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Aimé Césaire quotes (showing 1-30 of 46)

“Beware, my body and my soul, beware above all of crossing your arms and assuming the sterile attitude of the spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of griefs is not a proscenium, and a man who wails is not a dancing bear.”
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
“Yes, it would be worthwhile to study clinically, in detail, the steps taken by Hitler and Hitlerism and to reveal to the very distinguished, very humanistic, very Christian bourgeois of the twentieth century that without his being aware of it, he has a Hitler inside him, that Hitler inhabits him, that Hitler is his demon, that if he rails against him, he is being inconsistent and that, at bottom, what he cannot forgive Hitler for is not crime in itself, the crime against man, it is not the humiliation of man as such, it is the crime against the white man, the humiliation of the white man, and the fact that he applied to Europe colonialist procedures which until then had been reserved exclusively for the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India, and the blacks of Africa.”
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
“A man screaming is not a dancing bear. Life is not a spectacle.”
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
“I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river. I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I would say tree. I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews. I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not understand any better the roaring of a tiger.”
Aimé Césaire
“What am I driving at? At this idea: that no one colonizes innocently, that no one colonizes with impunity either; that a nation which colonizes, that a civilization which justifies colonization—and therefore force—is already a sick civilization, a civilization which is morally diseased, which irresistibly, progressing from one consequence to another, one denial to another, calls for its Hitler, I mean its punishment.”
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
“Ma bouche sera la bouche des malheurs qui n'ont point de bouche, ma voix, la liberté de celles qui s'affaissent au cachot du désespoir.”
Aimé Césaire
“A civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates is a decadent civilization.
A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a stricken civilization.
A civilization that uses its principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization.”
Aimé Césaire
“Whether one likes it or not, the bourgeoisie, as a class, is condemned to take responsibility for all the barbarism of history, the tortures of the Middle Ages and the Inquisition, warmongering and the appeal to the raison d’Etat, racism and slavery, in short everything against which it protested in unforgettable terms at the time when, as the attacking class, it was the incarnation of human progress.”
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
“ma chère penchons sur les filons géologiques
(my dear let us lean on geographical veins)”
Aimé Césaire
“Je viendrais à ce pays mien et je lui dirais: "Embrassez-moi sans crainte... Et si je ne sais que parler, c'est pour vous que je parlerai”
Aimé Césaire
“Prospero, you are the master of illusion.
Lying is your trademark.
And you have lied so much to me
(Lied about the world, lied about me)
That you have ended by imposing on me
An image of myself.
Underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,
That s the way you have forced me to see myself
I detest that image! What’s more, it’s a lie!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
And I know myself as well.”
Aimé Césaire, A Tempest
“. . . car il n'est point vrai que l'oeuvre de l'homme est finie
que nous n'avons rien à faire au monde
que nous parasitons le monde
qu'il suffit que nous nous mettions au pas du monde
mais l'oeuvre de l'homme vient seulement de commencer
et il reste à l'homme à conquérir toute interdiction immobilisée aux coins de sa ferveur et aucune race ne possède le monopole de la beauté, de l'intelligence, de la force . . .”
Aimé Césaire, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal
“Liberté mon seul pirate.”
Aimé Césaire
“And if all I know how to do is speak, it is for you that I shall speak. My lips shall speak for miseries that have no mouth, my voice shall be the liberty of those who languish in the dungeon of despair… And above all my body as well as my soul, beware of folding your arms in the sterile attitude of spectator, for life is not a spectacle, for a sea of pain is not a proscenium.”
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
“Haiti où la négritude se mit debout pour la première fois et dit qu'elle croyait à son humanité.”
Aimé Césaire
tags: haiti
“Et ce ne sont pas seulement les bouches qui chantent, mais les mains, mais les pieds, mais les fesses, mais les sexes, et la créature tout entière qui se liquéfie en sons, voix et rythme.”
Aimé Césaire
“Il y a encore une mer à traverser
oh encore une mer à traverser
pour que j'invente mes poumons
pour que le prince se taise
pour que la reine me baise
encore un vieillard à assassiner
un fou à délivrer
pour que mon âme luise aboie luise
aboie aboie aboie
et que hulule la chouette mon bel ange curieux.”
Aimé Césaire
“like the scorpion's question mark
drawn in the pollen on the canvas of the sky and of our brains at midnight”
Aimé Césaire
“the forest remembers that the last word can only be
the flaming cry of the bird of ruins in the bowl of the storm”
Aimé Césaire
“In light of recent events—genocide in East Africa, the collapse of democracy throughout the continent, the isolation of Cuba, the overthrow of progressive movements throughout the so-called third world—some might argue that the moment of truth has already passed, that Césaire and Fanon’s predictions proved false. We’re facing an era where fools are calling for a renewal of colonialism, where descriptions of violence and instability draw on the very colonial language of “barbarism” and “backwardness” that Césaire critiques in these pages. But this is all a mystification; the fact is, while colonialism in its formal sense might have been dismantled, the colonial state has not. Many of the problems of democracy are products of the old colonial state whose primary difference is the presence of black faces. It has to do with the rise of a new ruling class—the class Fanon warned us about—who are content with mimicking the colonial masters,”
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
“There are a whole lot of things
whose names I do not know
and I’d like to tell you about them
in the sky your hair solemnly draws away
kinds of rain one no longer sees
nuts Saint Elmo’s fire
sun lames whispered nights
cathedrals too
which are the carcasses
of large gnawed horses
spat by the sea from far away
but still worshiped by people
a whole lot of forgotten things
a whole lot of dreamed things”
Aimé Césaire, Lost Body
“Écoutez le monde blanc
horriblement las de son effort immense
ses articulations rebelles craquer sous les étoiles dures
ses raideurs d'acier bleu transperçant la chair mystique
écoute ses victoires proditoires trompeter ses défaites
écoute aux alibis grandioses son piètre trébuchement

