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Paul Valery (1871 – 1945)


French author and Symbolist poet.
Paul Valery
Poe is the only impeccable writer. He was never mistaken.
Valery quotes
Poetry is simply literature reduced to the essence of its active principle. It is purged of idols of every kind, of realistic illusions, of any conceivable equivocation between the language of "truth" and the language of "creation."
Valery
A really free mind is scarcely attached to its opinions. If the mind cannot help giving birth to ... emotions and affections which at first appear to be inseparable from them, it reacts against these intimate phenomena it experiences against its will.




Valery Paul quotes
Science is feasible when the variables are few and can be enumerated; when their combinations are distinct and clear. We are tending toward the condition of science and aspiring to do it. The artist works out his own formulas; the interest of science lies in the art of making science.
Valery Paul
The commerce of minds was necessarily the first commerce in the world, ... since before bartering things one must barter signs, and it is necessary therefore that signs be instituted.
There is no market or exchange without language. The first instrument of all commerce is language.
Paul Valery quotes
Freedom of mind and mind itself have been most fully developed in regions where trade developed at the same time. In all ages, without exception, every intense production of art, ideas, and spiritual values has occurred in some locality where a remarkable degree of economic activity was also manifest.
Paul Valery
There is a value called “mind” as there is a value oil, wheat, or gold. ... One can invest in that value, one can “follow” it as they say on the stock exchange; one can watch its fluctuations in I know not what price list which is the world’s general opinion of it. ... All these rising and falling values constitute the great market of human affairs. And of these the unfortunate value mind does not stop falling.
Valery Paul quotes
Politeness is organized indifference.
Valery
Collect all the facts that can be collected about the life of Racine and you will never learn from them the art of his verse. All criticism is dominated by the outworn theory that the man is the cause of the work as in the eyes of the law the criminal is the cause of the crime. Far rather are they both the effects.
Valery Paul
I said that to invite minds to concern themselves with Mind and its destiny was a sign and symptom of the times. Would that idea have occurred to me, had not a whole body of impressions been sufficiently significant and powerful to reflect themselves in me, and for that reflection to become action? And that action, which consists of expressing it in your presence, would not perhaps have been accomplished had I not felt that my impressions were those of many other people, that the sensation of a diminution of mind, of a menace to culture, of a twilight of the most pure gods was a sensation which imposed itself with increasing strength on all those who are capable of feeling something in the order of superior values of which we are speaking.
Paul Valery
The “determinist” swears that if we knew everything we should also be able to deduce and foretell the conduct of every man in every circumstance, and that is obvious enough. But the expression “know everything” means nothing.




Paul Valery quotes
Since everything that lives is obliged to expend and receive life, there is an exchange of modifications between the living creature and its environment.
And yet, once that vital necessity is satisfied, our species—a positively strange species—thinks it must create for itself other needs and tasks besides that of preserving life. ... Whatever may be the origin or cause of this curious deviation, the human species is engaged in an immense adventure, an adventure whose objective and end it does not know. ...
The same senses, the same muscles, the same limbs—more, the same types of signs, the same instruments of exchange, the same languages, the same modes of logic—enter into the most indispensable acts of our lives, as they figure into the most gratuitous. ...
In short, man has not two sets of tools, he has only one, and this one set must serve him for the preservation of his life and his physiological rhythm, and expend itself at other times on illusions and on the labours of our great adventure. ...
The same muscles and nerves produce walking as well as dancing, exactly as our linguistic faculty enables us to express our needs and ideas, while the same words and forms can be combined to produce works of poetry. A single mechanism is employed in both cases for two entirely different purposes.
Paul Valery
An intelligent woman is a woman with whom one can be as stupid as one wants.
Valery quotes
You have neither the patience that weaves long lines nor a feeling for the irregular, nor a sense of the fittest place for a thing ... For you intelligence is not one thing among many. You ... worship it as if it were an omnipotent beast ... a man intoxicated on it believes his own thoughts are legal decision, or facts themselves born of the crowd and time. He confuses his quick changes of heart with the imperceptible variation of real forms and enduring Beings .... You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresitible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time.
Valery Paul
If the state is strong, it crushes us. If it is weak, we perish.
Valery Paul quotes
Politics is the art of stopping people from minding their own business.
Paul Valery
A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.
Paul Valery quotes
It is a sign of the times, and not a very good sign, that these days it is necessary—and not only necessary but urgent—to interest minds in the fate of Mind, that is to say, in their own fate.
Paul Valery
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned; and this abandonment, whether to the flames or to the public (and which is the result of weariness or an obligation to deliver) is a kind of an accident to them, like the breaking off of a reflection, which fatigue, irritation, or something similar has made worthless.
Valery Paul
Great things are accomplished by men who are not conscious of the impotence of man. Such insensitiveness is precious.
But we must admit that criminals are not unlike our heroes in this respect.


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