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Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
9:19 am - Since it's still August one more day...

phantastes
If you happen to be unfamiliar, as I was until, last year or so, you should have a look at
August by Bruno Schulz, which is a quite pleasing and seasonally appropriate sort of overrought and dreamlike. (A number of his other stories are worth looking at as well- almost everything he wrote is available online, though I can't vouch for the translation and I find some considerably more to my taste than others.

By way of introduction...

"IN JULY, my father left to take the waters, and abandoned me, along with Mother and my older brother, to the mercy of the summer days, glowing white and stunning. Stupefied by the light, we leafed through the great book of those holidays, in which every page was ablaze with splendour, and had, deep down, a sickly sweet pulp of golden pears.
Adela returned on luminous mornings, like Pomona from the fire of the enkindled day, tipping from her basket the colourful beauty of the sun — glistening wild cherries, full of water under their transparent skins; mysterious black cherries with an aroma that surpassed what would be realised in their taste; and apricots, the core of the long afternoons lying in their golden pulp. And alongside that pure poetry of fruit she unloaded slices of meat and a keyboard of calf ribs, swollen with energy and goodness, and algae of vegetables that called to mind slaughtered octopus and jellyfish — the raw material of dinner, its flavours still unformed and sterile, dinner’s vegetative and telluric ingredients with their wild, fresh from the field aroma.
Through a dark apartment on the first floor of a tenement on the market square, every day of that whole great summer, there passed: the silence of shimmering veins of air; squares of radiance dreaming their fervid dreams on the floor; a barrel organ melody struck from the deepest golden vein of the day; and two or three measures of a refrain played over and over again on a grand piano somewhere, swooning in the sunshine on the white pavements, lost in the fire of the deep day. Her housework done, Adela threw a shadow over the rooms, drawing down the linen blinds. The colours then fell an octave deeper; the parlour filled up with darkness as if plunged into the luminosity of the deep sea — still dimly reflected in mirrors of green — whilst all the torrid heat of the day went on breathing on the blinds, swaying gently to the reveries of the midday hour.
On Saturday afternoons I would go with Mother for a stroll. From the duskiness of the hallway we stepped at once into the sunbath of the day. Passers-by, wading in gold, were squinting in the glare as if their eyes were glued with honey, and their upper lips, drawn back, bared their teeth and gums. And everyone wading through that golden day wore the same grimace in its scorching heat, as if the sun had bestowed upon all of its disciples the same mask, the golden mask of a solar cult. And everyone walking along the streets that day, meeting or passing each other by — young or old, every man, woman and child — hailed one another with that mask as they went, gold paint daubed thickly on their faces. They grinned to each other that bacchanalian grimace, a barbarian mask of pagan worship.
The market square was empty, and yellow in the heat, swept clean by hot breezes, like a biblical desert. Thorny acacias, springing up from the emptiness of the yellow square, frothed above it with their shining foliage, bouquets of graciously gesturing green filigrees — like trees on old tapestries. Theatrically twirling their crowns, those trees seemed to be stirring up a gale, so that they might show off by their pompous gesticulations the courtliness of the leafy fans of their silvered abdomens, like noblemen’s fox furs. The old houses, burnished by the winds of many days, were tinged with reflexes of the vast atmosphere, echoes and reminiscences of hues diffused deep within the coloured weather. It seemed as if whole generations of summer days (like patient stucco workers scrubbing the mouldy plaster from old façades) had worn away a fallacious varnish, eliciting more distinctly day by day the houses’ true aspects, a physiognomy of the fortunes and the life that formed them from within. The windows went to sleep now, blinded by the radiance of the empty square; the balconies confessed their emptiness to the sky; open hallways were fragrant with coolness and wine."

