Thursday, July 16, 2009

Proust on Suffering and Beauty

16 July 2009

While watching Episode 7 of Torchwood Season Two last night, Susan and I noted that Captain Jack Harkness attributed the following statement to Proust:

"Only in suffering do we recognize beauty."

I have so far been unable to verify this quotation. However, I do note that my web search has uncovered the following remarks by Proust, most of them along this general theme:

"Those whose suffering is due to love are, as we say of certain invalids, their own physicians."

"And this is the artist's source of suffering: to be powerless to turn the eyes of memory, the mind's eye, and reason toward Beauty, Being, or Love."

"In reality, in love there is a permanent suffering which joy neutralizes, renders virtual, delays, but which can at any moment become what it would have become long earlier if one had not obtained what one wanted, atrocious."

"Until I saw Chardin's painting, I never realized how much beauty lay around me in my parents' house, in the half-cleared table, in the corner of a tablecloth left awry, in the knife beside the empty oyster shell."

"Let us leave pretty women to men without imagination."

"The past not merely is not fugitive, it remains present."

"We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full."

"Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions, and composed our masterpieces. Never will the world know all it owes to them, nor all they have suffered to enrich us."

"The opinions which we hold of one another, our relations with friends and kinsfolk are in no sense permanent, save in appearance, but are as eternally fluid as the sea itself."

“Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible.”

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”

"It has been said that beauty brings a promise of happiness, but it could be otherwise that the possibility of joy is the beginning of beauty."

"We always end up doing the thing we are second best at."


  1. Re: the last one ... I can't believe he ended a sentence with a preposition. LOL

  2. I noticed that shocking gaffe!

    Please consider it an artefact of the translation.

    Certainly no way to end a sentence in our language!

  3. Hahahaha, that reply was hilarious! LMAO

  4. We are great people to be rather odd with....

  5. wow, so much to read. so much disturbing and distressing info.

    my search began with a Proust quote from Torchwood that i am streaming. i found you and your blog. what is most amusing is that i am a psychotherapist in the states. (northern colorado to be specific)

    so i have read some of what i have found here.

    here is the question i have for you, and i presently have a running argument with friend that is a well respected analyst in the market that is oft quoted live on CNN and in many biz dailies/weeklies.

    i thought that i had read somewhere that when clinton left office that there was a surplus in the US 'coffers' of something like $13 trillion. and that within 2 years of bush's regime (yes with bernanke et al.) that that number changed to a $13 trillion deficit. thus, $26 trillion had, for all intents and purposes, disappeared. of course, where i had read that, i know not. and i am not market/money genius. can you clarify at all from your knowledge base? and thank you in advance.