Georges Duhamel

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Culture is at once the expression and the reward of an effort, and any system of civilization which tends to relax effort will suffer a corresponding depreciation of culture.

Georges Duhamel (June 30, 1884 – April 13, 1966), was a French author.

Quotes[edit]

  • I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images.
    • Scènes de la vie future (1930), p. 52
  • … a pastime for helots, a diversion for uneducated, wretched, worn-out creatures who are consumed by their worries, … a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence,… which kindles no light in the heart and awakens no hope other than the ridiculous one of someday becoming a ‘star’ in Los Angeles.
    • describing cinema, Scènes de la vie future (1930), p. 58

Défense des Lettres [In Defense of Letters] (1937)[edit]

  • The book is one of the springs of creative individualism, that individualism which, in these uncertain times, remains the guardian angel of human society. For five hundred years the book has been, for the solitary mind, an incomparable instrument of uplift and liberation.
    • p. vii
  • If the public gets out of the habit of reading they will not come back to it. We shall enter a new phase of our history from which there is no turning back.
    • p. ix
  • M. André Mayer … made an astonishing confidence not long ago. “The laboratories,” he said, “are working at this moment with splendid results. In physics and biology, for example, we can predict new and very important discoveries. What is humanity going to do with the power which will soon be put into its hands? Humanity is not yet ready to receive this power. It is not in a state to make good use of it.” The events of the moment prove that this power, of which we know very little yet, and which is announced to us with such proper reserve, has little chance of serving the cause of man straight away. It will more probably be employed, or rather confiscated, for the benefit of the ambitious, the impudent, and the reckless.
    • p. xii
  • If humanity were to lose its libraries, not only would it be deprived of certain treasures of art, certain spiritual riches, but, more important still, it would lose its recipes for living.
    • pp. 17-18
  • In books may be found the recipes for manufacture of a steam-engine alongside the recipes for daily living—the prescriptions for the mind and the heart.
    • p. 18
  • A book exhales a subtle odor of spirituality throughout the place it adorns.
    • p. 19
  • Radio and cinema are daily playing a more and more important part, not only in the amusements of the twentieth-century man but also in the visible formation of his character.
    • p. 20
  • Is it possible to create a maintain a true culture, a strong and flourishing culture, through the medium of pictoral and oral apparatus?
    • p. 21
  • Culture is at once the expression and the reward of an effort, and any system of civilization which tends to relax effort will suffer a corresponding depreciation of culture.
    • p. 22
  • It is an extraordinary thing that this civilization, which wears out our nerves and exacts an almost painful effort from us in all our doings, should be at great pains to spare the mass of people that intellectual effort which is the only measure of true culture.
    • p.
  • … the cinema and the radio and the effect they have had in weakening the impulse to spiritual effort
    • p. 24
  • One of my friends whom I hold in high esteem admitted to me the other day that when he wants to work nowadays … he has to turn on his radio. The droning of the loudspeaker—so he says—puts him in a favorable frame of mind and ideas pour out. I cannot help but thinking that this is not the act of a true musician. For thought has a rhythm of its own, which must either clash with the rhythm from outside and lose energy, or else submit to the outer impulse in restless slavery.
    • p. 34
  • The instinct to synthesize is a good one so long as it is concerned with elements that are capable of forming a whole. But today the man in the street is fed, morally as well as physically, on a mass of debris which has no resemblance to a nourishing diet. There is no method in this madness, which is the very negation of culture.
    • p. 35
  • For many people in the future, radio will take the place of an inner life.
    • p. 35
  • Aristocracy of the mind … is the only true aristocracy in my opinion. It is the essence, the very life of a well-built society.
    • p. 41
  • When I say, “Beware of the radio if you want to improve your mind,” … I am warning the public against their worst enemy, conformity.
    • p. 42
  • Books are the friends of solitude. They develop individuality and freedom. In solitary reading a man who is seeking himself has some chance of finding himself.
    • p. 42
  • Radio, on the other hand, is now the chief agent of imperialism. It does not purify the spirit of man, does not, like the book, bring him back to the sanctuary of solitude, but throws him to the lions, subtly preparing his mind for the blood and chains of public sacrifice.
    • p. 42
  • Use your radio, but know how to distrust it—and do not let a day go by without reading and meditation if you want to save your soul, that soul which is yours and yours alone.
    • p. 42
  • What a teacher imparts by word of mouth is nothing in comparison with what he teaches us to get for ourselves from books.
    • p. 43
  • Just as we say “listening and hearing,” “looking and seeing,” so we ought to have two expressions to distinguish active reading from passive.
    • p. 47

External links[edit]

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