Pages from the Gospel
We are Christians, of course, because we do not hide our flag in our pocket, but Christians of the Gospel. Tell me, what does it mean to be a Christian? It is to imitate and follow Christ, it is to possess his Spirit. And who was this Christ? He was the one who said of himself: I am the way, the truth and the life. Life, not a statue in plaster or in gold, in front of which we will do some genuflection, not a founder of a sect, not an article of faith, but Life, “I am Life.” He is the life of the soul. Whoever believes in him “is born again,” that is to say they go through an interior crisis that renews them, regenerates them, makes them hate evil, urges them on, compels them to become meek, good and pure, like Christ. The question is no longer whether we should believe in Christ as we believe in this Church or in that one. The question comes down to this: do I have real life or do I only have the appearance of life? Put in this way, it becomes interesting to solve, because if I only have an appearance of life, that is as good as saying that I am dead… Death, when it is so easy to follow the one who is life! Isn’t it really worth it?
E. A., “Pages de l’évangile: La vie,” L’Ère nouvelle 1 no. 1 (Mai 1901): 3.
I am currently in this populous region of the north of France, a hard-working region if there ever was one, so hard-hit by the crisis that is raging in the industry.
The cause of the crisis?
Everyone will tell you: overproduction. Stocks pile up and up and up… consumption fails to devour what is produced.
Visit the streets of Lille or Roubaix: See this population crammed into rooms where five, six or seven lodge together. Contemplate these children, barefoot, without proper clothing, these women almost in rags, these homes lacking sufficient furniture.
Oh, the irony.
Overproduction! when the greater part of the population lacks what is necessary, we would laugh at the words, if implacable reality did not tear tears from our eyes.
Regime of exploitation of man by man, these are indeed your exploits.
E. A., “Surproduction,” L’Ère nouvelle 1 no. 5 (Septembre 1901): 1.
To restrain the passions! To narrow the horizon of the enjoyment of living? Christianity has attempted it and failed. Socialism will try to reduce humanity to a similar denominator of necessities and it will fail. Fourier saw clearly when he coined this masterful expression: “the use of passions.” — The reasonable individual uses; only the fool suppresses or mutilates. “To use their passions,” it is quickly said, but for the benefit of whom? — For my own benefit, in order to make myself more “alive,” by which I mean more accessible to the nuances of the sensations that life offers or arouses.
E. A., [“Restreindere les passions !…”], Par-delà la Mêlée 1 no. 30 (fin Juin 1917): 1.
My Kingdom is of this World
My Kingdom is of this World — my Kingdom is of the earth – It rises from the Earth, my mother, my possibility of being — My Kingdom is planetary matter, terrestrial substance, telluric energy — It is love, it is knowledge, it is beauty, it is strength. It is instinct, it is reason, it is passion, it is wisdom, it is pleasure. It is wheat, oats, barley, rye, vine, potatoes. It is mountains, oceans, plains, hills, streams. — My Kingdom is of this World — It rises from the Earth. It is born, it grows, it perishes on this Planet — It is trees, fruits, meadows, flowers. It is days, nights, dawn, dusk, solstice – My Kingdom is of this World — It is desires, pleasures, worries, dazzling marvels, falls, raptures, bitterness. It is experiences, visions, achievements, aspirations, dreams, realities, doubts, enthusiasms, shocks, harmonies. It is lovers, friends, comrades, little girls, toddlers, “tax collectors and sinners” – My Kingdom is of this World — It is the search for happiness, pursuit of the new, refinement of pleasure, race for better being, achievement of the palpable, tangible embrace — My Kingdom is of the Earth — Of this land that will receive Me, eternally resting, once my effort is accomplished — All Me, this bag of skin that contains so many organs, My kingdom which is of this world.
E. Armand, “Mon royaume est de ce monde,” Par-delà la Mêlée 1 no. 35 (15 Septembre 1917): 2.
To Florent Fels
What I have against you, O Judas, is that you handed the man of Galilee over to authority. You could have broken with him, run out on the band that clung to his footsteps; you could have undertaken a propaganda or preached a doctrine contrary or antagonistic to his, pursued him with your reasoning, overwhelmed him with your taunts, fought him face to face; but you delivered him up, sold him to his enemies. And when you felt regret or remorse—or I do not know what feeling—for the baseness of soul that had made you act, those who had paid you no longer knew you—as is customary for the snitch or the discredited spy. That is why, O Iscariot, every time I hear your name spoken, it seems to me that I hear, in echo, the clinking of bad-quality coins—the wages of the traitor.
