Monthly Archives: March 2016

Wisdom through Error

In Proust’s Within a Budding Grove, the painter Elstir tells Marcel:

“There is no man . . . however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or lived a life, the memory of which is so unpleasant to him that he would gladly expunge it. And yet he ought not entirely to regret it, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man—so far as it is possible for any of us to be wise—unless he has passed through all the fatuous and unwholesome incarnations by which the ultimate stage must be preceded. . . . We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.” (pp. 605-606)