Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What Do James Joyce and Marcel Proust Have to do with Each Other?

As I was getting ready for work this morning I had a great idea for a post this evening about James Joyce and Proust. Now, as I sit down to actually write the post, the great idea I had has gone missing. I am staring at my blinking cursor, trying to remember and failing. If I follow Proust's way of memory, all I have to do is touch the right object and it will all come back to me. I imagine myself rubbing my shoes like Aladdin's lamp. Imagining it makes me feel silly so I am certainly not going to do it for real. Therefore I am out of luck. Or out of memory.   Another memory does come to the surface, however, without any shoe rubbing. When I was in college I dreamt an entire term paper. The paper, of course, was brilliant. The thing about this dream is that I was aware enough to know I was dreaming, aware enough to be able to read the paper and make a few revisions, aware enough to know that when I woke up I was going to be busy scribbling it all down. But I couldn't get myself to wake up. My dream ended, I returned to normal sleep. The alarm eventually woke me. I remembered I had a dream about my term paper and that I was going to remember it so I could write it when I woke up. I could recall what the paper was about but other than that it was entirely lost. Sigh.   Proust and Joyce, what did I have to say? I know I can't read them both close together. A few nights ago I read a couple pages of Proust and then picked up Portrait if the Artist as Young Man. I read a page and none of it made sense. I read the page again and still couldn't make anything of it. I realized that since Joyce has a similar feel--long (though not as long as Proust) sentences that tend to repetition and a sort of melodious flow--that I was trying to read Joyce like he was Proust. That's not going to work. I put down Joyce and picked up Bryher instead. Much better!   Last night I intentionally did not read Proust in order to read Joyce. The page that previously made no sense was perfectly comprehensible and I had a pleasant Joycean evening. Even though I read multiple books at a time, I have not had trouble like this before. At least not that I can remember which isn't saying much since I have already proven my memory is flighty. And while I am pretty sure I was going to say something about reading Proust and Joyce at the same time, this is not what the post was going to be about.   I am now going to file The Lost Post Idea along with The Lost Term Paper. I am absolutely certain, just as The Lost Term Paper was the best I'd ever written, The Lost Post Idea was the best one I've ever had. Since they are lost no one can prove it otherwise.