Monday, 31 March 2014

The plagiarism of ourselves

But what we call experience is merely the revelation to our own eyes of a trait in our character which naturally reappears, and reappears all the more markedly because we have already brought it into prominence once of our own accord, so that the spontaneous impulse which guided us on the first occasion finds itself reinforced by all the suggestions of memory. The human plagiarism which it is most difficult to avoid, for individuals (and even for nations which persevere in their faults and continue to aggravate them) is the plagiarism of ourselves.

Marcel Proust - À la recherche du temps perdu

Of course Proust is merely noting how subjective our notions of experience can be, how quickly we lapse into habitual responses. Hardly unfamiliar territory, but do we make use of such insights?

Well surely Proust's point is that we generally don't - it is too difficult. Even nations don't and these days we may add bureaucracies to the list.

So political promises about reforming the EU from the inside are empty for this reason. External events may cause habitual responses to be changed, but it is almost impossible for internal events to initiate similar changes. 

As Proust says - this isn't how we are made.


Anonymous said...

A chap I knew advised very big companies on change, his advice:

Damscene Conversion

Pre-frontal lobotomy

Mass dismissal.

In the absence of these changes we can only sit back and watch C N Parkinson's predictions work themselves out. As for the EU, where else can language students expect to get a job?

A K Haart said...

Roger - Parkinson had it right but for some reason his books are seen as humour.