French Poet, Critic, Essayist and Philosopher
Paul Valéry, fully Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry
French Poet, Critic, Essayist and Philosopher
Anxious to know, yet only too happy to ignore, we seek in what is, a remedy for what is not; and in what is not a relief from what is. Now the real, now illusion is our refuge; and the soul has finally no other resource but the true, which is her weapon -- and falsehood, which is her armor.
Great things are accomplished by men who are not conscious of the impotence of man. Such insensitiveness is precious. But we must admit that criminals are not unlike our heroes in this respect.
It is a law of nature that we defend ourselves from one affection only by means of another.
She is entirely in her closed eyes, and quite alone with her soul, in the bosom of the most intimate attention... She feels in herself that she is becoming some event.
The very object of an art, the principle of its artifice, is precisely to impart the impression of an ideal state in which the man who reaches it will be capable of spontaneously producing, with no effort of hesitation, a magnificent and wonderfully ordered expression of his nature and our destinies.
What one wrote playfully, another reads with tension and passion; what one wrote with tension and passion, another reads playfully.
As for the world, all reality has no other excuse for existence except to offer the poet the chance to play a sublime match against it -- a match that is list in advance.
His heart is a desert island... The whole scope, the whole energy of his mind surround and protect him; his depths isolate him and guard him against the truth. He flatters himself that he is entirely alone there... Patience, dear lady. Perhaps, one day, he will discover some footprint on the sand.... What holy and happy terror, what salutary fright, once he recognizes in that pure sign of grace that his island is mysteriously inhabited!
It is a sign of the times and not a very good sign, that these days it is necessary?and not only necessary but urgent?to interest minds in the fate of Mind, that is to say, in their own fate.
Since everything that lives is obliged to expend and receive life, there is an exchange of modifications between the living creature and its environment. And yet, once that vital necessity is satisfied, our species?a positively strange species?thinks it must create for itself other needs and tasks besides that of preserving life... Whatever may be the origin or cause of this curious deviation, the human species is engaged in an immense adventure, an adventure whose objective and end it does not know... The same senses, the same muscles, the same limbs?more, the same types of signs, the same instruments of exchange, the same languages, the same modes of logic?enter into the most indispensable acts of our lives, as they figure into the most gratuitous... In short, man has not two sets of tools, he has only one, and this one set must serve him for the preservation of his life and his physiological rhythm, and expend itself at other times on illusions and on the labors of our great adventure...
The wind is rising...we must attempt to live.
What soul would hesitate to turn the universe upside down in order to be a little more itself?
Because I've lived to expect,
History is the most dangerous chemistry of the intellect has developed product. Its properties are well known. It is a dream, it intoxicates people, leads them false memories, exaggerates their reflexes, keeps their old wounds, turmoil in their rest, leads to delusions of grandeur or persecution, and makes nations bitter, arrogant , insufferable and vain. history justifies what you want. It rigorously teach anything, because it contains everything, and gives examples of everything. - Paul Val‚ry , Focus on the current world and other essays
Love is being stupid together.
Sometimes the view from the windows, the walls are hung on a table only; some time in the room, not me there, preventing me from seeing the whole, between the trees is nothing more than a shell.
There are two ways to acquire the niceties of life: (1) To produce them, or (2) To plunder them. When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.
You have made yourself an island of time, you are a time that has become detached from that vast Time in which your indefinite duration has the subsistence and eternity of a smoke-ring.
Breath, dreams, silence, invincible calm, you triumph.
History is the science of things which are not repeated.
Man is only man at the surface. Remove the skin, dissect, and immediately you come to machinery.
Stupidity is not my strong point.
There is a value called ?mind? as there is a value oil, wheat, or gold... One can invest in that value, one can ?follow? it as they say on the stock exchange; one can watch its fluctuations in I know not what price list which is the world?s general opinion of it... All these rising and falling values constitute the great market of human affairs. And of these the unfortunate value mind does not stop falling.
You have neither the patience that weaves long lines nor a feeling for the irregular, nor a sense of the fittest place for a thing ... For you intelligence is not one thing among many. You ... worship it as if it were an omnipotent beast ... a man intoxicated on it believes his own thoughts are legal decision, or facts themselves born of the crowd and time. He confuses his quick changes of heart with the imperceptible variation of real forms and enduring Beings .... You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time.
But hope is only man's mistrust of the clear foresight of his mind.