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Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
10:29 pm - the temptations

larvatus
        Les Tentations, ou Éros, Plutus et la Gloire         The Temptations: or, Eros, Plutus, and Glory         Искушения, или Эрос, Плутос и Слава
    Deux superbes Satans et une Diablesse, non moins extraordinaire, ont la nuit dernière monté l’escalier mystérieux par où l’Enfer donne assaut à la faiblesse de l’homme qui dort, et communique en secret avec lui. Et ils sont venus se poser glorieusement devant moi, debout comme sur une estrade. Une splendeur sulfureuse émanait de ces trois personnages, qui se détachaient ainsi du fond opaque de la nuit. Ils avaient l’air si fier et si plein de domination, que je les pris d’abord tous les trois pour de vrais Dieux.
    Le visage du premier Satan était d’un sexe ambigu, et il avait aussi, dans les lignes de son corps, la mollesse des anciens Bacchus. Ses beaux yeux languissants, d’une couleur ténébreuse et indécise, ressemblaient à des violettes chargées encore des lourds pleurs de l’orage, et ses lèvres entr’ouvertes à des cassolettes chaudes, d’où s’exhalait la bonne odeur d’une parfumerie; et à chaque fois qu’il soupirait, des insectes musqués s’illuminaient, en voletant, aux ardeurs de son souffle.
    Autour de sa tunique de pourpre était roulé, en manière de ceinture, un serpent chatoyant qui, la tête relevée, tournait langoureusement vers lui ses yeux de braise. A cette ceinture vivante étaient suspendus, alternant avec des fioles pleines de liqueurs sinistres, de brillants couteaux et des instruments de chirurgie. Dans sa main droite il tenait une autre fiole dont le contenu était d’un rouge lumineux, et qui portait pour étiquette ces mots bizarres: « Buvez, ceci est mon sang, un parfait cordial » ; dans la gauche, un violon qui lui servait sans doute à chanter ses plaisirs et ses douleurs, et à répandre la contagion de sa folie dans les nuits de sabbat.
    A ses chevilles délicates traînaient quelques anneaux d’une chaîne d’or rompue, et quand la gêne qui en résultait le forçait à baisser les yeux vers la terre, il contemplait vaniteusement les ongles de ses pieds, brillants et polis comme des pierres bien travaillées.
    Il me regarda avec ses yeux inconsolablement navrés, d’où s’écoulait une insidieuse ivresse, et il me dit d’une voix chantante : « Si tu veux, si tu veux, je te ferai le seigneur des âmes, et tu seras le maître de la matière vivante, plus encore que le sculpteur peut l’être de l’argile ; et tu connaîtras le plaisir, sans cesse renaissant, de sortir de toi-même pour t’oublier dans autrui, et d’attirer les autres âmes jusqu’à les confondre avec la tienne. »
    Et je lui répondis : « Grand merci ! je n’ai que faire de cette pacotille d’êtres qui, sans doute, ne valent pas mieux que mon pauvre moi. Bien que j’aie quelque honte à me souvenir, je ne veux rien oublier; et quand même je ne te connaîtrais pas, vieux monstre, ta mystérieuse coutellerie, tes fioles équivoques, les chaînes dont tes pieds sont empêtrés, sont des symboles qui expliquent assez clairement les inconvénients de ton amitié. Garde tes présents. »
    Le second Satan n’avait ni cet air à la fois tragique et souriant, ni ces belles manières insinuantes, ni cette beauté délicate et parfumée. C’était un homme vaste, à gros visage sans yeux, dont la lourde bedaine surplombait les cuisses, et dont toute la peau était dorée et illustrée, comme d’un tatouage, d’une foule de petites figures mouvantes représentant les formes nombreuses de la misère universelle. Il y avait de petits hommes efflanqués qui se suspendaient volontairement à un clou; il y avait de petits gnomes difformes, maigres, dont les yeux suppliants réclamaient l’aumône mieux encore que leurs mains tremblantes; et puis de vieilles mères portant des avortons accrochés à leurs mamelles exténuées. Il y en avait encore bien d’autres.
    Le gros Satan tapait avec son poing sur son immense ventre, d’où sortait alors un long et retentissant cliquetis de métal, qui se terminait en un vague gémissement fait de nombreuses voix humaines. Et il riait, en montrant impudemment ses dents gâtées, d’un énorme rire imbécile, comme certains hommes de tous les pays quand ils ont trop bien dîné.
    Et celui-là me dit: « Je puis te donner ce qui obtient tout, ce qui vaut tout, ce qui remplace tout ! » Et il tapa sur son ventre monstrueux, dont l’écho sonore fit le commentaire de sa grossière parole.
    Je me détournai avec dégoût, et je répondis: « Je n’ai besoin, pour ma jouissance, de la misère de personne ; et je ne veux pas d’une richesse attristée, comme un papier de tenture, de tous les malheurs représentés sur ta peau. »
