Proust, Marcel - from Le Figaro August 16, 1904 - The ecstasy of ritual
Type of Spiritual Experience
ebriety. n. "state or habit of being intoxicated," 1580s, from French ébriété, from Latin ebrietatem (nominative ebrietas) "drunknenness," from ebrius "drunk, full, sated with drink," of unknown origin. The opposite of sobriety.
A description of the experience
Le Figaro August 16, 1904
There is … more than one way of dreaming before this artistic realization— the cathedral - the most complete ever, since all of the arts collaborated in it—of the greatest dream to which humanity ever rose; this mansion is grand enough for us all to find our place in.
The cathedral, which shelters so many saints, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, kings, confessors, and martyrs that whole generations huddle in supplication and anxiety all the way to the porch entrances and, trembling, raise the edifice as a long groan under heaven while the angels smilingly lean over from the top of the galleries which, in the evening’s blue and rose incense and the morning’s blinding gold do seem to be “heaven’s balconies”—
… the cathedral, in its vastness, can grant asylum both to the man of letters and to the man of faith, to the vague dreamer as well as to the archeologist.
All that matters is that it remain alive and that we should not find ourselves transformed overnight into a dried-up shore on which giant chiseled shells seem marooned, emptied of the life that once lived in them and no longer able even to give to an ear leaning in on them a distant rumor from long ago, mere museum pieces and icy museums themselves.
Things keep their beauty and their life only by continuously carrying out the task for which they were intended, even should they slowly die at it.
Does anyone believe that, in museums of comparative sculpture, the plaster casts of the famous sculpted wooden choir stalls of the Cathedral of Amiens can give an idea of the stalls themselves in their august yet still functional antiquity?
Whereas a museum guard keeps us from getting too close to their plaster casts, the pricelessly precious stalls, which are so old, so illustrious, and so beautiful, continue to carry out their humble task in the cathedral of Amiens—which they have been doing for centuries to the great satisfaction of the citizens of Amiens—just as those artists who, while having become famous, yet still keep up a small job or give lessons.
This task consists in bearing bodies even before they instruct souls, and that is what, folded down and showing their upper side, they humbly do during the offices. More than this: these stalls’ perpetually worn wood has slowly acquired, or rather let seep through, that dark purple that is so to speak its heart and which the eye that has once fallen prey to its charm prefers to everything else, to the point of being unable even to look at the colors of the paintings which, after this, seem rough and plain.
Then one experiences something like ebriety as one savors, in the wood’s ever more blazing ardor, what is so to speak the tree’s sap overflowing in time. The naïf figures sculpted in it receive something like a twofold nature from the material in which they live. And generations have variously polished all of these Amiens-born fruits, flowers, leaves, and vegetation that the Amiens sculptor sculpted in Amiens wood, thus bringing out those wonderful contrasting tones in which the differently colored leaf stands out from the twig; this brings to mind the noble accents that Mr. Gallé has been able to draw out of the oak’s harmonious heart.
The source of the experienceProust, Marcel
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
SuppressionsCreating a sacred geography
Enacting ritual and ceremony
Squash the big I am