It is a self-deception of philosophers and moralists to imagine that they escape decadence by opposing it. That is beyond their will; and, however little they acknowledge it, one later discovers that they were among the most powerful promoters of decadence.
You’re like a lighthouse shining beside the sea of humanity, motionless: all you can see is your own reflection in the water. You’re alone, so you think it’s a vast, magnificent panorama. You haven’t sounded the depths. You simply believe in the beauty of God’s creation. But I have spent all this time in the water, diving deep into the howling ocean of life, deeper than anyone. While you were admiring the surface, I saw the shipwrecks, the drowned bodies, the monsters of the deep
While the Gods are powerful, we learn little about them. It is only in their day of decadence that a strong light beats into heaven.
Decline is also a form of voluptuousness, just like growth. Autumn is just as sensual as springtime. There is as much greatness in dying as in procreation.
They had...finished their lives before their death – which is not always the end of life and often comes long before the end.
In the end, this volume should be read a s a collection of love stories, Above all, they are tales of love, not the love with which so many stories end – the love of fidelity, kindness and fertility – but the other side of love, its cruelty, sterility and duplicity. In a way, the decadents did accept Nordau's idea of the artist as monster. But in nature, the glory and panacea of romanticism, they found nothing. Theirs is an aesthetic that disavows the natural and with it the body. The truly beautiful body is dead, because it is empty. Decadent work is always morbid, but its attraction to death is through art. What they refused was the condemnation of that monster. And yet despite the decadent celebration of artifice, these stories record art's failure in the struggle against natural horror. Nature fights back and wins, and decadent writing remains a remarkable account of that failure.
If rape or arson, poison or the knifeHas wove no pleasing patterns in the stuffOf this drab canvas we accept as life -It is because we are not bold enough!
More than GM Foods I am afraid of GMM People. Genetically and Mentally Mutated People. The Entire Ecosystem Mutates.
I know that [civilized men] do nothing but boast incessantly of the peace and repose they enjoy in their chains.... But when I see [barbarous man] sacrifice pleasures, repose, wealth, power, and life itself for the preservation of this sole good which is so disdained by those who have lost it; when I see animals born free and despising captivity break their heads against the bars of their prison; when I see multitudes of entirely naked savages scorn European voluptuousness and endure hunger, fire, the sword, and death to preserve only their independence, I feel it does not behoove slaves to reason about freedom.
Decadence, decadence, he said to himself. They’ve lost everything and gained nothing. The French had merely daubed on the finishing touches at the end of a process which had begun five hundred years ago, at least. Their intuitive moral desires coincided with the ideals embodied in the formulas of their religion, yet they could live in accordance neither with those deepest impulses nor with the precepts of the religion, because society came in between with all the pressure of its tradition. No one could afford to be honest or generous or merciful because every one of them distrusted all the others; often they had more confidence in a Christian they were meeting for the first time than in a Moslem they had known for years.
Hidden away behind the closed doors of aristocratic and bourgeois privilege, concealed under those ultra-respectable masks of black frock coat and veil, the green glow of corruption flickers into sight, steadies, and spreads everywhere, fostered by Lorrain's horrified and complicitous gaze. This decadent detective is at one with the criminal he pursues, acknowledging openly that the representation of corruption is one of the most pleasurable forms that corruption can take. In this enterprise, art is the mask that both exposes and conceals culpability.
Like symbolism, decadence puts forth the idea that the function of literature is to evoke impressions and 'correspondences', rather than to realistically depict the world. ... the decadent aestheticized decay and took pleasure in perversity. In decadent literature, sickness is preferable to health, not only because sickness was regarded as more interesting, but because sickness was construed as subversive, as a threat to the very fabric of society. By embracing the marginal, the unhealthy and the deviant, the decadents attacked bourgeois life, which they perceived as the chief enemy of art.
For Zola, as for Huysmans, nature itself is uncanny because it is the domain of the feminine, a domain that is constitutionally defective, lacking, even pathological.
The fancies that take their monstrous birth from the spinelessness and boredom of usurped wealth bring in their wake every defect ... and though rich men's crimes escape the law, protected as they are by the cowardice of governments and people, Nature, more real than society, sets her anarchic example by abandoning the wretched time servers of Capital to the shame and madness of the worst aberrations.
No, no, don't let my vulnerable heart share in this sacrifice to lust! Let him disgust me before pleasing me! Let him be what others have been, an instrument that I can break before becoming the echoes of its vibration.
A very special case. A few years more, and that pretty creature who you love too much, I think, will, without ever loving them, have known as many men as there are beads on her aunt's rosary. No happy medium! Either a nun or a monster! God's bosom or sensual passions! It would, perhaps, be better to put her in a convent, since we put hysterical women in the Saltpetriere! She does not know vice, she invents it!That was ten years ago before the day our story begins and... Raoule was not a nun.
