Book//mark – Moravagine | Blaise Cendrars (1926)

Moravagine | Blaise Cendrars (1926)

Moravagine. Roman. Paris Grasset, 1926                     Blaise Cendrars, c. 1907


Brain / War

“ Is there a more monstrous thought, a more convincing spectacle, a more patent affirmation of the impotence and madness of the brain? War. All our philosophies, religions, arts, techniques and trades lead to nothing but this. The finest flowers of civilization.
The purest constructions of thought. The most generous and altruistic passions of the heart. The most heroic gestures of man. War. Now and thousand years ago. Tomorrow and a hundred thousand years ago. No, it’s not a …more “…Is there a more monstrous thought, a more convincing spectacle, a more patent affirmation of the impotence and madness of the brain? War. All our philosophies, religions, arts, techniques and trades lead to nothing but this. The finest flowers of civilization. The purest constructions of thought. The most generous and altruistic passions of the heart. The most heroic gestures of man. War. Now and thousand years ago. Tomorrow and a hundred thousand years ago. No, it’s not a question of your country, my German or French friend, or yours, whether you’re black or white or Papuan or a Borneo monkey. It’s a question of your life. If you want to live, kill.
Kill so that you can be free, or eat, or shit. The shameful thing is to kill in masses, at a predetermined hour on a predetermined day, in honour of certain principles, under cover of a flag, with old men nodding approval, to kill in a disinterested or passive way. Stand alone against them all, young man, kill, kill, you are unique, you’re the only man alive, kill until the others cut you short with the guillotine or the cord or the rope, with or without ceremony, in the name of the Community or King. What a laugh.”

“Haven’t you got it through your head that human thought is a thing of the past & that philosophy is worse than Bertillon’s guide to harassed cops? You make me laugh with your metaphysical anguish, it’s just that you’re scared silly, frightened of life, of men of action, of action itself, of lack of order. But everything is disorder, dear boy. Vegetable, mineral & animal, all disorder, & so is the multitude of human races, the life of man, thought, history, wars, inventions, business & the arts, & all theories, passions & systems. It’s always been that way. Why are you trying to make something out of it? And what will you make? What are you looking for? There is no Truth. There’s only action, action obeying a million different impulses, ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction, Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust,stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. what can you do about it, my poor friend?”

“One’s life, from being an exterior thing, grows inwards. Its intensity stays the same; and, d’you know, it’s most mysterious, the corners in which the joy of living can sometimes hide away.”

Moravagine | Blaise Cendrars (1926)
Anton Giulio Bragaglia


”Love is masochistic. These cries & complaints, these sweet alarms. this anguished state of lovers, this suspense, this latent pain that is just below the surface, almost unexpressed, these thousand & one anxieties over the loved one’s absence, this feeling of time rushing by, this touchiness, these fits of temper, these long daydreams, this childish fickleness of behavior, this moral torture where vanity & self-esteem, or perhaps honor, upbringing & modesty are at stake, these highs & lows in the nervous tone, these leaps of imagination, this fetishism, this cruel precision of senses, whipping & probing, the collapse, the prostration, the abdication, the self-abasement, the perpetual loss & recovery of one’s personality, these stammered words & phrases, these pet-names, this intimacy, these hesitations in physical contact, these epileptic tremors, these successive & even more frequent relapses, this more & more turbulent & stormy passion with its ravages progressing to the point of complete inhibition & annihilation of the soul, the debility of the senses, the exhaustion of the marrow, the erasure of the brain & even the desiccation of the heart, this yearning for ruin, for destruction, for mutilation, this need of effusiveness, of adoration, of mysticism, this insatiability which expresses itself in hyper-irritability of the of mucus membranes, in errant taste, in vasomotor or peripheral disorders, & which conjures up jealousy & vengeance, crimes, prevarications & treacheries, this idolatry, this incurable melancholy, this apathy, this profound moral misery, this definitive & harrowing doubt, this despair–are not all these stigmata the very symptoms of love in which we can first diagnose, then trace with a sure hand, the clinical curve of masochism?”

