By Felix Rohatyn,
James O. Freedman, Paul
Germain, Yves Quéré,
Hélène Carrère d'Encausse,
The first Stated Meeting in the 220-year history of the Academy to
be held outside the United States took place at the residence of the US
Ambassador to France on June 6, 2000. President James O. Freedman and Executive
Officer Leslie Berlowitz led a delegation of American Fellows that included
Councilor James Kinsey (Rice University) and former Western Center Vice
President Jesse Choper (University of California, Berkeley). The Paris meeting
was attended by Foreign Honorary Members representing many different fields and
professions, including physicist Pierre Aigrain, philosopher Jacques Derrida,
anthropologist Mary Douglas, geneticist Francois Jacob, composer Betsy Jolas,
and sociologist Wolf Lepenies.
In his words of welcome, Felix Rohatyn, Ambassador of the United
States to France and an Academy Fellow, spoke of the current state of
Franco-American relations, particularly with respect to the globalization of
ideas and culture. Academy President James O. Freedman responded with a note of
appreciation to the French for providing a model for a fledgling Academy in
America and went on to describe the Academy's current programs in the context
of the role intellectuals must play in a democratic society.
Representatives of the Institut de France, the Académie des
sciences, and the Académie française presented greetings on
behalf of their historic institutions. Also in attendance were representatives
of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Society of
London, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Polish Academy of Sciences. The
meeting concluded with a poetry reading by Adam Zagajewski, the leading Polish
poet of his generation. A Foreign Honorary Member now resident in France,
Zagajewski teaches each spring in the writing program of the University of
The Academy is grateful to the Susan and Elihu Rose Foundation for
its generous support of this first Stated Meeting in Europe. In conjunction
with the Paris meeting, guests were invited to a lecture tour of the National
Museum of Franco-American Cooperation at the Chateau de Blerancourt, made
possible by John Young of the Florence Gould Foundation of New York. In
addition, Foreign Honorary Member Pierre Rosenberg, president-director of the
Musee du Louvre, welcomed members of the group for tours of the classical
archaeology rooms and the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Spanish and
Italian rooms at the Louvre.
Following is a condensed version of the remarks presented in Paris:
By The Honorable Felix Rohatyn
President Freedman, distinguished members of the American Academy,
representatives of your sister Académies in Europe, and honored guests,
I want to welcome you to this special occasion.
The intellectual partnership between the United States and France
can be traced back to the French ideas that inspired the American Declaration
of Independence. Today I would like to make a few observations on the current
state of the French-American relationship, based on my last three years as
ambassador here. First, the relationship is changing as Europe moves toward
integration. Today's Europe is testimony to the power of ideas and imagination
- the ideas of Jean Monnet. The Euro has been criticized occasionally, but I
believe the Euro has been a great success, and that it has created new economic
growth, financial stability, and greater employment throughout Europe. The
political barriers ahead to further enlargement and integration are difficult,
but they can and will be overcome. Europe is now halfway across the river to
integration, and there is no turning back. The United States will support this
process, as it has since the days of the Marshall Plan.
Second, the French-American relationship is changing as new
interactions are formed between cities, regions, businesses, and institutions.
Today, nearly half a million French people work for American companies, and
about the same number of Americans work for French firms. Our economies and
markets are closely interconnected, and that link will be strengthened in the
new century as we move toward an economy without any borders. In France, we
have opened new offices in dynamic French regionsin Lyon, in Toulouse,
and in Rennes, with two more to come in Bordeaux and Lille. New relationships
are being created directly between institutions at all levels. Our embassy,
with the help of the US embassy in Germany and the Aspen Institute of France,
recently sponsored a meeting of French, German, and American mayors to discuss
common problems. We have also launched a consortium of French and American
regional museums, so that museums outside of Paris, New York, and Washington
can share their collections and experience with a larger audience.
Third, technology is changing the nature of the economic and social
relationships between our continents. Cities and regions with clusters of
high-tech industries are gaining the importance that seaports and rail centers
had in the last century. Universities are becoming the idea generators of this
new economy, in which knowledge and information are the most valuable
commodities. Cambridge, the home of the American Academy, is a good example.
MIT alone has spun off some four thousand companies that now employ about a
million people. The same process is beginning in French cities. The countries
and regions that succeed will be those which support basic research, bring
together ideas and investments, and create a climate for innovation and
Finally, there is an increasing globalization of ideas and culture.