In the course of my life I have had pre-pubescent ballerinas; emaciated duchesses, dolorous and forever tired, melomaniac and morphine-sodden; bankers' wives with eyes hollower than those of suburban streetwalkers; music-hall chorus girls who tip creosote into their Roederer when getting drunk...I have even had the awkward androgynes, the unsexed dishes of the day of the *tables d'hote* of Montmartre. Like any vulgar follower of fashion, like any member of the herd, I have made love to bony and improbably slender little girls, frightened and macabre, spiced with carbolic and peppered with chlorotic make-up.Like an imbecile, I have believed in the mouths of prey and sacrificial victims. Like a simpleton, I have believed in the large lewd eyes of a ragged heap of sickly little creatures: alcoholic and cynical shop girls and whores. The profundity of their eyes and the mystery of their mouths... the jewellers of some and the manicurists of others furnish them with *eaux de toilette*, with soaps and rouges. And Fanny the etheromaniac, rising every morning for a measured dose of cola and coca, does not put ether only on her handkerchief.It is all fakery and self-advertisement - *truquage and battage*, as their vile argot has it. Their phosphorescent rottenness, their emaciated fervour, their Lesbian blight, their shop-sign vices set up to arouse their clients, to excite the perversity of young and old men alike in the sickness of perverse tastes! All of it can sparkle and catch fire only at the hour when the gas is lit in the corridors of the music-halls and the crude nickel-plated decor of the bars. Beneath the cerise three-ply collars of the night-prowlers, as beneath the bulging silks of the cyclist, the whole seductive display of passionate pallor, of knowing depravity, of exhausted and sensual anaemia - all the charm of spicy flowers celebrated in the writings of Paul Bourget and Maurice Barres - is nothing but a role carefully learned and rehearsed a hundred times over. It is a chapter of the MANCHON DE FRANCINE read over and over again, swotted up and acted out by ingenious barnstormers, fully conscious of the squalid salacity of the male of the species, and knowledgeable in the means of starting up the broken-down engines of their customers.To think that I also have loved these maleficent and sick little beasts, these fake Primaveras, these discounted Jocondes, the whole hundred-franc stock-in-trade of Leonardos and Botticellis from the workshops of painters and the drinking-dens of aesthetes, these flowers mounted on a brass thread in Montparnasse and Levallois-Perret!And the odious and tiresome travesty - the corsetted torso slapped on top of heron's legs, painful to behold, the ugly features primed by boulevard boxes, the fake Dresden of Nina Grandiere retouched from a medicine bottle, complaining and spectral at the same time - of Mademoiselle Guilbert and her long black gloves!...Have I now had enough of the horror of this nightmare! How have I been able to tolerate it for so long?The fact is that I was then ignorant even of the nature of my sickness. It was latent in me, like a fire smouldering beneath the ashes. I have cherished it since... perhaps since early childhood, for it must always have been in me, although I did not know it!
We are precarious. Which is to say some good things (accumulation of diverseknowledges, skills and abilities through work and life experiences in permanentconstruction), and a lot of bad ones (vulnerability, insecurity, poverty, socialexposure).
Society has three stages: Savagery, Ascendance, Decadence. The great rise because of Savagery. They rule in Ascendance. They fall because of their own Decadence.He tells how the Persians were felled, how the Romans collapsed because their rulers forgot how their parents gained them an empire. He prattles about Muslim dynasties and European effeminacy and Chinese regionalism and American self-loathing and self-neutering. All the ancient names.Our Savagery began when our capital, Luna, rebelled against the tyranny of Earth and freed herself from the shackles of Demokracy, from the Noble Lie - the idea that men are brothers and are created equal. Augustus weaves lies of his own with that golden tongue of his. He tells of the Goldens' suffering. The Masses sat on the wagon and expected the great to pull, he reminds. They sat whipping the great until we could no longer take it. I remember a different whipping. Men are not created equal; we all know this. There are averages. There are outliers. There are the ugly. There are the beautiful. This would not be if we were all equal. A Red can no more command a starship than a Green can serve as a doctor!There's more laughter across the square as he tells us to look at pathetic Athens, the birthplace of the cancer they call Demokracy. Look how it fell to Sparta. The Noble Lie made Athens weak. It made their citizens turn on their best general, Alcibiades, because of jealousy. Even the nations of Earth grew jealous of one another. The United States of America exacted this idea of equality through force. And when the nations united, the Americans were surprised to find that they were disliked! The Masses are jealous! How wonderful a dream it would be if all men were created equal! But we are not.It is against the Noble Lie that we fight. But as I said before, as I say to you now, there is another evil against which we war. It is a more pernicious evil. It is a subversive, slow evil. It is not a wildfire. It is a cancer. And that cancer is Decadence. Our society has passed from Savagery to Ascendance. But like our spiritual ancestors, the Romans, we too can fall into Decadence.
