Wesley led the way in this conversion and replenishing of Christianity in a capitalist world. The most materialist society in history got the sermons it deserved. It was all about “Am I saved,” rather than the “Are we saved,” of the feudal period. It meant that each of us could think only of our individual souls while the capitalists took our property and our living labor. Religion and the bourgeoisie: quite a story.
It is important to remember the lesson that Proust teaches: everyone around you judges from a Hobbesian perspective. They see things through their own eyes. Each person’s personality comes to us as a “truth.” Sometimes it is a complex truth, sometimes it is one that does not interest us. But we, I, interpret regardless as if I were an all seeing Emersonian eyeball. The personalities are vivid, their reasons for doing things always thought-out, planned, and executed with “me” in mind. The hardest thing to know is that we are always peripheral in everyone’s life but our own “unless” we trick that other one into our own through license. My mother makes it all so clear to me: “You can do anything you want after I am gone.” This in regard to my taking a long trip to China. I gave her the mother-earned license to say it. What Marx proves is that we are all interrelated, and there are no licenses but those we made: Proust proves that we are always unaware of that relationship because our ideology and society separate us from new truths. The problem of you and me is how to we go beyond mere presentation, the artist and lecturer presentation, of all-seeing eyeballs? How do we analyze rather than describe? How do we comprehend rather than judge? We must start off working as an ensemble with a fresh methodology, Marxism, so that we bring our perceptions into line with a better tentative truth than Hobbes’s.
One great thing that Proust is doing, is writing French history. Tolstoy did it for Russia. Very important parts of the novel. New technology enters as Marcel gets older. See the entire picture. Proust is doing history, but he is finding human nature permanent. So, he is a mechanical materialist. (See Politizer, Elementary Intro. to Philosophy.)
If you identify with the bourgeoisie or the aristocracy, you will get it all wrong. Proust analyses jealousy and possessive love better than anyone: he does not know what it is to be a worker and to lose your partner. It happens all the time to working class partners, by the way. Only recently have labor power fueled homes not been devastated by early death. Read Germinal. Men died and left their women, a lot. Women died in childbirth. The average life expectancy for my father’s generation was 45 in the 1930s. Only the war and the American business of making business out of bombing and repairing from bombing made working class life consumptive instead of productive. Ugly stuff.
I can hardly wait until Proust is as out of date as is worshipping pharaohs. It took a long time to put those mummies in their place–a museum for how wrong our species gets things during their drive to understand truth.
Proust will become a hundred thousand times more soothing once you are past the second volume. Under other circumstances, I would suggest that you speed read the first two, but it will spoil it for you. (I read the first two volumes, and then I read a review of one of the later ones, so I moved into that one: it gripped me so much that I sped through the latter books and rushed to read the earlier novels again.) Proust wrote better and more about possessive love, jealousy, hatred, and anxiety than any other novelist that I know. If I had not read Marx later, I would have thought that all the truths of “human nature” were analyzed forever in his pages. It is only bourgeois human nature that he did, of course, but I did not know that human nature changed–or, better yet, did not exist—until five years after I read Proust. I wasn’t convinced until twenty years had passed.
My decision-making powers have all but left me now, and I am starting to withdraw wholesale even from my community. Marvin is not a happy camper now! Too much self-pity running rampant, and now I am concerned that the horse I backed, the pills, may not do the job. I have already approached my boss about not finishing the semester: that should give you an idea of how desperate I am at the moment. Yet the sun is shining.
I am going to try some classical music again during the car ride. The other stations are driving me mad, and the more popular stuff that I like is tied so to memories, and I had quite enough of those, thank you, while piling through to almost the end of Proust. He is back on his shelf, and if she should scream, “Finish me,” I will turn his face to the wall. I have done the memory, and now it is time to go forward. Backward only has belief in Gods, religion, Freud, Hobbes, and Proust. Forward contains Marx and Darwin, but I know no other books outside of Kuhn now. I am looking, but they are all in the science section, and I can only read science at a certain level. I am not suspicious of classical music because I don’t know it well enough to know what it might be doing to me. If there is a music to go with Marx and Darwin, I can only believe that it is our internal music, but that is as romantic as thinking that I can be Ponce de Leon.
The pills are working in only one way so far: they provide sleep, and I wake with much energy. Unfortunately, I have no project beyond making myself Ponce.
