French Poet, Critic, Essayist and Philosopher
"Growing nations should remember that, in nature, no tree, though placed in the best conditions of light, soil, and plot, can continue to grow and spread indefinitely."
"It must be admitted that liberty is the hardest test that one can inflict on a people. To know how to be free is not given equally to all men and all nations."
"The diploma gives society a phantom guarantee and its holders phantom rights. The holder of a diploma passes officially for possessing knowledge... comes to believe tht society owes him something. Never has a convention been created which is more unfortunate, for every one - the state, the individual (and, in particular, culture)."
"Every enthusiast contains a false enthusiast, every lover a false lover, every man of genius a false man of genius, and, as a rule, every fault its counterfeit: this is necessary in order to assure the continuity of one's personality, not only in the eyes of others but in one's own - in order to understand oneself, count upon oneself, think of oneself; in order, in short, to be oneself."
"Mind has transformed the world, and the world is repaying it with interest. It has led man where he had no idea how to go."
"The history of thought can be summarized in these words: It is absurd by what it seeks, great by what it finds."
"The only treaties that ought to count are those which would effect a settlement between ulterior motives."
"The majority of those who flatter themselves on their knowledge of the human heart do not separate their boasted insight from their unfavorable feeling about humanity... Nothing indeed imparts a psychological air so much as an habitual attitude of depreciation."
"A man who wishes to impose his opinions on others is unsure of their value. He has to uphold them by all possible means. He adopts a special tone of voice, thumps the table, smiles on some and browbeats others. In short, he borrows from his body the wherewithal to bolster up his mind."
"All our language is composed of brief little dreams; and the wonderful thing is that we sometimes make of them strangely accurate and marvelously reasonable thoughts. What should we be without the help of that which does not exist? Very little. And our unoccupied minds would languish if fables, mistaken notions, abstractions, beliefs, and monsters, hypotheses, and the so-called problems of metaphysics did not people with beings and objectless images our natural depths and darkness. Myths are the souls of our actions and our loves. We cannot act without moving towards a phantom. We can love only what we create. "
"Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content."
"Follow the path of your aroused thought, and you will soon meet this infernal inscription: There is nothing so beautiful as that which does not exist. "
"God created man and, finding him not sufficiently alone, gave him a companion to make him feel his solitude more keenly."
"I am now going to make an admission. I confess, I agree, that all these good people who protested, who laughed, who did not perceive what we perceived, were in a quite legitimate position. Their opinion was quite in order. One must not be afraid to say that the kingdom of letters is only a province of the vast empire of entertainment. One picks up a book, one puts it aside; and even when one cannot put it down one very well understands that this interest is related to the facility of pleasure. That is to say that every effort of a creator of beauty or of fantasy should be bent, by the very essence of his work, on contriving for the public pleasure which demands no effort, or almost none. It is through the public that he should deduce what touches, moves, soothes, animates or enchants the public. "
"I believed, rather more accurately, that a work resolutely thought out and sought for in the hazards of the mind, systematically, and through a determined analysis of definite and previously prescribed conditions, whatever its value might be once it had been produced, did not leave the mind of its creator without having modified him, and forced him to recognize and in some way reorganize himself. I said to myself that it was not the accomplished work, and its appearance and effect in the world that can fulfill and edify us; but only the way in which we have done it. "
"If some great catastrophe is not announced every morning, we feel a certain void. Nothing in the paper today, we sigh."
"Latent in every man is a venom of amazing bitterness, a black resentment; something that curses and loathes life, a feeling of being trapped, of having trusted and been fooled, of being helpless prey to impotent rage, blind surrender, the victim of a savage, ruthless power that gives and takes away, enlists a man, drops him, promises and betrays, and -crowning injury- inflicts on him the humiliation of feeling sorry for himself. "
"It seems to me that the soul, when alone with itself and speaking to itself, uses only a small number of words, none of them extraordinary."
"Nothing is more natural than mutual misunderstanding; the contrary is always surprising. I believe that one never agrees on anything except by mistake, and that all harmony among human beings is the happy fruit of an error. "
"Man's great misfortune is that he has no organ, no kind of eyelid or brake, to mask or block a thought, or all thought, when he wants to."
"Politics is the art of preventing people from busying themselves with what is their own business. "
"Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them."