The Dreaded Night Turtle (funkyturtle) wrote in english_majors,
The Dreaded Night Turtle

Emergency help needed: What is "Proustian paralysis"?

I'm writing a paper (due tomorrow) on humanity/loss of humanity/retention of humanity in "Ghosts Have Warm Hands," the memoirs of a Canadian soldier in WWI.  I'm examining this using a psych theory book on the conceptualization of persons via narrative self-construction.  At one point it says:

"A person emerges when such an individual does the psychological work required to organize this experience in an ongoing, self-reflexive
narrative.  It is obviously impossible that this narrative should contain each and every event befalling the human being in full detail--such a goal would result in a Proustian paralysis in which the recognizable general features for a coherent story would be lost in the richness of information."

I have no idea what a Proustian paralysis is.  Wikipedia is not helping.  I really need to understand it because the selection of which details to include (and the very idea of richness of information vs plain story) is very important for my analysis of this book.  I'm arguing that the author's choice to include encounters on the battlefield with his dead brother's ghost are part of what defines and retains his humanity in the horror of the trenches.  I really need to know if the Proustian paralysis comment is providing evidence for or against my idea.  Either way I can make it work, I just need to know if I'm agreeing with this person or arguing with them on this point.

Does anyone on here have the ability to briefly explain or send me to a link where I could go to get a good sense of "Proustian paralysis" ?  I have zero knowledge of Proust other than that he's French and famous.
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