who is the person of culture?

Romain Rolland says

the true man of culture is not he who makes of himself and his ideal the centre of the universe, but who looking around him sees, as in the sky, the stream of the Milky Way, thousands of little flames which flow with his own; and who seeks neither to absorb them nor to impose upon them his own course, but to give himself the religious persuasion of their value and of the common source of the fire by which all alike are fed.

 

On war or insanity

In Above Battle, Romain Rolland writes a very insightful passage that, in my view still explains partly why men and women go to war.

You Christians will say that war exalts the virtue of sacrifice. And it is true that war has the privilege of bringing out the genius of the race in the most commonplace of hearts. It purges away, in its bath of blood, all dross and impurity; it tempers the metal of the soul of a niggardly peasant, of a timorous citizen; it can make a hero of Valmy.

Clerambault: The story of an independent spirit during the war

I am no Clerambault, but I agree with most of his declamations against war. He is no blind pacifist. But he sees war as a waste of humanity, which I think it is. There are those of you enamored by big military complexes. For me, they represents the greatest of human folly. You can argue all day, if you wish, that militaries have made some very useful and great inventions, that maybe be, but it still a monument to human folly. Arming itself so it can spread peace, democracy and whatever else they convince the common people to believe. To each their own, anyway.

I don’t think I can do the book any justice by reviewing it. It is enough for me to say that I liked it. I disagree with Romain on his reference to Africans as savages. I don’t think he could find Africa on a map. His views on women can only be excused to have belonged to that time in history.

What I can do, however, is to share some of the passages that resonated most with me. I have shared some previously.

About the Buddha,

It would not be enough for me, and I cannot content myself either with the wisdom of a selfish Buddha, who sets himself free by deserting the rest. I know the Hindoos as you do, and I love them, but even among them, Buddha has not said the last word of wisdom. Do you remember that Bodhisattva, the Master of Pity, who swore not to become Buddha, never to find freedom in Nirvana, until he had cured all pain, redeemed all crimes, consoled all sorrows?

On warring people

Why do they not see the imbecility of their conduct, in face of the gulf that swallows up each man that dies, all humanity with him? These millions of creatures who have but a moment to live, why do they persist in making it infernal by their atrocious and absurd quarrels about ideas; like wretches who cut each other’s throats for a handful of spurious coins thrown to them? We are all victims, under the same sentence, and instead of uniting, we fight among ourselves. Poor fools! On the brow of each man that passes I can see the sweat of agony; efface it by the kiss of peace!

On fate

A man’s fate is made every day by himself, and none knows what it will be; it is what we are. If you are
cast down, so also is your fate.

On the secrets of life

He who has deciphered the secret of life and found the answer, is no longer bound on the great wheel of existence, he has quitted the world of the living. When illusion vanishes, nothingness resumes its eternal reign, the bright bubble has burst in infinite space, and our poor thought is dissolved in the immutable repose of the limitless void.

On anti-natalism

Why bring children into the world, if it is to butcher them like this?

On freeing others

You cannot set others free, in spite of them, and from the outside; and even if it were possible, what good would it do? If they do not free themselves, tomorrow they will fall back into slavery. All you can do is to set a good example, and say: “There is the road, follow it and you will find Freedom”.

On life or meaningless of life

Since he who is destroyed, suffers, and he who destroys has no pleasure, and is shortly destroyed himself, tell me what no philosopher can explain; whom does it please, and to whose profit is this unfortunate life of the universe, which is only preserved by the injury or death of all the creatures which compose it?”

If you have time to spare, this books for light reading. You can add it to your reading list as recommendation from yours truly.