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Unprecedented Deformation, An

Marcel Proust and the Sensible Ideas

Mauro Carbone, Niall Keane

Publication Year: 2010

Philosophical interpretation of Proust based on the work of Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze. French novelist Marcel Proust made famous “involuntary memory,” a peculiar kind of memory that works whether one is willing or not and that gives a transformed recollection of past experience. More than a century later, the Proustian notion of involuntary memory has not been fully explored nor its implications understood. By providing clarifying examples taken from Proust’s novel and by commenting on them using the work of French philosophers Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze, Italian philosopher Mauro Carbone interprets involuntary memory as the human faculty providing the involuntary creation of our ideas through the transformation of past experience. This rethinking of the traditional way of conceiving ideas and their genesis as separated from sensible experience—as has been done in Western thought since Plato—allows the author to promote a new theory of knowledge, one which is best exemplified via literature and art much more than philosophy.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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An Unprecedented Deformation

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: “Seek? More Than That: Create.”

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pp. 1-11

I propose here to follow to the letter the long and celebrated passage from the final part of the first chapter of Marcel Proust’s Recherche: that part which contains what has come to be known under the title: “Resurrection of Combray through involuntary memory” (R 1, 522/1033). Here is the passage on which I would like to focus...

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Chapter 1: Nature: Variations on the Theme “Why are there several samples of each thing?”

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pp. 13-21

Th e last courses that Merleau-Ponty held at the Collège de France focus on the “concept of Nature” on the one hand, and the “possibility of philosophy today” on the other. Merleau-Ponty brings together under the fi rst heading both the courses of 1956–57 and the courses of 1957–58—of these courses, the latter, centered on “Animality, the Human Body, Transition to Culture,”...

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Chapter 2: The Mythical Time of the Ideas: Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze as Readers of Proust

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pp. 23-32

Th us begins one of the densest working notes from The Visible and the Invisible, dated April 1960 and entitled “‘Indestructible’ past, and intentional analytic— and ontology.” Here we find Merleau-Ponty rendering the Husserlian notion of “Stiftung” as “initiation,” which designates, according to him, “the unlimited fecundity of each present which, precisely because it is singular and passes, can never stop having been and thus being universally”...

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Chapter 3: Deformation and Recognition:Proust in the “Reversal of Platonism”

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pp. 33-47

If it is true—as Alfred North Whitehead affirmed—that the entire history of Western philosophy is nothing but a series of footnotes to Plato and, in addition, that the figure most characteristic of this thought is contained in his theory of ideas, i.e., in his conception of εἴδη (the term which is the plural of εἶδος), then the notion of eidos (translated variously as “idea,” “essence,” or “form”)...

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4. “The Words of the Oracle”: Merleau-Pontyand the “Philosophy of Freudianism”

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pp. 49-58

In the same year that Merleau-Ponty penned the lines I cited at the beginning of my second chapter, lines which connect the mythical time of Proust’s sensible ideas with “the Freudian idea of the unconscious and the past,” he also wrote the preface to a book entitled Loeuvre de Freud et son importance pour le monde moderne,1 written by the psychoanalyst Angélo Hesnard who at the time supported...

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Chapter 5: How Can One Recognize What One Did Not Know?: Mnemosyne and the Art of the Twentieth Century

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pp. 59-67

“‘I did not know’ and ‘I have always known it’”: it is through this “double formula” that Merleau-Ponty characterizes the Freudian notion of the unconscious (RC, 179/130; trans. modified) when, in the last course he was able to complete at the Collège de France (1959–60), “Nature and Logos: Th e Human Body,” to which I have frequently referred, he conceives its identification with feeling: “[t]he unconscious is feeling itself ” (ibid.)...

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Appendix: Love and Music: Theme and Variations

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pp. 69-82

This passage, taken from the neuropsychiatrist and philosopher Erwin Straus’ masterpiece Von Sinn der Sinne, effectively condenses the question of “Platonism” and its “reversal” as it will be later raised by Gilles Deleuze. In his essay originally entitled Renverser le platonisme Deleuze invites us to consider the following “two formulas: ‘only that which resembles differs’ and ‘only differences resemble each other’” (LS, 302/261), explaining that...


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pp. 83-110


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pp. 111-113

E-ISBN-13: 9781438430225
E-ISBN-10: 1438430221
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438430218
Print-ISBN-10: 1438430213

Page Count: 121
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 646817101
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Subject Headings

  • Intuition.
  • Philosophy, Modern -- 20th century.
  • Idea (Philosophy).
  • Proust, Marcel, 1871-1922. Du côté de chez Swann.
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