Supplementary Pieces 251
great man that he is— than with that fussy B[réhier]. Picture a little bony
fellow (and I imagined him to be tall) whose 65 years show, with very
round blue eyes that seem to latch onto something in the distance when he
speaks. His speech is slow (an academic’s deformation!) but very simple
and without affectation, despite some surprising images that, bursting
into the conversation with abrupt impertinence, remind the listener that
it is Bergson he’s listening to. A detail to which I was particularly sensi-
tive is that Bergson met Simmel in Florence in 1911, an encounter of
which he has kept an unforgettable memory. What is truly touching
and divine in these two extraordinary men is the reciprocal admiration
they inspired in one another and the emotion with which they speak of
each other.
You’ll believe me when I tell you that Bergson also told me a thou-
sand interest ing things, an account of which perhaps deserves better than
a letter card. Yet I’m committed not to transcend this narrow frame (for
once!!); I’ll leave you with this, then, hoping that you’ll have the time to
send Bréhier all the wishes of prosperity he is worthy of and which your
friend hereby sends you with all his heart,
Vl. Jankélévitch
f. reiss: What remains of Bergson’s ideas?
v. jankélévitch: Above all, temporality; an eminently contemporary
idea, it remains Bergson’s great discovery. And not only the idea of time:
Bergson’s time is a time that is identical with the very essence of being
because it is the very person, the whole person, who is time. The human
being is a time on two legs who comes and goes, an ambulatory becom-
ing. Time is not the secondary or pellicular characteristic of a being that
would primarily be and secondarily change. Instead, time affects the very
essence of being. It is not modal but essential. This is the idea developed
especially in the Oxford lectures collected in The Creative Mind.
Many young people are doing Bergson without knowing it, and at-
tribute his thought to some fashionable phi los o pher. An example: “The
human being is what it is not and it is not what it is... and perpetually
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