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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - How Proust Can Change Your Life

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University of Toronto St. George

FCS195 – Lecture 7 11-11-20 8:09 PM How Proust Can change your life There is no separation between art and life Why Read? You get something real out of it • There is something in the book that is relevant to us o We can learn about our own life  this affects us in a very real/direct way o You can recognize character traits about people that are present in the books we read  these characters in the books can have the same personality traits than people we know o “We are always looking for ourselves in books” o Good writers are able to grasp emotions and personality traits and encompass them into the characters in the book  by doing this, the reader feels the story is very real o He believes that when we read, we are searching for meaning for our own life and we will understand it differently o The reader has a relationship with the book • Create a sense of empathy  reading teaches us to relate to situations that seem different from our own o We realize they are not really that different o An important part of being human is relating to people  even with people that lived in castles in the Middle-Ages o Books broadens our experience of the world and allows us to live through the characters and experience what emotions Shakespeare was feeling  allows us to experience completely different worlds that we would never have a chance to see in our world • Reading allows us to feel normal and understand ourselves better o We feel awful because we are greedy. But when we read about people who are greedy, it makes us feel less alienated. o We recognize our behaviours when we see it in others. o Allows us to put words into what we feel and we are able to communicate it in our everyday lives  We don’t absorb passively what the author says  We critically analyze and develop our own interpretation of what it means  We learn how we feel about what is said and we grow For Complex Thought/Against Simplification Proust believes there is no aspect of life that we should not try to understand. • Proust would put everything in his book  he was accused of digressing on unimportant topics i.e. falling asleep • He mixes “important” topics with “unimportant” topics  i.e. speaks of philosophy on one page and on the next page he talks about how to properly cook fish or falling asleep • The starting point does not matter, it is about how you can illuminate the story to make it relevant  anything is food for thought/ you can learn from anything For Proust, the plot is not where the most important details are, it is how we can see ourselves in the book.  he considers putting a lot of time into the book as being good because you give them importance and complexity Even simple stories can be seen through a different lens and be given meaning. Inversely, every “important story” can be rendered “unimportant” i.e. The Titanic is just a sinking ship and Romeo and Juliet is just a story about misunderstood novels. If you read a story too fast, you will only get facts. You will not get true meaning because you have not dug deep enough. Using Language Precisely • Proust was very concerned as to how we use language o He believed that overused sentences are boring and dead because so many people have put meanings into these sentences • He believed that using “catchphrases” and overused sentences, you are using language lazily  you are not paying attention to the specific beauty or meaning in the words
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