Monday, May 02, 2005


"'It's a pity you aren't coming. You could have done some filming on board. I'd counted on you to bring along a camera. Now we won't be doing any film at all. Oh, well...Apart from that, everything's tip-top. You're the only thing that's not working right...I can understand your wanting to rest and get back to your books. Of course you need to think things over, you always needed time to think about a whole pile of things, to look, to see, to compare and record, to take notes on the thousand things you haven't had a chance to classify in your own mind. But why don't you leave that to the police archives? Haven't you got it through your head that human thought is a thing of the past and that philosophy is worse than Bertillon's guide to harassed cops? You make me laugh with your metaphysical anguish, it's just that you're scared silly, frightened of life, of men of action, of action itself, of lack of order. But everything is disorder, dear boy. Vegetable, mineral and animal, all disorder, and so is the multitude of human races, the life of man, thought, history, wars, inventions, business and the arts, and all theories, passions and systems. Its always been that way. Why are you trying to make something out of it? And what will you make? What are you looking for? There's no truth. There's only action, action obeying a million different impulses, ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction, Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust, stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. What can you do about it, my poor friend? You're not about to start laying books, are you?'
Moravagine was so right that three days later, a Sunday, the day chosen for their marvellous take-off, war was on, the Great War, 2nd August, 1914." -- Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars, pp. 181-182.

Blaise Cendrars's book "Moravagine" has to be one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is a picaresque journey as told by a medical intern, Raymond la Science, (who is only studying medicine so he can subvert it) of the times he spent with the nefarious Moravagine. It was reissued a few months ago by the New York Review of Books as translated by Alan Brown and Introduced by Paul la Farge.

further details at:

I do hope more of Blaise Cendrars's novels will be translated into English. Although, one never needs an excuse to learn to read French!

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