Time Visualized


Mozart was said to be able to “see” a new composition in its entirety, a remarkable ability given, for the rest of us, the need to experience music in time. The closing pages of Time Regained finds the narrator also visualizing time in much the same way. Visualized time retains its vastness and calls for the right instrument to view it.

Even those who commended my perception of the truths which I wanted eventually to engrave within the temple, congratulated me on having discovered them “with a microscope,” when on the contrary it was a telescope that I had used to observe things which were indeed very small to the naked eye, but only because they were situated at a great distance, and which were each one of them in itself a world. (VI,520)

Time is viewed as having weight.

…at least I should not fail to portray man, in this universe, as endowed with the length not of his body but of his years and as obliged–a task more and more enormous and in the end too great for his strength–to drag them with him wherever he goes. (VI,528)

And spatial dimensions:

A feeling of vertigo seized me as I looked down beneath me,yet within me, as though from a height, which was my own height, of many leagues, at the long series of the years. (VI,531)

Sometimes the expanse of time can be visualized in a person, as when Marcel sees Gilberte’s daughter.

…Mlle de Saint-Loup. Was she not–are not, indeed, the majority of human beings?–like one of those star-shaped crossroads in a forest where roads converge that have come, in the forest as in our lives from the most diverse quarters? Numerous for me were the roads which led to Mlle de Saint-Loup and which radiated around her….But the truth, even more, is that life is perpetually weaving fresh threads which link one individual and one event to another, and that these threads are crossed and recrossed, doubled and redoubled to thicken the web, so that between any slightest point of our past and all the others a rich network of memories gives us an almost infinite variety of communicating paths to choose from. (VI,502-504)

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