In France, this has sometimes been criticized as the Americanization, or the
uniformization, of culture, but I believe the contrary is true. Globalization
can result in a richer and greater diversity of culture. Thanks to
globalization, we have not only a higher standard of living but also an
unparalleled and increasing access to culture, to education, to ideas, and to
art. Globalization has led to economic growth that creates wealth and a greater
demand for cultural products, from movies to books to theater and museums. The
city of Seattle is a good example. Using the benefits of globalization, as well
as both private and public funding, Seattle has recently completed a new
symphony hall and is building a new opera house, as well as twenty-five new
Globalization alone does not ensure diversity. American films and
television dominate world markets because of their audience appeal and
marketing power. But globalization can serve as an engine for diversity. With
the Internet, European filmmakers, musicians, and artists will have direct
access to a global audience. In France, receipts from very successful museums
with a huge international audience, such as the Louvre, already finance smaller
French museums with a very limited public. Globalization can mean more, not
How can we encourage greater cultural diversity? I believe we need
enlightened government support for arts and education, as well as tax policies
that encourage giving to educational and cultural institutions. Most of all, we
need an educated and discerning public that seeks out quality and originality.
We need to teach students at all levels that art and knowledge are not luxuries
but necessities of life. In this area, Europe is a very good model for the
We are moving rapidly toward a world of culture and ideas also
without borders. In this world, Europe and the United States are destined to be
different but also destined to be leaders. Europe and the United States have
different histories and cultures and different economic and political systems,
but we both value innovation and originalityand the liberty of
expression. We both recognize that if they are heard, great men with great
ideas, from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to Jean Monnet, have the power to
change minds, to change lives, and to change the world.
Mr. President, distinguished guests, I hope that this partnership
between the American Academy and its sister Académies in Europe, which
has been so active and productive, will continue to flourish in the years ahead
and that we will have occasion to greet you again in this house.
The Role of the Intellectual in the Twenty-First Century
By James O. Freedman
It is a great honor for me, as the President of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences, to participate in this, the 1835th Stated Meeting
and the first in the 220-year history of the American Academy to be held
outside of the United States. We welcome the opportunity to hold this historic
meeting at the residence of Ambassador and Mrs. Rohatyn in Paris, and we thank
them very much for their gracious hospitality.
At our most recent Annual Meeting, held in Cambridge in May, we
celebrated the 220th anniversary of the Academy with a special program
dedicated to our principal founder, John Adams. Bernard Bailyn, a Fellow of the
Academy and a distinguished historian of colonial America, described the
thoughts and events surrounding the Academy's creation. I would like to borrow
from his remarks to provide some background on the historic link between the
American Academy and the French Academy of Sciences.
John Adams first came in contact with the work of a learned society
in the 1770s when he was in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Continental
Congress. The American Philosophical Society has been founded in Philadelphia
in 1743. Two years later, while the United States was still engaged in its War
of Independence, Adams was sent as our representative to the French court,
where he drew further inspiration for an academy in America from the Royal
Academy of Sciences in Paris. The French Academy embodied everything that Adams
sought to establish in America: an organization of intellectuals that prized
the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and the improvement of mankind -
what would become known in America as "useful knowledge."
Established only six years apart, the Royal Society of London
(founded in 1660) and the French Academy of Sciences (founded in 1666) had a
long rivalry for scientific leadership in Europe. Adams himself had a similar
sense of rivalry as he sought to create in Boston what Benjamin Franklin had
established in Philadelphia.
While Adams was in Paris, he often heard questions and compliments
about the American Philosophical Society from members of the French Academy,
and these inquiries further strengthened his determination to found what he
termed "his own" learned society. Recalling these conversations, Adams later
wrote that they "suggested to me the idea of such an establishment at Boston,
where I knew there was as much love of science, and as many gentlemen who were
capable of pursuing it, as in any other city of its size."
The fact that the American Academy was founded in the midst of a
revolution further inspired Adams to look to France for a model rather than to
voice a cultural debt to Great Britain. The concept of the intellectual in
service to societya hallmark of the French Academywas reflected in
the preface to the first volume of the Academy's Memoirs (1785): "Knowledge of
various kinds, and greatly useful to mankind, has taken the place of dry and
uninteresting speculations of schoolmen; and bold and erroneous hypothesis has
been obliged to give way to demonstrative experiment." The medal struck for the
inaugural meeting of the French Academy depicts Minerva surrounded by symbols
of astronomy, anatomy, and chemistry; the Academy seal, described in that first
volume of Memoirs, depicts Minerva surrounded by a quadrant, a telescope, and
several instruments of husbandry.