    Quant à la Diablesse, je mentirais si je n’avouais pas qu’à première vue je lui trouvai un bizarre charme. Pour définir ce charme, je ne saurais le comparer à rien de mieux qu’à celui des très-belles femmes sur le retour, qui cependant ne vieillissent plus, et dont la beauté garde la magie pénétrante des ruines. Elle avait l’air à la fois impérieux et dégingandé, et ses yeux, quoique battus, contenaient une force fascinatrice. Ce qui me frappa le plus, ce fut le mystère de sa voix, dans laquelle je retrouvais le souvenir des contralti les plus délicieux et aussi un peu de l’enrouement des gosiers incessamment lavés par l’eau-de-vie.
    « Veux-tu connaître ma puissance ? » dit la fausse déesse avec sa voix charmante et paradoxale. « Écoute. »
    Et elle emboucha alors une gigantesque trompette, enrubannée, comme un mirliton, des titres de tous les journaux de l’univers, et à travers cette trompette elle cria mon nom, qui roula ainsi à travers l’espace avec le bruit de cent mille tonnerres, et me revint répercuté par l’écho de la plus lointaine planète.
    « Diable ! » fis-je, à moitié subjugué, « voilà qui est précieux ! » Mais en examinant plus attentivement la séduisante virago, il me sembla vaguement que je la reconnaissais pour l’avoir vue trinquant avec quelques drôles de ma connaissance ; et le son rauque du cuivre apporta à mes oreilles je ne sais quel souvenir d’une trompette prostituée.
    Aussi je répondis, avec tout mon dédain: « Va-t’en ! Je ne suis pas fait pour épouser la maîtresse de certains que je ne veux pas nommer. »
    Certes, d’une si courageuse abnégation j’avais le droit d’être fier. Mais malheureusement je me réveillai, et toute ma force m’abandonna. « En vérité, me dis-je, il fallait que je fusse bien lourdement assoupi pour montrer de tels scrupules. Ah ! s’ils pouvaient revenir pendant que je suis éveillé, je ne ferais pas tant le délicat ! »
    Et je les invoquai à haute voix, les suppliant de me pardonner, leur offrant de me déshonorer aussi souvent qu’il le faudrait pour mériter leurs faveurs; mais je les avais sans doute fortement offensés, car ils ne sont jamais revenus.
    Two superb Satans and a Deviless no less extraordinary ascended last night the mysterious stairway by which Hell assails the frailty of sleeping man, and converses with him covertly. And they poses gloriously before me, as though having mounted a stage. A sulphurous splendor emanated from these three beings who thus disengaged themselves from the opaque heart of the night. They bore with them a presence so proud and so full of mastery, that at first I took all three of them for true Gods.
    The first Satan had a countenance of doubtful sex, and the softness of ancient Bacchants in the lines of his body. His beautiful languorous eyes, of a shadowy and indefinite color, were like violets still laden with the heavy tears of the storm; and his slightly parted lips were like heated censers, from whence exhaled the sweet odor of many perfumes; and each time he breathed, exotic insects drew, as they fluttered, strength from the ardours of his breath.
    Twined about his tunic of purple stuff, in the manner of a cincture, was an iridescent Serpent with lifted head and eyes like embers turned sleepily towards him. Phials full of sinister fluids, alternating with shining knives and instruments of surgery, hung from this living girdle. He held in his right hand a flagon containing a luminous red fluid, and inscribed with a legend in these singular words: “Drink of this my blood: a perfect restorative”; and in his left hand held a violin that without doubt served to sing his pleasures and pains, and to spread abroad the contagion of his folly upon the nights of the Sabbath.
    From rings upon his delicate ankles trailed a broken chain of gold, and when the burden of this caused him to bend his eyes towards the earth, he would contemplate with vanity the nails of his feet, as brilliant and polished as well-wrought jewels.
    He looked at me with eyes inconsolably heartbroken and giving forth an insidious intoxication, and cried in a chanting voice: “If thou wilt, if thou wilt, I will make thee an overlord of souls; thou shalt be master of living matter more perfectly than the sculptor is master of his clay; thou shalt taste the pleasure, reborn without end, of obliterating thyself in the self of another, and of luring other souls to lose themselves in thine.”
    But I replied to him: “I thank thee. I only gain from this venture, then, beings of no more worth than my poor self? Though remembrance brings me shame indeed, I would forget nothing; and even before I recognized thee, thou ancient monster, thy mysterious cutlery, thy equivocal phials, and the chain that imprisons thy feet, were symbols showing clearly enough the inconvenience of thy friendship. Keep thy gifts.”
