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by Honore Balzac
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"'From this unimpeachable experiment,' he cried, 'I deduce the existence of the Alkahest, the Absolute,--a substance common to all created things, differentiated by one primary force. Such is the net meaning and position of the problem of the Absolute, which appears to me to be solvable. In it we find the mysterious Ternary, before whose shrine humanity has knelt from the dawn of ages.
There is a house at Douai in the rue de Paris, whose aspect, interior arrangements, and details have preserved, to a greater degree than those of other domiciles, the characteristics of the old Flemish buildings, so naively adapted to the patriarchal manners and customs of that excellent land. Before describing this house it may be well, in the interest of other writers, to explain the necessity for such didactic preliminaries, - since they have roused a protest from certain ignorant and voracious readers who want emotions without undergoing the generating process, the flower without the seed, the child without gestation. Is Art supposed to have higher powers than Nature?
The events of human existence, whether public or private, are so closely allied to architecture that the majority of observers can reconstruct nations and individuals, in their habits and ways of life, from the remains of public monuments or the relics of a home. Archaeology is to social nature what comparative anatomy is to organized nature. A mosaic tells the tale of a society, as the skeleton of an ichthyosaurus opens up a creative epoch. All things are linked together, and all are therefore deducible. Causes suggest effects, effects lead back to causes. Science resuscitates even the warts of the past ages.
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