“Does one ever truly find peace, Vincent?
No. The answer, undoubtedly, is: no. No, Marcel, you will not find peace. From time to time you will allay some of your fears, some of your pain. At times you will relive the rapture of those lost years. But you cannot escape this slow death. You will suffer the inescapable defeat which Time inflicts on all of us. All is lost. From the very beginning, all is lost. No, Arthur, you cannot escape the blight of war. Whether or not you survive, you will be marked forever by this war. With me, you experience moments when you can distance yourself from your pain, but they are no more than fugitive moments. No, one never truly finds peace.
Yes. The answer, assuredly, is: yes. Marcel, you will find peace somehow. Living with your dead, living in the past; these are the things which give you the courage to go on, to create a future, to be here still in spite of everything. Yes, Arthur, you can escape. If luck is on your side, you will come through, you will escape this carnage. And if you do, anything will be possible. Life will be beautiful. Mornings will be dazzling. Everything will begin again. Everything is perpetually beginning again. Yes, in the end, we all find peace.
I don’t know. I don’t know. How could I know?”
“Taking leave of my mother is first and foremost a physical act. Arms must give up their embrace of the other’s body, hands must uncouple, the touch of skin on skin must end, eyes must free themselves from the other’s gaze. One must withdraw, and as one withdraws, everything crumbles, as though one can live only through the other, as though one cannot live without the other.
It is a physical loss, a life fading, something bleeding away, a force that cannot be contained.”
“This moment is never ending, this moment when the tears hang suspended on your lashes. When you come to yourself again, it is to come to us.
You say: whether it is terrible or wonderful it will be unforgettable. How many moments in a man’s life are unforgettable? And how many does he know in advance will be so? What we have to live through is momentous. What we have to live through is our story.”
“You say: you will probably resent me for thinking of you as an adolescent, but that is what you are, and there is nothing shameful in that. Quite the reverse. It is a moment of indefinable grace, of beauty and poise. I want to tell you something, something I want you to believe: the love of a man for a woman cannot compare to the love of that same man for a youth. Love for a woman carries so many habits, beliefs, conventions in its wake that quickly it becomes something which, though pleasurable, is controlled, something which can no longer really surprise. Love for a youth encompasses every wonder, every fury; it has a desperate intensity; at every moment it is threatened with destruction, but it is lifted up by that very grace. A love like that has peaks and troughs, tremors and little deaths, dazzling light and terrifying shadows. All life is condensed into such an embrace.
I ask: is that all that you see in me, youth? You reply: I would like to say yes, it would be so much simpler. But the truth is something more. I can see beyond your youth. If my life is spared, I may ask you to share it with me.”