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My life inclined towards films

Jean-Claude Carrière


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Belief is stronger than knowledge

Jean-Claude Carrière - Film-maker

At the time of the French Revolution - we'll come back to it obviously - the most brilliant minds of the time, Robespierre and others, could not do without some supernatural belief. They felt it was necessary but most of their friends were calling for complete atheism... which seems obvious. They felt that a society – we can call it a democratic and republican society – still required some almighty powers as if to hang onto something, something without which our life would not be possible, would not be bearable. That is why Robespierre put together the Festival of the Supreme Being, not God, but Supreme Being, one month before being beheaded. Quite a ridiculous festival, taking place in Paris, and David the artist, had to design the uniforms for the notables of the time. That is where the issue is, to know… I have enjoyed studying religions, even though I am a complete unbeliever. A religion does not say anything about God, as He does not exist, but it says a lot about us. It says a lot about what we miss, what we yearn for, our frustrations, regrets, disappointments, deceptions, a vast amount on the shortness of our life and how very conscious we are of it, our inability to understand nothingness, which is something that our conscience stumbles over, and we are fully aware of this. If I had some ultimate power in any society, I don't think I would legally suppress religions, I would try to live with them, which is what most democratic countries do. The issue is that some religions, most of them, especially Islam today, try to impose some political vision on what is only a belief. In other words, belief is stronger than knowledge, that is what we need to know… for most of us, what we believe is stronger than what we know. And you need to accept it when you are in politics, which is not always easy. Every country, Poland like France, has had issues with... right now, in France, the burka issues, creating laws regarding clothing for Muslim women, this hasn't stopped and it never will stop, because this time it is based on nothing, it's absurd, it's based on nothing, it is so strong that it brings people to the point where they want to bend reality to something which by definition is unreal, that is to say, belief.

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Benoît Mandelbrot - Mathematician
John Maynard Smith - Scientist
Walter Murch - Film-maker
Michael Atiyah - Mathematician