René Daumal

René DaumalRené Daumal (16 March 1908 – 21 May 1944)* was a French spiritual para-surrealist writer and poet, as well as an early, outspoken practitioner of ‘pataphysics. He was born in Boulzicourt, Ardennes, France. In his late teens his avant-garde poetry was published in France’s leading journals, and in his early twenties he co-founded, as a counter to Surrealism and Dada, a literary journal, “Le Grand Jeu” with three friends, collectively known as the Simplists, including poet Roger Gilbert-Lecomte. Two novels, A Night of Serious Drinking and the allegorical novel Mount Analogue, are based upon his friendship with Alexander de Salzmann, a pupil of G.I. Gurdjieff. The motion picture The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky is based largely on Daumal’s Mount Analogue. Daumal died suddenly and prematurely from tuberculosis on 21 May 1944, in Paris. He died leaving Mount Analogue unfinished, having worked on it until the day of his death. In his “Last Letter to His Wife” he wrote a poem:

I am dead because I lack desire,
I lack desire because I think I possess.
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing:
Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live.

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* photo, three days before his death, is by his friend Luc Dietrich.

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