mercredi 26 septembre 2012

mercredi 1 août 2012


CONFESSIONS or a TESTAMENT from a soon retired STONE-CUTTER...

On the following pages I will try in a language which is not my own and with some pictures to give an idea of myself today.
For what reasons do you give yourself up to public scrutiny?
I will let you guess. You will have to see farther, beyond the words and sentences.
You will have to dream another life.
You will have to sleep in ot
her lands, unknown lands.
You will have to imagine a fatigued body dreaming about an impossible work in this present world.
If you are able to do so the impossible work has been accomplished


To my father with all of my recognition and gratitude for the rich heritage which he helped me to understand.

To all my friends from the past if by chance or accident they read these pages they will recognize themselves and as for my father, they can believe in my gratitude, nothing is forgotten.

To Patrick who at a difficult moment in the life of a man, without knowing it, stimulated my memory and pushed my hand towards the search of another direction in and with the same profession… to build formen and with men.

To my wife who gave me some of the most beautiful photographs and sat by me and corrected my English when I was done writing. To my wife and my daughters who have supported me with love and grace on this long road…


The fire of men envelops some places on earth, the ones from the past, the ones from today. Tomorrow as today, they will show to our sons and daughters the scars left forever.
Those children will have to stand by the mistakes we have made, or history will have to lie. Stones however will show the true nature of our heart. Only for that reason, I love you. You give life to my name even if it is lost forever.
If I sense that, there will be a mistake, for that reason only, I sometimes refuse to work.
This is a material sacrifice, which I make, and I do it with my love. I take the responsibility for my words at the present and in the future.
I doubt everything except stones.
Walking on their hard and cold bodies, I feel their murmurs and the murmurs of time and it is love coming from far faraway places.

F. Falgairette

Anonymous stones

Because, as a stone-cutter or stonemason as sometimes people have called us, I have dreamed for a long time to write a book or some kind of essay about the long journey of a man who started at an early age and now finds himself in front of the harsh reality.
It does not seem too much… the subject is so vague… and what the hell is a stone-cutter?

Let me start, but before let me make a point or explain why in my spare time I am taking on the long task of writing and doing so in a language which is not my own and in the present reality which seems so far from manual labor.

I am not a writer. I say it again. I am not a writer, but just a stone-cutter who has been looking for books about his work. I have found books about history, books about techniques, novels from other periods, but nothing about the present reality.
This is what I am: a strange man with a strange trade in a strange place at a strange time. Again, I am not a writer and English is a second language for me. I have to invent, transform or adapt the technique of writing to my mediocre knowledge of your spelling, your grammar etc… to do so I will use the material already in my possession and change nothing I mean nothing of that material.

Damn! After those simple sentences or introduction, I already feel honest about myself; and you wonder if I am really starting a book…

Yes I am. Because I am telling you about a stone-cutter a stonemason the trade, to which I belong at the present. It is not a novel or a long narrative about the past or a long explanation about techniques.

Right now, I feel moved by the crispy sound of the pen on this page. I feel moved in the same way with my chisel and hammer on a piece of limestone or marble. You see we are talking about a long journey. Do not be so impatient; I am not a master of the language.

Sometimes my father kept me awake talking about the Roman Empire and the remains scattered across the valley twenty miles away. In that small city, Tebessa, which was a part of the Roman Empire "Paleochristiens", lived. My father kept me awake with long conversations about "Carthage."

In the darkest nights of my native country, we lived in a place surrounded by small mountains or hills with very large valleys near the desert or not far from the desert. We felt the heat of the days, the heat of the evenings. We were happy with our simple life in the mining town even if sometimes during our conversations mortar shells fell on the ground near our house near the village. Therefore, we talked about the damage, the reasons, the consequences, and the politics, but we always came back to the “Paleochristiens”, Carthage, and the Roman Empire.

Moreover, every second Sunday we made a trip to the small city of Tebessa and visited the ruins, the basilica that stands above the ruins in the valley, with the roof and some walls nonexistent today. We could see the surrounding scenery and again we were happy. It seemed to me, that I did not understand my father. I guess because as a miner he learned long ago to keep his worries to himself. Today I, myself have to learn to use the same "body language" which is silence. Even during long conversations, you have to guess or do your homework to know or understand what I am really saying.

I wish I could say more or if you wish to know more about that place of my happy adolescence, imagine a small mining town near the desert near a small ancient city with a mosque in the town square surrounded by stonewalls left by the Roman Empire.

