Why Madeleines?

Marcel Proust is the inspiration for the title of this blog, the express purpose of three of my journals, and at fault for an endless number of stalled poems. He paints the image of a madeleine with these words: “Short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell.” No, this blog is not one of a chef needing to vent about petite pastries, but rather a collection of memory triggers and the memories themselves.

To explain: It is an understatement to state that Proust was insane. Nonetheless, the man is a writer of profoundly beautiful proportions. He dedicated his entire adult life to “A la recherché du temps perdu” or, in translation, “In Remembrance of Things Past.” For over a decade he locked himself in a cork-lined room in his Paris apartment and labored over his seven-volume magnum opus. Most undergrads read at least “Swann’s Way” which is volume one of seven. In “Swann’s Way” Proust, as only Proust can, delicately and ferociously describes the process of memory. He describes specifically the movement of memory being catalyzed by external forces.

In his words: “…the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

He visits a friend’s home and is served a madeleine with tea. He writes: “And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of Madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray, when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea.” In other words less poetic, you smell a certain perfume and suddenly, you’re back in a tender moment from a past relationship, or you hear a song and experience a physical reaction because your memory is so lucid. Proust again: “The whole of Combray and of its surroundings, taking their proper shapes and growing solid, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.” Gorgeous. Painfully gorgeous.

“my madeleines” is a series of essays, poems, creative spasms, sound bites, quotations, ramblings, and whatnots that each trigger *something* inside me. I write for myself. I write to clear my head so that I may fill it up again with a beautiful mess.

Pink Roses

Unnecessary Justification