The sense of eternity, those who find it again will be comforted and those who possess it nothing will knock them down. Life is a support, not a reason, life is necessary, but it is not sufficient: such is the lesson the dead give us. Madam Mother taught me the supreme truths that she, alive, misknew, and that she, absent, professed, her shadow mouth reveals notions to me that I did not suspect, Madam Mother is dead, and the Eternal Mother took her place. We only have one mother, to be sure, but the elect are not ignorant that she is one, one and the same and this no matter the country, the century or the individual.


Blessed are those who awake the Eternal Mother in the woman and who compel her to resemble Her! They will find an inexhaustible wealth in the one who will always disappoint them, when she is but an individual, woman in herself is unequal to man and will not be worth him, her deep qualities are impersonal, her highest virtues are archetypal, the work of the feminists only advance her on the account of visible rights and without rejecting it we deem it insufficient, it ends up in making a lesser man of a woman, a mere runt of suspicious virility by definition.


As a person Madam Mother had flaws, she also had limits, the most remarkable women in history exhibit little traits that are typically feminine, may some be queens, may others be saints, we must forgive them those, they are the ransom that nature pays to order, and order’s authors are us: the role we have woman play, woman did not choose it, should women become priestesses and mistresses they would impose more humiliating roles to us and would make us smaller than they look, we ought not to forget that in the meantime they are our victims.


If I am a writer, Madam Mother is for something in it, she found talent in me, she inspired courage, she supported me against myself and others, she complained when I was about to forfeit this career and my writings became her reason to live, she lacked neither taste nor discernment, she sometimes corrected me and I frequently sought her advice. A woman rarely authors a remarkable work, but let us admit it—it often occurs that she sparks it off, the shadow where woman slides away is a source of greatness and more than the light where too many women try to appear.


Madam Mother believed in my future, it is a shame that she did not enter with me in a temporal glory. When my last work was published, she could not even read newspapers, she took the book in her arms as a token of recognition and I received it from her hands, but as to opening it and flicking through it she had no strength any more, at least she had browsed the proofs thereof, she had asked me to remove some passages, wrongly so, it seems to me. Drugs killed her in spirit three months before her bodily death, we saved her, more or less, from suffering and not from darkness.


I see that Mister Father is sad, he fells time and again into melancholy, my philosophy has not enough comforting virtues, but he is exhausted, the weight of the death throes fell heavily on his shoulders, for not having done the impossible he deems that he did not fulfill his responsibilities, he believes in good faith that he was bound to do it, I protest that it was not the case and that Madam Mother was treated as a princess, that she had an apartment and the finest one in the Hospital, two guardians and six physicians. We engaged in a losing battle the outcome of which, according to all, never made any doubt.


Madam Mother had many an admirer, but this chapter is beyond my remit, this is of Mister Father’s concern. She might take pride in her philosophy, she would not decline compliments, she would fain give to understand that she had been judged agreeable, that as a young girl she had an abundance of choices, that as a young woman she was about to become an actress and would have played first roles, she was telling the truth apparently, but once again the matter is out of my scope. As to the admirers, I remember two or three high school teachers who, before my own eyes, conducted a hell of a courtship to her.


Madam Mother was wise and coquettish, she played with fire because she was self-confident, she was reserve personified and would never lose her head, she would think and reckon without seeming to, she had tactical genius, from faint appearances she would draw very receivable conclusions and no one would better penetrate her fellowman. She would make people talk and would venture but a few words, they would know nothing of her when she had fathomed them, she would systematically approve those she despised and she mastered the art not to hurt anyone while keeping those she would not hurt at a distance.


She excelled at being obeyed, no one was better at defending oneself while keeping form, the older she got the firmer she was in good taste and good style, she surely would have been a lovely old woman and in no way scolding, in no way boring and in no way annoying, she did not have that leisure and we do have this regret. Her selfishness did not come from a cold heart, but it went from a lucid reason, she had some head and from the crown to the toes, in her best moments she was Pallas and none better looked after the interests of her own without affecting an air of strife.


No, I do not weep for Madam Mother, the tears we shed for our dead it is our complacency that pulls them from us and man weeps over himself. It is indifferent to me whether I die or live and I was always in such disposition, women and love cannot stir me, the woman Madam Mother was in her time never attracted me, my depths are phlegmatic, their calmness surprises me, I did not know myself yet and this epiphany teaches me that I was born to be a philosopher. The tormented one was Madam Mother, but her alarms saved us all, her tremors were as good as a wisdom.


Madam Mother knew women, she taught me their weaknesses and instructed me about their intrigues, she dispelled my illusions and I thank her again, she even went so far as to diminish herself in order to disabuse me, her cruel method fortified me in my phlegm. She advised me not to pursue happiness and assured me that all misery comes from the quest, I think she was not that wrong, the least exhilaration is binding and one is never punished for refusing oneself. Madam Mother, may your wisdom be praised! You made me cold, this was the best favor to do to me.


