Translated by Greg Johnson
Not for an instant do I forget the struggles of our time. Not for an instant do I forget the struggles of the past that made us who we are. Not for an instant do I forget that to exist is not just to dedicate and devote oneself but also to fight. Nor do I forget that life has intense moments and calm moments, joys and cruelties.
Life in general (and our life) is an image of nature from which it proceeds, which Heraclitus already said, in an rather topical aphorism, almost thirty centuries ago: “Nature loves contraries: through them she produces harmony.”
Homer said the same thing in a different and poetic manner, emphasizing that our existence is part of the cycles of nature: “As leaves are born, so are men. The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the forest is green again in spring. So too with men: one generation is born as another is erased” (Iliad, VI, 146).
For our contemporaries, always more numerous, who pass their days in the artificial world of the cities (which are no longer actual cities), it is often difficult to see beyond the concrete, glass, steel, and electric light, that nature, despite its apparent absence, continues to embrace us and draw the lines of force of our existence, between infancy and oblivion: “like the leaves . . .”
Forgotten nature, however, sometimes remembers us in the most unexpected yet inevitable way: when rain falls on the city, and the genius of man cannot control it. It is a reflection that suggests a profound little book with the provocative title: Love the Rain, Love Life. Its author, the writer and philosopher Dominique Loreau, is a woman who lives in Japan, which probably contributes to her immanentist perception of existence. I will quote the first and most essential lines of her essay: “In this extremely rational world, where modern societies impose their laws on nature and man, there is a phenomenon that no one can ever control: rain.”
This is a new, long-range thinking. It makes us aware that, despite appearances, nature, the mother of us all, continues to set the pace of our existence despite the artificiality of the city. So thank you for the rain to remind us of this reassuring truth. Now it seems much more friendly, even though it is sometimes a bit too insistent in the European north.
1. Dominique Loreau, Aimer la pluie, aimer la vie (Ed. J’ai lu, 2011).