Rene Daumal

(1908 - 1944 / France)

Quotations

  • ''Words are made for a certain exactness of thought, as tears are for a certain degree of pain. What is least distinct cannot be named; what is clearest is unutterable.''
    René Daumal (1908-1944), French poet, critic. A Night of Serious Drinking, foreword (1938).
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  • ''It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content ... it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble and from babble to confusion.''
    René Daumal (1908-1944), French poet, critic. A Night of Serious Drinking, foreword (1938).
  • ''Common experience is the gold reserve which confers an exchange value on the currency which words are; without this reserve of shared experiences, all our pronouncements are cheques drawn on insufficient funds.''
    René Daumal (1908-1944), French poet, critic. A Night of Serious Drinking, foreword (1938).
  • ''Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.''
    René Daumal (1908-1944), French poet, critic. repr. In The Powers of the Word, ed. and trans. by Mark Polizzotti (1991). "Poetry Black, Poetry White," no. 19-20, Fontaine (Paris, March/April 1942). Chaque Fois que l'Aube Paraît ["Each Time Dawn Appears"] was the title given to a posthumous anthology of Daumal's writings.
  • ''Art has a double face, of expression and illusion, just like science has a double face: the reality of error and the phantom of truth.''
    René Daumal (1908-1944), French poet, critic. repr. In The Lie of the Truth, trans. by Phil Powrie (1989). "The Lie of the Truth," (written 1938), published in Essais et Notes, vol. 2, ed. Claudio Rugafiori (1972).
  • ''Truth is one, but error proliferates. Man tracks it down and cuts it up into little pieces hoping to turn it into grains of truth. But the ultimate atom will always essentially be an error, a miscalculation.''
    René Daumal (1908-1944), French poet, critic. repr. In The Lie of The Truth, trans. by Phil Powrie (1989). "The Lie of the Truth," vol. 2, Essais et Notes, ed. Claudio Rugafiori (1972).
  • ''Man is head, chest and stomach. Each of these animals operates, more often than not, individually. I eat, I feel, I even, although rarely, think.... This jungle crawls and teems, is hungry, roars, gets angry, devours itself, and its cacophonic concert does not even stop when you are asleep.''
    René Daumal (1908-1944), French poet, critic. repr. In The Lie of The Truth, trans. by Phil Powrie (1989). "The Lie of the Truth," vol. 2, Essais et Notes, ed. Claudio Rugafiori (1972).

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Poem

One cannot stay on the summit forever -
One has to come down again.
So why bother in the first place? Just this.
What is above knows what is below -
But what is below does not know what is above

One climb, one sees-
One descends and sees no longer
But one has seen!

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