Every promoter of culture is a demon, cursing the earth and devising wings in order to fly away from it. The heart of the advocate of progress breathes vengeance on the earth, on the elements; on the earth's crust not yet sufficiently hardened; vengeance for all its difficult times and endless spaces, for the rusty onerous chain of cause and effect, for the injustice of life and the injustice of death. Persons of culture, advocates of progress, choice intellectuals, foaming at the mouth, construct machines, move science forward in secret spite, trying to forget and not to hear the rumbling of the elements, subterranean and terrestial, which are stirring, now here now there. Only sometimes they awake and look around and see the same earth - cursed, yet with its tranquil moments - and look upon it as upon some theatrical performance, some absurd, attractive tale.
Excerpted from his paper "Nature and Culture," read to the Religious-Philosophical Society in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 30, 1908. This translation: I. Freiman.