True Lies

As a reservoir of the collective unconscious, as a spontaneous or calculated expression inspired by the universal community, as prophetic language, art reveals man to himself.

If politics often lie, art cannot lie. The artist cannot lie because his creations are imaginary and imagination unmasks human significance. Standing at the frontier between reality and unreality, art connects our world to the world beyond.

Art takes us to the edge of mystery. If it does not give us the key―since no human effort can obtain it for us―it at least leaves the door open to life beyond life, beyond nothingness. Better than philosophy lost in erudition, art confronts us with our own inquiry into our ultimate fate. And this inquiry is already the beginning of an answer.

Politics separate men by bringing them together only superficially. Art and culture unite us in a common anguish that is our only possible fraternity, that of our existential and metaphysical community.

Art is everything. Art is nothing if one does not commit oneself to it completely. If a masterpiece has failed to move you, it is because you did not look, you did not understand it, you did not let it speak. Every apprehension of a piece of art is a struggle and a suffering. Art requires that one place everything in doubt all over again.

Ionesco on Politics: How Strange, How Bizarre and What a Coincidence!
(Translated from the French by Sylvie Drake of The Times.)
Playwright Eugene Ionesco is the author of numerous plays, including "The Bold Soprano," "The Lesson," "Rhinoceros" and "Journey Among the Dead."


  1. That was wonderful to read. And I agree with it completely, even if I do believe everything is political. But I have a problem with the Tag Ben. If I were a dolphin, I'd bet man would not be the center of interest unless man had invaded my space. Than man would be a mere curiosity or a threat. Shall we continue this conversation?

  2. Absolutely: If you were a dolphin, man would not be the center of interest to you unless man had invaded your space.

  3. Oh Ben, that was too easy. I was hoping for an argument to the "mankind is the center of the universe" feel of your tag. But since you are so agreeable, shall we have a drink?

  4. I have no "argument" with you Utah.

    I'd love to take credit for the "tag," but it is not mine to claim.

    It seems to me that the emphasis of the tag is on "Human," as in the quality of being humane (kindness, benevolence), as opposed to the "human being" as a cipher or a product or an automaton.

    If you click on the category, you'll see that the "tag" was used four times before, already, and was first initiated in a highly sarcastic way by Tom Bombadil on a post about Human Resource (the post begins with a quote about how supposedly in a corporation "Human beings are not "commodities" or "resources", but are creative and social beings.)""

    The debate about dehumanizing environments is an old one which in many ways echoes the debate regarding natural resources versus natural capital. Critiques of the current global economic system typically look at both the damage to the planet, in terms of the perceived unsustainable harm done to the biosphere, as well as the perceived human costs, such as poverty, inequality, miscegenation, injustice and the erosion of traditional culture which, the critics contend, all occur as a result of the "inhuman" economic system mankind lives by and to which the species has enslaved itself.

    Your example of the dolphin is a good one, for, indeed, if you were a dolphin right now (or practically almost any other kind of species on Earth), chances are that, indeed, man would be invading your space, which would pretty much, de facto, make man the center of interest, whether you'd like it or not, wouldn't it?

    Richard Errett Smalley said of mankind that it is "the only species that can destroy the Earth or take care of it and nurture all that live on this very special planet. I'm urging you to look on these things. That was back in 2004. People have issued very similar statements, before him, including the Union for Concerned Scientists in 1997, and people are issuing similar statements now.

    For all practical purpose, this does pretty much makes the human being the center of interest.

    And, no, I don't think that "mankind is the center of the universe."

  5. The Chinese say that one picture is worth ten thousand words - Perhaps this will help:

    The Human Being is Always the Center of Interest.

  6. Oh dear, I think you've scared the "gentle lady" from Utah away, Ben.

  7. LOL

    I sure hope not!

    I guess, this goes to show you, though: "everything is political."

  8. Hmm... "Everything is political or not."

    Catchy! It would make a nice tag.

    What do you think?