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(Now posting on the real Thursday!)

"I should be delighted to play to you," the dowager Mme did Cambremer said to me. "But you know I only play things that no longer appeal to your generation. I was brought up in the worship of Chopin," she said in a lowered tone, for she was afraid of her daughter-in-law, and knew that to the latter, who considered that Chopin was not music, to talk of playing him well or badly was meaningless [. . .] Because she considered herself "advanced," because (in matters of art only) "one could never be far enough to the Left," she maintained not merely that music progressed, but that it progressed along a single straight line, and that Debussy was in a sense a super-Wagner, slightly more advanced again than Wagner [. . .] People said that an age of speed required rapidity in art, precisely as they might have said that the next war could not last longer than a fortnight, or that the coming of railways would kill the little places beloved of the coaches, which the motor-car was none the less to restore to favour. Composers were warned not to strain the attention of their audience, as though we had not at our disposal different degrees of attention, among which it rests precisely with the artist himself to arouse the highest. For those who yawn with boredom after ten lines of a mediocre article have journeyed year after year to Bayreuth to listen to the Ring. In any case, the day was to come when, for a time, Debussy would be pronounced as flimsy as Massenet, and the agitations of Melisande degraded to the level of Manon's. For theories and schools, like microbes and corpuscles, devour one another and by their strife ensure the continuity of life. But that time was still to come.

Since we last met Little M., the grief of his grandmother's death has struck him belatedly - this is not that, this is just another party; that is a challenge to excerpt because (as usual for Proust, but even more so) it's very long and all connected, like a gigantic nervous system. M.'s guilt dreams about his grandmother hit me unexpectedly hard; there was nothing in the past 1500+ pages to prepare me for it, but at the same time everything was preparing for it. For over a thousand pages, I thought Proust was a safe author to read at work who would not cause me to sob uncontrollably behind the cash register, and I was wrong. That just goes to show you. . . something.

But life's not a short story; it doesn't stop just because you've taken a dramatically satisfying plunge into the icy waters of late-acting guilt, and all the guilt in the world won't stop Little M. from going to parties. Why should it? Life is a lot of things at once. Sometimes when you go to parties you will run into people who want to complain about how "our" attention span keeps getting shorter and will soon shrink to nothing, which is why there's no market for doorstopper fantasy series. Do worries about the collective attention span increase with big jumps in communication technology and transportation speed, or are they a constant? There's probably a study about this somewhere.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 4th, 2016 12:32 pm (UTC)
Little M's life seems to be a string of uncomfortable parties. He goes out and entertainingly awkward things happen any time!

Also I'm kind of bemused to hear of someone turning up their nose at Chopin, all "That's not REAL art." I guess that along with concerns about shrinking attention spans, there are always people who want to argue that the previous generation's art is all terrible and has been superseded/
Nov. 7th, 2016 01:51 am (UTC)
There are so many parties and they last forever, until they're over and it's almost as if they never happened at all. Sometimes Little M. is the entertainingly awkward thing.

You never really know what's going to stick around and what's going to molder in obscurity. Probably there will always be people who think everything more than 5 years old is garbage for the garbage dump, and also people who roll their eyes and go "Why doesn't my generation have any REAL music like [thing from 30 years ago]? MUSIC IS DEAD AND I'M THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES :("
Nov. 6th, 2016 06:16 pm (UTC)
LOL!! There probably is a study. Funny how each generation complains about the same things as they get older!

Nov. 7th, 2016 02:09 am (UTC)
I've long since reached the age where people my own age are doing the sweeping generalizations about Kids These Days, including my own younger brother. It's funny, but also frustrating, because they are often exactly the same complaints, sometimes with minor technological adjustments, that we knew were oversimplifications at best back when they were about us.

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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