Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Last night, Louise sent me this in a Message:

Je viens de trouver un propos pour toi, amoureuse des mots et du sens qu’ils ont! (LC)

Translation: I’ve just found a subject for you, who are a lover of words and their meanings.

I’m always happy when Louise puts me in touch with a thinker, writer, poet…that I’ve never heard of, and it’s the case with François Cheng, who is all of the above. A quick visit with Wikipedia tells me that in fact, he is much more:

François Cheng is a Chinese-born French academician, writer, poet and calligrapher. He is the author of essays, novels, collections of poetry and books on art written in the French language, and the translator of some of the great French poets into Chinese. (source: Wikipedia)

And so I find myself in the company of an immense literary talent, but one whose work I haven’t read.

His book titles are telltale. here are just a few (my translations are approximate):

De l’Arbre et du Rocher (Of the Tree and the Rock), D’Où jaillit le chant (The Wellspring of Song), Quand reviennent les âmes errantes (When Wandering Souls Return), Oeil ouvert et coeur battant (Open Eye and Beating Heart), De l’âme (Of the Soul)…

Unbelievably, none of Cheng’s work has been translated into English, though he has translated some of it into Chinese.

But Louise has kept things simple.


Without further ado, here it is:

“Et si écrire, c’était simplement ne plus taire cette âme en soi?” -François Cheng


And if writing were simply silencing one’s soul no longer ?

Louise adds:

C’est vrai que pour écrire, écrire véritablement, pas des fadaises, il faut être proche de son âme afin de partager ce qu’on met sur papier. Tu vois, j’ai une vieille âme, je parle d’écrire sur papier!

Effectivement pour moi, l’important j’aime l’écrire avec une plume ou un crayon, cela me semble plus réel!

Mais l’avantage de notre moyen de communication via Messenger permet de partager presque dans l’instantané! Il faut reconnaître cet avantage!

J’espère que cette petite phrase de François Cheng, t’inspirera pour Aubade! (LC)

My translation:
It’s true that to write, to truly write, not just nonsense, you have to be close to your soul–in order to share what you put down on paper. You see, I have an old soul, I speak of writing on paper!

Really, for me, writing with a pen or pencil is important, it feels more real!

But the advantage of our communications via Messenger make it possible for us to share almost instantly! It’s quite an advantage!
I hope this little phrase by François Cheng will inspire you for Aubade!


And so here I am with a quotation that I find lovely, and telling.

And if writing were simply silencing one’s soul no longer?

Cheng’s words suggest that writing is the manifestation of our soul’s desire to express itself, despite our efforts to quiet it.

This, of course, gets me thinking about “the soul”. Do you believe in its existence? Have you found the words to describe the ways in which your soul manifests itself inside you?

I’ve heard the expression He/She is a big-souled person, and known immediately what that meant, without for one moment having a firm notion of the soul’s locus–the “place” it occupies inside me.

No matter our beliefs or our spirituality (I’m quite sure that Louise and I would find that we are quite different in this regard), we do–many of us, that is–recognize the experience, the presence of our soul.

I believe it to be the deep, quiet space inside me. It’s the place of truth, where love resonates and grows, and from where love’s imposters are barred entry. It’s where I can bring my sadness, my frailty, my smallness, my sense of being flawed and unworthy of love, and be restored and moved to open up again and simply love.

And so, turning back to Louise’s offering:
And if writing were simply silencing one’s soul no longer?

Then it might explain why I have felt so compelled to write–these past several years especially–and why my regular conversations with Louise, here at Aubade, came to exist.


“Stars 10 (Edition 4/7)”, Ellie Davies (b. 1976)
“Passage”, by German installation artist Cornelia Konrads (2007)

Photo by Alicia Giguère, 2021

2 Comments on “OF THE SOUL…

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