Dear Reader: Google no longer supports Feedburner RSS! To receive feeds / email alerts of new posts, please register below, right.

Monday, June 09, 2014

The smell of coffee and milk

If we see again a thing which we looked at formerly it brings back to us, together with our past vision, all the imagery with which it was instinct.

This is because objects — a book bound like others in its red cover — as soon as they have been perceived by us become something immaterial within us, partake of the same nature as our preoccupations or our feelings at that time and combine, indissolubly with them. A name read in a book of former; days contains within its syllables the swift wind and the brilliant sun of the moment when we read it.

In the slightest sensation conveyed by the humblest aliment, the smell of coffee and milk, we recover that vague hope of fine weather which enticed us when the day was dawning and the morning sky uncertain; a sun-ray is a vase filled with perfumes, with sounds, with moments, with various humours, with climates. It is that essence which art worthy of the name must express and if it fails, one can yet derive a lesson from its failure (while one can never derive anything from the successes of realism) namely that that essence is in a measure subjective and incommunicable.
Marcel Proust - À la recherche du temps perdu

We’ve neutralised much of this haven’t we? By bringing into the realm of scientific study the vast complexity of mental associations, we have tried to sidestep the compelling reality of subjective life.

Not only in popular psychology, but in a whole plethora of explanatory terms we use to cast a false aura of objectivity over our most implacable biases.

Yet Proust was right - as great writers so often are.


All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.


Sackerson said...

Two smells I loved as a child - brick dust from a building site, and the exhaust of a motorcycle.

Paddington said...

You can't beat the smell of a clean barn.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - brick dust and exhaust? Is that a sign of too much city life?

Paddington - not one I've ever sampled as far as I recall. I've passed by many mucky barns while out walking though. Strong smells but not always unpleasant.

Paddington said...

I keep goats and a donkey. If you can get over the smell of rat faeces, the hay and animal smells are nice. Not so much right before cleaning.

James Higham said...

What made Proust so great?