Imagine a father and a son... imagine a war... imagine a kind of happiness. There is nothing strange about it…it is just life…simple life in a time of war.

I could go on forever about that period, episode of fifty-six years of love but it would not be fair or honest for what I intend to do here.

I just forgot to tell you that I was born and baptized in a small town and church from the eleventh century in a village in the French countryside.

This small village will come back here in time the time where it belongs.

Imagine a Sunday, two men; an adult and an adolescent walking in an archeological site talking and learning together, stopping near a sarcophagus or caressing the acanthus leaves of a capital sometimes with a book sometimes with a camera.

Imagine those same walks for eight consecutive years and you will see the books growing and the pictures multiplied by… and because of the war in the country you will find a fair amount of mortar shells. Between the beauty of the stones from the past and the harsh reality of the present you can find out how the young adolescent would have to one day confront the world, his own world not his father's world.
Read between the lines of what I have just written. This adolescent is not alone. Some others were living the same experiences at the same time. Some did before us, some would later on and some do, even now, in the present.

"Les pierres parlent quelquefois…"

Stones sometimes talk … They talk or carry with them the phantoms or presence of men from a different who used tools. We could see their work and discuss the hands and the different personalities who used to shape or model the stones of our Sunday walks.

Father and son used to talk about all that and fifty-six years later the same words the same sounds carry the memories of men…
With some love for mankind a strange love which is not the time yet to describe because everything has to be in place, in order..
Tonight the fourth of July the sound of mortar is all around the city where I now live.

As in the past, the mortar shells, which are here now just fireworks, keep us awake as in the past and as in the past, I smoke two more cigarettes. Anxiety is coming back or nightmares and phantoms….

Human nature is a very strange mixture of dreams and reality. "Fireworks are here and real mortar shells abroad".

Do I love humankind? Do not ask… you will find out by yourself… if you keep going.

And the father was talking about stones and history and the son was listening. Together they still walk in the remains of the Roman Empire and the mortar shells keep falling… it's just the fourth of July.
Eventually every dream every reality has to change. The father became sick and passed away. I lived in the midst of beauty for eight consecutive years. I took the plane another time and left our Sunday walks where they belong. I found myself in my country as an adult almost without regrets but with a little pain I guess and now, I had to learn to be someone else myself but somehow different.

In southern France, I went to visit my paternal grandmother many times until she herself passed away from pain. My father had been her loving son.

What am I talking about? Does this have something to do with stone-cutting or stone masonry?

I have told you to be patient.

The Sunday walks were gone. Some others were yet to come.

Let me tell you again I have never found a book about present-day stone-cutting except long, long narratives about history or explanations about techniques.

Do not forget stone-cutting is still a present existing trade with real people.
I am one of them.

In southern France after the death of two close very close people what could an old adolescent be expected to do? After the time of pain and grief…you will say… become an adult… Yes, I was perhaps a little disturbed, but at that time, it was the sixties. Many people were disturbed.

At the age of eighteen, perhaps I was an adult but one without moral support and in a different land which was my own or just the land where I had been born. I walked with my mother in the streets of our little town.

I found indifference. I went to a school where I had missed many courses… The heart of that town was a mixture of housing from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This was more appealing.

Because of the precedent but in loneliness and in silence I learned once again to read the tool marks on the limestone.
Today I remember all the details, every corner, the marks of the tools and the marks of the wind. Provence is the land of wind the "Mistral." No one can escape its bite and the blue of the sky. The deepest blue I have ever seen anywhere. I walked in the streets; I walked in the towns, met people of my own age and found nothing appealing in those ephemeral relations.

It was the sixties, I learned to hitchhike and finally like the wind I was free. Provence is the land of the wind, but also the land of the gypsies. I was ten years old when I left the country by myself for the first time to see my father, the miner, somewhere far in the south.

Because there was no money or just a little left over from my father, I would be alone on the road looking for stones. Because of Provence, the wind and the colors I always carried a piece of paper, a pencil, and a box of watercolors.

I traveled from Germany to Italy, but always found myself
back in Provence. Finally, after some difficult years I left school.

One day I found the Camargue, and a Gypsy girl and her brothers. I want to save the name for me, but in the same way, I want them to remember, to know how much I owe. I guess they still live in the same town.
Here, now because of the reasons for this talk and myself in Provence I have to mention another town, Cucuron, where finally I found a kind of love or shall I say sympathy for an old adolescent or a young adult.