Madam Mother preached negative happiness to me, felicity without inconveniences, voluntary asceticism, virtuous selfishness, and I profess that she was right. Madam Mother understood the world and it is from the world that she saved me, I feel that I do not blame her for anything and maybe I owe her that I suffered less than if I had become what my disposition sometimes insinuated to me. This disposition, she bent it under the yoke of her principles, for she was the strong woman, used to overcome her shortcomings, and withal not lacking in thoughtful gentleness and continuous kindnesses, those coming from her heart.


Madam Mother was incinerated before a week and her presence is more real than ever, I am full of her and I meditate her lessons, there is no room in me for sadness. The noble woman is assured to live in the Temple of Memory and to her I have built an altar of which this is the material, between Mister Father and myself the dead forms a link firm and secure, whenever we hug we think about Madam Mother, I find her in him just as he finds her in me. Let those intimacies be forgiven me! there are not many in my works, this is an open parenthesis that will be closed soon.


Mother, I hail you! Assist me with your advice and remind me of your examples! You have taken the shape of a symbol and I offer you my writing as a sacrifice of praise! I had lost you, sick, I find you again, dead, I annihilate in myself the memory of your downfall and I restore that of your works. It is of no import to me to know that the universe is empty, it is of no import to me to feel that necessity governs and that the laws of the world are impersonal, truth was never otherwise and I protest that it is sufficient to me, I have nothing but contempt for those who imagine they will see them again, their dead.


We will never see them again, and that is why we love them, nothingness is the ransom for love and of nothingness love is the crown, it is good that it is thus, time and the person blend into each other, love and nothingness correspond to each other, those who deceive us on the matter, I call them sophists. The school of consent preludes to greatness and eternal life is the one in which we partake here below, never elsewhere, elsewhere is no more when we are not. There lies what we ought to teach, there lies what we deserve to learn, there lies however what is refused to us and what we would be punished for believing!


I thought I was done, but I have more to say and why resist the inclination that subjugates me? Let me savor a pain that is fading and look behind once more, one other time after so many. I knew Madam Mother was mortal and for years the idea of her death exerted my imagination, I wanted to prepare myself to it slowly and when the event occurred, its horror was familiar to me and I felt like a relief, seeing that death was nothing, not even that of Madam Mother. The dead do not suffer from being dead, and the living only suffer because they live.


It is not reasonable to always suffer, unless pain redeem us, the dead we mourn know nothing about it and if we make ourselves inconsolable, we will become prey to our complacency. We never persevere for long in a purity that man is not made to uphold, the life of saints is more uncertain for this, we sometimes resemble them, when some passion enwraps us. Was I going to weep over myself and in thought substitute myself to the dead? All the inconsolable get there, I feel that I am better than my regrets…


For even in pain there is more presumption than we think and more delight than we admit. Grief, that isolates us, ends up reengaging us, by forcing us to weigh ourselves down: then we resemble everyone else and thus rendered similar to all, together we form the mass of perdition, enwrapped in the nets woven by desire, fear, love and hatred, the playthings of illusion and the slaves to contingency. In truth, I broke it, the chain. Madam Mother knew it, she will have provided me with the first elements of this freedom, which in turn will liberate me from her memory.


I want to love Madam Mother out of esteem and acknowledgment, after having cherished her out of inclination, for otherwise among the living I would remain the inconsolable son of a dead woman. I would poorly serve her memory by reveling in a learnedly renewed bitterness and I would betray myself by making a reason to live out of my grief. Madam Mother had a lot of merit, she chose neither her family nor the temperament I owe to her, those are misfortunes I repair by the means of my continence. Death, I am waiting for it as for a friend, as I would wait for Madam Mother as a child.


Refusing love lifts us up above our parents, this Madam Mother felt and I gave it her to understand, I signified quite bluntly to her that what she transmitted to me was not worth propagating, but that our common duty was in disappearing, so that our pains may be buried with ourselves. More and more, she tasted the darkness my philosophy was rife with, death, that was invading her entirely, was making it familiar to her, she would have shared my views, had she not been stricken down by the foretellings of her fall which, by forcing her to go back aflow, only left her with the leisure to go through death throes so as to live.

About the Translator

Romain P. A. Delpeuch is the author of Hypnagogia (Terror House Press, 2023). He earned his MA in Philosophy (2015, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne) with a thesis on Albert Caraco, and he holds an MA in English Studies (2019, Université Bordeaux Montaigne). He lives in France.


For all installments from Post Mortem, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Parts 1-30
  2. Parts 31-60
  3. Parts 61-90