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Existentialism
Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)
The Night of Truth
Art does not tolerate reason
Albert Camus

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- The Night of Truth

While the bullets of freedom are still whistling throughought the city, the cannons of the liberation are entering the gates of Paris amid shouts and flowers. In the most beautiful and hottest of August nights, the eternal stars over Paris mingle with the tracer bullets, the smoke of fires, and the colored rockets of a mass celebration. This unparalleled night marks the end of four years of monstrous history and of an unspeakable struggle in which France came to grips with her shame and her wrath.

Those who never despaired of themselves or of their country find their reward under this sky. This night is worth a world; it is the night of truth. Truth under arms and in the fray, truth sustained by force after having so long been empty-handed and unprotected. It is everywhere this night when people and cannons are booming simultaneously. It is the very voice of the people and the cannons; it wears the exhausted face of the street fighters, triumphal under their scars and sweat. Yes, it is indeed the night of truth, of the only truth that matters, the truth that is willing to fight and conquer.

Four years ago men rose up amid ruins and despair and calmly declared that nothing was lost. They said we had to carry on and that the forces of good could always overcome the forces of evil if we were willing to pay the price. They paid the price. And, to be sure, that price was heavy; it had all the weight of blood and the dreadful heaviness of prisons. Many of these men are dead, whereas others have been living for years surrounded by windowless walls. That was the price that had to be paid. But those same men, if they could, would not blame us for this terrible and marvelous joy that sweeps us off our feet like a high tide.

For our joy has not broken faith with them. On the contrary, it justifies them and declares that they were right. United in the same suffering for four years, we still are united in the same intoxication; we have won our solidarity. And we are suddenly astonished to see during this dazzling night that for four years we have never been alone. We have lived the years of fraternity.

Harsh combats still await us. But peace will return to this torn earth and to hearts tortured by hopes and memories. One cannot always live on murders and violence. Happiness and proper affection will have their time. But that peace will not find us forgetful. And for some among us, the faces of our brothers disfigured by bullets, the great virile brotherhood of recent years will never forsake us. May our dead comrades enjoy by themselves the peace that is promised us during this panting night, for they have already won it. Our fight will be theirs.

Nothing is given to men, and the little they can conquer is paid for with unjust deaths. But man's greatness lies elsewhere. It lies in his decision to be stronger than his condition. And if his condition is unjust, he has only one way of overcoming it, which is to be just himself. Our truth of this evening, which hovers overhead in this August sky, is just what consoles man. And our hearts are at peace, just as the hearts of our dead comrades are at peace, because we can say as victory returns, without any spirit of revenge or of spite: "We did what was necessary."

Combat, 25 August 1944.

 

Ce qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé. Nietzsche, Gay Science

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