You have before you a work produced by a painter with the aid of a
team of assistants, the tapestry workers of la Creuse.
This work began seven years ago, in 19 5 7 or thereabouts. I must allow
a few more years before I can place, at the bottom of the last tapestry, at
the bottom of the last canto, the word Fin.
A work like this, begun late and thus harried by age, is in a way the
table of contents of a life. I hardly need say that it was certain scars, certain
personal experiences (some distressing and chaotic, others tragic), certain
counsels given me by dear friends, that moved me to undertake this
Everything is mingled, is interlaced... everything is woven... en
twined in this long adventure. Do not be surprised to find in it gall
and honey. It is not a lamento, and still less a romance. But once finished,
this workof which the future must judge whether it is valuable or use
lesswill have cast on life a glance that is neither wry nor gloomy. Far
The first title of the Chant du Monde was La Joie de Vivre. It did not
take long to convince me that life, for anyone who tries to live it up
rightly, is sugar and salt... sweet and sour... convulsive and serene.
People of our generation have lived through two wars. Which is to say
that many of our memories are a tissue of hallucinations.
And already over the heads of us older ones, and of those who are to
succeed us, hangs a sordid threat: the atomic Terror. This explains and
justifies the title of my first tapestryLa Grande Menace; explains and
justifies the eagle with the gaping eye that hovers above the world, and
the buffalo that scatters poison on all created beings and all about to be
created. Our world lives on a volcano. It is already there, spitting its
sulphur and its steam
The earth is round, overgrown, liquid and solid, and above all it con
sists of humans of all dimensions, all calibres, all colours. And every
thing, germs, beings, vegetation, minerals, winds that are like the earth's
breathing, everything is one interdependent whole.
If the bomb is loosed by the Eagle or by the Beast, all the creation will
be nothing more than poisoned magma. EverythingNew Yorkand
Pekingand Cairoand Parisand Moscow or Marrakeshand Cla-
martand the Lidowill be nothing, they tell us, but a nameless seethi' 31
mass of rubble and screams and distracted souls, as in the day of Nagasa k
To the right of this first tapestry the ship of the Creation floats on t
rare waves. Man is at the helm, he steers his course, man, who has I; c
come the master of creation. Master of creation indeed, since he has t
power to destroy it.to infect it.
It is man, then, I repeat, who stands at the rudder from now on, b
above him there is the aurochs, the menace, the monster which... t; bi
bruteejaculates on the creation.
That is why all the beasts, all the plants in the vessel are already affecte 3 y
In the skies the first explosions streak across the distance, but t
battle is not yet lostJust above man, perched near the helm, the owl
Pallas Athene, Wisdom keeps watch in spite of all. And no doubt m: ijk
who was called Homo Sapiens, will escape the fate of a prostrate figt: us
calcined on the earth or, having been saved from the fire, of a hoo
winked victim, or at least a creature utterly mystified by his leaders, 1, Da
astrologers and his alchemists.
All the same, we shall have had a brush with the final disasterTht;
was Hiroshima... There was Nagasaki.
The folk of Hiroshima were torn to shreds, skinned like rabbits, gutt at.
by the bomb. Let Hiroshima be repeated, and all our dignities will be J if»
more than phantoms, homilies and frauds. And just as the flesh on tl rl;
corpse is no more than rags, everythingflowers, books, monumen jib
the prides of our civilization, ideologies, cross, hammer and sickle, vood: r y
and Ratiowill be flouted and denied. The libraries of Alexandria w bt
have risen in flame into a sky of lead and hebetude. The world, that t
knead so slowly and laboriously with our own hands, our own wol ara
will have been gnawed by the leprous, squinting he-goat, and the Rou| s 1
which might have been fraternal will be an Infernal Round instead. A:, as
Homo Sapiens himself no more and no less than an imbecile alchemist: .r
This brings me to the tapestry entitled La Fin de Tout. Nothing ni; i
floats in space but a white snow, sterile and enucleated, a blasted stil ais
and ashes that undulate in the huge void. [Continued on page 86]