September 25, 2021

one hundred years of resistance and rebellion


Edgar Morin, legend of the century? Maybe. And not only because Arte disseminates this portrait, crossing archives and interviews, a hundred years to the day after the birth of Edgar Nahoum, in Paris, on July 8, 1921.

Wisely composed according to the stages of a biography punctuated by publications of which we can see how early they grasp the most contemporary issues – of the cinema verite with Jean Rouch, from 1961, of the making of stars (1957), or of the mass culture (1962), to the question of ecology or sociobiology – this Diary of a Life, directed by Jean-Michel Djian, recalls that the spirit of resistance and insubordination is there of a joyful fruitfulness.

The pseudonym “Morin” belongs to the time of the Resistance, when, in 1942, the young man who borrows his clandestine identity from Magnin, a character from Hope (1937), by Malraux, who, like him, chooses the action, does not correct the faulty version of it given by a comrade in the struggle. After all, the name is only a marker of identity. Without summarizing or containing it.

The one who, as a teenager, self-taught a culture mixing the literary vein and a scientific curiosity of rare eclecticism was already aware that if his matrix was Mediterranean, since he comes from a line of Sephardi perpetually moved to Salonika before arriving in France, his homeland was the Republican school. With the thousand nuances that a lively and curious mind can spot there, as it will do at the university, combining the study of philosophy and history, law and political science.

Thinker foreign to orthodoxies

This bulimia is just the manifestation of a thirst for meaning, of a quest for reality that will never be denied. Because Edgar Morin questions the world without ever wanting to subject it to the artificial comfort of the standard. Fleeing the chapels and blurring the tracks by increasing the number of pioneer sites. Driven by concern for the common good, Morin has the insolent freedom of a thinker foreign to orthodoxies.

Evoking, when appears Ethics (2004), final part of the monumental exhibition of The method (1977), the celebration of an unequaled performance – at the end of thirty years of development – the essayist is amused by the criterion retained, that of the exploit, which almost evacuates the substance. We quote Morin more than we read it, we celebrate him without really trying to take advantage of his lucidity as of his sagacity. Now acclaimed, the man is a flattering guarantee. But the complex thought it offers deserves better than the cartoons offered by those who have not read it.

He who has never ceased to link knowledge, to confront them, without fear of exploiting contradictions to open up new paths where thought is resourceful, has retained the malice of the poacher, the cunning of the smuggler, fire thief with enchanting lyricism. Light years away from the mandarins who kept him at a distance, they were so disturbed by his refusal of academicism. Cantor of the complexity which denounces the one-dimensional, the reduction, the mutilation which “Comes when we deny all reality and all meaning to what we have eliminated …”, champion of a conviviality which rediscovers the generosity of feasts, the sociologist reveled in the harmony of opposites as in this reality that the mind will never be able to fully grasp.

Edgar Morin, journal of a lifetime, documentary by Jean-Michel Djian (2021, Fr., 54 min). On until September 5.

Read also Special edition “Le Monde”: Edgar Morin, a planetary humanist