Tuesday, December 21, 2010

According to our desire

We believe that according to our desire we are able to change the things around about us, we believe this because otherwise we can see no favourable solution. We forget the solution that generally comes to pass and is also favourable: we do not succeed in changing things according to our desire, but gradually our desire changes. The situation we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant. We have not managed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us round it, led us past it, and then if we turn around to gaze at the remote past, we can barely catch sight of it, so imperceptible has it become.

Marcel Proust
Remembrance of Things Past
Vol. 2, Page 699

In the Forum: smoking elves.


Old 333 said...

Not if you're Nyarlathotep, it doesn't. Bending one's will like a mountain in the erosionstream is all very well for time-bound mortals, though. I guess.

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

is true for many things ..
must be due to the adaptability

is true but also sad because it should never be adapted for the worst and try to fight the bad things

Two Tigers said...

I have always been much more about going around than fighting through or otherwise attempting to alter the intolerable. I've fought too many losing battles against immovable obstacles and won nothing but my own weariness and deepened disgust and despair. Far better to apply energy to something positive. I wish there were not the stigma that abandoning a cause shows faintness or fickleness of heart or will. It's not hard work I avoid, but futile effort. Lord continue to give me the wisdom to tell the difference!

See, Proust works on me as well as Poe!

Conrad DiDiodato said...

It's almost as if any effort expended in the wrong direction will of itself soften and relent: a real darwinian boon. Either see the object as a case of misspent energy & talent, and move toward something more adaptable, or fail altogether.

I don't think there is any real stigma there at all since so many of us have failed already.

I love Proust, too. I'm glad you're making your way through all three volumes, William: I've only read Volume II.

Art by JFM said...

Sometimes to survive in this life we must adapt to the things that cannot or refuse to be changed. The answer to keep your sanity is to know this and move on...

William Michaelian said...

It’s only fair, I think, since you have each responded to this passage, to share my own feeling about it. First of all, it is an excerpt, and I can’t help feeling I’ve cheated a bit by presenting it out of context, merely to suit my own purpose. Then again, that’s something we do all the time, in our daily attempt to make sense of things and to feel some semblance of understanding, balance, and control. When do we ever see things whole? — or, upon seeing them whole, recognize that we do? What we do, by and large, it seems to me, is tell ourselves stories. We are a story.

I highlighted this passage because it seems to mark a place, here near the end of the year, in my own life and thinking — a place where, illusion though it may be, I can choose either to continue ramming my head against the wall or look up and step out and around it. But of course I feel that way most of the time; I’ve felt that way for years; I feel that way every time I sit down to write; I feel that way every time I fail, even when I know I’m not failing, and that failure, really, doesn’t even exist. At the same time, the details, of which you may or may not think yourselves capable of guessing, are themselves part of the story — mine, and perhaps yours as well.

I shared this passage because I have lived it, from beginning to end, that’s all.

Peter, I thank you for Nyarlathotep and your “erosionstream.”

Laura, the truth is beautiful even when it’s sad. Thank you.

Gabriella, you are a good and wise friend.

Conrad, I love it when you say “It’s almost as if...” It’s like a door just opened.

Jan, thank you too. It might be safe to say, in fact, that we are here to adapt.

rahina q.h. said...

so true, isn't it? i just say 'knock yourself out' to those who are determined to twist the world to their desires... i, on the other hand, am constantly trying to twist my brushes to achieve the impossible;)

William Michaelian said...

Interesting, too, that those most convinced that they have twisted the world end up twisted themselves....

Alberto Oliver said...

This is simply extraordinary William and i think that clearly sum up it all. The struggle isn´t against the world, but with ourselves. And i dont think it is even a struggle, rather it is like the water, that tiny dropplet which begins its way up there in the mountain and follows a long and sometimes difficult road down to the sea where everything began. Sometimes as rumbling rapids, some others as a peaceful brook. Always following its way and never forgeting its goal. Sometimes we might think the elements force the water to change its course, but this is not true, the water is only following a new route but keeping its final destination in mind, which is what really matters.
Keep well and all my best wishes to you!!

William Michaelian said...

Best wishes to you, too, Alberto. And thank you for your vision and poetry.