Destiny


Will they at last leave their prison? They had eyes, which they have surrendered. In a thousand million centuries the situation will be the same as it is today, the same as it was a thousand million centuries ago, the same as it was since a beginning which does not exist, and as it will be at an end which also does not exist. For there are always at least two truths-one which is too exalted, too inhuman, too hopeless and counsels only immobility and death; and another which, for all we know it to be less true, encourages us to veil our eyes; to walk straight ahead, to take an interest in existence, and to live as though the life we have to follow to the end shall lead us elsewhere than to the grave.

We have already marvelled at their gigantic buildings, their economic and social organisation, their division of labour, their castes, their political system that extends from monarchy to the most flexible oligarchy, their commissariat, their chemistry, their transport, their heating, their reconstitution of water, their polymorphism; let us ask ourselves whether, having preceded us by several millions of years, they may not possibly have been subjected to ordeals that may yet await us? Why should we not succeed one day in enlarging the brain, our specific organ, our sole defence in this world; even as the termites have succeeded in enlarging the mandibles of their soldiers and the ovaries of their queens? This is a problem which should not be insoluble.

In a few hours he would arrive at stages in all our sciences towards which we shall doubtless be plodding for hundreds of years; and, these stages once gained, he would begin perhaps to understand why we are alive, why we are on this earth; why so much suffering, so many miseries must be endured before death releases us; why we are wrong in believing that so many painful experiments have been made that served no purpose; why all the endeavours of preceding eternities have resulted only in what we see: a nameless, hopeless distress. There are no limits to the extension of bodies: why should there be any to that of the mind?