Pierre, Nelly, Jean-Claude, Michel, you will be in my heart for a long time; you helped me to find myself as a painter, if not as good drawer, or a draft person. In your own way, every one of you gave me something to control the hand, the mind, the body, and the sensibility. What I owe to you has no value except to say thank you.

In this little village I often went to the church, not a beauty, but like all churches, a place of silence, I cried often, not for me anymore, I was too old for that type of self pity, but I was crying for all the pain that mankind must endure. There is still a wooden Christ in that church who cannot talk, but remembers a young man stopping by and looking to find a mark on his body, the "wounds" of the tools. With my eyes I caressed the volume of his feet, the space around his body and learned a great deal of values of the plastic arts. I wish to remember every aspect of that body; memories, smells, vision, tactile, etc... are always connected to our knowledge of words and syntax, and I am not good at that game.

I was a painter and finally ended up in Avignon for a time, a city of the Middle Ages and more.
I found myself in Aix-en-Provence with many books about painting, techniques and theories from the sixties, which I never totally mastered. Perhaps I was always looking for stones maybe in memory of the father and our Sunday walks.

I was alone looking for a mother who could not understand her son. I love the mother; I still do in a strange way. I was alone looking for a mother and I found women. In many ways, they helped me to become myself and I have a lot of respect for them. I still do. I used to caress their bodies as I used to caress the body of the stone Venus somewhere in the town at the time of the father and son's Sunday walks. I followed them to the university and to the "Ecole des Beaux Arts", it is no use to say their names, too many but everyone in her own way helped me to understand human nature.

Finally, one day I walked to the Cathedral and its beauty slapped me in the face. I was wounded and I cried again. I could not hold the pain.
All these wandering years with the visage of the father and the last year with his weakened body but the spirit so high, what is left?
The grandmother in her deathbed with the pain of the disappeared son, what is left?
The mother with her weaknesses, who am I to judge?
All the friends trying to say what I should do.
All the young women with their sharp minds and their open bodies, what happened to them?

We are talking about stones. I have not forgotten, but I also did not forget about stones in the present time and the life of a stone-cutter.

I believe I will be one of them for a long time to come whatever happens to me.

I am listening your music you gypsy girl who gave me love one day with your mind. Because your brothers, your family, and your tradition… I am a "Gadje" good for nothing, but I feel your heart your pain your wandering and all the reasons and history behind. I feel like you coming from the past from another land wandering and trying to love and knowing nothing is lost or totally lost; and walking on a Sunday afternoon giving a caress to some stone with a strange shape.

Being able to recognize the different personalities and different ethnicity in a different time is a difficult task. Memorizing all the differences, the tools, stones, brass, steel, the pounding hammers and you will see how different times, different ages, different stones, different sites give birth to different shapes, different volumes, and different spaces.
I walk into the Cathedral and it was like walking into an open wound an open body and I felt on my face a river of tears but I was a man or old enough to believe or not to believe…

I grew up in a Catholic family but at an early age, I saw father struggling with fellow miners for a better standard of living, better welfare and security. I heard countless conversations, arguments, "mise au points" strategies to protect all that had been gained. All that was about politics, what we call politics in the real world yesterday and today's world. We did not have the time to consider religion except for some lectures about history from an early age of humankind.
We visited the churches once a year or maybe every two years for baptisms or marriages.
Spirituality etc… were considered in our conversations but never an option for the present.

In the church, the dark atmosphere of the "gigantesque" volume tried to push me down.
I wiped my face.
So what “the Hell” was I crying for?
I chased away all phantoms and walked straight into the heart of the open body.

I was myself again just paying my respects to the past and seeing mankind in the present and myself related by some kind of sensibility to all stones of the world, stones modeled, shaped, cut, polished, hammered, used or not, by the hands of men of different origins. I saw the time the pain the struggle of living or the difficulties of living of those men and I said that to myself I wish I could... I spent some time in the wounded body, talked to a priest and was amazed by the culture of this man. I said to myself maybe I am just lucky.

I went out and realized somebody was working nearby. It was the sound of what seemed to be a hammer. I went closer and watched for a long, long time. I went back the next day and realized not only all the patience of that worker but also the sweat and the fatigue.

