Proust in the Artificial Intelligence Era

by | Aug 29, 2022 | Articles | 0 comments

Let’s consider this week’s post as part two to last week’s part one, When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? I know I’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about this a lot lately. Today, though, I have a different spin—one which both surprised and amused me.

Last week I wrote a bit about the horrendous Grammarly, a “cloud-based typing assistant” (insert stifled guffaw here) that I have to use for some of my freelance work. In between that post and today’s, I’ve been reading, or re-reading Proust.

Allow me to explain. I want to say I originally read Swann’s Way about 2.5 million years ago, as I already own a worn paperback copy. But did I? Or do I just remember Diane Chambers on Cheers waxing eloquent about “Proust and his madeleines?” Whatever the case—and yes, I have pretty much completely forgotten entire books I read over 30 years ago—I’ve been plowing through Swann’s Way as a prelude to reading all of Remembrance of Things Past. The second volume, Within a Budding Grove, is already on deck.


Proustian, Jungian, or…Something Else?

The inevitable clash between modern technical-related writing and classic literature seems to get wider as I delve into Proust’s world. And I’ve had something else on my mind, possibly related to Proust but not necessarily so. It’s something I don’t even know how to discuss, much less define.

Oxford defines “Proustian” as “relating to or characteristic of the French writer Marcel Proust or his works, particularly with reference to the recovery of the lost past and the stimulation of unconscious memory.” This typically involves sensory phenomena, such as when the taste of a tiny piece of a cake calls up a whole range of memories and associations.

There’s something very Jungian about all this to me, and that’s what I can’t get my hands (or brain) around. Like Proust and innumerable other writers, I’ve had dreams and associations that don’t seem to mean anything in particular, yet call up a strong emotional response. Some remain vague, as if the veil has yet to be lifted.

That’s where I am today: a brief image, like a still from a video clip, of a carriage flying down a dirt road, all sepia-toned and with autumn leaves swirling past it. Did I dream it more than once? Is it meant to conjure up something else, or even find a place in a future project of mine?

I have no idea.


These Smart Bots

But oh, yes: I promised something surprising and amusing here, didn’t I? Not only my straining to recall something vague and mysterious, as-yet-understood.

Here it is. Just for fun, I decided to use the above mentioned Grammarly app to “edit” some Proust, and some Faulkner, for good measure. After all, a modern “editing” bot would surely object to 900-word sentences with a ton of commas, right?

I copied and pasted a massive Proust sentence into it…and yes, Faulkner’s longest sentence, around 1,200 words.

And the result? No problem! Both sentences scored nearly 100%, with high ratings for clarity, correctness, engagement…in short, Grammarly was obviously programmed to recognize great literature and not suggest corrections. Pretty smart, these bots.

And now, I’m off to ponder the great mystery of the carriage and the autumn leaves swirling past it. Happy Monday.

IngramSpark KDP

Using IngramSpark and KDP Print For Your Paperbacks

This week's post is about using two different companies for Print-On-Demand publishing—IngramSpark and KDP. Ever since Amazon began offering services to authors, there's been a question in the indie author community: should I use them? My answer, initially, was a...

Labor Day 2022

To all my working friends, and those of you who worked hard until you retired: I'm taking the day off, and hope you are too. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for this quarter's newsletter, appearing in your inbox tomorrow. If you're not signed up, get it here. Happy Labor...

Calling All Artists

This week's blog post is going to be super short: if you've ever read the blog, you’ll know I'm posting often about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel in 2019, and I’m putting a lot of emphasis on finding artists first. I put out a call for graphic...

Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter

Recently I wrote a blog post about how many writers struggle to find interesting topics. It occurred to me that, for those of us who are writers and/or entrepreneurs, one good topic for this blog might be Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Of course, this is totally...

Putting Yourself Out There

I see a lot of social media posts these days about "authenticity." The idea is that clients and customers, and potential clients and customers, really appreciate your authenticity—mainly because so many fake people have tried to sell them something they didn't want to...
book launch

Ready to Launch Into 2019?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve shown an obsessive side lately – lots of content about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel, Whizzers, in 2019. That means I’m putting a lot of emphasis on building my marketing plan well in...

What a Character

I was recently reading another author's blog, and saw a post about the writing process, and in particular the naming of characters. I wondered, Are people really interested in reading about this? I couldn't help thinking that only writers are so interested in other...

A Conversation With Literary Author Jay Lemming

Today's blog post is a little different - an interview with fellow literary novelist Jay Lemming, author of Billy Maddox Takes His Shot. I'll let the interview speak for itself, but for more on Jay, visit his website at Thanks for...

Blatant Self-Promotion Post

This week is The Big One: the 2nd edition of Miles of Files launches on Mar. 10th, almost 15 months to the day of its initial release! When I won a book cover design from 99designs, I immediately thought of Miles. I was never quite as enamored with the original cover...

Spirituality in the Fictional World

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called Talking About A Metaphysical Work where I tried to discuss spirituality in fiction. At least, that's what I thought I was doing. See, I had just published my fourth novel, Whizzers, and I knew I needed to promote it. I had a...

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...