Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Pretty Little Flowers

From Within a Budding Grove, p. 472 in my Modern Library paperback edition, spoken by the eccentric M. de Charlus, previously supposed to be condescending and testicularly insensitive:
... the greatest folly of all is to mock or to condemn in others what one does not happen to feel oneself. I love the night, and you tell me that you dread it. I love the scent of roses, and I have a friend whom it throws into a fever. Do you suppose that for that reason I consider him inferior to me? I try to understand everything and I take care to condemn nothing.
Compare this to something I picked up from the DFW mailing list (wallace-l):
I would be saying that all aesthetic choices are equally valid, in which case there's no point in talking about them at all. I like what I like, you like what you like, and there's no way to reconcile that, or any need to. I doubt anyone here believes that absolutely. - PR
The "my aesthetic choices are better than yours" vs. "everybody's choices are valid" is a pretty tired old argument, I know. But I think it's at least a tiny bit interesting that the passage from Proust, which was probably meant to apply for "real" emotions, can also be taken as an argument for aesthetic toleration.

For the emotions we feel for art are often every bit as dear and sensitive as the emotions we feel for people.

Also, I'm not sure what Proust/the narrator is all about, re: girls. Well, actually I'm pretty sure I do know what he's about, I just think it's funny that it more or less corresponds with what the average college boy is about. Except he's French and uses prettier words about it. "Dude, those girls are hot." becomes "[They are] an amorphous, delicious mass... a sort of vague, white constellation in which one would have distinguished a pair of eyes that sparkled more than the rest, a mischievous face, flaxen hair, only to lose them again and to confound them almost at once in the indistinct and milky nebula. (550)" "Milky nebula" indeed, Mr. Marcel!