Archive for May, 2011

May 29, 2011

« Raccontava Anatole France, con l’amabile scetticismo che talvolta gli impediva di capire, che un giorno un marinaio aveva mostrato a Baudelaire un feticcio africano, “una piccola testa mostruosa intagliata da un povero negro in un pezzo di legno. — E’ proprio brutta, disse il marinaio. E la buttò via con sprezzo. — Fate attenzione! disse Baudelaire inquieto. Potrebbe essere il vero dio!”. Fu la sua più ferma dichiarazione di fede. »
~ “La folie Baudelaire”, R. Calasso.

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May 29, 2011

« Il poeta delle Fleurs du mal amava ciò che impropriamente viene chiamato lo stile di decadenza, il quale non è altra cosa che l’arte giunta a quel punto di maturità estrema che producono, quando il loro sole è obliquo, le civiltà che invecchiano: stile ingegnoso, complicato, sapiente, pieno di sfumature e di ricercatezze, che sposta continuamente in avanti i confini della lingua, che prende in prestito parole da tutti i lessici tecnici, colori da tutte le tavolozze, note da tutte le tastiere, che si sforza di rendere il pensiero in ciò che ha di più ineffabile e la forma nei suoi contorni più vaghi e fuggevoli, che ascolta per tradurle le confidenze sottili della nevrosi, le confessioni della passione che invecchiando si deprava e le allucinazioni bizzarre dell’idea fissa che diventa follia. Questo stile di decadenza è la parola ultima del Verbo a cui viene intimato di esprimere tutto e che viene spinto all’oltranza estrema. »
~ Gautier

May 29, 2011

« In tutte le arti, sembra che il talento sia un avvicinarsi dell’artista all’oggetto da esprimere. Finché sussiste uno scarto, il compito non è assolto. Quel certo violinista suona benissimo la sua frase di violino, ma voi vedete i suoi effetti, li applaudite, è un virtuoso. Solo quando tutto questo sarà scomparso, quando la frase di violino non si distinguerà più dall’artista interamente perso in essa, il miracolo sarà avvenuto. Negli altri secoli, sembra che ci sia sempre stata una distanza fra l’oggetto e i più alti ingegni che ne discorrono. Ma in Flaubert, per esempio, l’intelligenza, che forse non era delle più grandi, cerca di diventare fremito di un battello a vapore, colore dei muschi, isolotto in una baia. Allora viene un momento in cui non si trova più l’intelligenza (neppure l’intelligenza media di Flaubert) e davanti a noi si ha il battello che procede “incontrando file di tronchi che si mettevano a oscillare seguendo il moto delle onde”. Quell’oscillare è intelligenza trasformata, incorporata nella materia. Essa giunge persino a penetrare nelle brughiere, nei faggi, nel silenzio e nella luce dei sottoboschi. Questa trasformazione dell’energia in cui il pensatore è scomparso e che trascina le cose dinanzi a noi non sarebbe forse il primo sforzo dello scrittore verso lo stile? »

« Ma […] il fatto che l’intelligenza non sia lo strumento più sottile, più potente, più appropriato per cogliere il vero è solo una ragione di più per cominciare dall’intelligenza e non da un intuitivismo dell’inconscio, da una fede prefabbricata nei presentimenti. E’ la vita che, poco a poco, caso per caso, ci permette di osservare che ciò che è più importante per il nostro cuore o per la nostra mente non ci viene insegnato dal ragionamento, ma da altre potenze. E allora è l’intelligenza stessa che, rendendosi conto della loro superiorità, abdica dinanzi a esse per via di ragionamento, e accetta di diventare loro collaboratrice e loro serva. E’ la fede sperimentale. »

~ “Contre Sainte-Beuve”, Proust.

May 29, 2011

« Gli scrittori non dovrebbero mai scrivere alle autorità, perché le loro lettere molto spesso non vengono lette ma immancabilmente vengono archiviate. L’archivio è il contrassegno più costante e temibile del potere. » ~ “La folie Baudelaire”, R. Calasso.

May 29, 2011

May 29, 2011

May 29, 2011

13 March 1856

My dear friend, as you take delight in dreams, here’s one that I’m sure won’t fail to please you. It’s now 5 am so my dream is still perfectly warm. Note that it’s only one of the thousands of samples that assail me, and I’ve no need to tell you that their strangeness and their general tenor, which is absolutely alien to the occupations and events of my life, always encourage me in the belief that they are an almost hieroglyphic language to which I do not hold the key.

In my dream it was 2 or 3 am and I was walking alone through the streets. I meet Castille who, I believe, had several errands to perform, and I told him I’d go with him and take advantage of the carriage to do an errand of my own. So we took the carriage. I believed it to be my duty to offer the madam of a great brothel a book of mine that had just been published. When I looked at the work I held in my hand, I discovered it was an obscene book, which explained why it was essential that I present the work to that woman. Moreover, in my imagination, this need was basically a pretext, providing the chance to make love to one of the prostitutes, which implies that had it not been essential to present the book I wouldn’t have dared go into such an establishment. I didn’t say a word of this to Castille, but had the carriage stop at the door and left Castille in the carriage, promising not to keep him waiting long.

