In Jeff Malpas’s excellent book, Place & Experience: A Philosophical Topography, he writes:
In Proust’s work, persons and places intermingle with one another in such a way that places take on the individuality of persons, while persons are themselves individuated and characterized by their relation to place; persons come to be seen, to use a phrase from Lawrence Durrell, almost ‘as functions of a landscape’ – in some cases, even of a particular room or setting. In fact, the narrator of Proust’s novel, Marcel, grasps his own life, and the time in which it is lived, only through his recovery of the places in relation to which that life has been constituted. Remembrance of Things Past is thus an invocation and exploration of a multitude of places and, through those places, of the persons who appear with them.
What do you think about this? Should our characters be ‘functions of landscape’? How does thinking about characters – especially in Proust – in this way alter our experience of a text? Are we – real, live human beings, as opposed to our fictional characters – functions of our landscape?
A non-magic magic story: In April 1879, a French postman tripped on a stone while he was delivering mail. Inspired by its shape, form, texture, whatever, he picked it up. From that day forward, this postman, named Ferdinand Cheval, collected rocks in a wheel barrel after work, and from these rocks he built a palace. I wanted to use the word “castle” to emphasize the magic component, but “palace” is just as sufficient. He called it Palais Ideal, his Ideal Palace. It took him thirty-six years. Below, you’ll find images, lots of them. They are glorious.