A beautiful passage from Proust, in his preface to Paul Morand’s Tendres Stocks:
“The sole reproach that I am tempted to make to Morand is that sometimes he has images that are other than inevitable. However, all images that are approximative don’t count. Water, under normal circumstances, boils at one hundred degrees celsius. We don’t see that phenomenon produced at 98 or 99. Thus, it is better then to have no images.”
I find this faith in precision beautiful, modernist, and at the same time classic. And that it should be so decisively illustrated (the image of boiling water is as precise as you can get) makes it sound like something pre-Socratic, something oracular.
However, I don’t believe it. I believe that images “ à peul près” are sometimes incredibly useful – like smudges in a drawing, they can help the sketcher to open up a dimension of fantasy that would otherwise be lacking, that would otherwise make the drawing merely a banal copy.
Yet I love the way Proust says this.