Villa Stein by Le Corbusier (1927), Paris, France - the metropolitan Museum
The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, Robert Doisneau, 1950
Stephen William Hawking is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.
Among his significant scientific works have been a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularities theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vocal supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
He struggled a lot with his health. Hawking had experienced increasing clumsiness during his final year at Oxford, including a fall on some stairs and difficulties when rowing. The problems worsened, and his speech became slightly slurred; his family noticed the changes when he returned home for Christmas and medical investigations were begun. The diagnosis of motor neurone disease came when Hawking was 21. At the time doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years.
During the late 1960s, Hawking's physical abilities declined once again: he began to use crutches and ceased lecturing regularly. As he slowly lost the ability to write, he developed compensatory visual methods, including seeing equations in terms of geometry.
Monday dawned warm and rainless. Aurelio Escovar, a dentist without a degree, and a very early riser, opened his office at six. He took some false teeth, still mounted in their plaster mold, out of the glass case and put on the table a fistful of instruments which he arranged in size order, as if they were on display. He wore a collarless striped shirt, closed at the neck with a golden stud, and pants held up by suspenders He was erect and skinny, with a look that rarely corresponded to the situation, the way deaf people have of looking.
When he had things arranged on the table, he pulled the drill toward the dental chair and sat down to polish the false teeth. He seemed not to be thinking about what he was doing, but worked steadily, pumping the drill with his feet, even when he didn't need it.
After eight he stopped for a while to look at the sky through the window, and he saw two pensive buzzards who were drying themselves in the sun on the ridgepole of the house next door. He went on working with the idea that before lunch it would rain again. The shrill voice of his elevenyear-old son interrupted his concentration.
"The Mayor wants to know if you'll pull his tooth."
"Tell him I'm not here."
He was polishing a gold tooth. He held it at arm's length, and examined it with his eyes half closed. His son shouted again from the little waiting room.
"He says you are, too, because he can hear you."
The dentist kept examining the tooth. Only when he had put it on the table with the finished work did he say:
"So much the better."
He operated the drill again. He took several pieces of a bridge out of a cardboard box where he kept the things he still had to do and began to polish the gold.
He still hadn't changed his expression.
"He says if you don't take out his tooth, he'll shoot you."
Without hurrying, with an extremely tranquil movement, he stopped pedaling the drill, pushed it away from the chair, and pulled the lower drawer of the table all the way out. There was a revolver. "O.K.," he said. "Tell him to come and shoot me."
He rolled the chair over opposite the door, his hand resting on the edge of the drawer. The Mayor appeared at the door. He had shaved the left side of his face, but the other side, swollen and in pain, had a five-day-old beard. The dentist saw many nights of desperation in his dull eyes. He closed the drawer with his fingertips and said softly:
"Good morning," said the Mayor.
"Morning," said the dentist.
While the instruments were boiling, the Mayor leaned his skull on the headrest of the chair and felt better. His breath was icy. It was a poor office: an old wooden chair, the pedal drill, a glass case with ceramic bottles. Opposite the chair was a window with a shoulder-high cloth curtain. When he felt the dentist approach, the Mayor braced his heels and opened his mouth.
Aurelio Escovar turned his head toward the light. After inspecting the infected tooth, he closed the Mayor's jaw with a cautious pressure of his fingers.
"It has to be without anesthesia," he said.
"Because you have an abscess."
The Mayor looked him in the eye. "All right," he said, and tried to smile. The dentist did not return the smile. He brought the basin of sterilized instruments to the worktable and took them out of the water with a pair of cold tweezers, still without hurrying. Then he pushed the spittoon with the tip of his shoe, and went to wash his hands in the washbasin. He did all this without looking at the Mayor. But the Mayor didn't take his eyes off him.
It was a lower wisdom tooth. The dentist spread his feet and grasped the tooth with the hot forceps. The Mayor seized the arms of the chair, braced his feet with all his strength, and felt an icy void in his kidneys, but didn't make a sound. The dentist moved only his wrist. Without rancor, rather with a bitter tenderness, he said:
"Now you'll pay for our twenty dead men."