    The second Satan had neither the air at once tragical and smiling, the lovely insinuating ways, nor the delicate and scented beauty of the first. A gigantic man, with a coarse, eyeless face, his heavy paunch overhung his hips and was gilded and pictured, like a tattooing, with a crowd of little moving figures which represented the unnumbered forms of universal misery. There were little sinew-shrunken men who hung themselves willingly from nails; there were meager gnomes, deformed and undersized, whose beseeching eyes solicited alms even more eloquently than their trembling hands; there were old mothers who nursed clinging abortuses at their drooping breasts. And many others, even more surprising.
    This heavy Satan beat with his fist upon his immense belly, from whence came a loud and resounding metallic clangour, which died away in a sighing made by many human voices. And he smiled unrestrainedly, showing his broken teeth—the imbecile smile of a man who has dined too freely. Then the creature said to me:
“I can give thee that which gets all, which is worth all, which takes the place of all.” And he tapped his monstrous paunch, whence came a sonorous echo as the commentary to his obscene speech. I turned away with disgust and replied: “I need no man’s misery to bring me happiness; nor will I have the sad wealth of all the misfortunes pictured upon thy skin as upon a tapestry.”
    As for the She-devil, I should lie if I denied that at first I found in her a certain strange charm, which to define I can but compare to the charm of certain beautiful women past their first youth, who yet seem to age no more, whose beauty keeps something of the penetrating magic of ruins. She had an air at once imperious and sordid, and her eyes, though heavy, held a certain power of fascination. I was struck most by her voice, wherein I found the remembrance of the most delicious contralti, as well as a little of the hoarseness of a throat continually laved with brandy.
    “Wouldst thou know my power?” said the charming and paradoxical voice of the false goddess. “Then listen.” And she put to her mouth a gigantic trumpet, enribboned, like a mirliton, with the titles of all the newspapers in the world; and through this trumpet she cried my name so that it rolled through, space with the sound of a hundred thousand thunders, and came re-echoing back to me from the farthest planet.
    “Devil!” cried I, half tempted, that at least is worth something.” But it vaguely struck me, upon examining the seductive virago more attentively, that I had seen her clinking glasses with certain drolls of my acquaintance, and her blare of brass carried to my ears I know not what memory of a fanfare prostituted.
    So I replied, with all disdain: “Get thee hence! I know better than wed the light o’ love of them that 1 will not name.”
    Truly, I had the right to be proud of a so courageous renunciation. But unfortunately I awoke, and all my courage left me. “ In truth,” I said, “I must have been very deeply asleep indeed to have had such scruples. Ah, if they would but return while I am awake, I would not be so delicate.”
    So I invoked the three in a loud voice, offering to dishonour myself as often as necessary to obtain their favours; but I had without doubt too deeply offended them, for they have never returned.
    Два великолепных Дьявола и не менее замечательная Дьяволица поднялись прошлой ночью по той таинственной лестнице, через которую Ад атакует немощь спящего человека, и вступает с ним в тайные сношения. И вот они возвысились передо мной во всем блеске, словно бы выйдя на подмостки. Серное сияние исходило из этих трёх личностей, отделяя их от смутной глубины ночи. В их облике было столько гордости и господства, что поначалу я принял всех трёх за настоящих богов.
    Лицо первого дьявола было и мужским и женским, и во всех линиях его тела проявлялась изнеженность античных Бахусов. Его прекрасные томные глаза мрачного и неясного цвета, походили на фиалки всё ещё наполненные тяжелыми слезами грозы, а его полуоткрытые губы, на горячие курильницы, изливающие благовонный дым; и при каждом его вздохе мускусные мошки кружились рядом, вспыхивая от его горячего дыхания.
     Вокруг его пурпурной туники обвилась, подобно поясу, сверкающая змея, которая, приподнимая голову, томно обращала к нему свои искрящиеся глаза. К этому живому поясу были подвешены, чередуясь с флаконами наполненными роковыми зельями, блистающие кинжалы и хирургические инструменты. В правой руке он держал ещё один сосуд, наполненный красной светящейся жидкостью, на котором виднелась странная надпись: «Вкусите, сие есть кровь моя, что полностью укрепит ваши силы»; а в левой—скрипку, которая, без сомнения, служила ему, дабы воспевать свои радости и горести и распространять заразу безумия на полуночных шабашах.