Adam showed back up in my life yesterday, and we healed some of the past months. I don’t know what I want to do with him, but I noticed that he was much improved without having a Marvin. From what he saw, he could have said that I was much impaired without having an Adam, but I don’t think having an Adam would have made any difference. I am graduating, and that means the third generation of worker, i.e., person specialized to work, to enter retirement land without a clue. I cannot go to Las Vegas to gamble, and I don’t think that you will find me on a carnival cruise–my mother and brother did those things. I might get to China, but it is looking less likely as I add up the possibility of summoning up my energy. It all depends on my mood. I cannot guarantee anything, even that I will be here. I would prefer not to be, but I don’t think that I have any idea how to accomplish that. My mother’s face is too much in front of me to get far in thinking it.
As for Marcel and Albertine, he is a spoiled poofster and she is a posh connected whore. The power of the novel is in the selling of what we consider “common sense.” There are no more analogies for us in this book than there were for slaves who thought their lives contained the same social relationships as their masters. I don’t think that Blacks ever could have gotten it as wrong, however, while in slavery as they did out of slavery. Even that said, Blacks, Gays, and Women still get it more correct than the white men, but everyone is still begging Proustians rather than knocking them off. Go back to Long Distance Runner for the line something like: “The difference between them and us is that if we had the whip hand over them we would let ’em have it” while they keep us going because we do all the work.
It solves the problem for the bourgeoisie because it protects life, liberty–and property, especially property. It is the political “science” for capitalists who needed an idea system that guaranteed their ownership against the pope and the people.
Translating dreams is comparable to translating history: an art form. Of course, they mean something, but they are made up of so much raw material that it is impossible to know what they “really” mean. You un-pick them afterwards, and then you live with the lingering feeling that interpretation gives you: the interpretation, more or less, stays with you and influences the day–in some way. The only good book Freud ever wrote was his Interpretation of Dreams.
I could not finish re-reading Proust, and I won’t go back to him. Adam claims that my reading him is the prime cause of this awful depression.
My sadness is flowing in British history big time. I don’t know that I am good for the students in this mood: I am too old, too retired, too wintry, too sad. You hold to your fetishism as tightly as I seem to be holding on to my depression. I wonder what makes us such fanatics. I don’t know that I am getting any better any faster than you are. Today was a truly brutal day because the great new pills, whose main value to now has been that they grant me sleep, did not operate last night which is now the night before last. I may have slept a bit more, but not that much, and only with the aid of two sleeping pills. It is not strange to me that I am growing desperate.
“If there be Contract, the Dominion is in the Mother. For in the condition of meer Nature, where are no Matrimoniall Lawes, it cannot be known which is the Father, unlesse it be declared by the Mother: and therefore the right of Dominion over the Child dependeth on her will, and is consequently hers. Again, seeing the Infant is first in the power of the mother, so as she may either nourish, or expose it, if she nourish it, it oweth its life to the Mother; and therefore obliged to obey her, ratherthan any other; and by consequence the Dominion over it is hers. But if she expose it, and another find, and nourish it, ‘the Dominion is in him that nourisheth it. For it ought to obey him by whom it is preserved; because preservation of life being the end, for which one may become subject to another, every man is supposed to promise obedience, to him, in whose power it is to save, or destroy him.” Hobbes, LEVIATHAN, part II, chapter 20.
Don’t believe everything Hobbes says–he gave birth to Proust–but Hobbes understood the bourgeois rule book.
I am into the history of paradigms, and what living in a particular or between paradigms did to individuals who left records. Shakespeare left lots, and it was mostly written between the time that Copernicus started the ball rolling and Newton closed that new paradigm. If Shakespeare had lived a century after he lived, he never would have written what he wrote–if he wrote anything. It was living between eras that forced his attention. Which side is correct? Is either side right? What if there is no right or wrong, etc. He can be called, fairly, the first intellectual.
I am trying to write something that contrasts paradigms: the one that Lear understands, the one that Richard III understands, and the latest one that I understand. To live, somehow, I have to keep convincing myself that I am correct about everything. I have abandoned the bourgeois paradigm, but I cannot leave the bourgeois epoch even if it is finished. Its residual power continues to enthrall me by its thoughts on human nature and God. When I lecture on these subjects, students light up because they want to discuss “God.” He is “dreadfully” important to them and their wellbeing. They don’t like me for saying that he does not exist, that the idea is a mythical truth, but they still want me to say it. I cannot understand them: they want their God, but they want me to contend with him for them. It is their passion play.
