Perhaps indeed there exists but a single intelligence, in which everyone in the world participates

From Within a Budding Grove, somewhat continuing the previous observation of the Platonic imagery often surfacing in Proust – though here I feel he pulls more from the Plotinus and the Neoplatonics:

And yet I ought perhaps to have reminded myself that, since it was in all sincerity, abandoning myself to the train of my thoughts, that I had felt, on the one hand, so intensely in sympathy with the work of Bergotte and on the other hand, in the theatre, a disappointment the reason of which I did not know, those two instinctive movements which had both carried me away could not be so very different from one another, but must be obedient to the same laws; and that that mind of Bergotte which I had loved in his books could not be anything entirely foreign and hostile to my disappointment and to my inability to express it. For my intelligence must be a uniform thing, perhaps indeed there exists but a single intelligence, in which everyone in the world participates, towards which each of us from the position of his own separate body turns his eyes, as in a theatre where, if everyone has his own separate seat, there is on the other hand but a single stage. Of course, the ideas which I was tempted to seek to disentangle were probably not those whose depths Bergotte usually sounded in his books. But if it were one and the same intelligence which we had, he and I, at our disposal, he must, when he heard me express those ideas, be reminded of them, cherish them, smile upon them, keeping probably, in spite of what I supposed, before his mind’s eye a whole world of intelligence other than that an excerpt of which had passed into his books, an excerpt upon which I had based my imagination of his whole mental universe. Just as priests, having the widest experience of the human heart, are best able to pardon the sins which they do not themselves commit, so genius, having the widest experience of the human intelligence, can best understand the ideas most directly in opposition to those which form the foundation of its own writings.


J’aurais peut-être dû pourtant me dire que puisque c’était sincèrement, en m’abandonnant à ma pensée, que d’une part j’avais tant sympathisé avec l’uvre de Bergotte et que, d’autre part, j’avais éprouvé au théâtre un désappointement dont je ne connaissais pas les raisons, ces deux mouvements instinctifs qui m’avaient entraîné ne devaient pas être si différents l’un de l’autre, mais obéir aux mêmes lois; et que cet esprit de Bergotte, que j’avais aimé dans ses livres ne devait pas être quelque chose d’entièrement étranger et hostile à ma déception et à mon incapacité de l’exprimer. Car mon intelligence devait être une, et peut-être même n’en existe-t-il qu’une seule dont tout le monde est co-locataire, une intelligence sur laquelle chacun, du fond de son corps particulier porte ses regards, comme au théâtre, où si chacun a sa place, en revanche, il n’y a qu’une seule scène. Sans doute, les idées que j’avais le goût de chercher à démêler, n’étaient pas celles qu’approfondissait d’ordinaire Bergotte dans ses livres. Mais si c’était la même intelligence que nous avions lui et moi à notre disposition, il devait, en me les entendant exprimer, se les rappeler, les aimer, leur sourire, gardant probablement, malgré ce que je supposais, devant son il intérieur, tout une autre partie de l’intelligence que celle dont une découpure avait passé dans ses livres et d’après laquelle j’avais imaginé tout son univers mental. De même que les prêtres, ayant la plus grande expérience du cur, peuvent le mieux pardonner aux péchés qu’ils ne commettent pas, de même le génie ayant la plus grande expérience de l’intelligence peut le mieux comprendre les idées qui sont le plus opposées à celles qui forment le fond de ses propres oeuvres

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