    От его изящных лодыжкек тащились обрывки золотой цепи, и каждый раз, когда вызываемое ими стеснение принуждало его опускать глаза, он бросал тщеславные взгляды на свои ногти, отполированные и сверкающие, словно тщательно отделанные камни.
    Он посмотрел на меня полными безутешной скорби глазами, откуда исходил коварный дурман, и сказал мне певучим голосом: «Стоит тебе захотеть, стоит захотеть, и я сделаю тебя владыкою душ, и ты станешь повелителем живой материи, более властным, чем скульптор способен властвовать над глиной; и ты познаешь непрестанно возрождающееся наслаждение выходить за пределы самого себя, чтобы забыться в другом, и притягивать другие души, вплоть до их смешения с твоею собственной».
    И я отвечал ему: «Благодарю покорно! мне нечего делать с этим хламом чужих существ, которые, без сомнения, не стоят более, чем моя бедная душа. Хотя я и стыжусь некоторых своих воспоминаний, я не хочу ничего забывать; и даже если бы я не знал тебя, древнее чудовище, то твои странные ножи, твои двусмысленные зелья, цепи стесняющие твои ноги, обозначают достаточно ясно те неудобства, что причиняет твоя дружба. Оставь свои дары при себе».
    Второй дьявол не обладал ни подобной наружностью, одновременно трагической и ласковой, ни замечательно вкрадчивыми повадками, ни этой утонченной и благоухающей красотой. Это был огромный мужчина с широким безглазым лицом, чьё тяжелое брюхо нависало над бёдрами, и чья кожа была сплошь позолочена и испещрена, словно татуировками, сборищем крошечных движущихся фигурок, представляющих собой всевозможные разновидности вселенского несчастья. Тут были высохшие человечки, добровольно вешавшиесь на гвозде; тощие уродливые карлики, чьи умоляющие глаза просили милостыни ещё настойчивее, чем дрожащие руки; состарившиеся матери, державшие на руках недоносков, льнувших к их истощённым грудям. И было еще великое множество других.
    Тучный дьявол бил кулаком своё непомерное брюхо, и каждый раз оттуда доносилось бряцанье металла, заканчивающееся слабым стоном, издавашимся множеством человеческих голосов. И он хохотал, бесстыдно обнажая свои гнилые зубы, громким идиотским хохотом, как это делают во всех странах света некоторые люди после чересчур плотного обеда.
    И он сказал мне: «Я могу дать тебе то, что получает всё, что стоит всего, что заменяет всё». И он похлопал по своей чудовищной утробе, ответившей на его грубые слова гулким эхом.
    Я отвернулся от него с отвращением и ответил: «Для моего удовольствия не нужно чужого несчастья; и я не хочу богатства опечаленного всеми бедами отпечатанными на твоей коже, как на обоях».
    Что же до Дьяволицы, то я солгал бы, не сознавшись, что на первый взгляд я нашел в ней некое странное очарование. Чтобы определить это очарование, я не мог бы найти лучшего сравнения, чем с очарованием, присущим очень красивым зрелым женщинам, которые словно бы перестали стареть, и чья красота хранит пронизывающее обаяние руин. У неё был вид одновременно повелительный и нескладный, а ее глаза, даже окружённые синевой, содержали чарующую силу. Но сильнее всего поразил меня её таинственный голос, в котором я нашёл ноты нежнейших контральто заодно с хрипотцой глоток, регулярно промываемых водкой.
     «Хочешь узнать моё могущество?»—спросила лжебогиня чарующим и парадоксальным голосом. «Слушай».
    И она приложила к губам гигантскую трубу, обвутую лентами, словно сельская дудочка, с заголовками всех газет, какие только есть в мире, и сквозь эту трубу прокричала мое имя, которое прокатилось по всей вселенной с грохотом, подобным сотне тысяч громовых раскатов, и вернулось ко мне от самых дальних планет, отраженное эхом.
«Чёрт подери!»—воскликнул я, уже наполовину сдавшись.—«Вот это и вправду стоящее дело!» Но пока я разглядывал повнимательнее эту мужеподобную искусительницу, мне смутно припомнилось, что как-то раз видел её в пьяной компании известных пройдох; и её медное рычание напомнило мне некую продажную трубы.
    И я ответил со всем презрением, на какое был способен: «Изыди! Я не собираюсь жениться на любовнице неких лиц, которых даже не взялся бы назвать».
    Разумеется, после такого мужественного самоотречения я имел полное право гордиться собой. Но тут, к несчастью, я пробудился, и вся моя сила оставила меня. «Воистину»,—сказал я себе,—«я должен был заснуть слишком крепко, чтобы проявить столько щепетильности. Ах! если бы они могли вернуться сейчас, когда я бодрствую, я не был бы таким разборчивым!»
    И я громко взывал к ним, умоляя простить меня, предлагая им унижать меня всё чаще, пока я заново не удостоюсь их милости; но, должно быть, я жестоко оскорбил их, поскольку они никогда не вернулись.
    
