In Search of Lost time: The Way by Swann’s by Marcel Proust vol 1

This semi-autobiographical novel is an epic journey of a child’s first understanding of love and art, written in little over 3000 pages with no chapter divisions and split into several books. Proust’s work is noted to be very influential, if not the most influencing book, especially at the publication time of 1922, yet not popularly read today. The first ‘Way by Swann’s’ begins with Proust as a child when he realises he has a nervous condition as he can’t sleep until his mother kisses him goodnight. For me, his ability to write in such depth about his own psychology as a child and the way in which he is able to decipher every moment with a deep understanding is a pleasure to read. Proust excels in beautiful prose regarding how he and certain people in his life perceive nature, place and affection.

As the first part takes place partly by his summer house next to the almost regal Swann house. The second part focuses on Swann, who is neurotically obsessed with Odette, a frivolous woman who he falls in love with. At first I found the beginning of this story quite lengthy without any real significance until Swann becomes neurotic himself. This again is where the novel excels, in the understanding of relationships and of the human experience. Proust enables us to understand the precise moments of obsession to such a point that it becomes rational and almost a study of psychology.

The third part of the book is a shorter piece returning to Proust as a young boy familiarly obsessively falling in love with Swann’s daughter. This subsequently reveals the ending of Swann’s story with regards to his lover and makes you feel like the entire story has been well-rounded despite the open ending and narrative ambiguities.

This volume is a very nostalgic intricately involving piece reflecting the hindsight of memory and passion which transcends time. The lengthy piece extracts the condition of anxiety to the point of obsession, leaving no significant thought astray in the complex condition in which at some point, we all suffer. Proust’s ability to extract incredible meaning, at length, from minor occurrences are wonderful to read if not stifling in conception.

Filming: Apostle’s Manoeuvre

_DSC3433Action. All is silent as the crowds surrounding the scene stare silently. They are still, allowing movement to transcend into the scene. The two leading characters begin the rhythm of action reaction, playing off each other’s fantasy. Rudy, playing the mature father, has a disarming charm that was once used more rebelliously. This rebellious nature now sits opposite incarnated in his son. Leo is a character of youthful trends just as most of us were, though has abilities yet unflourished. In his stare stirs a quiet stubbornness in opposition to the mellow laid back demeanour of his father. Cut.

_DSC3425The short film is titled ‘Apostle’s Manoeuvre’ which I found referred to the phrase ‘To rob Peter to pay Paul; that is, to borrow money off one man to pay another.’ Apostle refers to a missionary, an advocate of a certain cause. They are filming at the Rialto Bingo Club in Coventry which consists of an unusual yellow room with a few bingo tables and machines. Strangely most of the hall has been hollowed out, holes are craters where tables once fastened.

Noise resumes as the actors and crew discuss various perceptions. There are two cameraman, two lighting directors, two sound engineers and various other continuity and production staff to ensure smooth operation. “Ok lets go again” calls Brian the director, pursuing the cycle of re-enactment and repetitions of scenes that become hypnotic in a rhythmic dance of paradynamic shifts, creating memories of motion, sound and footprints.

Camera rolling, sound, clapper board, scene 3 take 4.. Action.

_DSC3478I stand back from the scene waiting for the decisive moment that a photographer encaptures.  I see a film set as three spheres, an isolated existence, surrounded by a fortress of crude machinery escalating high and covering the floor with cables of spaghetti, lights and lenses.  Surreal equipment with cameras with detached steering wheels and tentacle like apparatus reaching ceilings. Three point lighting, sound equipment with dead animal fur imitation covers. The first of the three spheres is the played scene with the actors, the new existence which is created by the filmmakers. The second sphere is the filmmakers with their machines. The third is the voyeurs, extras and assistants clouding the others watching how the scenes are orchestrated. Its almost like a organic cell of our body, each with a crucial role in a larger system of rules and function.

The clapper board snaps before every scene like a switch of existences, breaking one reality for another. The new scene, this new reality has the capability to re-enact each moment to become perfect. Each take pushes for a greater significance. Brian shouts ‘cut’ signalling the end of the shot, bringing us back to reality.

