But already, from the last words that had reached me over the telephone, I was beginning to understand that Albertine's life was situated (not in a physical sense, of course) at so great a distance from mine that I should always have to make exhausting explorations in order to seize hold of it, and moreover was organised like a system of earthworks which, for greater security, were of the kind that at a later period we learned to call "camouflaged." Albertine, in fact, belonged, although at a slightly higher social level, to that type of person to whom the concierge promises your messenger that she will deliver your letter when she comes in - until the day when you realise that it is precisely she, the person you have met in a public place and to whom you have ventured to write, who is the concierge. So that she does indeed live - (which moreover is a private brothel of which the concierge is the madame). Lives entrenched behind five or six lines of defence, so that when you try to see this woman, or to find out about her, you invariably aim too far to the right, or to the left, or too far in front, or too far behind, and can remain in total ignorance for months, even years. In the case of Albertine, I felt that I should never discover anything, that, out of that tangled mass of details of fact and falsehood, I should never unravel the truth: and that it would always be so, unless I were to shut her up in prison (but prisoners escape) until the end. That evening, this conviction gave me only a vague anxiety, in which however I could detect a shuddering anticipation of prolonged suffering to come.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain, pp. 759-760
I've always had this theory that when my father realized that I was an actual, independent, free-standing (at the time) young man - and not simply a reflection of him (like the moon to the sun) - he lost interest in me. In a middling way I was interesting as long as I mimicked a developing and deeply flawed version of him, but much less so when I started to become my own person with my own ideas and pursuing my own dreams. My guess is that I've made this point before, but I think it relates to the passage above. It seems to me that we all repeat the same experience with the loves of our lives. Marcel learns - or is reminded - that Albertine is, in fact, a separate person, and one so far removed from him and his control that she may never truly be his, which can be viewed as being under his control. Proust tells us, "I was beginning to understand that Albertine's life was situated (not in a physical sense, of course) at so great a distance from mine that I should always have to make exhausting explorations in order to seize hold of it, and moreover was organised like a system of earthworks which, for greater security, were of the kind that at a later period we learned to call 'camouflaged.'" He begins to understand that he will "never unravel the truth." This seems especially true and compelling in regards to Albertine, but it is doubtless true of over woman we ever love; and, truthfully, shouldn't that be the way of things? For all the protestations of poets and anniversary cards, who would ever really want to completely "know" the other person? It would be nice to be able to depend upon them, but they'd be pretty uninteresting if you could know them completely. Who has that little to share? It's something akin to an emotional uncertainty principle. Going back to yesterday's post, and turning the lens back on me, maybe I am most fascinated by the ones I know the least, who are most immune to my efforts to know them, even if that just means controlling them. Sadly, I think my own experience has mirrored Proust's: "That evening, this conviction gave me only a vague anxiety, in which however I could detect a shuddering anticipation of prolonged suffering to come." That said, if you've made the decisions yourself, and you are free to unmake them, then you have sacrificed the right to complain about it. I'm paraphrasing, per usual, but I think Marcus Aurelius (I really need to devote myself to my Year With Marcus Aurelius next) proposed that we either leave our fellows alone or we help make them better, that is our only two choices; essentially, stop whining about them.