Rene Daumal (1908 - 1944 / France)
Biography of Rene Daumal
Born March 16, 1908, in Boulzicourt, Ardennes, France; died of tuberculosis, May 21, 1944, in Paris, France. French novelist, essayist, poet, short story writer, translator, and playwright. Daumal is known for his writings on spirituality and perception. He spent his youth in the company of several artists called simplists, who delved into psychological exploration and used drugs. Daumal's own use of carbon tetrachloride, though nearly fatal, later inspired him to write "Une Experience fondamentale" (title means "A Fundamental Experience"), an essay in which he traces the expansion of his consciousness from simple awareness to drug-induced intuition to a renewed consciousness in which his perceptions were rationalized.
Daumal continued to concern himself with spiritual matters and altered states of consciousness in Le Contre-Ciel (1936), a collection of poems which earned him the Prix Jacques Doucet. By this time Daumal, under the tutelage of Gurdjieff disciple Alexandre de Salzmann, had already established himself as a Hindu scholar with translations of several sacred texts. But his greatest achievement from the 1930's is probably La Grande Beuverie (1938; translation published as A Night of Serious Drinking, 1979), a satire on French society in which the author poses the ascendance of a higher spiritual plane as an alternative to superficial life. At his death Daumal left unfinished Le Mont Analogue (1952; translation published as Mount Analogue, 1959), a novel in which he contends that transcendental knowledge is attained through an understanding of reality and communion with others.
Last Letter to his Wife
I am dead because I lack desire,
I lack desire because I think I possess.
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing:
Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live.