I said to myself I will not back away from that.
That was it and from that day on, I like to say that it was the beginning of my life. There is no use for details except to say that I decided to try to open all doors useful for fulfilling not a dream or an abstract conversation about stones and stone-cutting but to make myself one of them – a stone-cutter stonemason and I can still say I was I am lucky.
I am still in a different manner, in a different way. I still carry my load, of tools, my load of dust, my load of sweat.
I have done so for the past thirty years…
In addition, for what I intend to do here with these pages I would like to say there is no use for details anymore.

Therefore, the last word about personal details would be; after the cathedral, I went to pay my respects at my father's grave and at my grandmother's grave. I never knew how to pray but I stopped by the little church from the eleventh century and memorized the tool marks on the stones.

If you know how to read between the lines, you can now find out where I am coming from and you can imagine where I am going to lead you in the coming pages.
It is up to you to decide if you want to leave this book open or to close it.
It is just the beginning of the pain the difficult task of becoming and being a stone-cutter.

So I gave away all left over paints, drawings, sketches, etc. and I hitchhiked to the city where I had been sent to learn the trade of stone-cutting. And lucky me again when I presented myself behind the desk I found "Marcel B..." with eyes of intelligence and a mind sharp enough to adjust to everyone of his students. There were fourteen of us at that time. He was astute enough to determine which among us would work the best together as partners. Intelligence is somehow easy to see to detect. You just need to be awake… or looking for it and you can rarely make a mistake.

Marcel B…. more than a mentor will be a reference for life and open-mindedness for years to come.

Stones were not abstract, intellectual, or mystical identities anymore. Soon enough they became our sweat our pain our blood and the fourteen men in the shop school became a part of an extended family in different ways, sharing the same love, the same passion and so for a small year we learned how to use the basic traditional tools.

Those were and still are the tools used in the past and used today…

We learned a new lexicon and a new vocabulary. We learned to share the weight of the stone and the fatigue for the same assignment.
We worked in partners. Each partner-group was assigned exactly the same project. Therefore, in our school of fourteen men the same project was to be replicated seven times. Seven pairs of men or seven teams were asked to finish the project by a certain date. There were no excuses for being late on that project nor were there any excuses for finishing early.

"No possibility of starting early in the morning and no way of finishing late that was our way of living in our training shop".

The workshop-school was open and closed everyday at the same time. There was no help from another team and no help from the partner. Today sometimes, I wish I had some pictures of that happy time of learning but life goes on and the pictures are here in my mind… good memories are worth one hundred pictures.

Anyways Marcel is in my heart forever as are my father and all (men and women who shared without condition a little of what they believed to be right)
Days were long with fatigue and short with enthusiasm. Fourteen hammers and chisels click clacking on the stones.
We learned how to cut stones, soft stones (limestone) for the first two months.
Falgairette what are you doing? How could he know that I had stopped pounding with my hammer with all that noise? Fourteen hammers. One missing, how do you sense the difference? But, he did and I was back to my work with the left hand numb from days of holding the hammer but also with the little finger feeling like a little stick, useless and bloody. After one week, the left arm ready to give up but Marcel was there to push us and give us the reason of this daily routine pain, to tell us live with it now and very soon that pain will disappear.

We were not just cutting stones. We also learned a great deal of drawing or drafting, specialized drafting "stereotomie" development on flat surfaces of different kinds of volumes. The physical labor was compensated by Marcel’s ability to feed the needs of the mind… intellectual mind.

Today I am writing or speaking about this experience in another language. How do I feel about it? I do not know yet and if I do, it is not time to talk about it but time to start thinking. Questions always appear. Answers always come later after reflection.

For sure, nothing was easy and we knew there was a long way to go; practicing, cutting, drafting but also basics about history. It was up to us to look farther and we were in a rich town or city or a rich region with a long history of buildings. The Loire Valley, Dominique Franchet, my partner in the shop and I spent so many evenings wandering in the city, looking for stones of the past.
This was not something new; I had also had a wealth of experiences with my father. Now I knew about the tools of men and I knew the effects of all of them on stones.

Even if the men of the past will stay forever anonymous I can recognize their personality, quick work , sloppy work, easy work, fast work good work etc… studied work, regular patterns, equilibrium in the pattern of the marks and I can recognize a good composition lost somewhere on this wall. A stone can stand alone and give to that wall the symphony it deserves.

