So I started thinking about my presentation for April 4's meeting, and I had a moment of inspiration -- all of which prompted this invitation to all of you.
Here's what happened:
I was reading along in the "Place-Names, the Place" chapter. Then I came to this:
"What a joy it was to me," Proust writes,
"...to see in the window... the open sea, naked, unshadowed, and yet with half of its expanse in shadow, bounded by a thin, fluctuating line, and to follow with my eyes the waves that leapt up one behind another like jumpers on a trampoline. Every other moment, holding in my hand the stiff starched towel with the name of the hotel printed upon it, with which I was making futile efforts to dry myself, I returned to the window to have another look at that vast, dazzling, mountainous amphitheatre, and at the snowy crests of its emerald waves, here and there polished and translucent, which with a placid violence and a leonine frown, to which the sun added a faceless smile, allowed their crumbling slopes to topple down at last" (WBG, 342).
I don't know about you, but I was stunned when I read this. And it got me to thinking about how much I would like to give a non-verbal response to this novel in my presentation on April 4.
A painting? I'm not a painter. But still... why not try...?
Then it occurred to me that I would very much like to see paintings, collages, crayon drawings, sculptures, ceramics, in short non-verbal creations of all kinds, provoked by this novel, from all of you as well!
Hence the invitation part.
I hereby formally invite you to join me in creating a tangible object of some kind, a painting or anything else you may imagine, as a response to Proust's descriptions of the sea at Balbec (or any other part of the "Place-Names, the Place" chapter). My presentation will be to lead a guided tour of our collection at the beginning of our April 4 meeting.
I counted them, and I found that Proust gives us at least seven different descriptions of the sea at Balbec. The first one is above. Here are the other six, in order of appearance:
2. "It was at this window that I was later to take up my position every morning... to see... those hills of the sea which, before they came dancing back towards us, are apt to withdraw so far that often it was only at the end of a long, sandy plain that I would distinguish, far off, their first undulations in a transparent, vaporous, bluish distance, like the glaciers that one sees in the backgrounds of the Tuscan Primitives" (WBG, 342).
3. "On other mornings it was quite close at hand that the sun laughed upon those waters of a green as tender as that preserved in Alpine pastures (among mountains on which the sun displays himself here and there like a giant who may at any moment come leaping gaily down their craggy sides) less by the moisture of the soil than by the liquid mobility of the light" (WBG, 342).
4. "When in the morning the sun came from behind the hotel, disclosing to me the sands bathed in light as far as the first bastions of the sea, it seemed to be showing me another side of the picture, and to be inviting me to pursue, along the winding path of its rays, a motionless but varied journey amid all the fairest scenes of the diversified landscape of the hours. And on this first morning, it pointed out to me far off, with a jovial finger, those blue peaks of the sea which bear no name on any map, until, dizzy with its sublime excursion over the thundering and chaotic surface of their crests and avalanches, it came to take shelter from the wind in my bedroom, lolling across the unmade bed and scattering its riches over the splashed surface of the basin-stand and into my open trunk, where, by its very splendour and misplaced luxury, it added still further to the general impression of disorder" (WBG, 343).
5. "... I wondered whether [Baudelaire's] 'sun's rays upon the sea' were not -- a very different thing than the evening ray, simple and superficial as a tremulous golden shaft -- just what at that moment was scorching the sea topaz-yellow, fermenting it, turning it pale and milky like beer, frothy like milk, while now and then there hovered over it great blue shadows which, for their own amusement, some god seemed to be shifting to and fro by moving a mirror in the sky" (WBG, 344).
6. "By what privilege, on one morning rather than another, did the window on being uncurtained disclose to my wondering eyes the nymph Glauconome, whose lazy beauty, gently breathing, had the transparency of a vaporous emerald through which I could see teeming the ponderable elements that colored it? She made the sun join in her play, with a smile attenuated by an invisible haze which was no more than a space kept vacant about her translucent surface, which, thus curtailed, was rendered more striking, like those goddesses whom the sculptor carves in relief upon a block of marble the rest of which he leaves unchiselled. So, in her matchless colour, she invited us out over those rough terrestrial roads, from which, sitting with Mme de Villeparisis in her barouche, we should glimpse, all day long and without ever reaching it, the coolness of her soft palpitation" (WBG, 387).
7. "One afternoon of scorching heat I was in the dining room of the hotel, plunged in semi-darkness to shield it from the sun, which gilded the drawn curtains through the gaps between twinkled the blue of the sea..." (WBG, 420).
Now let's get messy!