A long time ago I read this phrase, and I never forgot it :
you can do what you want with a masterpiece, you will never damage it
Then you don’t care to put a moustache on La Joconde Mona Lisa, you will never spoil, ruin or damage her!
Strangely, I had to find the same pattern for Proust. I once bought the book, which impressed me like a unreachable monument, until I read – in a procrastinating movement – a little one about Proust.
The author mocked me a lot in a chapter, saying that La Recherche is not a towering “cathedral”, and that I should attack it with a good food loving miscreant hungriness, instead of being a solemn idiot. Adding something like : “It’s a masterpiece and you will be struck and enthralled by it, whatever the tip you crunch”.
Solemn idiocy is the most ridiculous one, right?
Last week I talked with a grandpa who was a reaaal Proust lover. He said he bought a few different audio books in mp3, put them in his player and was often walking in the city listening to a few of the hundreds short chapters… by different actors… and in random order!
We laughed. It’s a game for those who read it (to guess what part of the book is spoken here). It’s a constant delight because of the language (Proust is the most gorgeous French EVER). It makes you think and offers you seeds for the mind, in showers (Proust is very, very subtle). Etc.
No solemnity here. Only the necessary casualness (and gourmandise) in front of life, ideas, et cetera : life is serious, then, once you reached these high stairs of intelligence.