The Mayor felt the crunch of bones in his jaw, and his eyes filled with tears. But he didn't breathe until he felt the tooth come out. Then he saw it through his tears. It seemed so foreign to his pain that he failed to understand his torture of the five previous nights.
Bent over the spittoon, sweating, panting, he unbuttoned his tunic and reached for the handkerchief in his pants pocket. The dentist gave him a clean cloth.
"Dry your tears," he said.
The Mayor did. He was trembling. While the dentist washed his hands, he saw the crumbling ceiling and a dusty spider web with spider's eggs and dead insects. The dentist returned, drying his hands. "Go to bed," he said, "and gargle with salt water." The Mayor stood up, said goodbye with a casual military salute, and walked toward the door, stretching his legs, without buttoning up his tunic.
"Send the bill," he said.
"To you or the town?"
The Mayor didn't look at him. He closed the door and said through the screen:
"It's the same damn thing."
'One of These Days'
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Les hommages à Henri Alleg
L’Etat français devrait reconnaître officiellement la torture en Algérie
La disparition de Henri Alleg a suscité de nombreuses réactions et hommages en France. A commencer par celle du président de la République. «A travers l’ensemble de son œuvre, il s’affirma comme un anticolonialiste ardent» souligne François Hollande qui ajoute : «Son livre, la Question, alerta notre pays sur la réalité de la torture en Algérie. Toute sa vie, Henri Alleg lutta pour que la vérité soit dite en restant constamment fidèle à ses principes et à ses conviction.»
«Le peuple et le mouvement progressiste algérien perdent un grand ami, un grand combattant de sa cause, de celle de la liberté et de l’anti-racisme», écrit pour sa part Patrick Le Hyaric, député européen, directeur de l’Humanité, qui fait une double demande. La première est que «le meilleur hommage que pourrait lui rendre aujourd’hui même l’Etat français serait de reconnaître enfin officiellement la torture en Algérie et les crimes de guerre». La seconde demande est que «ce serait aussi d’ouvrir les archives pour qu’éclate la vérité sur le sort du jeune mathématicien Maurice Audin, arrêté la veille de l’arrestation de Henri Alleg». «Résistant à toutes les formes de domination et d’oppression, Henri Alleg a été du combat fondamental du XXe siècle pour l’émancipation du genre humain que fut la lutte anticoloniale», a déclaré Pierre Laurent, Secrétaire national du Pari communiste français. Pour sa part, Harlem Désir, Premier Secrétaire du Parti socialiste a exprimé sa «grande tristesse» en soulignant que «Henri Alleg n’aura eu de cesse de défendre l’émancipation du peuple algérien, la liberté de la presse, la dignité humaine face à la barbarie et à l’injustice».
Pour sa part le Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (Mrap) «tient à rendre hommage à ce grand militant anticolonial» et souligne : «Henri Alleg, engagé dans le combat contre le racisme notamment colonial, pour l’égalité entre les hommes et les peuples, ainsi que pour la paix, l’indépendance et la démocratie en Algérie, restera dans nos mémoires comme symbole de courage et de justice.»
Des dizaines d’autres messages d’hommages ont été rendus publics, émanant du Maire de Paris, de la Ligue des droits de l’Homme, de personnalités politiques, d’avocats, d’associations, etc…
'Henri Alleg, auteur de "La Question", est mort':
'De Gaulle trouve en Malraux son bras droit, 26 juillet 1958'
Sous des cheveux trop lourds, figure étroite et mate,
Votre sourire est mystérieux et cruel...
Vos doigts laissent aux doigts une odeur d'aromate
Je sens que votre bouche a l'odeur du bétel...
La joie ou la douleur de vivre surabonde
En vos yeux adorés, enviés, décriés...
Apre et doux petit dieu, vous allez par le monde,
Toute la vie en vous reflue - et vous criez!
Vous allez, bel oiseau, sans jamais atterir,
Renversant votre cou tiède et doux de colombe,
Et criant aux désirs assaillants: je succombe!
Un Dieu, pour vous, peut-être, oublia de mourir...
Adolescence libertine et caressée,
Forme suave, grave et fine de l'Amour,
Que de femmes vont appeler dans ce soir lourd
Les irritants baisers de vos lèvres gercées...
6 mars 1911
Photo: Jean Cocteau