Since its founding, the American Academy has elected distinguished
members from abroad. Among the first Foreign Honorary Members, elected in 1781,
were the chevalier de la Luzerne, who was the French minister to colonial
America, and the marquis de Barbé-Marbois. Within the next twenty years,
the marquis de Lafayette, the marquis de Condorcet, and Jean d'Alembert were
There is even some evidence to indicate that the name "Academy" may
have been chosen expressly to honor the French Academy and to discourage
comparison between the American Academy and the Royal Society. I must add,
however, that very early in its history, the American Academy elected members
of the Royal Society, as well as the Royal Academy in Stockholm and the St.
Petersburg Academy of Sciences. We are pleased to welcome to this meeting today
distinguished representatives from the Institut de France, the Académie
des sciences, and the Académie française, as well as from the
British Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Polish Academy of
Despite the significant difference between a Royal Academy, as it
then was, and John Adams's vision of an Academy for the new democratic
republic, Adams was impressed by the idea of the important role intellectuals
might play in society as engaged citizens. This idea influences the work of the
Academy to this day. Our Fellows and Foreign Honorary members represent the
full range of disciplines, arts, and professions.
We currently organize the work of the Academy around three major
themes: Science, Security, and International Cooperation; Children, Higher
Education and Social Policy; and Humanities and Culture. Our programs in
science and security continue to carry out pathbreaking work in the areas of
arms control, human rights, the sovereignty of nations, global warming, and
international security. Pugwash brings together influential scientists and
public figures from around the world who are concerned with reducing the danger
of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems. In the
area of deterrence, the Academy's Committee on International Security Studies
has been instrumental in overseeing a diverse program of research projects and
outreach activities on global security issues, including a just-completed study
of the International Criminal Court.
The Academy has been attentive to issues of social policy, focusing
on the future of cities in the new century, income inequality and its
consequences, and the impact of ever-increasing immigration among societies
around the globe. Our studies on higher education range from analyses of
changing systems of research to the impact of electronic communication on
science and scholarship. Through our Initiatives for Children program, we have
been active in analyzing the perplexing problems confronting children today,
including issues of health and education.
Our newest initiative focuses on the often-neglected fields of the
humanities and liberal arts, under threat in our increasingly technological
world. The Academy has a strong interest in better understanding the state of
the humanities today and in communicating their importance to the wider
Indeed, the role of the engaged citizen, uppermost in the minds of
the founding members of the American Academy, remains fundamental to all of our
activities. In a time of specialization, the Academy continues to bring
together scholars and experts from all fieldsbusiness, government,
independent research organizations, and academeto work collaboratively on
issues that affect our global fabric. The purpose of all of our work goes
beyond the study and publication of scholarly treatises. It is intended to
enlighten public debate and inform policy choices.
To appreciate the role of the intellectual in modern societies and
democracies, we need look no further than the example of Vaclav Havel, who as a
playwright in prison under the Communists, and later as president of
Czechoslovakia and then of the Czech Republic, demonstrated that "intellectuals
can and do matter in the daily conduct of democratic affairs. They matter
because they express ideas clearly. They matter because they are able, by the
inspired use of language, to transport us to a higher vantage point of
observation on the moral horizon of our lives." In accepting the call to
political responsibility that his nation issued, Havel recognized that at
certain moments, intellectuals must become persons of public power.
The power that intellectuals exert through participation in our
Académies is, to be sure, not directly political, but it can have a
momentous impact on society. During the dark years of World War II and the cold
war, it was often the members of Académiesin the United States,
the Soviet Union, and elsewherewho kept open the channels of discussion
across the world. Advancing truth, knowledge, and understanding is the 220-year
goal of the American Academy and of our sister Académies, so well
represented here today.
I anticipate a bright future for all nations that are determined to
advance knowledge, and I am pleased indeed to welcome our Foreign Honorary
Members and the representatives of sister Académies to this celebration
of the role of the intellectual in the twenty-first centuryand to do it
here in France, which has long been a beacon of enlightenment and scientific
By Paul Germain Honorary Permanent Secretary, Académie des
sciences, Institut de France
On behalf of the chancellor of the Institut de France, Pierre
Messmer, I express our great admiration for the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences. In Europe, and especially in France, we are proud of being the first
to take new initiatives in the development of knowledge and culture. Your
charter, enacted in 1780, established an institution "to advance the interest,
honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people."