“and only much later, when Mascha wanted a child, did I realize that love is a deadly poison, a vice, a vice that one wants to see shared, & that if one of the two involved is smitten, the other is often no more than a passive participant, or vixxtim, or possessed. And Moravagine was possessed.”

Anton Giulio Bragaglia

Health / Science

“As a special branch of general philosophy, pathogenesis had never been explored. In my opinion it had never been approached in a strictly scientific fashion–that is to say, objectively, amorally, intellectually.”

” Diseases are. We do not make or unmake them at will. We are not their masters. They make us, they form us. They may even have created us. They belong to this state of activity which we call life. They may be its main activity. They are one of the many manifestations of universal matter. They may be the principal manifestation of that matter which we will never be able to study except through the phenomena of relationships and analogies. Diseases are a transitory, intermediary, future state of health. It may be that they are health itself.

Coming to a diagnosis is, in a way, casting a physiological horoscope.”

”So it is that health, recognized as a public Good, is only the sad mimic of some illness which has grown unfashionable, ridiculous and static, a solemnly doddering phenomenon which manages somehow to stand on its feet between the helping hands of its admirers, smiling at them with its false teeth. A commonplace, a physiological cliche, it is a dead thing. And it may be that health is death itself.”

”Epidemics, and even more diseases of the will or collective neuroses, mark off the different epochs of human evolution, just as tellurian cataclysms mark the history of our planet.”

“Science is history arranged according to the superstition and taste of the moment. The vocabulary of scholars has no wit, no salt. These heavy tomes have no soul, they are filled with distress.”

“Modern man has a need for simplification that tends to find its expression one way or another. And this artificial monotony which he takes pains to create, this monotony which is slowly taking over the world, this monotony is the sign of our greatness. It bears the mark of a certain will-power, the will to utility; it is the expression of utility, a law that governs all our modern activity: the Law of Utility.”

“Do not forget that when the heart petrifies there is no progress. All science must be like a fruit, so ordered that it may hang from a tree of the flesh & ripen in the sunlight of passion. Histology, photography, electric bells, telescopes, birds, amperes, smoothing irons, etc. -this is only good for bouncing off the arse of humanity.”

”Intelligence consists of eating stars and turning them into dung. And the universe, at the most optimistic estimate, is nothing but God’s digestive system.”

Anton Giulio Bragaglia

Evil dream

“A mud-stained sunlight began to splatter the sodden fields, and the hateful, nasal world of birds began to come to life. It seemed to me that I was coming out of a suffocating nightmare and that the low clouds flying before the wind were the shreds of an evil dream.”

“Everything about them is blighted, dead. Feelings flake off & fall in dust. The senses, vitrified, can no longer experience pleasure; they crack at the least provocation. Each of us, within, was as if devoured by conflagration, & our hearts were no more than a pinch of ashes. Our souls were laid waste. For a long time now we had believed in nothing, not even nothingness. The nihilists of 1880 were a sect of mystics, dreamers, the routineers of universal happiness. We, of course, were poles apart from these credulous fools & their vaporous theories. We were men of action, technicians, specialists, the pioneers of a modern generation dedicated to death, the preachers of world revolution, the precursors of universal destruction, realists, realists. And there is no reality. What then? Destroy to rebuild or destroy to destroy? Neither the one nor the other. Angels or devils? No. You must excuse my smile: we were automats, pure & simple. We ran on like an idling machine until we were exhausted, pointlessly pointlessly, like life, like death, like a dream. Not even adversity had any charm for us.”

“Each of us attempted to stem & hold fast the unending flood of his thoughts which tended to trickle off into that inner void. Our personalities were in an evanescent state, with sudden fits of remembering, faint intimations from the senses, irradiations from the subconscious, degenerate appetites & a most insidious lassitude. Everyone knows these little manikins of elder-pith that have a pellet of lead at the base so that they always stand up on their feet, no matter how one puts them down. Imagine that the leaden pellets are a little off center. One figure will lean to the right, another to the rear, another will bow its head or almost lie down. So it was with us. We had lost our balance, our sense of individuality, the perpendicular of our lives; our conscience was adrift, was sinking to the bottom, & we have no ballast to drop. We were out of kilter.”

