Monday, August 13, 2007

Anamnesis: Merton on Proust

Thomas Merton wrote in 1939, prior to his entering Gethsemani, about Marcel Proust in his journal.

"Marcel Proust and memory: to Proust experience seems to be valuable only after it has been transformed by memory . . . What kept attracting him was the 'present time of things past'" (The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals, pg.7).

Especially in light of God's eternity, time is such an interesting reality. God is outside of time because time is a function of change. God is the same today, yesterday, tomorrow, and forever. In a word, God is atemporal. As regards this, it seems physics is finally catching up to theology. Therefore, all time (i.e., past, present, future) is before God simultaneously. I think what Merton writes here about Proust is true of any thoughtful or spiritual person; namely that experience becomes (more?) valuable after it has been transformed by memory. This is one of those relatively simple, but incredibly dense ideas to ponder. Using idea here brings me back, as one who studied Philosophy, to εἶδος, or, transliterated, eidos, which, like memory, means so much more than what we tend to mean by idea, especially after Plato.

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