The need to impress

From Marcel Proust, Pleasures and Days—  

Soon she was telling her husband every evening:

“We’re setting out the day after tomorrow for my beloved Styria, and we will never leave it again.”

Then along came a party that, maybe, she would enjoy more than the others, and a prettier dress to show off. The deep need to imagine, to create, to live by herself in thought alone, and thus to dedicate to something, while it made her suffer at the fact that t was still unfulfilled, and while it prevented her from finding in society even a shadow of joy, had become too dulled, and was no longer imperious enough to make her change her way of life, or to force her to renounce the world and realise her true destiny. She continued to present the sumptuous and desolate spectacle of an existence made for the infinite and little by little restricted to next to nothing, filled only with the melancholy shadows of the noble destiny she might have fulfilled, but which she neglected ever more each day. The deep surge of charity that might have washed her heart like a great wave, levelling all the human inequalities that clog a worldly heart, was held back by the thousand dikes of egotism, coquetry and ambition. Even kindness seemed to her laudable only as an elegant gesture. She would perform many more charitable deeds, lavishing money and even time and effort, but a whole part of herself was held captive, and no longer belonged to her. She would still read or dream as she lay in bed in the mornings, but her mind was warped, and now came to a halt on the exterior of things; when it paid itself any attention at all, it was not in order to uunderstand itself more profoundly, but to admire itself, voluptuously and coquettishly, as if in a mirror. And if anyone had come to announce visitors, she would not have had the will power to send them away so that she could continue dreaming or reading. She had reached such a state that she could no longer enjoy nature other than with perverted senses, and the charm of the seasons now existed for her only as an extra perfume of her elegant social appearances, for which it set the tone. The charms of winter became the pleasure of feeling the cold, and the enjoyment of hunting closed her heart to the melancholy of autumn. Sometimes she would go walking by herself through a forest, trying to rediscover the natural source of all true joys. But, even under the shady leaves, she insisted on wearing eye-catching dresses. And the pleasure of her elegance ruined for her the joy of being alone and able to dream.

“Are we setting off tomorrow?” the Duke would ask.

“The day after tomorrow,” Violante would reply.

Eventually the Duke stopped asking. When Augustin lamented her absence, Violante wrote, “I’ll come back when I am a little older.”

“Ah!” replied Augustine, ‘you are deliberately lavishing your youth on them; you will never return to your Styria.’

She never did return. In her youth, she had remained in society to reign over that kingdom of elegance which, while still almost a child, she had conquered. In her old age, she remained in society to defend the kingdom. In vain. She relinquished it. And when she died, she was still trying to conquer it. Augustin reckoned that weariness would wean her away. But he had not reckoned on a force which, if it is at first fed by vanity, vanquishes weariness, contempt and even boredom: the force of habit.

6 Responses to “The need to impress”
  1. Nick says:

    Our Lady of Purity speaks first:

    “I am the guardian of the sleeping fawn; the snow is dear to me; and the moon rising; and the silver sea. With my robes I cover the speckled hen’s eggs and the brindled sea shell; I cover vice and poverty. On all things frail or dark or doubtful, my veil descends. Wherefore, speak not, reveal not. Spare, O spare!”

    Here the trumpets peal forth.

    “Purity Avaunt! Begone Purity!”


    He stretched himself. He rose. He stood upright in complete nakedness before us, and while the trumpets pealed Truth! Truth! Truth! we have no choice but to confess – he was a woman.

  2. humanoidinterface says:

    Yoz Lady of Purity, how are you feeling man? Fever gone?

  3. Nick says:

    Ding dong bell!
    Diddy in the well!
    Who put her in?
    The cow with large fat tits.
    Who pulled her out?
    Little no one did.

  4. Kitana says:

    lululu. i have some apples. lululu. you have some too. =)

  5. Nick says:

    I’ve got a girl and Lulu is her name.
    She don’t know me but I love her just the same.
    Lulu Lulu oh I want you!
    Like a ghost I’m gonna haunt you,
    Lulu Lulu when will you be mine~!

    Each time I see you my baby,
    My heart cries!
    I’m gonna steal you away from all those mangy guys.

    Lulu Lulu oh I want you!
    Like a ghost I’m gonna haunt you,
    Lulu Lulu when will you be mine~!

    My Lulu~!
    My Lu lu lu~
    My Lulu!
    My Lulu when will you be mine!

  6. humanoidinterface says:

    Oh gosh, this is just blog/comments vandalism people… We must self-regulate!! Lol.

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