    
    —Charles Baudelaire, Œuvres Complètes, V. I, Gallimard, 1975, pp. 307-310     —translated by MZ     —перевёл МЗ

Jean Mohler, Éros, Plutus et la Gloire, 1946


Crossposted to [info]larvatus and [info]againstnature.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
11:50 pm - Russian Symbolist Painting

phantastes
Paintings of Mikhail Nesterov, recently stumbled upon from a link in a wikipedia page- they're quite entertaining, and occasionally rather lovely in places.

This is, apparently, considered to "mark the inauguration of the Russian Symbolist movement":



Also,



(titled "Visiting a sorcerer: love drink is needed")







(this being a somewhat injudicious selection- much more can be found at http://www.abcgallery.com/N/nesterov/nesterov.html)

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Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
12:16 pm - Related promo.
magpiemae I have a tumblr that you may be interested in following, I post a lot of art, vintage photography (and my own) things that are generally whimsical in nature, and magical hoo-hah.


http://magpiemae.tumblr.com/

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Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
5:25 pm - Though it might well be common knowledge,

phantastes
I myself only recently stumbled upon this website which, despite it's rather horrible name and perhaps a bit much sappy victoriana, remains the best online gallery of symbolist painting I've yet come across.

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Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
11:11 pm

phantastes
How is it that I have never heard of this fellow before?

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Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009
7:01 pm - Jewelled Snot

leopold_paula_b
Gustave Moreau took it up with morbidity and conscious artificiality — painting in a style that Paul Gauguin called "jewelled snot".

This is from Guy Davenport's essay "The Head as Fate". Can anyone help me find the original French quote?

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Saturday, April 26th, 2008
5:55 pm

