Reflections

Further musings and words of wisdom by a French journalist and historian living the United States
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Journalist and historian whose penetrating and prophetic book,The Making of Tomorrow, appeared in 1942 shortly before his death, Raoul de Roussy de Sales, bilingual that he was, worked ceaselessly for a better understanding between the French and American democracies until his strength was spent. Among her husband's papers, the Countess de Sales found these epigrams, which were written over a period of years and which are being published in this and the previous issue. The French was often so tight-packed and precise as to defy translation, in which case it seemed wiser to the editors simply to reproduce the original.

New York is like a toy city at night. There are no windowless walls. There are no walls—only windows. It is like looking through cages. Only in those deep wells where elevators are rising and descending is there shadow or mystery. A powerful, Sibylline murmur rises from their depths.

The resonance of New York: you can hear pins fall, flies wheeling on steel wings, steel walking.

La vérité flotte dans ses apparences.

Every action has its element of artificiality. There is no true bravery without bravado, no true love without sentimentality, no true eloquence without boastfulness. Truth is encumbered with the paraphernalia of untruth.

Between the two contradictory forces which oppress humanity, material optimism and spiritual pessimism, there is no place for the honest man. The soul is not cured by realizing that it is now only a word. We are only half civilized.

To keep on going, close your eyes. Distractions, Life, Work are necessary if you are to stop thinking about Distractions, Life, and Work. One can keep alive only by being too busy to think about it.

Je suis assez grand pour me punir tout seul.

Montaigne advised us to accept the idea of death. It is more difficult to accept the idea of life.

Systems of philosophy, the Arts of Happiness, and other panaceas have at least the merit of pleasing their creators. It is delightful to construct a system, to create a religion, to become a human signpost pointing out the way. And it is the height of wisdom and happiness to fall into the traps of your own philosophy—to believe in the religion you have created.

La nuit dernière insomnie. J'ai entendu sonner quatre heures et je me suis mis à attendre le premier chant du merle. Pas longtemps: je connais mon horaire. Et tous les autres: le terrible "choeur des petites voix." Essayé d'analyser avec tout le sang-froid possible l'impression de détresse produite. Souvenir?—mais de quoi? où? quand? Il y a des moments, des états qui échappent a l'analyse. Oiseaux, taisez-vous. Ne chantez plus. Vous chantez contre moi. Je sais bien ce que vous voulez dire: "La belle journée qui commence, aube fraîche, feuillage humide et tendre, éveil vivace et prometteur . . ." Mais moi, je veux m'enfoncer dans le sommeil qui est sombre, silencieux, ouaté, dans le néant personnel de ce sommeil que j'attends, que je réclame et que vos cris m'interdisent.

The modern conception that science can extend itself indefinitely is immature. Theoretically it is quite impossible that man should know everything; he would then cease to be a man.

They tell me I ought to accept reality. Why not tell me to accept disorder? My cat accepts reality with complete acquiescence; he adjusts himself to it as rubber tires adjust themselves to ruts in the road. That is his role. Must it be mine? However reasonable, prudent, practical one may be, there is always a stubborn something in us which refuses such an acquiescence. For us, living is a refusal to accept such "reality," to fight against it, to create an order which is superior to it. What I mean by "reality" is—the inevitable.

La bonne entente est la moyenne entre les malentendus.

Love is latent in all of us; so is dizziness. The first indication of love is a humming in the ears.

A woman whom you once loved but love no longer has an unfortunate tendency to believe that you have never truly loved her, but that now, now, at last you are about to do so.

Les amants dorment nus et enlancés. Il n'y a entre eux que le sommeil; mais cela suffit. S'ils vivaient dans deux planètes différentes, un gouffre plus infranchissable ne les séparerait pas.

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