– – – Louis Aragon (1924)
It sometimes happens to me that suddenly I feel as if I have lost the thread of my own life: I find myself wondering – sitting in some little corner of the world, next to a cup of coffee that is steaming and black, with polished pieces of metal around me, amidst the comings and goings of sweet but imposing women – “by what road of madness have I landed finally under this arch that they so accurately call ‘the sky’?” And this moment… when everything becomes un-graspable… when huge cracks appear in the palace of the world… I would give my whole life for this moment, if it would only continue – at such a silly, risible price… And at this time, one’s spirits detatch a little from the mechanism of human activity: at this time, I am no longer the rushing bicycle of my own senses, I am no longer the grinding-mill of my own memories and of the people I’ve met. At this time, I am aware of the contingent, the temporary, the ephemeral in myself… I understand all at once how I am more than my accustomed self: the ephemeral is actually m e !!! And once I have arrived at this thought, I find myself laughing when I think of every kind of human activity.
And it is at this point, no doubt, that those people fall silent: those men and women who leave, on a particular day, with a clear look in their eyes. And this is when, certainly, t h a t way of thinking begins: which is no longer – no, not at all any longer – that old game of mirrors – or of several, excellent mirrors – and that is so lacking in danger. If you have felt – even one time – this vertigo, then it becomes impossible to go on accepting those mechanical, mechanistic ideas which are the way, today, almost every human activity is summarized. And it becomes impossible to accept the comfort and tranquillity which comes from that. And you can sense, at the root of every train of thought, however clear… an axiom that you hadn’t thought of, that you cannot quite grasp, which belongs to some other, forgotten system of thought, no longer up for discussion, but which still leaves its rutted tracks at the back of your mind… this formula that was not the thing you were talking about…
And so… philosophers speak in proverbs, and they make their proofs. They tie up their imaginations in these strange chains, stolen from famous tombs. They shine light only on facets of the truth, and what they believe to be true is only partially the truth.
* – * – *
If, suddenly, I find myself thinking about the way my life runs… and if I forget the way my mind and thinking have been taught to be… and if I reign in a little my awareness of that life which runs its course through me – and which escapes me… then all at once: “What does it all mean?” Suddenly I have no expectations of the world. What do I care about some new discovery, and its practical applications? Knowing!!! A stone thrown into the abyss knows nothing but its own acceleration – and doesn’t even know that, to tell the truth… You have to see how a man is victim of his own mirrors.. the mirrors that he erects… crying out with all the emotion of his own little theatre: “Oh!!!… what is going to happen?” As if he had some choice… when it is so completely pointless: “Oh boiling sea, I am your battered cliff. Rise, rise, child of the moon: you tides… I am the one who is gradually worn away, and carried off by the wind…”
And here is a simple practice: when the night is too dark for me – with its phantoms, and its horrors – if I reach out my hands to the light of distant light-houses… if I join together the famous constellations with the imagined lines that make them – a simple practice – if I sing – very quietly – if I walk… if I think… and if I just open my eyes that have seen nothing yet.
But amongst all the tunes that sometimes I hum, there is still one that gives me, even today, an untrammeled illusion of Spring and of fields: an illusion of real freedom. Sometimes I forget this tune… and then, suddenly, I find it again. Freedom, freedom… it’s the time of day – the time of the evening – when the wind’s chains of transparent links fly away across the watered silks of the sky, it’s the time of the evening when the ball and chain become slaves of the ankle, and handcuffs become jewels… And sometimes, on the walls of his cell, the hermit and recluse scratches into the stone an inscription that sounds on the hard surface like the sound of wings. And sometimes he sculpts, above a rivet, a calligraphed symbol of the lovers of the earth. And it’s because he’s dreaming. And I, too, am dreaming… am transported… am dreaming… And I dream of a long, long dream where everyone else is dreaming, too… I do not know what will come of this new movement of dreams. I am dreaming at the edge of the world, and at the edge of the night.
So what is it you want to say to me, you, who are way off in the distance? Calling out to me with cupped hands, laughing at what the dreamer is doing… At the edge of the night and of crime, at the edge of crime and of passion… Oh, Rivieras of irreality… your casinos – without distinction of age – open their gambling halls to all and everyone who wants to lose! It is time, it is really time, believe me, to not be winning any more…
“Who’s there?” Well, okay then: let infinity enter!
pp. 9-10, 27-29 A Wave of Dreams