By Xavier Dorison
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Additional resources for Le Troisième Testament, tome 2: Matthieu ou le visage de l'ange
In a footnote, Proust explains that this statement applies better to idolatry as he himself understands it than to its original context in Ruskin: he imbues the concept with added relevance by distorting it with a touch of infidelity. For Proust, idolatry is a voluntary moral blindness, the ruse of a conscience fooling itself, an insidious interior power that does battle, in a ceaseless psychomachia, with the capital Virtue of “intellectual sincerity” (ASB 183; CSB 129). 6 Such self-delusion aims for narcissistic enjoyment, for a self-valorization that is manifested in poses, in affectations, in scenes played out on the great stage of the world and within the idolater himself.
It was so altered that probably, had she been strong enough to go out, she would have been recognised only by the feather in her hat. Her features, as though during a modeling session, seemed to be straining, with an effort which distracted her from everything else, to conform to some particular model which we failed to identify. The work of the sculptor was nearing its end, and if my grandmother’s face had shrunk in the process, it had at the same time hardened. The veins that traversed it seemed those not of marble, but of some more rugged stone.
By way of the ironic, chiasmic and recursive games of allegory and idolatry, the Proustian pilgrims who go to Rouen, in good faith and fidelity, to revive the figurine, imitating Proust who imitated Ruskin, find themselves beholding an oblique gaze. Like the viewer of Infidelitas at the Arena Chapel, they are implacably turned into idolaters by the wrathful little Jewish “diabolo” that they have so piously come to see and revive. Proust bequeathed to his worshipers a dynamic allegory in which they are the living, blind figures.