Richard III should be played as a new man. You understand Richard III by thinking of him as someone who has read Shakespeare, listened to the arguments between Catholics and Protestants, and processed all the new information that the sixteenth century had to offer. (Even if historically, he lived in the fifteenth century, he is a late sixteenth and early seventeenth century skeptic gone atheist: a John Donne before that poet’s leap of faith.) Richard does not believe in God. Put even more powerfully, he has discovered that mankind made up God out of their fear of living. He is not going to let God get in his way of getting what he wants materially. As Edmund in Lear says, I could not have land by birth, so I will get it by wit. Wit means in that case killing a brother, which Richard does, murdering other relatives, which Richard does, seducing women, which Richard does. No guilt. I go and kill, maim, fuck, and never worry about judgment. The worst part of all, however, is that he intends to convince everyone that he is a good guy. He knows that they are dopey enough to believe him because they believe in God, and they cannot imagine someone who is not fearful of divine judgment. He plays the innocent as fools and tricks them out of their possessions and even their lives. He is a con man. I think a modern movie was made with that theme recently.
I actually had a moment last night where I got an idea for a writing project. I wrote only one line, but I will develop the idea in English history class. The theme is one of my favorites: The Old
Men Versus the New Men in post Copernican England. I would start with Henry VIII versus Lear‘s Edmund.
Marx would not talk about “you” as an individual, and I don’t think that Kuhn does either. Proust does, and Hobbes does, but classes make revolutions not individuals. As individuals, however, we can decide which side is more progressive, and join it. It is quite simple: we function in a field, and Marx was correct when he wrote that there were only two classes left with that field. If the capitalist class still rules as it did in 1900, the species dies out from the environmental crisis. If I am correct when I insist that we are in the socialist stage of history, then the working class is driving, and we are much safer than we think we are after reading the morning paper. “You” changing the world, however, is out. You can, on the other hand, loosen Proust’s hold on you by understanding that Remembrance contains the previous, still potent but dying, ruling class ideology. By breaking it, you join the long-distance runners. I think that it will make you happier, but there is no guarantee of that. If you can keep the idea before you that laughter, humor, and play are sensible in this stage of history, you will have more fun in prehistory than you are having. I don’t know that you can do that–you are ambitious as well as feudal–and you may want to keep suffering the way that you do because all the characters in novels either love or suffer in a way that makes sense to you. Read Germinal for a contrast.
The grip that Albertine had was more than Proust’s addiction: it was also his ideology that prepared him for the addiction, the habit. He had Hobbes in his head, possession counting for all, and he nourished that ideology, that paradigm. He believed in romantic love instead of communal love–with sex. Albertine was a “normal” working class parasite living in the bourgeois epoch. Marx would have put her in his “lumpen” proletariat, a class traitor, a whore. She liked sex, money, and rock and roll. Marcel was a drip, but she needed the money to have the sex and rock and roll. You probably should read Germinal as an antidote. You know, of course, that Proust and Zola were contemporaries: Zola, however, wrote about the working class struggle against the Prousts and Albertines of the world.
I am certain that we live our everyday life within a process that destroys all old, backward, unscientific modes of living. Capitalism is the major tool used to uproot all those other ways, including the feudal mode. That does not mean that most people, your father would probably be a good example, cannot thrive–lose their fears–by adopting the outdated idea system, and passing it on to their children. Living in the cast-off mannerism of previous ruling classes works well for most people still addicted to the Catholic church. Your father gave you this worthwhile gift for budgeting and surviving during the transformation period, and it will help you to buy a car and to solve other practical problems: use it. As you already know, it does not help much with the existential dilemmas.
If you can see it from the navigator’s point of view, you are beginning to see how it controlled the species for so many centuries. Imagine all those children learning such physics as common sense! They then go on to Newtonian and Hobbesian common sense which is as incorrect and even more disfiguring because the entire world population agrees on that paradigm. At least in the olden days, different folks in separated communities had conflicting paradigms, and the contradictions were culturally debated. External paradigm arguments! Now, however, the corrections have to come from inside.
