Monday, November 5, 2007

William Faulkner on peace

Reading page after page in Proust's The Fugitive on remembering and forgetting made me recall this passage from William Faulkner, which has lurked in my mind since I first read it in college. It's from a conversation with students at the University of Virginia, March 13, 1957:

[M]aybe peace is only a condition in retrospect, when the subconscious has got rid of the gnats and the tacks and the broken glass of experience and has left only the peaceful pleasant things — that was peace. Maybe peace is not is, but was.

William Faulkner, Faulkner in the University, ed. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1995), 67

comments: 3

Anonymous said...

I like this a lot. Maybe this is why people yearn for the simplicty and peace of childhood while overlooking the emotional challenges of growing up.

Michael Leddy said...

And perhaps why parents grow nostalgic for their children's early years. : )

FutureNerd said...

Or peace is an internal rather than external thing: peace is whenever you aren't torturing yourself with thoughts of gnats, tacks, and broken glass; whenever you're not running yourself over coals.

Kids haven't learned self-torture. Half of adults haven't learned to stop. So, deprived of peace they look in places where they remember having seen it.

We learn as we grow up that to be adult and realistic is to be troubled. Not so often taught the need and recipe for an antidote.