Published on February 8th, 2012 | by Thompson0
Love Through Magic, Confidence Through Faith, Divinity Through Memory
“The talisman is an object imprinted with an image which has been supposed to been rendered magical, or to have magical efficacy, through having been made in accordance with certain magical rules” (Yates, 154).
Love is certainly magical. “So it was that this name, Gilberte, passed by close to me, given like a talisman that might one day enable me to find this girl again whom it had just turned into a person and who, a moment before, had been merely an uncertain image” (Proust, 144-145). I find it hardly coincidental that Proust describes the name, Gilberte, as a talisman given to him in order so he may find her again, for it is merely a name that transforms our being from “an uncertain image” into a person of individualistic qualities. And to this name we attribute all subsidiary images or unique characteristics from which the talisman exists – beauty, intelligence, habits, hobbies, and pink freckles.
I agree with Sarah that Proust’s narrator tends to use emotional recollection of memory, or a feminine recollection, more than that of a mnemonic technique, but the sensational images are obviously still there, stemming from all the senses and embellished by adverbs on top of adjectives. I feel Proust’s narrator remembers an image more thoroughly when he attaches an emotion, which is exactly what he’s doing with Gilberte. Gilberte will forever be imprinted with the magic of love, making her an unforgettable figure for our hero, and no matter what vile actions Gilberte may commit in the future, Proust’s narrator will forever associate her with love. Let’s face it…we all do.
Giulio Camillo’s Theatre also utilizes talismanic qualities in order to remember. “The secret, or one of the secrets, of the Theatre is…that the basic planetary images are supposed to be talismans, or to have talismanic virtue, and that the astral power from them is supposed to run through the subsidiary images” (Yates, 155). In the same manner that Proust creates the Gilberte talisman, Camillo’s Theatre utilizes talismanic characteristics so “the cosmically based memory would be supposed, not only to draw power from the cosmos into the memory, but to unify memory. All the details of the world of sense, reflected in memory, would be unified under the higher celestial images, the images of their ’causes'” (Yates, 155-156). The advent of the talismanic virtues brings order to the memory and allows for easier recollection.
Camillo’s Theatre is a triumphant failure in that Camillo was triumphant in constructing an idea for practical memory recollection, but died before he could write a book about it. Camillo is an artist that died before finishing his masterpiece, but thanks to Frances Yates we have a relatively detailed account of Camillo’s Theatre and how to use it. And one can see how Camillo had an immense effect on the Renaissance as a whole, instilling a divine mens in society that made people believe in the divinity of thought and brought a new confident aura to the world.
“Mediaeval man was allowed to use his ow faculty of imagination to form corporeal similitudes to help his memory; it was a concession to his weakness. Renaissance Hermetic man believes that he has divine powers; he can form a magic memory through which he grasps the world, reflecting the divine macrocosm in the microcosm of his divine mens. The magic of celestial proportion flows from his world memory into the magical words of his oratory and poetry, into the perfect proportions of his art and architecture. Something has happened within the psyche, releasing new powers, and the new plan of artificial memory may help us to understand the nature of that inner event” (Yates, 172).