It was all about techniques and lectures from the past, which would forever modify our bodies, and our minds, which would teach us humility and force us to say thank you after a long day of labor. All this learning was about stone, which assume an independent life, an anonymous life, in its final setting on the wall where it belongs.

We knew from the start our names would be lost - our personalities if we had some understanding would be marked or inserted forever in stone. From this year of training, I have forgotten all names except those of my teacher and my partner. We were all coming from different places, and different origins. We returned maybe or moved from place to place from work site to work site like gypsies or free men but as the nobility of the trades, the nobility of masonry. We would carry forever our squares, our compasses, and our plumb lines, our chisels, our hammers, the basics.

These basics would be our weapons, but as with all weapons, we would have to use them with intelligence and respect for the men who had come before us and maybe for the men who would come after us.

During this year of training, we had our Sundays or weekends to rest, but Dominique F. and I were always running from city to city, sleeping under bridges, and sometimes in our car, other times when we had a little money in a cheap hotel room. Again, we were happy in our discovery of churches, castles, master houses and even cemeteries.

We wanted to see everything we possibly could. We knew this time would end and not be compensated by a diploma that would give us too much. We would only receive a piece of paper- a certificate that would say, we had completed our training.
I pay my respects to the place, the country which even in the twentieth century places men, learning men where they belong. Humility stands in front of the past and in front of the future.
We all knew now that tools would be an extension of our hands.
Finally, during the last week, we had our last exam. Everyone had the same assignment. I still remember that we had to make a window seal, the one we use in Europe "in masonry".

So many hours for drawing
"We had only so many hours for cutting and finishing our project, not too little, and not too much".
ALL measurements were given and we had a margin of error of half millimeter. Tensions were high. We had to demonstrate our learning, which now was just the beginning of "knowledge".
No weak hands, no slippery hands, no chipping, no escape… we were a part of the new generation. We had to demonstrate our ability to pass our trade on to the future. However, before we had to show that we were able to duplicate a work, which belonged to our rich heritage. After all the country paid for our training; we were adult enough to know that everything has a price, but with different priorities. Here in this workshop- school it was the mastery of a trade as old as the temple of Solomon. We were the first Jews, the first Christians, the first Muslims, the first and the last.

We were the ones who would have to carry on the tradition of the Romanesque period, the Gothic period, the Renaissance as well as the "L'age des Lumieres ". We were in the tradition of learned men, not so much yet may be never, but we knew we were a part of the encyclopedia. We were in the tradition of Descartes, Diderot, D'alembert, Montesquieu, Voltaire, but we knew we were all living in a different world: the twentieth century. We would have to adapt our tools. We understood the years to come would be as difficult as the past year but with our new ability to understand, we believed that it would not be so hard to adapt.
You see somewhere before I tell you… be patient. It is a long journey about a stone-cutter stonemason. You see everything happens with patience and patience I ask for little more. It is just the beginning.

The year of learning passed
The year of learning ended
We all left. How many are still with their hammers and chisels?
Every one of us went in different directions and I have lost contact with them all, but I know from the heart that everyone still remembers our year with Marcel.
Everyone left and from now on there will be no more private anecdotes, private relations, and private encounters. Except maybe one or two, everyone was gone and I was alone with my tools in a large bag, a present from Marcel "the school." These are the tools which thirty years later I still use almost everyday. Yes, the bag is larger today. - So many job sites, so many shops, so many quarries so much fatigue… Nevertheless, everything has to come in time and find its own place.

I was alone again in the street, on the side of the road, no one to talk to, and no one to share. I walked across the city past the monuments I use to visit in the company of Dominique Franchet.
No time to waste anymore, I was going back to Provence for a retreat, a time of reflection.
I now find the desire to compare between what I have just learned and what is going to pass on my way. Everything was new. I went to compare and see the impact on stone of different treatments, different men, different climates, and different geographical regions.

It was also my past. I wanted to find out how my new apprenticeship, my new learning, my new knowledge would affect the rest of my life. As for these pages, will I give them to you or save them for myself?

Provence is a great place and I found myself on the mountain walking alone in some small villages as you know now, looking for stones, shapes, shades, colors, geological origins, grains, tools, compositions on the walls not the fancy large compositions good for tourists. I was looking for simple arches, doors, arched windows, lintels, cornices, steps, and doors. Doors are the most appealing. They represent a rite of passage. Either you are outside or you are inside. They are open or they are closed. You are protected or you are left in the wild. For now, the door was just beginning to open.

