In describing the feeling of happiness given by an unforced memory, the narrator is in a way providing the emotional power of the metaphor in art.
[The writer] can describe a scene by describing one after another the innumerable objects which at a given moment were present at a particular place, but truth will be attained by him only when he takes two different objects, state the connexion between them–a connexion analogous in the world of art to the unique connexion which in the world of science is provided by the law of causality–and encloses them in the necessary links of a well-wrought style; truth–and life too–can be attained by us only when, by comparing a quality common to two sensations, we succeed in extracting their common essence and in reuniting them to each other, liberated from the contingencies of time, within a metaphor. (VI,289)
His definition of metaphor is very similar to that of the unforced memory, which also escapes “the contingencies of time.”
But let a noise or a scent, once heard or once smelt, be heard or smelt again in the present and at the same time in the past, real without being actual, ideal without being abstract, and immediately the permanent and habitually concealed essence of things is liberated…(VI,264)
Metaphor and unforced memory both generate the happiness that comes from escaping time and from discovering the “concealed essense of things.”
Tags: Proust Metafors