French Poet, Critic, Essayist and Philosopher
Paul Valéry, fully Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry
French Poet, Critic, Essayist and Philosopher
Everything has not been lost, but everything has sensed that it might perish.
If the state is strong, it crushes us. If it is weak, we perish.
Poetry is simply literature reduced to the essence of its active principle. It is purged of idols of every kind, of realistic illusions, of any conceivable equivocation between the language of "truth" and the language of "creation."
The deepest is the skin of man.
We civilizations now know ourselves mortal.
For the fact is that disorder is the condition of the mind's fertility: it contains the mind's promise, since its fertility depends on the unexpected rather than the expected, depends on what we do not know, and because we do not know it, than what we know.
In poetry everything which must be said is almost impossible to say well.
Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.
The feeling of being whole and not be out anything.
We civilizations now know that we are mortal. I heard the lost world with everything collapsing empires of all men and their machines, fell into the pit unexplained centuries, with gods, with their laws, the academies and their sciences pure and applied, with grammars and dictionaries their classics, romantics and symbolists their critics and criticism of their criticism. We know that the whole earth is made ??of ash and the ashes signify something. Through the thick fog of history we see some ghosts huge ships loaded with spiritual riches. We cannot count... We see that the gap of history is quite spacious for everyone. We feel that a civilization has the same fragility as a life.
For the musician, before he has begun his work, all is in readiness so that the operation of his creative spirit may find, right from the start, the appropriate matter and means, without any possibility of error. He will not have to make this matter and means submit to any modification; he need only assemble elements which are clearly defined and ready-made. But in how different a situation is the poet! Before him is ordinary language, this aggregate of means which are not suited to his purpose, not made for him. There have not been physicians to determine the relationships of these means for him; there have not been constructors of scales; no diapason, no metronome, no certitude of this kind. He has nothing but the coarse instrument of the dictionary and the grammar. Moreover, he must address himself not to a special and unique sense like hearing, which the musician bends to his will, and which is, besides, the organ par excellence of expectation and attention; but rather to a general and diffused expectation, and he does so through a language which is a very odd mixture of incoherent stimuli.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished?a word that for them has no sense?but abandoned; and this abandonment, whether to the flames or to the public (and which is the result of weariness or an obligation to deliver) is a kind of an accident to them, like the breaking off of a reflection, which fatigue, irritation, or something similar has made worthless.
Politics is the art of stopping people from minding their own business.
The same muscles and nerves produce walking as well as dancing, exactly as our linguistic faculty enables us to express our needs and ideas, while the same words and forms can be combined to produce works of poetry. A single mechanism is employed in both cases for two entirely different purposes.
We see now that the abyss of history is deep enough to hold us all.
Freedom of mind and mind itself have been most fully developed in regions where trade developed at the same time. In all ages, without exception, every intense production of art, ideas, and spiritual values has occurred in some locality where a remarkable degree of economic activity was also manifest.
Ingres? pencil pursues ideal grace to the point of monstrosity: the spine never long and supple enough, the neck flexible enough, the thighs smooth enough, or all the curves of the body sufficiently beguiling to the eye, which envelopes and caresses more than it seems them. The Odalisque, with a hint of the plesiosaurus about her, makes one wonder what might have resulted from a carefully controlled selection, through the centuries, of a breed of woman specially designed for pleasure ? as the English horse is bred for racing.
Science is feasible when the variables are few and can be enumerated; when their combinations are distinct and clear. We are tending toward the condition of science and aspiring to do it. The artist works out his own formulas; the interest of science lies in the art of making science.
The stranger?s way of looking at things, the eye of a man who does not recognize, who is beyond this world, the eye as frontier between being & non-being ? belongs to the thinker. It is also the eye of a dying man, a man losing recognition.
What a pity to see a mind as great as Napoleon's devoted to trivial things such as empires, historic events, the thundering of cannons and of men; he believed in glory, in posterity, in Caesar; nations in turmoil and other trifles absorbed all his attention... How could he fail to see that what really mattered was something else entirely?
God made ??everything out of nothing. But nothing pierces.
Interruption, incoherence, surprise are the ordinary conditions of our life. They have even become real needs for many people, whose minds are no longer fed by anything but sudden changes and constantly renewed stimuli. We can no longer bear anything that lasts. We no longer know how to make boredom bear fruit. So the whole question comes down to this: can the human mind master what the human mind has made?
Science means simply the aggregate of all the recipes that are always successful. All the rest is literature.
The universe is built on a plan the profound symmetry of which is somehow present in the inner structure of our intellect.
What he has deeper into the man, it is the skin.