“Artists are people who strip habit away and return life to its deserved glory.”
For Proust, the great artists deserve acclaim because they show us the world in a way that is fresh, appreciative, and alive… The opposite of art, for Proust, is something he callshabit. For Proust, much of life is ruined for us by a blanket or shroud of familiarity that descends between us and everything that matters. It dulls our senses and stops us appreciating everything, from the beauty of a sunset to our work and our friends.
Children don’t suffer from habit, which is why they get excited by some very key but simple things — like puddles, jumping on the bed, sand, and fresh bread. But we adults get ineluctably spoiled, which is why we seek ever more powerful stimulants, like fame and love.
The trick, in Proust’s eyes, is to recover the powers of appreciation of a child in adulthood, to strip the veil of habit and therefore to start to look upon daily life with a new and more grateful sensitivity.
This, for Proust, is what one group in the population does all the time: artists. Artists are people who strip habit away and return life to its deserved glory.
This film is part of a wonderful series of animated meditations by The School of Life, founded by De Botton, exploring such facets of our quest for meaning as what great books do for the soul, how to find fulfilling work, what philosophy is for, and what comes after religion.
Complement How Proust Can Change Your Life with De Botton on harnessing the seven psychological functions of great art and what Nietzsche can teach us about true fulfillment