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Jim Dandy and Proust

In How Proust Can Change Your Life, Allain de Botton tells the story of an essay that Proust had written around 1895 on art appreciation. In the essay, a young aesthete, dissatisfied with his lot in life, imagines that if he only had more money, he could travel the world, see the lovely landscapes of Italy, and surround himself with beautiful things.

Proust’s response to the young man's dilemma is to suggest that he study the work of a still-life painter by the name of Jean-Baptiste Chardin. At first the choice seems odd, given the mundanity of Chardin’s subject matter. However, Chardin has an uncanny ability to bring out the beauty in everyday things like kitchen utensils, loaves of bread, coffee pots, and glasses of wine. Chardin’s paintings evoke a world that is recognizably our own, yet at the same time strange, beguiling and wonderful.

What Proust aims to develop in the young man is a receptiveness to beauty. He wants to teach him to open his eyes. The young man’s unhappiness stems not from there being anything inherently wrong with the seemingly drab world around him, but rather from his failure to look at it properly.

The Proust story came to mind when I looked at a photo that Jim Dandy had posted on Mondo Dandy. On a rainy morning, Jim was sitting in the kitchen with his coffee and his cat when he noticed a single leaf stuck to the window pane. Without even getting up, he took his camera and snapped a photograph.

I commented on the “beautifully composed image” just waiting to be captured. Jim replied, channeling Proust, “Proof that there is beauty all around us if we only open our eyes.”

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humble thanks

cool, I didn't know I channeling famous dead people again. haha

Re: humble thanks

Yeah, it was weird how your photo made me think of this book, and then your comment totally matched the story's message. But not that weird, I guess, considering that the photo in the first place is just the result of having your eyes open.

February 2018



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