Thursday, July 12, 2012


  The right of individuals to forge their own destiny will yet again be restricted and challenged.  Public peril will be invoked, or the general interest, or even the preservation of humanity itself.  Upright citizens will launch indignant protests against this indefensible activity, this epidemic anarchy with its aim of rescuing each person from mankind’s common lot and creating for him an individual paradise, this deflection of thought processes which will doubtless be labeled intellectual Malthusianism in the near future.   

  What splendid ravages: the principle of usefulness will become foreign to all those who practice this superior vice.  For them, it will at last no longer be a question of applying the mind:  seeing its boundaries dissolve into the distance they will share their ecstasy with all that is ardent and unsatisfied on this earth.  Young people will plunge passionately into this serious, unprofitable game.  It will pervert the course of their lives. 

  The Faculties will be deserted, the laboratories closed down.  The very idea of armies, families, professors, will become inconceivable.  Then, in the face of this ever-increasing disaffection of social life, a great conspiracy of all the dogmatic and realist forces of the world will be organized against the phantom of illusions.  It will win, this coalition of powers dedicated to the principles of why-not and making-the-best-of-it.  But it will be the last crusade of the mind.  And for this battle that is lost in advance, I recruit you today, adventurous, grave hearts, contemptuous of victory, who search the night for an abyss into which to hurl yourselves.  Come, the roster is open.  Queue up at this window, please.

Louis Aragon, Paris Peasant (Le Paysan de Paris), translated by Simon Watson-Taylor, London, Jonathan Cape, Ltd., 1971.

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