5 things you did not know about Antoine Saint-Exupéry: Françoise Bastide at TEDxTarfaya

5 things you did not know about Antoine Saint-Exupéry: Françoise Bastide at TEDxTarfaya


Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Sue Kronenfeld We are at the Saint-Exupéry museum,
so I will speak in French. He is the most read
and most translated French writer in the whole world. Out of all the writers in the world,
out of all nationalities, he is the most read
and the most translated. Just to give you an idea, a small idea of who Saint-Exupéry is, his writings have been translated
into 26 different alphabets. 26 different alphabets. And 260 languages and dialects. Every 3 months,
a new translation comes out. This means that, on our planet, when a culture, no matter how isolated like the tribes of Papua New Guinea,
the Indians of the Gran Chaco, Eskimos, when they want to end their isolation
and connect with world culture, the first thing they do
is translate Saint-Exupéry. I have been asked to talk
about the secrets of Saint-Exupéry. The first secret comes from
when he was very young. He lost his father at the age of 4. That didn’t affect him too much. He was raised by a very sweet mother and an elderly aunt in a castle. And they were raised in freedom,
as you see them there There are two young children there. There are three girls. One, two, three. And here there are two boys. They have a two-year age difference. These two boys were alone
in an army of women. The aunt, the grandmother, the mother,
the nannies, the governesses. So, what did they do? They both developed a strong rivalry. They adored each other,
but they fought constantly. No, this is mine! No, that’s my bike! This is mine, that is mine and so on. And then one night, François,
aged 15, got sick. He was sick for almost a month. There weren’t many antibiotics,
he was coughing, etc. They got him a nurse, hoping
that the summer would cure him. They got him a private nurse in his room. And one night – I stress this
to help you understand Saint-Exupéry – One night he said to his nurse: “Go quickly and get my brother!” The nurse knocked on Antoine’s door
and said, “My lord count”, as he was the elder, “your brother wants to see you,
he is not well”. Antoine ran to his side,
“What is it, brother?” He hugged him; the boy was sweating, etc. He said to him,
“Write this down, I am dying.” Antoine said, “Don’t say that!
Don’t say that!” “I am dying and I want you
to write down what I am leaving you.” The gun, the toy train, children’s things. Antoine said, “No! Forget it! Get well!” He told him, “No, write it down!” And Antoine, forced to write, wrote. And his brother died that night. From that day Antoine
was never again materialistic. He learnt about human bonding. There he is. And the gaze you see is that of Latécoère. Latécoère was a gentleman who imagined what he would do with aeroplanes in a time when aviation did not yet exist. It was two wings held together
with piano wire, small engines and he thought,
“What can we do with that? We can follow the coastline
and from beach to beach we can follow the sea
and we can get far away.” And the dream was born. So Antoine’s second secret
is that we must always give life to our dreams. When you dream of something big, start doing it. If you don’t give life
to your dreams, they die. Latécoère invented commercial aviation before the materials existed. (Applause) What did Latécoère say? He said, “I have redone the calculations.” He confirmed the opinion
of the specialists. “Our idea is unfeasible. There is only one thing to do:
make it happen.” That means, young people, if you are told that your idea is unfeasible,
but you believe in it, the only thing you have to do,
even if the specialists say you can’t, is to get started. The proof: they succeeded. Antoine wrote, “What united us pilots was not the sum of our benefits
but the sum of our gifts.” That means when you tackle a project, be it an association, a business, if each person says, “That’s my property!” “This and that!” It will not work! But if you give, if you contribute, if you contribute to a community, or to an area before thinking of yourself. That’s when success is guaranteed. The desert could have killed them, but instead it inspired them. They owed their survival
to Arabic interpreters, like Ataf and Mermoz. They were in a totally
hostile environment. Nobody asked the Saharans their opinion about their flying over the Sahara. You know how it is,
a land without a master. They saw enormous birds
violating their sky. All they thought of
was to shoot them down. And they carried the post
to bring people together. For in those times, you could
only keep in touch by post. So then they discovered something. They discovered that there are enemies, but they also learned
that we should never hate. They discovered
that there are beings who form ties and could save your life. That is also a shame. Antoine spoke to the people
at the time, here in Tarfaya. He wrote: “If you want to understand people,
you should never listen to what they say.” Don’t worry about what people are saying. Try to go beyond that! Try to understand them in a different way. (Applause) He wrote a beautiful sentence. A very beautiful sentence. This photo shows Ataf,
who was the guide of Mermoz. He wrote, over 70 years ago: “If you are different from me, brother, if you are different from me, far from hurting me, far from robbing me, or pushing me down, you enrich me. You enrich me.” Our differences make me richer. And it’s my richness