I visited some quarries and started to understand my coming work in the present world. There were no more dreams and no more intellectual speculations just working men. In the world of the manual laborer there exists just work, work for survival. You have to find spare time on your own. I would have to if I wanted to maintain my mental sanity. I also understood that this self-protection would have a price.

Until now, I had been protected by some kind of luck or something…

I bowed myself before the world and with my tools I made up my mind to work as a stone-cutter, stonemason. After all, since childhood I had been walking on stones.

After this retreat after this understanding after all the comparisons I had wanted to make, I went back to the Loire Valley. I found a job in a small shop and my life as a stone-cutter began…

What joy what pain, after the year of learning with Marcel and the long conversations about restorations and the past I was in the real world making fireplaces? I did that for brief year and the only restoration we made was a window, a rose window for a small church somewhere in a little village. That was a great opportunity

During my first year of work, I can affirm that I was able to understand what workers have to endure. After that nothing, I was back to the routine of fireplaces. What a pity! After all those years of wandering and searching, I stayed some more weeks, not too many and left. I was leaving again. Making fireplaces was good, but I had to have a change in scenery. I found myself working all around the country and learning some different tricks of the trade but more importantly working with different types of stones. In two years, I had so many bosses and went to so many job sites. I have forgotten the names.

After wandering back again, to the Loire Valley, I decided to have my own place to work and I did for seven years.
I did some minor restorations, many fireplaces again; fountains, stairs, windows and more…seven years of work and solitude, physical fatigue helped me to learn the reality of life. Nothing more to say, people will recognize themselves. No use to mention their names, their towns, their cities, I was alone and solitary always looking to the past and watching our present. I tried to imagine our future and in some way tried to understand how we could connect our work with the notion of the market economy and the new machinery.

For that, I gave up everything.
Some connections helped me to become the practitioner of stone for a "Professor of drawing" of the University of Paris. I did carve a monument for him in a school of the "Vendee Region."
I did this carving in a quarry in 1980 if my memory is right.
How far I was from the present reality… but somehow I believed something was still living in the heart of humankind.

For some years, I kept working for different quarries in the regions of Provence.

I traveled a lot in Italy, Tuscany, and some other places around the Mediterranean Sea.
I stayed in the shade working, trying to understand our "Fucking" world… becoming the world that we know today… I owe so much to those places from the past and from the present… but if, I have no mercy for myself, I have no mercy for the world….

One day I found myself in the Cathedral of Chartres one more time…

Like in the past, I felt the same astonishment inside the Nave, not the details anymore but a larger picture.

I found myself in the Romanesque Region for that one I save the name for myself. It is a sacred place, what a beauty!

With all those times, I feed myself with the memory of, my father, for Marcel…

With my tools, I always found a piece of stone to cut for everyone on the road... This gave me a little more understanding until the place, space or volume became too narrow. I carried my hands, tools, from the past and used the machinery from the present.
I look at the results today in the shop where I work but that is another story for later.

Let me tell you, one day I had run out of space, so I left and found myself far away from home here in the place where I am writing and working in the present time. The west coast of California, I am happy here I guess or I was with the ability to go back once every year or two….
For so many years, I was looking for a major work or something which would keep me alive forever… and which wouldn't be to please the megalomania of some kinds of rich fellows.
Damn! Weeks ago, I got a blue print. It is the best blue print I have ever encountered in this country, which is a little my own. I have lived here for so long.

I got a blue print, a huge major work, with a human scale but too much for one man.
I had to see my boss. I had to see my shop.

It has been almost thirty years now that I have lived with my chisels and hammers. With a body tired but a mind as sharp as ever it is not too pretentious to say that I have a body of works that can compete with yours.
I am not envious of anything and after all, I prefer the shadows of a nice corner to the full light of center stage. I know for sure that my chisels can talk and I have the pretension of being the mind of this fine, fine piece of metal.

Years ago I was walking passing by, stopping by "Notre Dame" of Paris, of Chartres, of Arles… and some others and what struck me were the doors. I was and I am sure every one of us with a little sensibility – find, experience feel- the same sentiment vision of the world – I am not a scholar I am not a man of letters – just a stone-cutter a stonemason. I have already said it but I have to remind myself.
What struck me was a vision of the world with some hidden meanings. I am not here to discuss that… I am here to discuss a stone-cutter who spends a long part of his life pushing a tool to make an inert material able to talk about humanity.