E. Armand, “Judas Iscariote,” Par-delà la Mêlée 1 no. 35 (15 Septembre 1917): 4.
from Flowers of Solitude and Points of Reference:
The Original Cause
“In the beginning was the Word,” states, sententiously, the author of the Gospel of Saint John. I do not know if there ever was a beginning and, even had the universe ever began, it seems to me more than hypothetical that the first manifestation was the word. In the beginning, there were undoubtedly phenomena of a mechanical and physico-chemical nature. But it would be necessary to know first if that which exists forever has a beginning. As long as we are ignorant, anything we can risk on “what was in the beginning” will be a pure creation of the imagination.
Can you imagine or conceive of a state of being or a state of things that has not started? I am not trying to imagine it or to conceive it. I’m not making any assumptions about it. I leave to those who are passionate about the question — and I recognize that it is fascinating — the trouble of going back from cause to cause to the primordial or original causes, if it is possible. The efforts of these researchers interest me keenly, but it is understood that “what was in the beginning” is of much less interest to me than the development of my personal life, because if “what was in the beginning” escapes me, at least I sense that I exist. And that is the most important thing that is under heaven and on earth.
Why one original cause rather than several? I know that any combination of numbers or digits always leads back to unity; but while pointing out that numbers and figures simply constitute ratios, relativities for us, why should the one and primitive substance not have presented itself immediately under a multitude of modes and aspects: mechanical, chemical, physico-chemical?
There is mineral life, just as there is plant life and animal life. Doubtless, the phenomena of mineral life do not appear to us as clearly and in the same way as those of plant or animal life. These phenomena are not characterized by nutrition, reproduction, locomotion, of course; but they have their special characteristics, such as molecular attraction or repulsion, polarization, affinity, cohesion, etc. Expanding, contracting, changing state under thermal or electrical influences, oxidizing, etc., these are among the most obvious phenomena peculiar to mineral life. There are many more, by the way. Mineral life preceded plant life and it is its ultimate manifestations that will accompany the supreme convulsions of life on earth, while without water, without atmosphere, without volcanic eruptions. without earthquakes, receiving neither light nor heat from the extinct sun, our globe will roll, a desolate and desolate star, in the infinite expanses of the Cosmos.
Perhaps this somber future is a purely gratuitous hypothesis? Perhaps water and air are not necessary for special manifestations of organized life that our brains are not able to conceive? Perhaps, the sun being extinct, some kind of life can subsist on the surface of the planets constituting the solar system? Life is possible in the dark, and there is no evidence that the “pale shine that falls from the stars” is not sufficient to maintain heat and light suitable for the production or maintenance of certain vital phenomena.
In the current state of our knowledge, life — in its plant or animal form — can be considered as a parasitic phenomenon, announcing decadence, preceding the decay of the star on which it occurs. Everything seems to indicate that it was thus on the earth. For the first algae to appear, a very noticeable decrease in the activity of the globe was necessary; the incandescence had long since disappeared, the gaseous vapors which surrounded the burning planet had dissolved into water; the temperature had dropped considerably. It is true that the earth’s crust was still wavering, that it was wrinkling, that it was shaken by formidable tremors, followed by gigantic subsidence and formidable eruptions. But, from time to time, the cataclysms and upheavals diminished in intensity and only occasionally recalled the exuberant youth of the world.
Age came: losing more and more of its own particular heat, the earth became more closely dependent on the sun every day. It was then that animal life appeared, emerging from organic life. How? No one knows. No human eye, without doubt, has witnessed the transmutation of higher minerals into plants, of that of higher plants into animals. Their geological foundations show us that the more species multiplied and diversified, while losing their mass and plasticity, the more the planet solidified, petrified, ossified, if we dare say so. It is perhaps a star entered into its death-throes or on the verge of succumbing that we are exploiting.
