Sunday, June 16, 2013

Another Bond and First with the First Encounter with Elstir

A 12x9 charcoal and pastel drawing of the corner of Bond and First in Brooklyn.

I have finally reached the encounter between Marcel and the famous painter Elstir.  Here's what Marcel writes about Elstir:

"Naturally enough, what he had in his studio were almost  all seascapes done here, at Balbec.  But I was able to discern from these that the charm of each of them lay in a sort of metamorphosis of the things represented in it, analogous to what in poetry we call metaphor, and that if God the Father had created things by naming them, it was by taking away their names or giving them other names that Elstir created them anew.  The names which denote things correspond invariably to an intellectual notion, alien to our true impressions, and compelling us to eliminate from them everything that is not in keeping with itself."

In a November 2, 2008 article in the N.Y. Times, Randy Kennedy wrote:

"Proust's character Elstir, a Zen-like Impressionist thought to be made up of pieces of Whistler, Monet, Gustave Moreau, Edouard Vuillard and others, is important not only in terms of plot...but in terms of ideas.
Elstir can come off at times as Proust's caricature of the beret-draped Romantic, rushing to the beach at night, naked model in tow, to capture a certain quality of moonlight.  But Elstir's artistic ideal, to perceive things innocently--or as Becket describes it, to represent 'what he sees, and not what he knows he ought to see'--is profound.  And it goes to the heart of one of Proust's main themes: that we are held prisoner by preconceptions, by habit and by the normal machinery of memory, which provides only a pale, distorted record of experiences."

Betty Edwards, in her Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain, has admirably exploited this "profound" ideal.

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