Someone should calculate all the things that have not been accomplished for the sole reason that the word that would have inaugurated their “exterior” destiny found neither the means nor the opportunity for descending from brain to tongue, and from tongue to sonorous flight, like the bee from its hive. The number of things lost because of this defectus vocabuli is certainly greater than the number of human beings lost because the semen that contained them was spilled on hempen or silken sheets, or on overstuffed sofas, or simply because it was spilled on the bare ground or carried off by the waters of bidets into the dark heart of the oceans. It is in this sense that we should interpret Rimbaud’s verse: “Oisive jeunesse / À tout asservie, / Par délicatesse / J’ai perdu ma vie.” But what Paterne Berichon’s brother terms délicatesse is in reality that mysterious authority that we carry inside ourselves and that, for reasons unknown, prevents us from accomplishing the majority of the acts that we set out to do, and this very often to the detriment of our health, our reputations, and even our lives. As for the man who with unrelenting stubbornness fights against the arbitrary rules and tyranny that other men would impose on him, never in his blindness does it occur to him to fight against the arbitrary rules and tyranny that he carries inside. The cruelest tyrants and our worst enemies are inside us, and if the number of men who are externally free is very small, there is not even one man who has the right to proclaim himself internally free.
Alberto Savinio, “Psyche”.
(Translation of the Rimbaud citation: Idle youth / Enslaved to everything / By being too sensitive / I have wasted my life.)
Savinio, born Andrea Alberto de Chirco, was the younger brother of that other excellent de Chirco, and a fantastic painter and writer in his own right. (In the latter, better, I would argue.)
Below, “Self Portrait in the Form of an Owl”, c. 1930)