that makes your difference. That means that today,
we still see things in the old way. We need to learn tolerance. But what does tolerance mean? It means, “I’m better, so I tolerate you.” that isn’t brotherhood. He introduced a wonderful idea behind it. If you are different, if we are different, we enrich each other. We see him here, writing. Writing was a cause of great pain for him. Why was it painful?
You know, all writers suffer. It caused him great pain,
because he re-wrote each work up to 30 times. He wrote, he threw away. He tortured his spirit and threw it away. Why? Because he was aware that he was writing for future generations. He wanted to be understood
by everyone on earth. He wanted to express himself
in a universal language. So he tortured himself
and didn’t chase success. Publishers were trying
to take his works away from him. He would say: “No, I am not ready yet. I don’t care whether you sell.
I’m not interested in that. I am talking to future generations.” He teaches us to understand the invisible. If each of us tried
to understand the invisible, I assure you
that we’d achieve the impossible. Because, in a book, it’s not the ink and the paper
that are important, it’s the meaning of the book. In a school, it’s not the building, but the quality and passion
of the teaching. Everything is that way. In a community you can build a castle, but how is it managed? How does it bring people together? Is there respect? The invisible is the important part. The post must go through. Obviously, the post
provided a sacred link. Now he did not have the technology, but he knew that the post must go through. So explain to me how
they managed to cross the desert. They did it. How they crossed the Atlantic
without the means? They did it. How they crossed the Andes?
They did it! Which means that in all human efforts, you should not worry about the means. Focus on the destination. The means will come. It’s the will that matters. (Applause) And so Mermoz invented night flights. They didn’t have the technology. They had to beat the train and the car. And show that aeroplanes
were something special. So Mermoz got to work,
without equipment. And he invented night flights. So, you see, each time you stop and think that it is not possible,
for lack of practical means, you are mistaken. You have to believe in life, have
the will and the future goal in sight, and then the practical means will come. Ah, “The Wisdom of the Sands”! In general, people keep away
from this book, because they find it too complicated. You see “The Little Prince”,
the most read book on the planet, was born in Tarfaya. “Wind, Sand and Stars” speaks about
the experiences in Tarfaya. “Southern Mail” was written here. So why is his first book
called “Southern Mail”? He was very disappointed in love. He was engaged to a young woman
called Louise de Vilmorin, a rich girl who abandoned him
because he wasn’t rich enough. She broke their engagement. He tells more or less this story
in the book “Southern Mail”. His book did not have a title. He was sitting there, not far. and he read a couple of sentences
to Mermoz, and Mermoz, as you know,
was a great airmail pilot, and also the director of The Line
before him in Tarfaya. “But I don’t have a title,” he said. Mermoz looked at the shelf where the southern mail bag was. And he said “Southern Mail”. That’s why it is called that. “The Wisdom of the Sands” talks
about guiding and cultivating people in order to avoid chaos. Today, if a prince… As Antoine was thinking of Morocco
when talking about an empire, because he lived there,
in the Moroccan empire If a prince examines
“The Wisdom of the Sands”, he will discover all he needs
to cultivate people and avoid chaos. He wrote at his desk on the day he died. The night before. “The future termite mound…” Termite mounds are built by huge ants. “The future termite mound frightens me;
if I return some day from this necessary but thankless duty,” meaning
flying a war plane, fighting the Germans to free his country. “Only one question will be asked of me.” This was his genius,
what he had inside him. What should one say to human beings? To make them become human beings? Well, one should tell them
that the essential things, the essence of things,
the nature of things, is invisible to the eye;
we only see well with the heart. We have to see reality
by closing our eyes. He wrote a wonderful sentence. Here you see the Casa Del Mar. If we learn this phrase, we will become
better versions of ourselves. “Expect absolutely nothing from a man if he strives for his own life, and not for his eternity.” If a man with responsibilities is working for his little, narrow,
material life, he will give nothing. But if a man works, acts, thinks, with a view to leaving
a legacy to his children to mark his time on this earth, this man will become something. Saint-Exupéry, advocate of transcendence. “Hello Tarfaya, Juby here. Respond… Hello Tarfaya…” He talks to us from a different time. And his message is still relevant. Let’s make the children
of Tarfaya, all of them, let’s make each child of Tarfaya a prince. Thank you.

10 Replies to “5 things you did not know about Antoine Saint-Exupéry: Françoise Bastide at TEDxTarfaya”

  1. I wish my French was better.  Can anyone sum up the 5 things? Or provide a link to a translation?

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