Pitié pour nos vainquers omniscients et naïfs !”
Aimé Césaire, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal
“measured by the clock click of the serpent-minute
the explosion
after which it is proper to appreciate that
the brutal fist of the terrorist crack of dawn has just
planted at the top of the most forgotten poui
its adornment of fire
its dolmen of blood
its flag of rage and renewal”
Aimé Césaire
“Even then Communists would reproach me for speaking of the Negro problem—they called it my racism. But I would answer: Marx is alright, but we need to complete Marx. I felt that the emancipation of the Negro consisted of more than just a political emancipation.”
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
“...et surtout mon corps aussi bien que mon âme, gardez-vous de vous croiser les bras en l'attitude stérile du spectateur, car la vie n'est pas un spectacle, car une mer de douleurs n'est pas un proscenium, car un homme qui crie n'est pas un ours qui danse.”
Aimé Césaire, Cahier, Discours sur le colonialisme: Aimé Césaire
“Do not make me into that man of hatred for whom I feel only hatred.”
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
“It takes all kinds to make a world.”
Aimé Césaire
“On ne peut pas dire que le petit bourgeois n'a rien lu. Il a tout lu, tout dévoré au contraire.
Seulement son cerveau fonctionne à la manière de certains appareils digestifs de type élémentaire.
Il filtre. Et le filtre ne laisse passer que ce qui peut alimenter la couenne de la bonne conscience bourgeoise.
Les Vietnamiens, avant l'arrivée des Français dans leur pays, étaient gens de culture vieille, exquise et raffinée. Ce rappel indispose la Banque d'Indochine. Faites fonctionner l'oublioir !
Ces Malgaches, que l'on torture aujourd'hui, étaient, il y a moins d'un siècle, des poètes, des artistes, des administrateurs ? Chut ! Bouche cousue ! Et le silence se fait profond comme un coffre-fort ! Heureusement qu'il reste les nègres. Ah ! les nègres ! parlons-en des nègres !
Eh bien, oui, parlons-en.
Des empires soudanais ? Des bronzes du Bénin ? De la sculpture Shongo ? Je veux bien ; ça nous changera de tant de sensationnels navets qui adornent tant de capitales européennes. De la musique africaine. Pourquoi pas?
Et de ce qu'ont dit, de ce qu'ont vu les premiers explorateurs... Pas de ceux qui mangent aux râteliers des Compagnies ! Mais des d'Elbée, des Marchais, des Pigafetta ! Et puis de Frobénius ! Hein, vous savez qui c'est, Frobénius ? Et nous lisons ensemble :
« Civilisés jusqu'à la moelle des os ! L'idée du nègre barbare est une invention européenne. »
Le petit bourgeois ne veut plus rien entendre. D'un battement d'oreilles, il chasse l'idée.
L'idée, la mouche importune.”
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
“Je parle de millions d'hommes à qui on a inculqué savamment la peur, le complexe d'infériorité, le tremblement, l'agenouillement, le désespoir, le larbinisme.”
Aimé Césaire
“the thick stream of air hauled toward the summits
first the great horses of noise reared against the sky
then sluggishly the great limp octopus of smoke
a derisory spitter injecting the night with
the insolent perfume of a citronella lamp
and a wind swept down on the islands
to be riddled by the suspect violence of the locusts . . .”
Aimé Césaire

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