Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A literary diversion

It may be because the personalities I perceived in her at that time were so various that I later took to turning into a different person, depending on which Albertine was in my mind: I became a jealous man, an indifferent man, a voluptuary, a melancholic, a madman, these characters coming over me not just in response to the random recurrence of memories, but also under the variable influence of some intervening belief which affected this or that memory by making me see it differently. There was, there is, no getting away from these beliefs: most of the time, they fill our mind unawares; yet they are more important for our happiness than the very person standing there in front of us, since it is through these ideas that we see such a person, since it is they that endow the person seen with whatever importance he or she may have. In the interests of accuracy, I should really give a separate name to each of the selves in me that was to harbor a future thought of Albertine; and it would be even more appropriate if I had a different name for each of the Albertines who appeared in her single guise, none of whom was identical to the others, as variable as the seas I saw before me, which I simplified to the same word "sea," and which served as a backdrop to my inconstant nymph.
Macel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, tr. James Grieve (New York: Penguin 2005), pp. 525-26. Emphasis added.

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