French Symbolist Poet, Novelist, and Influential Critic
Remy de Gourmont
French Symbolist Poet, Novelist, and Influential Critic
It is a communion at once mystic and real, in the guise of metal.
She lit the candelabras which stood on the mantelpiece. Placed at the head of the bead, on a side-table, they looked like two burning bushes, their flames solemn and inextinguishable. But beneath that avalanche of light the dead man became hideous: the pale head displayed a whiteness more livid than the bedsheet, ghastly against the cambric of the pillow; pits of shadow were hollowed out under the eyes and his nose was villainously elongated, and even the mouth seemed wicked ? his mouth, which was so very gentle!
It is fairly obvious that those who are in favor of the death penalty have more affinity with assassins than those who are not.
It is not perhaps a question of truthfulness; it is rather a natural incapacity to think for herself, to take cognizance of herself in her own brain, and not in the eyes and in the lips of others; even when the ingenuously write into little secret diaries, women think of the unknown god reading--perhaps--over their shoulders. With a similar nature, a woman, to be placed in the first ranks of men, would require even higher genius than that of the highest man; that is why, if the conspicuous works of men themselves, the finest works of women are always inferior to the worth of the women who produced them.
It is undefinable; and moreover, if it were defined it would lose all its value. God is not all that exists; God is all that does not exist. Therein resides the power and the charm of that mysterious word. God is tradition, God is legend, God is folklore, God is a fairy-tale, God is romance, God is a lie, God is a bell, God is a church window, God is religion, God is all that is absurd, useless, invisible, intangible, all that is nothingness and that symbolizes nothingness. God is the nihil in tenebris-(nothing in the darkness) -men have made of him light, life and love.
It was an accident that has endowed man with intelligence. He has made use of it: he invented stupidity.
La Nebuleuse is a poem of lovely and deep perspective, where, symbolized by artless beings, are seen the successive generations of men following each other uncomprehendingly, almost undiscerningly, so different are their souls, and always summed up, to the moment of their decline, by the child, the future, the nebula, whose birth, finally confirmed, brings death. Under its morning clearness, to the faded smiles of aged stars. And, the vision ended, it is urged that this morrow, which is becoming today, will be altogether likes its dead brothers, and that in short there is nothing new in the spectacle which amuses the dead years leaning?
But this nothingness has no importance for the human atoms that form and determine it; it is the delightful newness that we breathe and of which we live. The new! The new! And let each intelligence, though short-lived, affirm his will to exist, and to be dissimilar to all antecedent or surrounding manifestations, and let each nebula aspire to the character of a star whose light shall be distinct and clear among other lights.
Man can no more see the world than a fish can see the river bank.
Chastity is the most unnatural of the sexual perversions.
Man has made use of his intelligence, he invented stupidity.
Deprived of the infinite, man has become what he always was: a supernumerary.
Man is an animal that arrived; that is all.
Each one, then, should love his life, even though it be not very attractive, for it is the only life. It is a boon that will never return and that each person should tend and enjoy with care; it is one's capital, large or small, and cannot be treated as an investment like those whose dividends are payable through eternity. Life is an annuity; nothing is more certain than that. So that all efforts are to be respected that tend to ameliorate the tenure of this perishable possession which, at the end of every day, has already lost a little of its value. Eternity, the bait by which simple folk are still lured, is not situated beyond life, but in life itself, and is divided among all men, all creatures. Each of us holds but a small portion of it, but that share is so precious that it suffices to enrich the poorest. Let us then take the bitter and the sweet in confidence, and when the fall of the days seems to whirl about us, let us remember that dusk is also dawn.
Man is the inventor of stupidity.
Everything, indeed, in a work of art should be unedited,--and even the words, by the manner of grouping them, of shaping them to new meanings,--and one often regrets having an alphabet familiar to too many half-lettered persons.
Man, in spite of his tendency towards mendacity, has a great respect for what he calls the truth. Truth is his staff in his voyage through life; commonplaces are the bread in his bag and the wine in his jug.
He hardly counts; he forms part of the troupe called Humanity; if he misses a cue, he is hissed; and if he drops through the trapdoor another puppet is in readiness to take his place.
Modesty is the delicate form of hypocrisy.
A definition is a sack of flour compressed into a thimble
Abstractions do us much harm by impelling us to the quest of the absolute in all things. Joy does not exist, but there are joys: and these joys may not be folly felt unless they are detached from neutral or even painful conditions. The idea of continuity is almost self-negating. Nature makes no leaps; but life makes only bounds. It is measured by our heartbeats and these may be counted. That there should be, amid the number of deep pulsations that scan the line of our existence, some grievous ones, does not permit the affirmation that life is therefore evil. Moreover, neither a continuous joy would be perceived by consciousness.
Ah! I wish I had the courage to work for the debasement of my contemporaries. What good work it would be to defile their daughters: to insinuate something obscene into the infantile hands which caress each paternal beard and cheek; to poison them, even at the risk of perishing ourselves; to do as those Spanish monks did, who drank death in order that they might persuade the French rabble which had violated their monastery to do likewise.
An imbecile is never bored: he contemplates himself.
And there is neither beginning nor end, nor past nor future; there is only a present, at the same time static and ephemeral, multiple and absolute. It is the vital ocean in which we all share, according to our strength, our needs or our desires.
Art is the accomplice of love.