Knowledge and Art / Proust

Although I think this must be right, and that writing does not require knowledge or learning in the same sense that the sciences do, I think also that learning may operate as a sort of acid vat in which one’s bad taste, except for the most adamantine chunks of it, as well as other impurities, may be made with repeated dunkings to dissolve (which may be what Proust means in what follows by “that tact which our invention acquires”) — from William Carter’s Marcel Proust, A Life (pp.293):

Marie complained in her letter sent with the poems of not being a learned person, which provokes Proust to reply with a deeply held belief about language and art: “Strictly speaking, no knowledge is involved, for there is none outside the mysterious associations effected by our memory and the tact which our invention acquires in its approach to words.” The poet must find his own way in the sea of words by using a navigational system that remained mysterious. The charts, when discovered and retrieved, always lay within. “Knowledge, in the sense of something which exists ready-made outside us and which we can learn as in the Sciences — is meaningless in art.”

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