Monday, January 31, 2011

Secrets: Musings on Sodom and Gomorrah

The secret is the secret of Proust -- even for his homosexuals, the secret of their secret is not their homosexuality, but their homosexuality is the sign of their secret. Nor can the question of secrecy be resolved simply by avowal: the secret is simply that reality, that hidden truth that shadows everything we can see, taste, and touch, that haunts every party, every gathering, every encounter (even the most intimate ones), and particular secrets (this or that character's homosexuality, for instance) are merely symbols of that reality. Of the hidden nature of that reality.

For this reason, and even though it seems very far from Proust's intention, the Recherche seems of great relevance for us, in a political sense (especially in this season of Wikileaks). There is no great conspiracy underlying the political phenomena we see all around us; it is just that the surface of all politics seems to be inconsistent with the reality underlying that politics. Zunguzungu might say -- effectively did say in his piece on Assange -- that the maintenance of secrecy, the conduct of work-in-secret, has itself become the overriding work of governments. Proust doesn't overtly think about this aspect, of course (although, given the close linkage of "high society", homosexuality, the Dreyfus affair, and foreign diplomats in his novel, that is to say, given these recurring signs and motifs, that aren't so much coherently linked as associated the way colors might be, that evoke each other; is this aspect really as far from Proust's thought as might, at first blush, seem?), but foreshadows, represents, immerses the reader in, a world where everything is thus.

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