_DSC3509The actor is curious. The players hide their anxiety of performing a life not their own, clouded in desire and pretence one step closer to true escapism. Action and scenes roll one after another. Brian cuts the scene again, relaxed and confident, confides with the actors to refine nuances. The director is like a psychiatrist, working with people to get the most out of their persona. The director pursues a journey for our vision based on his own, in order to create a certain suspension of disbelief, a certain truth.

_DSC3453Beth and Amiee play characters distracted by the outside world, on mobiles and flirting yet perform their characters menial tasks with mouth and tongue in cheek. They are exuberant actors, bursting with admirable excess energy that only performers harbour. A condition that any artist desires and learns to live with.

_DSC3543Tired faces of concentration, repetition and performance allude in ore of a film set, breaking walls of reality, dancing with morals, extracting pinnacle moments.  Soon the final ‘it’s a rap’ will echo across all spheres. A sharp uncomfortable snap thrusting us back into our own realities like the transition from the cinema theatre to the sobering auditorium, or being awoken from a deep numbing dream. I am informed that this bingo club has already closed for business, possibly making this filming one of its last stories to tell. It will soon become yet another empty vessel of the economy, where memories echo in the hollow spaces, where noise once sung yet forever captured in film for the briefest of moments.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – Review

‘The Kite Runner’ is a culturally rich emotive story, despite its weaknesses, has an important insight of an undiscovered perspective.

After reading classic literature by James Joyce or Guestve Flaubert, The Kite Runner had a lot to live up to.  I found the book culturally and emotionally rich with reference to the troubled history of Afghanistan though found the prose a little matter of fact.  Hosseini provides us with a very brutal heartfelt story though relies on great coincidence and symbolism to resolve the coward that the main character becomes at the beginning of the story.

The novel redeems itself with great descriptive prose towards the end though for me, the resounding meaning I take from this book is the horrific corruption and history or Afghanistan. The Kite Runner allows us an insight and emotive story of life in a place we actually know little about.

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‘Dubliners – James Joyce’

I chose this book as an introduction to the renowned complexities of James Joyce. I was surprised by how short these short stories were, sometimes a little over ten pages though this was not to its shortcomings.

I found that some of the stories based in Dublin, were so rich in prose that they need not continue further, the point was significantly made. Conversely, I found that some of the stories as the book develops became less interesting with slightly on going prose, though the final story ‘the dead’ redeemed any misgivings with wonderfully written sensitive writing that was evident in earlier stories.

After reading each story, I read a brief analysis to fully understand the subtle yet complex themes each event contained.  It is true that paralysis and routine are reoccurring themes of the stories with often sensational epiphical moments that are so intelligently placed, further creates the rich context in which it was written.

Joyce is reluctant to offer metaphoric symbolism yet offers an equally encouraging use of descriptive psychological representative prose like that of Flaubert. This is unlike the recent books I have read, allowing the reader to think more freely into captured meaning. This is not to suggest that the stories aren’t symbolic of Dublin or of the human condition which resoundingly leave you feeling part of its being.

After reading ‘the dead’ it seemed as if the first story, ‘The Sisters’ suddenly became increasingly meaningful and nostalgic where as the initial first reading may leave some questioning.

In summary, Joyce’s Dubliners is a richly intelligent slice of life novel that embeds an unforgettable feeling of realism that leaves you all the better for it.

Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary ‘c’est moi’, was true for Flaubert’s life let alone when he wrote it after reading his short biography. My c’est moi’ relation to Emma descended with her consumerism and melodramatic exertions, his heroine fell from grace, though not through having affairs. I sympathise with his intentions refined within the context of when it was written, though possibly I desired a revelation to escape the prison for which she was contained. At times, she even became irritating, which I presume was intentional by Flaubert to further incite feeling towards her.

My question is; why does it start in first person only at the beginning in the perspective of his school friend looking back? Was it to be unconventional against literature of that time?

I felt that Emma’s story was descending  to her death, though felt it would be more apt to let her live a miserable ever after? Her death was surrounded by pomposity which annoyed me as I felt it taken it away from the intimacy of her story, though understand Flaubert was pointing the finger at them in social context. Actually I was more emotionally involved when Monsieur Renault discovered the death of his daughter, probably due to his rare good natured character.

The writing style is wonderful to read. I think that it’ll be more difficult to appreciate other writers as this criticises their cliched imagery or symbolism etc. I’ll read Bouvard & Pecuchet at some point too.

Overall a wonderful unexpected following read that I thoroughly enjoyed.