love at last sight

The creator of all this decadence and all its obscure strands was Baudelaire. His poetry collection called The Flowers of Evil from 1857, is a classic and seminal piece of decadent writing influencing everyone from Walter Benjamin to Henry Miller and the Beat writers. Its dripping with the aesthetic of a brooding melancholia, a kind of mourning tinged with traces of the morbid eroticism of the Marquis de Sade, yet steeped in the growing modernism of the metropolis. The city would be seen from the streets and the gutters, the underside of bourgeois morality and the large swath of people the Enlightenment forgot….

It was a new mood. A new aesthetic. An antidote to the announced utopia, the messianism of industry, trade and banking. No political ambition, no feigned detachment; it was to be wallowing in the cesspool of evil and then pelting the crap by the shovel-ready on the silk stocking of the polite veil better society’s manners, the world of Marcel Proust. To Baudelaire, the beggars and whores, even the flaneurs, were un-people, balancing on the fringes of the cosmopolitan. Here, the poet would meet the ragpicker on poetic terms…

---Daumier's drawings satirizing 19th-century French politics and society, made him go to jail several times. He was hardy known during his lifetime - first after his death in 1879 people started noticing his work.--- Read More:

The Death of Lovers ( Charles Baudelaire )

We shall have beds full of subtle perfumes,
Divans as deep as graves, and on the shelves
Will be strange flowers that blossomed for us
Under more beautiful heavens.

Using their dying flames emulously,
Our two hearts will be two immense torches
Which will reflect their double light
In our two souls, those twin mirrors.

Some evening made of rose and of mystical blue
A single flash will pass between us
Like a long sob, charged with farewells;

And later an Angel, setting the doors ajar,
Faithful and joyous, will come to revive
The tarnished mirrors, the extinguished flames.

---One file of the Arcades Project is called ‘Boredom and Eternal Return’. The old is inherent in the new, it is a return. This represents the Janus face of progress, pulling in two directions at once. It is a dialectic of progress, whose actual stakes are social regress, under the aegis of a certain technological progress, as opposed to human progress. Progress, in Benjamin’s view of modernity, connects to the catastrophe. Hell has already happened. Precisely this capitalist technological idea of progress ushers in catastrophe. The vision of eternal return and catastrophe was practiced in the panoramas, given its big debut in First World War, which then becomes a simple dress rehearsal compared to what we have come to know as the holocaustic calamity of World War Two. The repetition compulsion is set in motion by the structures of commodity production, the eternal return of the ever-same. This is catastrophic experience. War has started, for it never really finishes. The ruins are blasting into focus. The nineteenth century is falling down. Its ruins were already contained in its plans. In his 1935 Exposé Benjamin writes that it was Balzac who first spoke of the ruins of the bourgeoisie, but it was Surrealism that first allowed its gaze to wander uninhibitedly across the field of rubble that the capitalist development of the productive forces had left in its wake. Read More: image:

Baudelaire’s works were filled with new figures that seemed themselves to be products and the detritus of the consumerist capitalist society. Beggar girls, the ugly jewess, rag pickers and the parasitical flaneur were part of a poetic narrative that he used to articulate the new experience of the urban dweller, somewhat in the vein of Edgar Allan Poe and Melville’s “untrustworthy narrators.” It eas the beginning of the cult of the ego and the fetish object, a life mediated by images and intangible desires seen through shop windows, invisible barriers as in Kafka’s Before the Law.  The new economic relations and the beginnings of the bureaucracies to manage the structural changes were giving birth to a consumer culture and impacted the manner in which poets saw their surroundings; more impersonal and anonymous. With regard to Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin wrote,” The delight of the city-dweller is not so much love at first sight as love at last sight.”

