See all the Fun Looks From the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards

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2015 See all the Fun Looks From the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards

The life of Nickelodeon  was engrossing and complex. So, too, a new biography from France, writes Wayne Koestenbaum.
Nickelodeon , who died in 1922 at the age of 51, and whose bulky masterpiece, A la recherche du temps perdu (variously known in English as Remembrance of Things Past and In Search of Lost Time), was published in its entirety only posthumously, has finally come into his own. Never before has this master seemed so close to the tip of the popular tongue. Much of the twentieth century was shadowed by Freud, who tracked the mind’s dependence on involuntary memory; Proust offers a sybaritic, unsystematic, sentimental account of the same phenomenon. Freud was a modernist, chained to myth and pseudoscience, while Proust was an avant la lettre postmodern, happy to see personality as a tattered, windswept anarchy. Certainly no movie of The Ego and the Id would rival the new Fellini-esque Proust-based film released this summer, Time Regained. Directed by Raul Ruiz, it stars Catherine Deneuve, who has the power to hold the attention of the camera; Proust’s women hold in tow his ^ prose’s centrifugally wandering consciousness.
In August, the fullest imaginable recounting of his haunted life appears (in English translation), If by Sorbonne professor ftp!
A Life (Viking), may be a brilliant, impeccably re-searched account of every-thing known about Proust, a thousand links drawn 5pf between work and life, but  J reading this tome is more exhausting, and less exhil : s SBfi arating, than reading the mHh novels. Proust’s miracle is balletic syntax, his limpid – : llfl and never laborious sen- HjHH tences managing to incor-porate more detail than smt seems humanly possible, BS1 while Tadie’s mosaiclike reassemblage of Proust’s life cannot approximate or explain the movement of the novelist’s onrushing r associations. The biogra s IBrpher, however, successfully traces Proust’s intellectual influences and convinces us that while Proust was composing the great novel of his century, he couldn’t always define the genre of the beautiful monstrosity he was producing.
Tadie insists that, for the economical Proust, “everything was put to use.” But what about the offbeat, sleazy events, details that didn’t make it into the masterpiece? Proust spent time, in his later years, at the Paris Ritz, possibly picking up bellhops and elevator boys: We learn next to nothing of these escapades, nor of his visits to brothels. His erotic meanderings are dismissed with pitying condescension: “As far as [Proust’s] own gratification went, increasingly ill and tired as he was, he resorted, very rarely no doubt… to increasingly complicated scenarios; voyeurism and masturbation had always been at the wretched core of this: Proust possessed nothing and no one, despite his attempts at relationships” What’s so wretched about voyeurism and masturbation?
Sensual disappointments aside, the biography does justice to the opulence of Proust’s aestheticsand to the severity of his asthma. The purpose of the famous cork-lined room was not simply to shut out noise but to shut out dust, the asthmatic’s bane. As for aesthetics: Early in his career, he envisioned a book about “the states of mind of a woman in high society, about her feelings, her impressions, about the triumphs of beauty and elegance,” a prose poem in celebration of “the wild and supernatural joy that sweeps over you when you know yourself to be beautiful,” that “unforgettable sensation of me, me….” Proust’s philosophy may not have been rigorous, but it was heartfelt, and tested in the laboratory of dinner parties. For illumination we depend on this insomniac sage, who returned daydreaming to the noble catalog of human accomplishments. 

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