René Daumal

French poet and novelist

René Daumal (March 16, 1908May 21, 1944) was a French writer, philosopher and poet.

What is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above.

Quotes edit

You cannot always stay on the summits. You have to come down again…
  • Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.
    • “Poetry Black, Poetry White,” no. 19-20, Fontaine (Paris, March/April 1942)

The Lie of the Truth (1938) edit

  • Man is head, chest and stomach. Each of these animals operates, more often than not, individually. I eat, I feel, I even, although rarely, think.... This jungle crawls and teems, is hungry, roars, gets angry, devours itself, and its cacophonic concert does not even stop when you are asleep.
    • Vol. 2, Essais et Notes
  • Truth is one, but error proliferates. Man tracks it down and cuts it up into little pieces hoping to turn it into grains of truth. But the ultimate atom will always essentially be an error, a miscalculation.
    • Vol. 2, Essais et Notes

A Night of Serious Drinking (1938) edit

La grande beuverie
  • Words are made for a certain exactness of thought, as tears are for a certain degree of pain. What is least distinct cannot be named; what is clearest is unutterable.
    • Foreword
  • It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content … it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble and from babble to confusion.
    • Foreword
  • Common experience is the gold reserve which confers an exchange value on the currency which words are; without this reserve of shared experiences, all our pronouncements are cheques drawn on insufficient funds.
    • Foreword

Mount Analogue (1952) edit

Mount Analogue: A novel of symbolically authentic non-Euclidean adventures in mountain climbing (1952); online excerpt
  • My observations are those of a beginner. As they are completely fresh in my mind and concern the first difficulties a beginner encounters, they may be more useful to beginners making their first ascents than treatises written by professionals. These are no doubt more methodical and complete, but are intelligible only after a little preliminary experience. The entire aim of these notes is to help the beginner acquire this preliminary experience a little faster.
  • Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action.
  • You cannot always stay on the summits. You have to come down again . . .
  • So what’s the point? Only this: what is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above. While climbing, take note of all the difficulties along your path. During the descent, you will no longer see them, but you will know that they are there if you have observed carefully.
  • There is an art to finding your way in the lower regions by the memory of what you have seen when you were higher up. When you can no longer see, you can at least still know. . .

External links edit

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