Immediately after I’d rung the bell and gone in, I realized that my prick was hanging out of my unbottoned trouser fly and I thought it indecent to present myself in such a state even in a place like that. Moreover, as I felt my feet were wet, I suddenly realized that they were bare, and that I’d stepped into a great puddle at the bottom of the staircase. “Oh well”, I thought to myself, “I’ll wash them before making love, and before going out”. I go up the stairs. From that moment on, I don’t give the book another thought.

I find myself in a series of vast, interconnecting galleries which are poorly lit and seem gloomy and faded, like old cafes or old-fashiones reading rooms, or low-grade gambling saloons. The prostitutes, scattered throughout these vast galleries, chat with men, among whom I see various schoolboys. I feel very sad and greatly intimidated. I’m afraid people will see my feet. I look at them and realize that one has a shoe. A bit later I see that both have shoes. What arouses my attention is that the walls of these vast galleries are decorated with all kinds of paintings, in frames. Not all are obscene. There are even some drawings of architecture or of Egyptian figurines. As I feel increasingly intimidated and I don’t even dare to approach a prostitute, I amuse myself by a close examination of all the sketches.

In an out-of-the-way corner of one of those galleries, I find a very unusual series. In a mass of little frames I see drawings, miniatures, photographs. They represent colored birds with very bright plumage, whose eyes are alive. Sometimes there are only halves of birds. Sometimes they represent pictures of strange, monstrous, almost amorphous creatures, like meteorites. In one corner of every drawing there is a note. Prostitute so-and-so, aged …, gave birth to this fetus in such-and-such a year. And other annotations along those lines. It occurs to me that such drawings are hardly calculated to arouse thoughts of love. Another thing that comes to mind is that there’s really only one daily paper in the world — and that’s Le Siècle — that would be stupid enough to open a house of prostitution and to put into it at the same time a kind of medical museum. Indeed, I suddenly say to myself, it’s Le Siècle that has provided the funds for this speculation and the medical museum can be explained through the paper’s mania for progress, science, and the spread of light. Then it occurred to me that modern stupidity and folly have a mysterious usefulness, and that often something made for the cause of evil turns, by a form of spiritual mechanics, toward goodness. I am filled with admiration in my dream for the correctness of my philosophical thinking.

But among all these creatures is one that has survived. He is a monster born in the brothel who stands permanently on a pedestal. Although alive, he is therefore part of the museum. He is not ugly. His face is even attractive, very swarthy and Oriental in color. There are many shades of pink and green in him. He is squatting, but in a bizarre, twisted pose. Moreover, there is something blackish that is wound several times round him and his limbs, like a great snake. I ask what this is, and he tells me it’s a monstrous appendix that comes out of his head, something elastic like rubber, and so very, very long that if he rolled it on top of his head like a plait of hair, it would be much too heavy and absolutely impossible to wear. As a result, he is forced to wind it around his limbs, which, moreover, creates a more attractive impression. I chat with this monster for some time. He tells me of his problems and sorrows. For several years now he’s been forced to stand in this room on his pedestal to satisfy public curiosity. But his principal problem comes at dinner time. Because he is a living creature, he’s forced to eat with the prostitutes of the establishment, stumbling along with his rubber appendage to the dining room, where he has to keep it wrapped around him or to put it like a pile of rope on a chair, for if he lets it drag along on the ground it pulls him over backwards. Moreover, he’s forced, he who is small and squat, to eat beside a prostitute who is tall and well built. He tells me all these details, what’s more, whithout any bitterness. I dare not touch him — but I take an interest in him.

At tis moment (this is no longer a dream) — my woman makes a noise in the room with a piece of furniture, and that wakes me up. I awaken weary, aching, my back, legs and hips stiff. I presume that I was sleeping in the twisted position of the monster.

~ Baudelaire to Asselineau

May 29, 2011

« Many times my dreams have been filled with the magnificent forms in mouvement in this vast painting, itself as marvellous as a dream. Sardanapalus revisited is a fountain of youth. To what distant past does the contemplation of this canvas bring us! To the marvellous era when artists such as Deveria, Gros, Delacroix, Boulanger, Bonnington, etc., reigned together to form the great Romantic school : beauty, loveliness, charm, sublime. Has there ever been a painted figure which gave a more sweeping idea of the Asiatic despot than this Sardanapalus, with his black plaited beard, who dies on his pyre, draped in his muslins, with a feminine attitude? And who, today, could paint with such fire, with such freshness, with such poetic enthusiasm, all this harem of striking beauties? And ail this Sardanapalesque luxury, which scintillates in the furnishings, the clothing, the harnasses, the dishes, and the jewels, who? who? »
~ Baudelaire

May 29, 2011

« E’ il mondo sgualcito e abbandonato dalla presenza umana che finalmente si mostra nella sua integrità autosufficiente, senza richiedere un supplemento di significato. Anzi, quasi sollevato e liberato da ogni funzione di supporto e di sfondo. Soltanto un letto disfatto ci concede questo prodigio: l’assenza della figura umana — e al tempo stesso l’impronta dei corpi. »
~ “La folie Baudelaire”, R. Calasso.

May 29, 2011