OpEd

How did the poet Paul Éluard make Pablo Picasso a political painter?

Charles Pépin is a French writer and philosopher. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. He writes about topics close to human everyday life. In "The small philosophy of dating" he highlights the importance of friendly, romantic, professional and casual meetings for the individual. A particularly brilliant example: the friendship between Paul Éluard and Pablo Picasso

Without the other we are nobody, worthless people. We must meet the other as a prerequisite to meet ourselves. We have to meet the other to become ourselves. This is more or less what the French writer and philosopher Charles Pépin writes at the beginning of his book "The Little Philosophy of Meeting". Such a beginning of the work may sound abstract and may frighten the reader. But don't worry: this book is a useful handbook on the importance of friendly, romantic, professional and casual encounters for the individual.

Often the visual shock causes wonder. When Anna Karenina sees Count Vronsky at the train station, she knows nothing about him, but her wonder makes Vronsky stand out from the crowd. And thus, Leo Tolstoy bequeaths to humanity one of the most tragic love stories. Visual shock has consequences: acceleration of heart rate, trembling of voice, sweating, silence. Sometimes it may just be the color of the voice that piques our curiosity. Or a meeting on a bridge.

In the monumental film "The Bridges of Madison County" by Clint Eastwood, the housewife of Italian origin, played by Meryl Streep, meets Robert, an American photographer. Francesca has been living on a farm in Iowa for years with her husband and children. When she meets Robert, the rest of her family is at a cow fair. A four-day passion begins, an intermezzo that changes the lives of Francesca and Robert forever. After a moment of reluctance, Francesca decides not to leave her husband; Robert continues on his way. But in a way they will stay connected forever. In her will, Francesca asks that her ashes be thrown from the bridge that was the reason for her meeting with Robert. Those four days spent with Robert (played by Clint Eastwood), Francesca describes like this: "I don't know myself anymore, I'm not myself ... at the same time I've never been myself like I am now."

Charles Pépin has an unparalleled talent for making philosophy down to earth. In his book he uses apt quotes like this one from the volume of poems by the French author René Char: “We must take place outside ourselves, in the corner of tears and in the orbit of hunger, if we want something extraordinary to happen, which it was designated only for us".

A particularly brilliant example of what a meeting, a friendship can bring to a person's life is the case of Paul Éluard and Pablo Picasso. They had known each other since the 1920s, Éluard collecting Picasso's paintings, while the painter circulated in the network of surrealists, of which Éluard was a key figure. Picasso was a man of coarse words, an apolitical artist, possessive of women, jealous, often brutal. His opposite was Éluard: an idealist and pacifist with political awareness. In 1936 Franco's troops bombarded Madrid and tried to overrun the city by blocking its food supplies.

Éluard published the poem "November 1936" in the communist magazine "L'Humanité" and secured the permanent adoration of Picasso. He understands that his art can be at the service of anti-fascism. On April 27, 1937, the Basque town of Guernica was bombed. After Éluard's prayer, Picasso prepares the painting "Guernica" for the World Exhibition in Paris. At the origin of Picasso's most famous painting, and perhaps even of the 1952th century, is not the painter, but his friend, the French poet Paul Éluard. Without him, Picasso would hardly have become a political painter, at least not on the scale he is known for today. In XNUMX Éluard died after a heart attack. It was the first time that Picasso was seen publicly crying.

Would Albert Camus be the one we know if he didn't have a 12-year relationship with Spanish actress Maria Casarès? Hardly. Thanks to the relationship with him, Camus learns how to approach a man (Casarès!), how to respect a man, how to focus on a man and how to give up selfishness and narcissism. Camus met Casarès on June 6, 1944, the day the Allied troops landed in Normandy. This meeting helped Camus recover. He writes: "You accidentally entered my life, which I was not proud of, and that day something started to change (...). Breathing better; I despised less, worshiped freely what deserved to be worshipped. Before you, outside of you, I belonged to nothing. This force, which you sometimes ridiculed, has always been the force of loneliness, the force of rejection. With you I have accepted more things. In a way I have learned to live". Notice the sentence: I have learned to live!

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle elaborates a beautiful definition of friendship: a friend makes us better people. The book "The Little Philosophy of the Meeting" Charles Pépin is a memorial in letters about friendship and expanding the possibilities of friendship, about adoring life and becoming proud of good deeds. "Whenever we discover a man and have the impression that we are recovering ourselves and becoming alive again, we feel - at the heart of reality - the presence of a pulsating force which is nothing but life itself", writes Charles Pépin in end of his book.