Antoine St Expury- Wartime readings

More quotes I copied out in a hurry, forgive if I misrepresented his writings in any way, but I really love them. I think if I encountered the “10 people you wish to meet” question, Antoine St-Expury might be one of them. His writing to me resembles the music of water ripples – his words may not be regarded as revolutionary – but it touches lightly on the mind like the gentle texture of a rose petal, the eyes of a soft mare in the middle of a lush green field – delicate but elegantly memorable. Even as a soldier, his despair is strangely evocative and charming. Perhaps it is because his mind and ideals strive upwards, and he thrived on these to keep his soul alive.

“Though in this changing world, I fear none of these things will come true. We are living in a dream interlude- before what cataclysm I don’t know but fear.”

“Somewhere along the way we have gone astray. The human anthill is richer than ever before. We have more wealth and more leisure, and yet we lack something essential…We feel less human; somewhere we have lost our mysterious prerogatives.”

“But he who thinks that the culture of the mind is based on the knowledge of a series of formulae or the memorizing of acquired knowledge has a very poor idea of culture. Even the most mediocre Polytechnique student knows more about nature and law than Descartes, Pascal or Newton. He is nevertheless incapable of a single one of the thought processes that Descartes, Pascal or Newton were capable of. These were cultivated men first and foremost. Pascal is primarily a style, Newton a man – he mirrors the universe. The ripe apple that fell in a meadow, the stars on a night in July, spoke to him in a language he could understand. Science for him was life.
And now we find, to our surprise, that there are mysterious conditions that fertilize us. We breathe only if we are bound to others by a common aim outside ourselves. We, sons of plenty, find an inexplicable comfort in sharing out our last rations in the desert. Among those of us who have known the great joy of breakdowns and repairs in the Sahara, all other pleasures seem futile.
Therefore, do not be surprised. He who never suspected the unknown dormant within him, but felt it stir just once, in an anarchist meeting in Barcelona – because of the sacrifice of life, because of mutual aid and a rigorous image of justice –  will never recognize any other truth but the truth of anarchy. And he who once stood guard to protect a community of terrified little nuns in a Spanish convent will die for the Church of Spain.”

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