Daumier. You Have the Floor Explain Yourself.---The Arcades Project asks how a mythic dream consciousness, such as the longing for dream fulfillment in the commodity or the idea of love satisfied in prostitution or the desire for human union through imperialism, can be rattled, forced to wake up from the wishful thinking it indulges. Perhaps assertion simply of the actuality of commercial brutality would suffice. Perhaps boredom in the end would finally force a change, through being unsustainable. Marx had characterised Second Empire history in France, in Hegel’s terms, as ‘grey on grey’: history without events; development whose sole driving force seems to be the calendar. But boredom also induces sleep.

yawn is the gesture of both. Strangely, the dreaming collective is realised between 1917 and 1927 in the post- encephalitic wave of dream- sleeping sickness which swept Europe, sending its victims into Sleeping Beauty and Blue Beard comas. Read More: image:;;doc.view=print

Baudelaire’s  The first poem of The Flowers of Evil, asked the reader to identify with the poet and with the destitute and prostitutes he describes. We all take what clandestine pleasure we can, he writes, “Like an exhausted rake who mouths and chews / The martyrized breast of an old withered whore.” If only we had more guts, he suggests, we would all be rapists, murders, and arsonists. Our evil arises not so much from the enticements of Satan as from the most typical of modern vices, Boredom (“L’Ennui”): “[Boredom] in his hookah-dreams, / Produces hangmen and real tears together, / How well you know this fastidious monster, reader, / —Hypocrite reader, you—my double! my brother!” Baudelaire here celebrates the evil lurking inside the average reader, in an attitude far removed from the social concerns typical of realism. Read More:
Packed tight, like hives of maggots, thickly seething,
Within our brains a host of demons surges
Deep down into our lungs at every breathing,
Death flows, an unseen river, moaning dirges.

from “To the Reader”

Daumier. The Laundress. Read More:

Do you come from deep heaven or do you come from hell,
O Beauty? Your eyes, infernal and divine,
Pour out both goodness and crime,
And for that you can be compared to wine…

You walk over the dead, O Beauty, and mock them.
Among your jewels, Horror is not the least charming,
And Murder, among your dearest baubles,
Dances amorously on your proud body.

from “Hymn to Beauty”
Read More:

---Perhaps one of the largest studies involving Baudelaire and his religiosity was done by Pierre Emmanuel in 1967. His book entitled Baudelaire: the Paradox of Redemptive Satanism, originally published in French but translated by Robert T. Cargo in 1970, is an extremely complex analysis of the biography and poetry of Baudelaire, with hope to find some sort of correlation or explanation into his relationship with God. After exploring ideas such as erotic religion, aesthetic religion, and Satanism, Emmanuel seems to come to the following conclusion: ?As to Baudelaire?s religion, it is a kind of fundamental mythology, irreducible canvas of the great enigmas of the spirit and of the spirit as enigma which envelops them: a mythology which frees itself from man, for whom it is like the ancestral Dream, and the Memorial of his origin.--- Read More:

Metamorphoses of the Vampire
Charles Baudelaire

Meanwhile, from her red mouth the woman, in husky tones,
Twisting her body like a serpent upon hot stones
And straining her white breasts from their imprisonment,
Let fall thses words, as potent as a heavy scent:
“My lips are moist and yielding, and I know the way
To keep the antique demon of remorse at bay.
All sorrows die upon my bosom. I can make
Old men laugh happily as children for my sake.
For him who sees me naked in my tresses, I
Replace the sun, the moon, and all the stars of the sky!
Believe me, learned sir, I am so deeply skilled
That when I wind a lover in my soft arms, and yield
My breasts like two ripe fruits for his devouring-both
Shy and voluptuous, insatiable and loath-
Upon his bed that groans and sighs luxuriously
Even the impotent angels would be damned for me!”

When she drained me of my very marrow, and cold
And weak, I turned to give her one more kiss-behold,
There at my side was nothing but a hideous
Putrescent thing, all faceless and exuding pus.
I closed my eyes and mercifully swooned till day:
Who seemed to have replenished her arteries from my own,
The wan, disjointed fragments of a skeleton
Wagged up and down in a new posture where she had lain;
Rattling with each convulsion like a weathervane
Or an old sign that creaks upon its bracket, right
Mournfully in the wind upon a winter’s night. Read More:

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