In front of the portal of "Notre Dame" I found hidden meanings, I looked for, and I felt it and it disappeared so many times.
However, life goes on, life is present, and the present has nothing to hide. I am just a stone-cutter with strange sentiments in front of "Notre Dame"… with strange sentiments in the front of the "Porte of Caracala"… some time long, long ago with the my father.

I am here today still feeling and trying to understand the same love and hate, the two extremes, which possess humankind.

One day some years ago, I fell to my knees. It was another door, not a church, not a building, just a door.

Who can believe that… paradise on the portals of churches with hidden meanings… “hell” on the door with no opening or opening going nowhere?

(If I remember well Rodin himself worked sometime as a kind of stone-cutter or practitioner of stone works for someone somewhere in Belgium and I feel a connection…)

How much I owe to all these men, how lucky I am, how much I paid, how many times I gave a part of my soul as well as a part of my pain my body my blood, How many times in the twentieth century?
I see the "Thinker" on the tympanum of the "Gate of Hell", I see the three shadows above his head, I see myself, and I see a monster.

The slavery of antiquity, the (paradise) of Christianity with serfdom, the "Age des Lumieres" and the beginning of industrialization the "Gate of Hell" and the solitude of mankind, the machinery of our time and the disappearance of intelligent labor and here I was and here I am… what more?...

What more… listen…!

I have just finished talking about the past, now for the present. The present my present with the pretension of myself being able to guide my tools along a fine line which determines the shape of the stone coming and enough humility to follow the guidance of intelligent men, men who can share, men who I can share with, men who can speak the same language…

"Les pierres parlent quelquefois"
"Stones talk sometimes"
Men who are able to understand the language of stones, men with trades, having a trade is not a simple visit, a tourist's visit with a camera. Men with a trade it is men with years of sweat, pain and humility, it is the life of a stone-cutter.

Today with this machinery, I feel like Don Quixote, a man coming from the Middle Ages in the beginning of the Renaissance period. Here I am with the pretension of knowledge, the knowledge of my hand fighting against machinery and priorities on money. Here I am again with my solitude and a large, a very large thank you to all the men and women who have helped me to become myself as a stone-cutter. Today with an unexpected present, a possible project which could be the dream or the reality of people like myself or myself twenty years ago or even today.

-Twenty-nine large windows for a monastery, twenty large windows in a first phase plus so much more to come in different campaigns-

Here I am looking for help.

Here I am working for a shop where machinery and money become every day more and more the reason of life.

Here I am a Don Quixote of the twenty-first century.

Here I understand the reason, which runs the shop.

Here I am with some health problems but a mind I believe still to be sharp.

Here I am giving up the dream of a lifetime because the structure of the society is not equipped for taking a risk… this society, which for more than half a century has given up its responsibility of the education of men.

Machinery does just what it is made for; money as a goal
will produce money and nothing more.

Here I am looking for help in a society of megalomaniac builders where the goals are machines and machines equal money.

Here I am a tired "Don Quixote" stone-cutter with a wonderful drawing with no help in a society, which with each passing day is losing people like me.
I belong to that society and I am beginning to give up my dream.

Here I am looking for help in a society of megalomaniac builders where the goals are machines and machines equal money.
Here I am a tired "Don Quixote" stone-cutter with a wonderful drawing with no help in a society, which with each passing day is losing people like me.
I belong to that society and I am beginning to give up the dream.

Here I am a man of Antiquity who is ready to leave, who saw the war as an adolescent who sees the war again with a dream in his hands and says thank you to humankind.

You do not deserve it.

I will not give up, not the Architect, not the Monks, but the society, too much blood, too much pain.

Men of any origin deserve better.

Love for some, Hate for others ?.... What a question !...

To all men of all continents who share the same passions, Intelligent works as an expression of Life.

I will not give up yet as a stone-cutter. Somehow, you will see me again on the job site, but after that dream as a different person, without arrogance, without selfishness, but a little smile and a secret on the side...

For me today, no major work to show, like every one of us in this megalomaniac bloodthirsty society. I am just a part of a wall without names a wall with a shiny color and no real intelligence...

You will see me again on the job site and I will be gentle for humankind... I guess… if you are not coming too close to my real love: traditional stone-cutting.

So many questions are unanswered… You will see or read my writings again…