Sunday, January 27, 2008

Remembrance of Things Past

I must admit right up front, I've never read Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, but one of my favorite quotations comes from Swann's Way, Chapter 1:
When from a long distant past nothing persists, after the people are dead, after things are broken and scattered, still alone, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long, long time like souls, ready to remind us, waiting, hoping for their moment amid the ruins of all the rest, and bear unfaltering in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence the vast structure of recollection.
I was introduced to this quotation in an episode of Northern Exposure, one of the best TV series ever. The quotation was read by Chris (John Corbett) in a Season 3 episode called The Body in Question:


Here's the quotation in the original French:
Mais, quand d'un passé ancien rien ne subsiste, après la mort des êtres, après la destruction des choses, seules, plus frêles mais plus vivaces, plus immatérielles, plus persistantes, plus fidèles, l'odeur et la saveur restent encore longtemps, comme des âmes, à se rappeler, à attendre, à espérer, sur la ruine de tout le reste, à porter sans fléchir, sur leur gouttelette presque impalpable, l'édifice immense du souvenir.
You'll find both the English and the original French texts online if you're interested, and there are many Proust websites and blogs if you care to delve deeper into À la recherche du temps perdu. The links in this post are enough to get you started.

Out of curiosity, I used Babelfish to translate the quotation. I don't speak French at all, and I was curious to see how the auto-translation would compare with the efforts of a live, thinking brain:
But, when of an old past nothing remains, after the death of the beings, the destruction of the things, only, frailer but more long-lived, more immaterial, more persistent, more faithful, the odor and savour remain still a long time, like hearts, to remember, wait, hope, on the ruin of all the remainder, to carry without bending, on their almost impalpable droplet, the immense building of the memory.
Not too shabby, huh?

But... I digress! Oh, how I digress! I am not here today to hand you over to Proust, but to invite you to play with a very cool Flickr Toy called phrasr and to see the slideshow I made with my favorite quote (give it a minute to load):
Proust: Remembrance by TK
And I hope you will join in the fun and please, please!, elevate the company in which my quotation sits. As you'll see in the archives, such entries as "I'm boring" (doubtless true of the unimaginative sloth who wrote it) and "What do you had for breakfast" (grammatically alarming) give you the opportunity to distinguish yourself as brilliant and educated. And don't be afraid to change the images that come up automatically--you are given a large selection to choose from for each word, so you should be able to find something that keeps the spirit of your quotation or brilliant thought.

Go ahead, impress me! And when you're done, use the comment section below to share your quote so I can go see what you did with it.

One caveat: my quotation was, if I recall correctly, 73 words, and I spent at least an hour choosing the images. You might want to start with a shorter phrase. But not too short! Two or three words doesn't make much of a slideshow.

By the way, "Rawr, I am teh overlard" was written by someone who either has or will someday have a driver's license. This is the reason you should always drive defensively.