Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vinteuil's Little Phrase

One of my favorite passages in In Search of Lost Time, is at the end of the first volume, when Swann experiences the Proustian rush via the composer Vinteuil's little phrase. For me, more so than the Madeline, this scene gets at our sensory perception's ability to influence not only our emotional state, but our memory as well. Such a memorable couple of sentences here:

Even when he was not thinking of the little phrase, it existed latent in his mind on the same footing as certain other notions with material equivalent, such as our notions of light, sound, of perspective, of physical pleasure, the rich possessions wherewith our inner temple is diversified and adorned. Perhaps we shall lose them, perhaps they will be obliterated, if we return to nothingness. But so long as we are alive, we can no more bring ourselves to a state which we shall not have know them than we can with regard to any material object, than we can, for example, doubt the luminosity of a lamp that has just been lit, in view of the changed aspect of everything in the room, from which even the memory of the darkness has vanished. (497)

So with that in mind, I pieced together three of my favorite "little phrases" that have had a similar effect on me. Though I set it to start playing at the particular moment I had in mind, please listen to the whole piece, as these are all so good!

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