Paul Valéry
[Writer and poet, b. 1871, Sète, France, d. 1945, Paris.]

 To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees. 
 Thanks to photography, the eye grew accustomed to anticipate what it should see and to see it; and it learned not to see nonexistent things which, hitherto, it had seen so clearly. 
 The mere notion of photography, when we introduce it into our meditation on the genesis of historical knowledge and its true value, suggests the simple question: Could such and such a fact, as it is narrated here, have been photographed? 
 Photography invites one to give up any attempt to delineate such things as can delineate themselves. 
 Man cannot bear his own portrait. The image of his limits and his own determinacy exasperates him, drives him mad. 
 ...a few days old he was brought before a lens; decades later the man he grew into might stand amazed and affected before the photograph of the baby whose future he has used up. 
 What is Plato’s famous cave if not a camera obscura, the largest ever conceived, I suppose? If Plato reduced the mouth of his grotto to a tiny hole and applied a sensitized coat to the wall that served as his screen, by developing the rear of the cave he could have obtained a gigantic film, and heaven knows what astounding conclusions he might have left regarding the nature of our knowledge and the essence of our ideas... 
 All in all, can one think of a subject more deserving of the philosopher’s meditation than the enormous increase in the number of stars as well as in the number of cosmic radiations and energies whose record we owe to photography? (1939) 
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