September 4, 2009

Accidental Homecomings

After much rain through May to August, we are having a week of great weather here in the Boston area, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. I put up a Facebook update noting this and then commented on this when I found what I called the "perfect poem for the week."
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather...
And autumn's best of cheer.
- Helen Hunt Jackson . . . Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America, Donald Hall, ed. (1985) Oxford University Press.
And there there is Thoreau waxing poetically and eloquently about the joy of such a September day at Walden - very near here!
"In such a day, in September or October, Walden is a perfect forest mirror, set round with stones as precious to my eye as if fewer or rarer. Nothing so fair, so pure, and at the same time so large, as a lake, perchance, lies on the surface of the earth... Read More. Sky water. It needs no fence. Nations come and go without defiling it. It is a mirror which no stone can crack, whose quicksilver will never wear off, whose gilding Nature continually repairs; no storms, no dust, can dim its surface ever fresh;Ma mirror in which all impurity presented to it sinks, swept and dusted by the sun's hazy brush,—this the light-dust cloth,—which retains no breath that is breathed on it, but sends its own to float as clouds high above its surface, and be reflected in its bosom still."
Reading this, Neha wrote about how "utterly wonderful" it was that "something that someone once wrote that finds resonance in contemporary experience."

Indeed! That comment came back to me when this morning I read something which harks back to what she said about how something written centuries back finds a resonance today.
"Art propitiates accidental homecomings. It sets up and invokes that privileged moment which the Greeks called anagnorisis - recognition."- Andre Aciman in Preface to "Proust Project" [1]
I love the term - accidental homecomings - as it applies to things that others have written that find homes in our hearts.

As Proust himself wrote elsewhere:
"Every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have perceived in himself."
[1] I find Proust very inaccessible - have made two attempts to read 'In Search of Lost Time - Swann's Way' in the past and failed. Some day I will read it but for now, I picked up this book at the library earlier this week - hoping to enjoy, through others experiences of reading the book, the wisdom and joy that can be gleaned from Proust's writing.

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