I meant to include this quote in my entry about the Simiens…
For a long time I have wanted to write a novel in which you could hear the world sing.
In today’s books they have neglected to make us perceive the breathing of the beautiful inhabitants of the universe. I know that we can hardly conceive of a novel without people, because they are part of the world. What is needed is to put man in his place, not to make him the center of everything, to be humble enough to perceive that a mountain exists not merely as height and width but as weight, emissions, gestures, overarching power, words, sympathy. A river is a character with its rages and its loves, its power, its god of chance, its sicknesses, its thirst for adventures. Rivers, springs are characters: they love, they are beautiful, they dress themselves in rushes and mosses. The forests breathe. The fields, the moors, the marshes, the beaches, the oceans, the valleys in the mountains, the lost summits struck by lightning and the proud walls of rock on which the wind of the heights comes to express itself since the first ages of the world: all of this is not a simple spectacle for our eyes. It is a society of living beings. We only know the anatomy of these beautiful living things, and if the mysteries limit us on all sides it is because we have never taken into account the earthy, vegetable fluvial and marine psychologies.
This all comes to us in the friendship of a mountain, this appetite for the forests, after we have smelled the odor of these humid burdocks, the mushrooms, the barks, this joy of entering in the grass up to our waist; they are not creations of our senses, it exists all around us and it directs our gestures more than what we believe. For whoever has lived a while in a little mountain hamlet, it is useless to say what place that mountain holds in the conversations of men. For a village of fishermen, it is the sea; for a village in the countryside, it is the fields, the wheat and the prairies. We do not want to isolate man. He is no longer isolated. The face of the earth is in his heart.