“All is palpitating. My prison disappears. The walls are struck down, there is a beating of wings. Life lifts me into the air like a gigantic vulture. At this height the earth is rounded like a breast. One can see through it’s transparent crust the veins of the core with their scudding, red pulsations. On another side the rivers run, blue like arterial blood, and in the billions upon billions of creatures are hatching. Above, like dusky lungs, the oceans swell and fall in turn. The two glaciers eyes are close together and roll slowly in their sockets. Now see the double sphere of a forehead, the sudden crest of a nose, its flinty ledges, its steep walls. I fly across Mont Dore, hoarier than the head of Charlemagne, and land on the rim of the ear which yawns like a lunar crater. This is my eyrie. My hunting ground.”

Anton Giulio Bragaglia

Earth / Mars

”You are lovely as a stovepipe, smooth and rounded into yourself, elbowed. Your body is like an egg on the seashore. You are concentrated as rock salt and transparent as rock crystal. You are a prodigous blossoming, a motionless whirlpool. The abyss of light. You are like a sounding line that sinks to incalculable depths. You are like a blade of grass magnified a thousand times.”

“My eyes caught glimpses of vast expanses of sky, but the wheels rushed furiously in and destroyed any trace of it. Thy were turning in the depths of the sky, marking it with long, oily streaks! These grease marks spread, grew and took on colors and I could see a million eyes blinking in broad daylight. Enormous eyeballs were rolling from horizon to horizon, passing through each other. They all grew tiny, stationary and hard. A kind of translucent ectoplasm formed all around them, a kind of face: the face was my own. My face printed in hundreds of thousands of copies.”

“There it was, in the utter darkness of the cavern, that I captured the loveliest forms of silence. I held them, they slid between my fingers, I recognized them by their feel. First, the five vowels, wild, apprehensive, watchful as vicuna; then, following down the spiral of the corridor, even narrower and lower, the edentate consonants, rolled into a ball in a scaly carapace, sleeping, wintering through the long months; farther still, the fricative consonants, smooth as eels, nibbling at my fingertips; then the weak ones, flabby, blind, often slobbering like white worms, and these I pinched with my nails, scratching their fibrils of prehistoric turf; then the hollow consonants, cold, cutting, corticate, which I gathered on the sand and collected like shells; and, at the very bottom, flat on my belly, leaning over a fissure, there among the roots, I felt god knows what poisoned sir come whipping at me, dtinging my face, while tiny animalcules skittered over my skin in the most ticklish places; they were spiral shaped and shaggy like a butterfly’s proboscis and let off sudden, raucous, husky sounds. It is noon. The sun pours boiling oil in the ear of the sleeping demiurge. The earth opens like an egg. Out of it surges a tongue, undulating and bloodshot. No, it is midnight. The tiny night-lamp is exhausting as an arc light. My ears are buzzing. My tongue is peeling. I make futile efforts to speak. I spit out a tooth, the dragon’s tooth.”

”We were abandoned by everyone and each one of us lived all alone, in a rarified atmosphere, hunched over himself as if over a void.”

”Each of us sought rather to collect his most secret strengths, whose extreme dispersion was hollowing out a void in our depths, and to stabilize his thoughts whose inexhaustible flow was swallowed up in this abyss.”

” We lived in little rooms built into the pediment of the building whose stone figures were hollow and could easily hide us. One of the large columns of the peristyle had been hollowed out. ”

“the whole world was doing a Moravagine.”

“The only word in the Martian language is written phonetically:


It means whatever you want it to mean.”

”Seven . . . eight . . . nine . . . ten. I tied the two wires together. What surgical dexterity in the use of the pliers! What a disappointment! Nothing happens. I was expecting a terrible explosion. I listen, breathless. Nothing. And I thought I was going to blow up the world! Nothing.”

Blaise Cendrars, Moravagine, 1917 – 26

Self Portrait2B2Bman2Bdislocated2B2B255B1907 19102B255D.
Blaise Cendrars, Self-Portrait man dislocated, 1907-1910 
Proof test pseudonym                              Blaise Cendrars hand

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