In 1922, the French newspaper L’Intransigeant asked its contributors the following hypothetical question:
” An America scientist announces that the world will end. … If this prediction were confirmed, what do you think would be its effects on people between the time when they acquired the aforementioned certainty and the moment of cataclysm? Finally, as far as you’re concerned, what would you do in this last hour? “
Marcel Proust replied:
” I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies it – our life – hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.
But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever, how beautiful it would become again! Ah! If only the cataclysm doesn’t happen this time, we won’t miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X., making a trip to India.
The cataclysm doesn’t happen, we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn’t have needed the cataclysm to love life today.
It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening. “
From How to Love Life Today in How Proust Can Change Your Life, by Alain de Botton, 1997
Happy new year. 🙂 J