Poem from ‘Mount Analogue’
One cannot stay on the summit forever -
One has to come down again.
So why bother in the first place? Just this.
What is above knows what is below -
But what is below does not know what is above.
One climbs, one sees -
One descends and sees no longer
But one has seen!
There is an art of conducting one’s self in
The lower regions by the memory of
What one saw higher up.
When one can no longer see,
One does at least still know.
René Daumal (1908–1944)
French para-surrealist writer, philosopher and poet, born in Boulzicourt, Ardennes, France. His avant-garde poetry was published in leading French journals while he was still in his teenage years and in his early twenties he co-founded a literary journal, “Le Grand Jeu” with three friends, calling themselves ‘The Simplists’ . He is most known for his novels, A Night of Serious Drinking and the allegorical Mount Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing, from which this poem is taken. This last work was unfinished at his premature death aged 36 due to tuberculosis.
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
American artist from Wisconsin. Instrumental in carving out a significant place for women painters in an area of the American art community dominated by men while distinguishing herself as one of America’s most important modern artists. Her work is typified by innovative abstract imagery. In particular she revolutionising the tradition of flower painting by depicting images close up and in large format as well bones and rocks collected in the New Mexico desert. She painted striking depictions of modern New York buildings and the physical and cultural landscape of New Mexico, the area around where she lived becoming known as O’Keeffe Country. She was married to the photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz.