L’escargot est un mollusque.

As we get close to the works of a great man (woman) we learn that he is human, that the gulf between him and us is in human terms not all that great. The big exception to our being like the great man are his works —novels, works of art and music, labor saving machines, that leave our own creations such as they are far behind. We should not judge the great man at all, but if we do, judge him not by how he may resemble us, but by his works, just as one might judge any living creature, say a mollusque, not by its inner organs but by its outer “shell.” The outer shell being its works. Claude Levi Strauss says it this way:

L’homme a evolue a travers ses oeuvres, ses creations, mais en lui-meme il est toujours pareil. …II y a un monde des oeuvres qui est independant. Pour prendre une comparaison grossiere… pensez un peu aux mollusques: ce sont des creatures molles, plutot repugnantes qui secretent des coquilles qui sont des creations prodigieuses d’une grande beaute, incarnation de lois mathematiques d’ailleurs.  nautilus

Eh bien, il me semble que I’humanite est quelque chose un peu de ce genre. …  Et comme pour l’humanité il y a deux attitudes possibles. Celle du physiologiste qui s’interesse passionnement sur la facon dont les mollusques sont organises et celle des autres qui diront: ‘Ce qui m’interesse ce sont les coquilles.’  Ou ce qui m’interesse ce sont les oeuvres.


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