It seems within the natural order that at a given moment of their evolution, or even during the whole duration of their development, living organisms are exploited superficially or internally by other beings, specially adapted to this, which we call “parasites.” The planet is no exception to this phenomenon. If we do not know what is going on inside, we know very well, on the other hand, that on its surface, at the bottom of the humid mist which the atmosphere that surrounds it, “live” a crowd of beings belonging to a considerable number of species. But why do those of these parasites who belong to the “homo” genus consider themselves to be far superior to their colleagues in parasitism? Why do they attribute to themselves extraordinary moral and intellectual qualities? Why do they claim to be endowed with intelligence and free will, while they grant to non-humans only faculties of a mechanical order, the whole of which is given the name of instinct?
Perhaps this is the consequence of a natural tendency? Perhaps these claims are simply the effect of religious theories to which we owe the dualistic conception that differentiates soul and body, spirit and flesh, man and brute. But what are these religious theories themselves, if not the product of that vanity and arrogance that characterize humans?
The man who gets angry does not obey an instinctive feeling any more than the man who receives blows without retaliating. The temperament of the first means that, with him, the reaction to the impressions apt to determine his anger is so lively and so immediate that it dominates all thought, all reflection. It is a question of temperament, of personal determinism, not of instinct or intelligence.
Moreover, in temperaments which, congenitally or as a result of subsequent education, are able to dampen, blunt or repress the brutal reactions aroused by certain sensations, it becomes possible to conceal or simulate not only the anger, but also the contentment, fear, amorous passion, etc., etc.… This can be observed in animals as well as in humans.
What a little thing the human being appears, when you think about it, when faced with disease. A passing indisposition which worsens — air that is stale or saturated with miasma — a momentary incapacity of resistance — and it is all over for an organism endowed with faculties, even extraordinary ones. This is what you are, a fragment of substance becoming aware of your being. A little more pain, a little more suffering. How is it possible that we could have endured all of this? It seemed that the measure was filled, that one more drop would overflow the vase. And here we have survived the last test, the one it seemed we could never have endured.
I Speak for Those Who Do Not Know
There are hours when I speak and write for those in my world. There are times when I speak and write for the greatest number. Not because I expect most people to understand me; but I always hope that, among the onlookers who fill the public square, there will be someone lost who does not know, and whose mentality is likely to vibrate in tune with what I am expressing.
I would not declare myself happy and yet I know that I will die before having seen the dawn of it — I would not declare myself happy so long as the Individual has been achieved the possibility of dissociating themselves, at will, from the social milieu — it being understood that this separation does not imply domination over the said milieu, nor its exploitation, or the exploitation of any person whatsoever. I will not see it, I know, but the presentiment that this is where will land, after many twists and turns and returns, the ship bearing the fortune of superior humanity — superior in that it will place above every that possibility of the Individual to dispose, in freedom and reciprocity, as they see fit, of their “I.”
God Does Not Exist
No! the moral world, the spiritual world, God, do not exist. They are abstract ideas, a product, a result of brain activity or effort. This does not mean, alas! that these abstractions do not live in the state of intellectual phantoms, which haunt the depths of a thought that does not know or does not yet know how to create other images or imagine other representations to explain or materialize some of its aspirations.
The Woman and the Serpent
Why is it the woman who first allowed herself to be seduced and in turn seduced the man? I admit that the writer of Genesis needed this incident to legitimize the dependence of women and explain the pains of childbirth. But isn’t this also a symbol of the spirit of curiosity and liveliness of the woman, always ready to welcome the new, the adventurous? Besides, didn’t the snake, symbolizing an initiator of revolt, know that to be followed by the man, he had to first win the woman?
There is no god whom we must fear in order to begin to be wise! Only the one who has the power to take away your liberty and your life is to be feared — the tyrant, that is to say the judge, the policeman, the jailer, the executioner. Your god, your gods are the supreme crystallization of all these harmful beings, who are themselves the embodiment of organized compulsion. I proclaim insurrection against the gods whose fear is the beginning of wisdom.
In a State of Legitimate Defense
Why should I be held accountable for my acts and deeds to another unity, or to another herd, since I demand no account of what they do either from any individual or from any aggregation? This is why, me and “my own,” we are in a perpetual state of self-defense with regard to those who hold us accountable in relation to our words and our deeds.