Paul du Marchie v.V, Philosopher of the Great Vertigo
Back cover :
The life of Paul du Marchie van Voorthuysen is an uninterrupted succession of events and unusual encounters. Born in 1923, he passed his childhood in a castle, and then stayed in great luxury hotels during a part of his youth. When his parents were financially ruined by the war, he interrupted his studies of medicine and started a life of roaming. He lived with nomads in the Sahara Desert and in the monasteries of Mount Athos. In Egypt, the ancient civilization of the Pharaohs fascinated him. In India, he wandered through places of high spirituality, searching for the mystery that is hidden behind all things. He met on his way many surprising people. Human exchange, so essential to him, will find unexpected possibilities within the house he built with his own hands in the Swiss Alps in a medieval style in order to create a cultural center.
This book develops many thoughts connected with the events of his life. As in a fugue by Bach, a theme is developed, always the same: the great vertigo of the thought, the marvellous dazzling in front of existence. More than a philosophy, he presents to the reader a style of life, where the most rigorous science is mixed with a mystic attitude. He praises the faculty of doubting, the joy of incertitude. Is this an atheistic or a religious book? Each reader will have to decide for himself...
Extract (page 184) :
I grope in the dark to find a matchbox in order to light a little fire in the fireplace ; a performance that I manage successfully at three o’clock in the morning with my eyes hardly open. There, in front of the fire, Sophie and I are going to speak until dawn. To see the brilliance of intelligence sparkling on such a beautiful face would already be enough to give an exceptional value to this long night.
While looking at the flickering flames, my thoughts go to Jean-François Champollion, a man of science who has opened the way to those who were going to discover the secrets of ancient Egypt. « Enthusiasm is the secret of real life » he used to say. In this room with its heavy beams blackened by the smoke, I contemplate the face of Sophie, motionless, illuminated by the glowing of the red coals. Her face expresses just the contrary of peaceful bliss or tranquil self-contentment. I can read in her features an energy that is ready to encounter the unknown with a joyful restlessness that characterizes the nobleness of the mind. Everything during this night can only but banish all that could flatter our inclination towards easy solutions. Only the most merciless ways seem to me to be worthy of this austere place.