Twenty-five years later, the Convention Nationale created the Institut
Nationaltoday, the Institut de Francewith a similar objective and
mission. In this instance, your Academy in America was not only first but, for
us, remains an example and model. The members of the Institut, like those of
the American Academy, are drawn from science, scholarship, business, public
affairs, and the arts.
On this occasion, I want to express two wishes and a dream. First,
we hope that the American Academy will continue to bring together men and women
from many different fields to analyze the problems that face all of us around
the globe. Second, we hope that the Institut de France will follow your example
and turn its attention to the study of these important international issues.
The dream: an international meeting in which members of the Academy and the
institute can exchange views on the challenges that bind us together in this
By Yves Quéré, Foreign Secretary, Académie des
From Guy Ourisson, president of the Académie des Sciences, I
bring congratulations on the celebration of the 220th anniversary of our
younger sister, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For more than two
centuries, we have shared numerous members in common, just as we share a common
ambition and passion: the search for truth through study and curiosity. We wish
the American Academy a future as rich as its past.
To these greetings, I want to add a few words about the beautiful
name of you’re Academy. By combining "Arts and Sciences," you lay claim to a
kind of universality. It is usual to bring together art and science and to
emphasize their common features: Is it not true that imagination and intuition
are the foundation stones of both? That mathematics and music are probably the
two most universal languages of humankind? And that the word art itself refers
both to the artist and to the artisan, with most scientists sharing the sense
that there is something of the artisan inside themselves?
But more important than these pseudosimilarities or "family
connections" between arts and sciences is that they are, to use a scientific
term, nonmiscible in each other: science is not soluble in art, no more than
art is in science.
The ambition of the sciences is to describe the world in its
complexity and, primarily, in its realityto describe it much more than to
explain it. From this point of view, science is nothing more, but also nothing
less, than a language about naturecertainly a language with exquisite
virtues of subtleness, of beauty, of aptitude for predictions and applications,
but nonetheless a language about something that exists.
The ambition of the arts is dramatically different: to create new
worlds that had no existence before being created, worlds that are completely
dependent on their creator. If Mozart had died as a child, the immense world of
Don Giovanni would never have existed. If Pasteur had met the same sad destiny,
someone else would have made his discoveries one week, one month, one year, or
one century later, because science is an unveiling, a discovery, of something
that is here but hidden by a haze.
Art is the miracle of creation by a single individual, whereas
science is the miracle of a discovery on the part of many people. To cite an
often-quoted sentence by a nineteenth-century French author: "L'art c'est moi,
la science c'est nous."
This is why your Academy exudes the flavor of universality. You
address the inner worlds of our spirit, our soul, our heart, and our faith, as
well as the outer spaces of molecules, galaxies, economy, history, ethics. You
explore both the moi and the nousand for that you deserve praise and
By Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, Permanent
Secretary, Académie française
The Académie française, the oldest academy in the
world, is honored to be invited to speak on the occasion of the American
Academy's 220th anniversary. The Académie française was
established in 1635 by Richelieu, who set out to create a small company of
forty distinguished persons who would serve as advisors. The group, including
not only intellectuals but also members of the clergy and military, was the
starting point of an institution that has survived for nearly four centuries.
Perhaps what is most interesting about the Académie
française is its size. Other Académies, including the American
Academy, have grown significantly since their founding. The Académie
française has maintained its membership at forty members, with no
associate or foreign members. This permanence of numbers signifies that as the
oldest institution in France, we have a responsibility to preserve the historic
tradition of a learned society in this country. The French Academy is sometimes
presented as an "old lady," unable to open up to the modern world, but that is
not a true picture.
Our principal mission, accorded us by Richelieu, is to write and
rewrite the Dictionnaire de la langue française. We try to adjust our
dictionary and the French language to current usage, yet we must also protect
our language from the phenomenon of mode, not just to save the past but in
order to transmit to our children and grandchildren a French language that is
the expression of tradition and of changing times.
In addition, as a body encompassing the most distinguished minds in
France, representing science, scholarship, culture, and public affairs, the
Acaemie française seeks to preserve the independence of French
intellectual life. The Académie is in itself an independent institution,
but it has a protecteurformerly the king of France, now the president.