phantastes
So, growing up an anglophone an American with a northern-European based education, I know next to nothing about the literature of the Iberian peninsula. I could count the number of Spanish writers I know even by name on one hand, and until about weeks ago I don't think I could've named a single Portugese one. For those as ignorant as I, though, I should mention that at least one, Fernando Pessoa, is well worth getting more familiar with. He's supposedly the greatest Portugese poet of the past century, and one of those obscure but great and newly-rediscovered heroes of modernism that seem to be a dime a dozen these days, most famous for writing poetry under a number of different alter egos or "heteronyms", all with their own distinct personalities, philosophies, biographies, and poetic styles (though this concept doesn't strike me as quite so revolutionary or postmodern as it's purported to be)- you can find a fairly decent and informative article about him (written, somewhat amusingly, by a "founding member of Blondie and contributor to Fortean Times") here. I don't feel terribly qualified to comment on his poetry, which I've only skimmed in briefly in translation sitting in a chain bookstore (hardly ideal circumstances), but I can say that, at least from the evidence of the first 20 pages, "The Book of Disquiet" (a collection of self-consciously fragmentary, pensee-style set of journal entries claiming to be the "factless autobiography" of one "Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon") is one of the more tremble-provoking, consoling, and heartbreakingly lovely things that I've read in quite some time, and one that I suspect might appeal to quite a few readers of this community. So, if you come upon a copy, I most highly recommend you take a look.

If I might be permitted to quote a few passages from the beginning, not the prettiest but among the more easily excerptable:

"And so, not knowing how to believe in God and unable to believe in an aggregate of animals, I, along with other people on the fringe, kept a distance from things, a distance commonly called Decadence. Decadence is the total loss of unconsciousness, which is the very basis of life, Could it think, the heart would stop beating...

We're well aware that every creative work is imperfect and that our most dubious aesthetic contemplation will be the one whose object is what we write. But everything is imperfect. There's no sunset so lovely that it couldn't be lovelier, no gentle breeze bringing us sleep that couldn't bring a yet sounder sleep. And so, contemplators of statues and mountains alike, enjoying both books and the passing days, and dreaming all things so as to transform them into our own substance, we will also write down descriptions and analyses which, when they're finished, will become extraneous things that we can enjoy as if they happened along one day...

I see life as a roadside inn where I have to stay until the coach from the abyss pulls up. I don't know where it will take me, because I don't know anything. I could see this inn as a prison, for I'm compelled to wait in it; I could see it as a social centre, for it's here that I meet others. But I'm neither impatient nor common. I leave who will to stay shut up in their rooms, sprawled out on beds where they sleeplessly wait, and I leave who will to chat in the parlours, from where their songs and voices conveniently drift out here to me. I'm sitting at the door, feasting my eyes and ears on the colours and sounds of the landscape, and I softly sing--for myself along--wispy songs that I compose while waiting.

Night will fall on us all and the coach will pull up. I enjoy the breeze I'm given and the soul I was given to enjoy it with, and I no longer question or seek. If what I write in the book of travellers can, when read by others at some future date, also entertain the on their journey, then fine. If they don't read it, or are not entertained, that's fine too."

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Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
11:29 pm - Ernest Dowson

eccentrica3
I'm just discovering this wonderful writer and I'd love to know what your thoughts are on him.

current mood: curious

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Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
1:31 pm

phantastes
As I recently saw on the "Strange Tears" community, it seems that Dedalus books (the most prolific publisher I know of for comparatively obscure European decadent literature) has lost its funding (from the British arts council), and is in danger of going under. They've a petition at their website for the signing, should anyone care to (my apologies to everyone whose going to see this twice, but I thought it would likely be of some interest to the members of this community as well, and I thought their petition could probably use as many signatures as possible).

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Monday, February 4th, 2008
6:44 pm - Previous post (for Kira)

malkhos
In case it escaped the moderator's attention, the preceeding post (which seems to have replies disabled) is spam.

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Friday, February 1st, 2008
11:22 pm - A Propos of Vienna and Decadence

phantastes
This song by Leonard Cohen, loosely translated from a poem by Lorca, has always entertained me a great deal. (I wish I could provide a link to the actual song, which is every bit as delightfully overwrought and melodramatic as the words, but for now the words will have to do):

Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women.
There's a shoulder where death comes to cry.
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows.
There's a tree where the doves go to die.
There's a piece that was torn from the morning,
and it hangs in the Gallery of Frost --
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws.

I want you, I want you, I want you
on a chair with a dead magazine.
In the cave at the tip of the lily,
in some hallway where love's never been.
On a bed where the moon has been sweating,
in a cry filled with footsteps and sand --
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
take its broken waist in your hand.

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
with its very own breath
of brandy and death,
dragging its tail in the sea.

