Love is being stupid together. – Paul Valéry
by Mark Scroggins August 8, 2020
Paul Valéry (1871-1945) had the dubious fate of becoming a monument in his own lifetime, the personification of the quintessential “homme des lettres.” A member of the Académie française, he was France’s cultural representative to the League of Nations and an indefatigable lecturer and commentator. He held enough academic positions to overwhelm a half-dozen ordinary professors. He published over 20 books in various genres; his poetry, on which much of his reputation rests, is a very small share of the whole….
Le plaisir littéraire n’est pas d’exprimer sa pensée tant que de trouver ce qu’on n’attendait pas de soi.
Literary pleasure is not to express one’s thought as long as to find what was not expected of oneself.
– Paul Valéry, Cahiers (Poétique, 1917-1918)
Some time ago, while I was crossing the London Bridge, I stopped to watch what I like best — rich, heavy and complex water, covered by mother-of-pearl fabric, blurred by the clouds of mud, bewilderingly busy with a great number of vessels, whose white steam, moving spinnakers, all bizzare maneuvers that ballance bales and crates, […]
Words are like boards when projected over some abyss spanned by human intellect. We are allowed a swift passage but not a deliberate stop. A quick one passes safely, but the moment we linger, the time-sensitive tissue rips and everything collapses to meet a bottomless chasm. Les mots sont des planches jetées sur un abîme […]
“I love the leisurely amplitude, the spaciousness, of taking a walk, of heading somewhere, anywhere, on foot. I love the sheer adventure of it, of setting out and taking off. You cross a threshold and you’re on your way. Time is suspended. …the rhythm and pace of a walk — the physical activity […]