Living in a world where people measure their happiness by self-indulgence and decadence, Is like watching a whole society being pushed into the abyss of perpetual decay and aberrations.
The blood of my motherland waters a magic plant that cures all ills. That plant is art, and sometimes art needs corruption as a kind of fertilizer
The conventional use of words and of narrative structure is deliberately subverted in decadent fiction; language deviates from the established norms in an attempt to reproduce pathology on a textual level. With its emphasis on aberration and artifice, the decadents' approach to the language of fiction frequently leans towards the baroque and the obscure.
It is precisely, if paradoxically, because reversal is in the service of repetition (so as to ensure, alongside its companion strategies, a dizzying proliferation of citations) that it gains a subversive power rather than remain a mere dependent (and thus conservative) form of social discourse. Reversal plays a double role in this novel (MONSIEUR VENUS), for it is not only a formal strategy bearing on citation, but itself a citation as well; one more cliché mobilized from the fin-de-siecle reserve.
Adornment, exoticism, affectation are all willed decadent strategies meant to pervert the texts they made. Decadent texts often live in their descriptive excursions, in their evocation of dreams, mysterious places and states of mind, in their excess of words, not events. The surface of the texts, the sound of the words, point to themselves as manufactured, as illusion. The decadents attempted to create texts that announced themselves as artifice.
March 1898What a strange dream I had last night! I wandered in the warm streets of a port, in the low quarter of some Barcelona or Marseille. The streets were noisome, with their freshly-heaped piles of ordure outside the doors, in the blue shadows of their high roofs. They all led down towards the sea. The gold-spangled sea, seeming as if it had been polished by the sun, could be seen at the end of each thoroughfare, bristling with yard-arms and luminous masts. The implacable blue of the sky shone brilliantly overhead as I wandered through the long, cool and sombre corridors in the emptiness of a deserted district: a quarter which might almost have been dead, abruptly abandoned by seamen and foreigners. I was alone, subjected to the stares of prostitutes seated at their windows or in the doorways, whose eyes seemed to ransack my very soul.They did not speak to me. Leaning on the sides of tall bay-windows or huddled in doorways, they were silent. Their breasts and arms were bare, bizarrely made up in pink, their eyebrows were darkened, they wore their hair in corkscrew-curls, decorated with paper flowers and metal birds. And they were all exactly alike!They might have been huge marionettes, or tall mannequin dolls left behind in panic - for I divined that some plague, some frightful epidemic brought from the Orient by sailors, had swept through the town and emptied it of its inhabitants. I was alone with these simulacra of love, abandoned by the men on the doorsteps of the brothels.I had already been wandering for hours without being able to find a way out of that miserable quarter, obsessed by the fixed and varnished eyes of all those automata, when I was seized by the sudden thought that all these girls were dead, plague-stricken and putrefied by cholera where they stood, in the solitude, beneath their carmine plaster masks... and my entrails were liquefied by cold. In spite of that harrowing chill, I was drawn closer to a motionless girl. I saw that she was indeed wearing a mask... and the girl in the next doorway was also masked... and all of them were horribly alike under their identical crude colouring...I was alone with the masks, with the masked corpses, worse than the masks... when, all of a sudden, I perceived that beneath the false faces of plaster and cardboard, the eyes of these dead women were alive.Their vitreous eyes were looking at me...I woke up with a cry, for in that moment I had recognised all the women. They all had the eyes of Kranile and Willie, of Willie the mime and Kranile the dancer. Every one of the dead women had Kranile's left eye and Willie's right eye... so that every one of them appeared to be squinting.Am I to be haunted by masks now?
The inartistic methods that we use to blunt anxiety and unartful expedients that we resort to in order to escape pain and numb banality reveals what we dread most, the act of suffering from a mortal loss or the debasement that we earn by wallowing in our decadent acts of escapism.
Two times twice now, I have been called arrogant, by the decadent.I'd rather be overly self confident, rather than overly self indulgent.
