Thursday, July 04, 2013

Marginalia and loose ends

Villard St. Pancrace, France, July 4—

SEVEN AT NIGHT: a church bell is ringing, for vespers, I suppose. I am at loose ends, having just spent two easy days walking, first from Montgénèvre to Briançon, then to this hameau. The mountains have pretty well cleared my mind, apparently. It's a principal reason I do this, of course. 

My companion is reading about Oppenheimer on his Kindle, and reports he was able — Opp I mean — to quote verbatim the passage about Mlle. Vinteuil challenging her lover to spit on her father's portrait. Of course I have Proust here with me, along with Shakespeare and Moliere and Athena knows who else, but my e-reader search function is unsatisfactory, and I cannot find the passage.

I catch up on Curtis Faville's musings over at The Compass Rose: a fascinating pair of meditations on John Ashbury's marginal notes on Pasternak. It reminds me thAt a couple of years ago I thought I'd start a running commonplace book here: just one of many false starts. Really I feel more like Pessoa every day. 

I particularly liked a formula of Faville's: "the impenetrable idiomatic membrane which insulates separate languages from each other." That has been present these last few days, in spades. Translating and marginal annotation have much in common, I think. They both remind us that meaning, never monogamous as Sontag pointed out, is always elusive, provisional, fugitive, mythic.

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