March 16 session report

Thank you to all of you who attended today. We managed to have a very interesting session, as usual, despite the sadness in our hearts.

(Click the image above to visit the Japan Red Cross donation site.)

Today, we discussed the first 3 items on the list of sections from St Exupery’s “Wind, Sand and Stars” (see the previous blog entry to read the entire list)

  1. Guillaumet lost in the Andes – chapter II, section II, page 30-40 (end of chapter II)
  2. Chapter IV (pages 48-62) – the cyclone
  3. Chapter V, section II, pages 68-74 (end of chapter V) – night in the Sahara

We had some difficulty understanding section 3.

Update: After reading section 3 again, the key seems to be the last paragraph on page 71. He is remembering a house he lived in when he was a child. For some strange reason, the memory of this house becomes very strong to him while he is lying on the sand of the Sahara night. He realizes that his existence, his meaning, is not just the present (Sahara), but also his past. When he was a child, he liked to tease his old nurse (“Mademoiselle”): she was so domestic and domesticated, while he enjoyed being a rough, wild boy. But now he realizes that it was not only his wild rough, boyish adventures that created his personality, his character: it was also the house and the quiet, solid, domestic routines that formed his character and are still a vital part of him, perhaps even more solid and important than his present Saharan adventure.

I think this is what he means by “But that night in the Sahara, naked between the sand and the stars, I did her justice.” In other words, he finally discovered a reason to respect that domestic and tame Mademoiselle.

What do you think? Any other, different interpretations?

The next session will be on Wednesday April 27th. If this is inconvenient, please let me know. I plan to continue reading “Wind, Sand and Stars”, continuing down the list  of sections.

4 thoughts on “March 16 session report”

  1. ” I could no more shake her faith than I could have shaken the faith of a candle-woman in a church. I pitied her humble destiny which had made her blind and deaf. But that night in the Sahara, naked between the stars and the sand, I did her justice.”
    According to Japanese in this part by Horiguchi Daigaku, 「教会の修道女の信念が動かしえないと同じように、ぼくにもこの老嬢の信念は動かしえなかった。そしてぼくは彼女を盲啞にしているその貧しい運命を憐れんだものだった、、、。それなのに このサハラの一夜、星と砂とのあいだに、裸で放り出されて、ぼくは彼女の方が正しいのだとしみじみ思い知ったものだ。」

    When I read Japanese in this part, I felt a kind of contradiction at first. But thanks to Marc’s intelligible explanation about the key of section 3, I could understand well what Horiguchi translated.

    At the end of this chapter at page.74,Saint -Exupery concluded as the following,

    “The marvel of a house is not that it shelters or warms a man, nor that its walls belong to him. It is that it leaves its trace on the language. Let it remain a sign. Let it form,deep in the heart, that obscure range from which, as waters from a spring,are born our dreams.
    Sahara, my Sahara ! You have been bewitched by an old woman at a spinning-wheel !”

    I think Japanese by Horiguchi,whose translation into Japanese is very nice and beautiful. I would like to quote his translation.

    「家のありがたさは、それがぼくらを宿し、ぼくらを暖めてくれるためでもなければ、またその壁がぼくらの所有だからでもなく、いつか知らないあいだに、ぼくらの心の中に、おびただしいやさしい気持ちを蓄積しておいてくれるがためだ。人の心の底に、泉の水のように夢を生み出してくれる、あの人知れぬ塊を作ってくれるがためなのだ。
     サハラ砂漠よ、ぼくのサハラ砂漠よ、ごらん、お前は糸車を回すたった一人の老嬢のおかげで、すっかり夢見心地にされてしまったではないか!」

  2. After I read these comments I came to think about the composition of those episodes.

    At the earlier one the author describes how bureaucrats aren’t awake themselves compared to him, then in the section 3 he recognises “he is both” the heroic pilot and a boy who was taken care of by a domestic old lady who does her routine work, as a history of a man, being awakened farther.

    In the previous session we discussed a little about the ending, and we wondered why St Exupery mentioned about the idea written in Genesis, “if it breath upon the clay”.
    Now I think it was described as a history of mankind, his field of view being broadened.

    I’m looking forward to reading more deeply the latter sections at the next session.

  3. Thank you for the last session and this followup.

    I agree with your interpretation. What is home all about? Home is the place which accumulates tender feelings in our minds over years and creates human soul. Therefore, dreams of his home overflew in him like waters from a spring, and in the center there was an old nurse who always took care of him and talked to him. Maybe such a thing could be realized at latest when we face adversity or loved one’s death.

    On “Hodo Station” last night, 15-year-old boy said that he wanted to say (he will!)thanks for his past 15 years to his missing father on his graduation from Junior High School. There must have been rebellious period, but he seems to have surely accepted his father’s “language” which, I believe, has helped him develop his personality and his soul.

    1. In this passage, I think St Exupery suddenly realizes that he is not just the pilot wandering the skies and sands of the Sahara, but he is also the boy who grew up in that house, well taken care of by a “boring” old woman whose only concern seemed to have been that he always had clean clothes to wear, that his torn clothes were soon mended, and that the whole house was always homely, neat and tidy. He is both. Until then, perhaps he had only thought of himself as the wandering adventuring hero. Perhaps this was a “growing-up” moment for him.

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