The Académie and the protecteur share a relationship of mutual respect.
When, in the past, a monarch or head of state has attempted to impose ideas or
to intervene in the work of the Académie, we have steadfastly
refusedand for this reason, I think, French society respects the old
The Académie française has always been interested in
your country. During the American Revolution, just as the American Academy was
being founded, there were scholars in our ranks who studied the events in your
new nation and who felt that your struggle for independence was part of our
history as well. And it was another member of our AcadémieAlexis
de Tocquevillewho introduced us to life in America and to the idea of
By Adam Zagajewski
Paris, France, and University of Houston
Editor's note: Mr. Zagajewski, a Foreign Honorary Member of the
American Academy, read three poems: one by Philippe Jaccottet of France; one by
C. K. Williams of Princeton University, an Academy Fellow; and one of his own.
Nuages de novembre
November clouds, dark flights of trailing birds
leaving behind you on the mountain bits
of your white down, reflecting
empty roads and ditches,
earth rising to meet you,
a grave where young grass grows,
will your mystery be lost at the end of the day?
Listen harder, ignore the noise
inside and out. Drink the invisible
pool where invisible creatures drink
as their ancestors have drunk since time began
at sunset, silent, white and slow,
having watched since dawn the sun in the meadow…
Absorb this light no night extinguishes
but only, barely, wraps itself in shadow
as flocks wrap themselves in a blanket of sleep.
- Philippe Jaccottet
The way boxers postulate a feeling to label that with which they
overcome the body's vile fears, its wish to flinch, to flee, break and run…they
call it anger, pride, the primal passion to prevail; the way, before they
start, they glare at one another, try to turn themselves to snarling beasts…so
we first make up something in the soul we name and offer credence
to"meaning," "purpose," "end" and then we cast ourselves into the
conflict, turn upon our souls, snarl like snarling beasts…And the way the
fighters fight, coolly until strength fails, then desperately, wildly, as in a
dream, and the way, done, they fall in one another's arms, almost sobbing with
relief, sobbing with relief: so we contend, so we wish to finish, wish to cry
and end, but we never cry, never end, as in a dream.
- C. K. Williams
Houston, 6 p.m.
Europe already sleeps beneath a coarse plaid of borders
and ancient hatreds: France nestled
up to Germany, Bosnia in Serbia's arms,
lonely Sicily in azure seas.
It's early evening here, the lamp is lit
and the dark sun swiftly fades.
I'm alone, I read a little, think a little,
listen to a little music.
I'm where there's friendship,
but no friends, where enchantment
grows without magic,
where the dead laugh.
I'm alone because Europe is sleeping. My love sleeps in a tall
house on the outskirts of Paris.
In Krakow and Paris my friends
wade in the same river of oblivion.
I read and think; in one poem
I found the phrase "There are blows so terrible …Don't ask!" I don't. A
breaks the evening quiet.
Poetry calls us to a higher life,
but what's low is just as eloquent,
more plangent than Indo-European,
stronger than my books and records.
There are not nightingales or blackbirds here with their sad, sweet
Only the mockingbird who imitates
and mimics every living voice.
Poetry summons us to life, to courage
In the face of the growing shadow.
Can you gaze calmly at the Earth
like the perfect astronaut?
Out of harmless indolence, the Greece of books,
And the Jerusalem of memory there suddenly appears
The island of a poem, unpeopled;
some new Cook will discover it one day.
Europe is already sleeping. Night's animals,
mournful and rapacious,
move in for the kill.
Soon America will be sleeping, too.
- Adam Zagajewski
This presentation was given at the 1835th Stated Meeting, held at
the Paris residence of the US Ambassador to France, on June 6, 2000.
Communications © 2000 by Felix Rohatyn, James O. Freedman, Paul Germain, Yves
Quéré, and Hélène Carrère d'Encausse,
respectively. Photos © 2000 by W. A. Dudley.
Reprinted by permission of Wake Forest University Press: "Nuages de
novembre" from Philippe Jaccottet: Selected Poems, selected and
translated by Derek Mahon. Translation © 1988 by Wake Forest
University Press. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC:
"Vehicle: Violence" from Flesh and Blood by C. K. Williams. ©
1987 by C. K. Williams. "Houston, 6 p.m." from Mysticism for Beginners by
Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh. Translation © 1997 by
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.