The Flageolet and the Lyre

 

 

How much it all means to us! No tune seems to us so exquisite as that of our home; no meadow more tender; no music comparable to that of its brooks. But ... is there not some poisonous sensuality in this pull of the land? There is something physically, organically, fluid about it, something almost plant-like, as though the land held us captive by subtle roots. It is the kind of love which tempts us to let ourselves go, to grow soft, to weep; which dissolves into melancholy at the mournful sound of the flageolet. It is a love which seeks shelter and withdraws ever more into ever closer intimacy; from the region to the valley where we were born; from the valley to the pool which reflects the image of the ancestral house; from the pool to the house itself, and, within the house, to the corner which holds our memories.

 

All this is sweet indeed, like some sweet wine. But, like the wine, this sweetness harbors intoxication or indolence.

    

 

Can this kind of loving be called patriotism ? If patriotism were affective tenderness, it would not be the highest form of human love. Men would be less patriotic than plants, which cling more closely to the land. We cannot give the name of patriotism to the first thing we happen to find in our hearts, this saturation with tellurism. In order to be the highest form of love, patriotism must be altogether at the other extreme: supremely difficult; supremely cleansed of all earthly bargains; supremely sharply defined; supremely immutable. That is to say, it must be anchored, not in the heart, but in the mind. 

 

Let us by all means drink the sweet wine of the flageolet, but without yielding to it our secrets. All that is sensual is soon over. Thousands and thousands of spring times have faded, and still two and two are four, as from the beginning of time. Let us not plant our true loves in the meadows which have seen so many spring times fade; let us cast them wide, like lines without weight or volume, towards the eternal sphere where the numbers sing their song of precision.

 

 

The measured song of the lyre, so rich in its design because it is well-versed in numbers.

    

Thus, let us not think of the fatherland in terms of the brook and the meadow, the song and the flageolet; let us see it in terms of a 'destiny' and a 'design'. The fatherland is the culmination, in this world, of a great collective undertaking. Without this undertaking there cannot be a fatherland; without faith in a common destiny, everything dissolves into birth-places, local flavor and color.

 

Then the lyre is still and the flageolet resounds. There is no longer any reason — except, for instance, those of a secondary, economic nature — why each valley should remain linked to its neighbor. That is when the imperial numbers, those of geometry and architecture, lose their voice, giving way to the strident call of the spirits of disintegration, which hide beneath the toadstools of every village.

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