Thus spoke the Beauty and her voice had a cheerful ring, and her face was aflame with a great rejoicing. She finished her story and began to laugh quietly, but not cheerfully. The Youth bowed down before her and silently kissed her hands, inhaling the languid fragrance of myrrh, aloe and musk which wafted from her body and her fine robes. The Beauty began to speak again.'There came to me streams of oppressors, because my evil, poisonous beauty bewitches them. I smile at them, they who are doomed to death, and I feel pity for each of them, and some I almost loved, but I gave myself to no one. Each one I gave but one single kiss — and my kisses were innocent as the kisses of a tender sister. And whomsoever I kissed, died.'The soul of the troubled Youth was caught in agony, between two quite irresolvable passions, the terror of death and an inexpressible ecstasy. But love, conquering all, overcoming even the anguish of death's grief, was triumphant once again today. Solemnly stretching out his trembling hands to the tender and terrifying Beauty, the Youth exclaimed, 'If death is in your kiss, o beloved, let me revel in the infinity of death. Cling to me, kiss me, love me, envelop me with the sweet fragrance of your poisonous breath, death after death pour into my body and into my soul before you destroy everything that once was me!''You want to! You are not afraid!' exclaimed the Beauty.The face of the Beauty was pale in the rays of the lifeless moon, like a guttering candle, and the lightning in her sad and joyful eyes was trembling and blue. With a trusting movement, tender and passionate, she clung to the Youth and her naked, slender arms were entwined about his neck.'We shall die together!' she whispered. 'We shall die together. All the poison of my heart is afire and flaming streams are rushing through my veins, and I am all enveloped in some great holocaust.''I am aflame!' whispered the Youth, 'I am being consumed in your embraces and you and I are two flaming fires, burning with the immense ecstasy of a poisonous love.'The sad and lifeless moon grew dim and fell in the sky — and the black night came and stood watch. It concealed the secret of love and kisses, fragrant and poisonous, with gloom and solitude. And it listened to the harmonious beating of two hearts growing quieter, and in the frail silence it watched over the final delicate sighs.And so, in the poisonous Garden, having breathed the fragrances which the Beauty breathed, and having drunk the sweetness of her love so tenderly and fatally compassionate, the beautiful Youth died. And on his breast the Beauty died, having delivered her poisonous but fragrant soul up to sweet ecstasies.(The Poison Garden)
The exotic and the erotic ideals go hand in hand, and this fact also contributes another proof of a more or less obvious truth - that is, that a love of the exotic is usually an imaginative projection of a sexual desire.
On the third day Vera said:'I love your body because it is beautiful. But I do not know your soul. I do not know whether there is a soul. Nor is it necessary for me because your body is beautiful.But everything is mutable and you will grow old. At first your face will grow old. Your body will live longer. An old face will be a mockery before a youthful body. And then a wasted body will be a mockery to ravenous desires.This is like the dead light of the setting sun which from the clouds above was reflected in the water... feeble and full of disillusion.Should I not kill you so that I might always possess you for myself.'And Vera became terrifying.I found this unpleasant.But from these words I understood that she had decided upon the day.(Thirty-Three Abominations)
Through silent alleys where dark shadows fleeted past them like forest beasts on the prowl; through bustling market-places where bloaters predominated, into crammed gin-palaces where the gas flashed over faces whereon was stamped the indelible impression of a protest against creation; brushing tatters which were in gruesome harmony with the haggard or bloated features.(The Phantom Model
The beauty of the twentieth century is the charm of the hospital, the grace of the cemetery, of consumption and emaciation. I admit that I have submitted to it all; worse, I have loved with all my heart.
I have no idea how long Quisser was gone from the table. My attention became fully absorbed by the other faces in the club and the deep anxiety they betrayed to me, an anxiety that was not of the natural, existential sort but one that was caused by peculiar concerns of an uncanny nature. What a season is upon us, these faces seemed to say. And no doubt their voices would have spoken directly of certain peculiar concerns had they not been intimidated into weird equivocations and double entendres by the fear of falling victim to the same kind of unnatural affliction that had made so much trouble in the mind of the art critic Stuart Quisser. Who would be next? What could a person say these days, or even think, without feeling the dread of repercussion from powerfully connected groups and individuals? I could almost hear their voices asking, Why here, why now? But of course they could have just as easily been asking, Why not here, why not now? It would not occur to this crowd that there were no special rules involved; it would not occur to them, even though they were a crowd of imaginative artists, that the whole thing was simply a matter of random, purposeless terror that converged upon a particular place at a particular time for no particular reason. On the other hand, it would also not have occurred to them that they might have wished it all upon themselves, that they might have had a hand in bringing certain powerful forces and connections into our district simply by wishing them to come. They might have wished and wished for an unnatural evil to fall upon them but, for a while at least, nothing happened. Then the wishing stopped, the old wishes were forgotten yet at the same time gathered in strength, distilling themselves into a potent formula (who can say!), until one day the terrible season began. Because had they really told the truth, this artistic crowd might also have expressed what a sense of meaning (although of a negative sort), not to mention the vigorous thrill (although of an excruciating type), this season of unnatural evil had brought to their lives.(Gas Station Carnivals)
Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.