There have been those who magnificently dared. There have been bearers of the truth, men who groped in the world's tumult, trying to make plain order of it. They discover what we did not yet know; chiefly they discover what we no longer knew.
Will not thoughtful faces arise out of the darkness? (For this is Chaos and the animal Kingdom; and Reason being no more, she has yet to be born.
We may no longer be able to count; but Fate will count. Some day the men will be killed, and the women and children. And they also will disappear they who stand erect upon the ignominious death of the soldiers, they will disappear along with the huge and palpitating pedestal in which they were rooted. But they profit by the present, they believe it will last as long as they, and as they follow each other they say, "After us, the deluge." Some day all war will cease for want of fighters.
War will come again after this one. It will come again as long as it can be determined by people other than those who fight. The same causes will produce the same effects, and the living will have to give up all hope.
Through centuries of centuries, fire and water face each other; the fire, upright, buoyant and leaping; the water flat, creeping, gliding, widening its lines and its surface. When they touch, is it the water which hisses and roars, or is it the fire?
Animals are innocence incarnate. This horse is like an enormous child, and if one wanted to point out life's innocence face to face, one would have to typify, not a little child, but a horse.
I am looking for the happiness which lives. And truly, when I have a sense of some new assent wavering and making ready, or when I am on the way to a first rendezvous, I feel myself gloriously uplifted, and equal to everything! This fills my life. Desire wears the brain as much as thought wears it. All my being is agog for chances to shine and to be shared. When they say in my presence of some young woman that, "she is not happy," a thrill of joy tears through me.
I stood still, a prey to a thousand thoughts, stifled in the robe of the evening.
Tenderness is greater than love. I do not admire carnal love when it is by itself and bare. I do not admire its disorderly selfish paroxysms, so grossly short-lived. And yet without love the attachment of two human beings is always weak. Love must be added to affection. The things it contributes to a union are absolutely needed exclusiveness, intimacy, and simplicity.
We do not die. Each human being is alone in the world. It seems absurd, contradictory to say this, and yet it is so. But there are many human beings like me. No, we cannot say that. In saying that, we set ourselves outside the truth in a kind of abstraction. All we can say is: I am alone. And that is why we do not die.
Where are the words that will light the way? What is humanity in the world, and what is the world? Everything is within me, and there are no judges, and there are no boundaries and no limits to me. The de profundis, the effort not to die, the fall of desire with its soaring cry, all this has not stopped. It is part of the immense liberty which the incessant mechanism of the human heart exercises (always something different, always!).
What am I? I am the desire not to die. I have always been impelled not that evening alone by the need to construct the solid, powerful dream that I shall never leave again. We are all, always, the desire not to die. This desire is as immeasurable and varied as life's complexity, but at bottom this is what it is: To continue to be, to be more and more, to develop and to endure. All the force we have, all our energy and clearness of mind serve to intensify themselves in one way or another. We intensify ourselves with new impressions, new sensations, new ideas. We endeavour to take what we do not have and to add it to ourselves. Humanity is the desire for novelty founded upon the fear of death. That is what it is.
Defeated, I followed my impulse casually. I followed a woman who had been watching me from her corner. Then we walked side by side. We said a few words; she took me home with her. Then I went through the banal scene. It passed like a sudden hurtlingdown. Again, I am on the pavement and I am not at peace as I had hoped. An immense confusion bewilders me. It is as if I could not see things as they were. I see too deep and too much.
Moving in both directions, the street is full of dresses which sway, offering themselves airily, the skirts lifting; dresses which lift and yet do not lift. In the tall and narrow shop mirror I see myself approaching, rather pale and heavy-eyed. It is not a woman I want it is all women. And I seek for them in those around me, one by one...
While we get ready to rejoin the others and begin war again, the dark and storm-choked sky slowly opens above our heads. Between two masses of gloomy cloud a tranquil gleam emerges; and that line of light, so blackedged and beset, brings even so its proof that the sun is there.