There's a concert hall in Vienna
where your mouth had a thousand reviews.
There's a bar where the boys have stopped talking,
they've been sentenced to death by the blues.
Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture
with a garland of freshly cut tears?
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
take this waltz, it's been dying for years.

There's an attic where children are playing,
where I've got to lie down with you soon,
in a dream of Hungarian lanterns,
in the mist of some sweet afternoon.
And I'll see what you've chained to your sorrow,
all your sheep and your lilies of snow --
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
with its "I'll never forget you, you know!"

And I'll dance with you in Vienna,
I'll be wearing a river's disguise.
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder
my mouth on the dew of your thighs.
And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
with the photographs there and the moss.
And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty,
my cheap violin and my cross.
And you'll carry me down on your dancing
to the pools that you lift on your wrist --
O my love, O my love
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
it's yours now. It's all that there is.

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1:53 am - Reconstruction of the Amber Room

vonjunzt
I'm sure our friend Des Essenties would heartily applaud the reconstruction of the Amber Room in St. Petersburg. Imagine, a room constructed entirely out of amber! Unfortunately, I can't seem to determine what material was used for the reconstruction -- I somehow doubt it's real amber, though I could be mistaken.

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Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
8:41 pm - seeking a few more friends

ohmypersephone

For your viewing pleasure, Schiele. Any other particular devotees of Expressionism and/or Vienna here?

(Hello, I'm Isabella, expatriate, sometime decadent, and soon-to-be theology student, seeking like-minded individuals/journals to read and by whom to be read...)

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Friday, January 25th, 2008
9:20 pm - Publius Vergilius Maro

phantastes
I'm no particular fan of the so-called "Golden Age" of Latin literature, and I'd be the first to agree that all the scorn heaped upon, say, Horace and Cicero is richly deserved (though there's something to be said for Catullus and what little of Ennius survives), but I do think that our friend Des Esseintes was perhaps a bit unnecessarily hard on the poor "Swan of Mantua". Admittedly, my Latin is nowhere near good enough to tell whether his hexameters indeed ring false, or to judge to what extent the prosody is padded, barren, and pedantic, and the Aeniad, at least in translation, is indeed unbearably pompous and deathly dull. The Georgics, however, are a delight from start to finish, at least to a reader raised on the pastoral/romantic tradition of English poetry- charming and vivid, with a wonderful eye for detail and the kind of solemn, almost liturgical reverence for the cycles of, well, for lack of a better word, that I suspect would have delighted Huysmans had he found it in a medieval Book of Hours or the miniatures in the margins of an illuminated manuscript. The Eclogues are rather more of a mixed bag, sometimes fresh and springlike, sometimes tiresome, insipid, and full of conventions that seem stale even to a reader who's never encountered them before, often within the same poem. There are enough charming passages to make their perusal worthwhile, though, and every so often you'll stumble upon something genuinely marvelous and strange, as I did when trying a translation of the eighth one, describing a magic rite meant to bring a the shepherd's man back from the big bad city:

The text in the original Latin, should you care to tackle itCollapse )

and a kind of awful translation by some fellow named J.B. Greenough, sadly the only one that seems to be readily available on the internet, as I'm to lazy to retype my own painfully literal prose versionCollapse )

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Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
11:26 pm

penguinkeggard
More Poemania....The Black Cat

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
11:05 am - In Memoriam Ingmar Bergman

phantastes






I don't want to say "Rest in Peace"- if anyone was ever going to be hanging around...

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Sunday, June 24th, 2007
10:30 pm - And now, Happy Feast of Saint John the Baptist!

phantastes






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Tuesday, June 12th, 2007
7:10 pm - Happy Birthday, Egon Schiele

phantastes



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Saturday, June 9th, 2007
4:05 pm - New article about Edgar Allan Poe

penguinkeggard
Des Esseintes was an avid Poe fan, as were all the French Symbolists. But they aren't the only ones, people are as equally obsessed with Poe in different ways. Found out how and why, in this new feature, The Poe Bug, in Philip Nutman's cultural Magazine, Up Against the Wall.

http://www.upagainstthewallmag.com/ISSUE07/PoeBug.html

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