Wednesday, 20 February 2013

‘Simply like a dress’

So many things to say, so little time. There are so many things I want to put on this blog, but so little time to sit down and type them all out. I keep running across little scraps of paper in my handbag, in my rucksack, or in my coat pocket, scraps on which I have noted down my little thoughts and ‘witticisms’ that I would like to share on here but just never got around to posting. But it’s nice to run across them, and to remember.

Today’s ‘note-to-self’ (inspired by Fashion Week, by a quick browse on a few shopping sites this morning -  and also a little note to self which I found amongst my papers the other day) will be about clothes.

I heard something cool one day, and I wrote it down and recently found it again, and here it is: apparently, what Proust said of his massive novel In Search of Lost Time, is that he does not want his work to be ‘like a cathedral’ (a massive thing you enter into, look around, ponder, and then leave; a thing you remain separate from, it does not mark you or affect you), but that he wants the reader to ‘wear’ it, ‘simply, like a dress’ (tout simplement comme une robe); the reading of the book should become part of you, it should be something you enjoy ‘wearing’, it should change you somehow, for the better, and it should ‘suit’ you (I think this is a brilliant analogy; what you read does indeed affect you, and stay with you, and become a part of you).

I have a lot of dresses. A LOT. I have often thought of the analogy between the things we dress up in, things that suit us/ don’t suit us, the various horrors in the wardrobe which we bought because they looked good on a younger sister, the things we’re holding on to because we think ‘ah but if I had it altered/ if I were slimmer/ had longer legs/ bigger boobs/ etc, it might fit’ – and between the things we do, the activities we go for, the jobs and lifestyles they choose. The ones that fit and make us look at ourselves with pleasure, and the ones that don’t quite fit and make us look uncomfortable/ want to hide away/ wish we could run home and change. The ones we bought into because they looked good on someone else. With the jobs and the lifestyles, it’s the same as with clothes, really; you try something on to see if it fits, you have a moment of madness and buy it and take it home, and you might eventually find yourself wondering what was I thinking?...

Here is what I wrote down on that piece of paper:

My PhD is like an ill-fitting grey dress I bought because it looked good on someone else.

More about this soon.


  1. Great analogy. Today my PhD feels like a pair of water-logged waders, pulling me down into the murky depths beneath!