Yes! But what you must get also is that Shakespeare, and folks like him, lived before the new paradigm shifted and while the old ruled as dumb King Lear and Calendar Pope Gregory.
Freud was right in the way that Proust is correct, and they both based their insights on Hobbes. If there is a human nature, it works the way that they say: if there is not, there is only process. It is relatively easy to list the facts, and that is the first way that historians work. It is a bit more complex, to reflect the process as seen, and that is the way that Proust, Freud, Hobbes, and Shakespeare worked, in reverse order, of course. This is the second way that historians work, and the greatest of them, men like Edward Gibbon, find rises and falls, but no safety, and certainly no different future, just different costumes, generation after generation. Shakespeare took no hostages, and that is why he was, in many ways, the greatest of the bourgeois historians, dramatists, poets, and comedy writers: “A sound and a fury signifying nothing” with Puck. If
Marx, Darwin, and Kuhn are correct: we are inside the process, and we works. This is the third way in which historians work. And now you have my lecture in British history for tomorrow before I introduce Marx’s formula, the agricultural, and the industrial revolution–and the working class, and its specialization before it had retirement, unemployment insurance, or carnival tours.
I don’t think that the perspective is getting fuzzy. It may be just the opposite! The sharper it becomes the more Lear like I become: what a waste of humanity’s time not living within the new paradigm. We live in the cast-off mannerisms of all the preceding generations that can be brought forward through modern technology. History as distraction and instruction! On what? On the theme that nothing changes but fashion. The counterproductive forces are still too strong.
Proust says something simple: we are all separate, you cannot know anyone, you will always love in a way that the other does not love, and the only thing that can be left for glory is a concerto, a painting, or a novel. What’s it all about, Alfie? Art! He never recognizes any beauty in the food that the world produced for him, the warmth, the electricity, or the language. He is the artist! Taking credit for everything and condemning those who take credit for everything more obviously than he does. Yes! It is sad that we still die, but instead of concentrating on immortality through a book, play, or painting, we should go for the real thing.
I am more excited about giving you the Kuhn books, which I have ready to go. You will learn much more from reading them than you learned from Proust. Proust, however, is great raw material for studying the bourgeois paradigm in its most powerful form. I think that the game is up, however, just because the novels are becoming so much thinner, being replaced by too many movies one after another, and, yes, even too many plays one after another. Basketball and tennis, played by workers, is where the new art form is, but no one sees it that way because they still call it recreation or wasting time. Novels were seen as trash too until the bourgeoisie discovered them (and the revived Church) as valuable for selling theories of “human nature” and explanations for poverty. The art form of socialism is play, not a play, just play, and I am wondering what I will play at after I give up my classroom. I am faced with needing a new project badly, the reason for my recent depression, but I am hesitant to start writing my memoirs because that project is done alone. I don’t like alone doings. It would be a distraction, but it would not be play.
The only way to understand the women in Proust is to know that they are men, homosexual men, that “trick fuck,” each other, exactly the correct phrase as you put it. No one in Remembrance loves anyone the way that you do because the writer never loved a woman, or a man, in the way that working people love. My take it on it is that the book is about life in two dying classes, two non-working classes, two parasitic classes: it is not about “life.”
“Well, he’s playing around with Time, what else are we to make of it?” This is our time, all the time we’re ever going to get, so does that not lend a kind of permanence, “for all time”, human nature quality to it, even if it’s just pretend, because it might just as well be human nature as a permanence if it’s all we’ll ever know.”
It is a trap to think history in this way because it leads to passivity. That is the destructive power of Hobbes and Proust (The novel in general): if you buy their take on it, especially Proust who does indicate that “it might just as well be human nature” because it is the only life that you have. This a very conservative take on Time, a very self-involved, self-interested take on time by someone who had all the toys: drugs, books, art, music, costumes, action. No one who works in Remembrance makes anything: the entire working class are servants for the rich. If I were an aristocrat or a member of the bourgeoisie, I would view time in the way that Proust does. If you were a member of either of those classes, your marriage, your love, your idea of friendship would be as jaundiced as those that he describes. Parasites are that way, or worse.
You know this drill, but you, as I, could never go through the action more than mechanically because we are not doing something that gives us pleasure. I will go to school today, I will see some students, I will prepare the lectures, and I will try to write to short letters because if I stay home the only thing that I can think of doing is going into the garage, starting the engine, and closing the door behind me.