Friday, February 19, 2010
I finished reading the first volume of "In Search of Lost Time."
What a god-awful mess it was. Because of the book, I grew to hate my daily commute. My pride would not let me leave the book unfinished, my values did their best to keep from reading more. From the very start, I despised the sentence structure. I enjoyed the fact that it mimicked the natural flow of thoughts -- it's quite accurate, but that's something to use once as an example, and then to be filed away, never to be bothered with again. To fill over 600 pages in that manner borders on the obscene. But this does not begin to enumerate my many misgivings with the book.
I hate each and every single character in the book. It is a deep, visceral hatred. I would very much like to fight them, for my right-straight to shatter jaws and send shards of teeth flying in every direction. I cannot stand doddering old aristocrats who care about family registers, who cling to the fortunes of a by-gone era, spending their lives looking for entertainment and, for lack of a better word, 'drama'. I quite like nobility when they are active and doing things. I don't mind kings, barons, counts, earls, knights who plot and govern, wage war, negotiate truces and march at the forefront with their battle standards. I hate the ones who grow fat and lazy, made obsolete by guilds and craftsmen. Clutter, even if it wears an ermine cape, should be thrown out with the trash.
I hate characters who "fall in love" which is to say the hazy, vague, unidentifiable obsessive love that sickens its host. This is not love. This is an adolescent psychic parasite and should be treated as such. Remove the offending agent and take measures to never acquire it again. Because of how deeply opposed I am to this kind of infantile type of love -- I, in my own practice, never call this type of emotive state, love -- I can't help but group "In Search Of Lost Time", revolutionary novel, ground-breaking novel that it is, with mf'in Twilight.
Just as I hate Edward Cullen, I hate Swann (how ironic) and would dearly love to step on their necks. Principally, I hate the kind of 'love' that's not openly predicated on values but on impulse and unidentified desire. Love is always, always a response to values. If a person continues to choose partners that injure him, I'm going to just flat out say that I'm talking about women who are always in relationships with abusive, violent men, and men who are continually in relationships with castrating harpies, I am going to say it is because they have chosen it, and until they change their value system, they will never choose anything but their own pain and torment.
So when I read for God-knows-how-many-pages about Swann's adoration for Odette de Crecy and how, in the vernacular, she's playing him like an old Nintendo classic, I want to throw the book out a window and scream "Stop being a whiny prick and do something about it!" The people I have the least tolerance and most fist for are the over-educated and under-couraged who use their sensitive brains as an excuse for such a flimsy will.
Does this signify my leaving the realm of literary theorists? Well then, good riddance. I know of a few people, all of them would describe themselves as literarily minded, who would go apoplectic at this kind of criticism that I'm leveling. It's not done in one of the major schools? It's neither Foucaultian or Derridian or ... or... He's really leveling a moral objection to the book? Hell yes. I object to the book because this is exactly the kind of trash work that wastes my time with its delicate and sensitive topics. My only pleasant experience from the book is the fact that I can now say that in reading "In Search Of Lost Time" I wish that I could find the time I lost in reading it.