Promenade Through a Life's Work: The Child and its Mother

3. The Interior Adventure - or Myth and Witnessing

Above all else, Récoltes et Semailles is a reflection on myself and only my life. At the same time, it is also a testimonial ,and this in two ways. The testimonial on my past takes up the major portion of this reflection. Yet at the same time it is a testimonial to my immediate present - that is to say, up to the moment at which I'm writing it, in which the pages of Récoltes et Semailles are taking shape by the hour, night and day. These pages are the faithful witnesses of this long meditation on my life, as it is unfolding in real time, ( and as it is unfolding even at this actual moment....)

These pages make no claim to literary excellence. They should be seen as a form of documentation on myself. I have refrained from touching it up in any way, ( certainly not for stylistic reasons), save in a very restricted sense(*)

(*) Thus, the rectification of mistakes ( factual or interpretive) are not revised in the draft itself but appear as footnotes at the bottom of the page, or on those occasions when I return to the discussion of an earlier subject matter.
If there is any affection on my part, it is the affectation of speaking the truth. And that's already quite a lot

Furthermore one shouldn't look upon this document as some kind of "autobiography". You won't learn anything about my date of birth ( which can only be of interest to someone engaged in casting my horoscope), nor the names of my father nor mother, or what they did in their lives, nor the name of my wife, or of other women who've been important in my life, or that of the children born from these loves, or what any of these people have done with their lives. It's not that these things haven't had their importance in my life, or have lost any of their importance. It is only that from the moment I began to work on this reflection I've felt under no compulsion to talk about these things directly, simply touching on them from time to time when they became relevant, nor have I felt impelled to cite names or vital statistics. It has never been my impression that doing so would add something meaningful to whatever I was engaged in examining at one time or another. ( Thus, in the small selection of pages preceding this one I've included more of such details than in the 1000 pages that follow it.

And, if you want to know, what is the "proposal" that I've laid out in over a thousand pages, my reply is: to tell the story, and by doing so to make the discovery of the interior adventurewhich has been and which continues to be the story of my life. This documentation-testament of my adventure is being conducted simultaneously on the two levels that I've speak about. There is first of all an exploration of the past adventure, its roots and origins in my childhood. And, secondly, there is the continuation and the rejuvenation of that "same" adventure, in line with the days and even the instants of the composition of Récoltes et Semailles, as a spontaneous response to a violent provocation into my life coming from the external world.(**) External events enrich this reflection only to the extent that they arouse a return to the interior adventure, or contribute to its clarification. Such a provocation has arisen from the long standing burial and plundering of my mathematical opus. It has aroused in my very powerful reactions of an unabashedly egocentric character, while at the same time revealed to me the profound ties which, unbeknownst to me continue to bind me to my opus

The fact that I happen to be one of the strong figures in modern mathematics does not, it is true, supply any reason why others should find my interior adventure interesting; nor does the fact that I'm on the outs with my colleagues after having totally changed my social environment and life style. Besides, there are any number of these colleagues, and even supposed friends, who don't hesitate, in public, to ridicule my so-called 'spiritual states'. What counts to them are 'results' and nothing else. The "soul", (which is to say that entity within us which experiences the "production" of these "results" , or its direct effects ,(such as the life of the "producer" , as well as that of his associates) ) is systematically despised, often with overtly promulgated derision. Such attitudes are often labeled "humility" ! To me this is merely a symptom of denial, of a strange sort of alienation , present in the very air we all breath. It is a certainty that I don't write for the kind of person afflicted with this sort of disdain, who presumes to denigrate that which is the very best of what I have to offer him. A disdain, moreover, for what in fact determines his own life, as it has determined mine: those movements, superficial or profound, gross or subtle that animate the psyche, that very "soul" which lives experience and reacts upon it, which congeals or evaporates, which withdraws into itself or opens up ...

The recital of an interior adventure can only be made by he who has lived it, and by none other. But, even if this recital has only been intended for one's own benefit, it is rare that it doesn't fall into the category of myth whose hero is the narrator. Such myths are born, not from the creative imagination of a culture or a people. but merely from the vanity of somehow who dare not accept a humbling reality, who has substituted for this reality some self-conceived fabrication. However, a true account, ( if it is so) of an interior adventure as it has been truly lived is a precious thing. Not because of the prestige ( rightly or wrong) that surrounds the narrator, but solely from the fact that something with that degree of truthfulness really exists. Such a testament is priceless, whether it comes from a person deemed illustrious or notorious, or from some insignificant wage earner responsible for his family with little hope for the future, or even from a common criminal.

If this recitation of the facts has any value for others, it is to make them come face-to-face with their own selves, by means of an unvarnished testament of someone else's experience. Or, to state the case differently, to efface in himself, ( even in the short time that it takes to read it), the contempt he holds for his own adventure, and for that "soul" which is both the passenger and the pilot .

Promenade Continued

4. The novel of manners

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