ARTIFICIAL PARADISES BAUDELAIRE PDF
The paper starts from Charles Baudelaire's observations on artificial paradises produced by the intake of opium and hashish and looks at what. Read Artificial Paradises: Baudelaire s Masterpiece on Hashish Full E-Book Free PDF OnlineRead Read Artificial Paradises: Baudelaire s. Artificial Paradises by Charles Baudelaire "Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams.".
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Charles Baudelaire . speak of man has, then, wished to create Paradise by chemistry, by fermented drinks; like a maniac who Among the drugs most efficient in creating what I call the artificial ideal, leaving on one side liquors, which. The Artificial Paradises in French Literature or Poe or Baudelaire or Gautier or Balzac, or even several of these together; but no major published investigation. At the time of its release in , Charles Baudelaire's "Artificial Paradises (Les Paradis Artificiels)" met with immediate praise. One of the most important French .
A lucid interval, and a great expenditure of effort, permit you to look at the clock. The eternity turns out to have been only a minute. The third phase There is nothing whirling and tumultuous about it.
It is a calm and placid beatitude. Every philosophical problem is resolved. Every difficult question that presents a point of contention for theologians, and brings despair to thoughtful men, becomes clear and transparent.
Spoonfuls of paradise
Every contradiction is reconciled. Man has surpassed the gods. Enter your search terms Submit search form Web www.
Major Studies: Taking a drug test: Own your ow legal marijuana business. Your guide to making money in the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry. Enter your search terms Submit search form. How monstrous comic is this situation, for a man who is enjoying a gaiety incomprehensible for him who is not placed in the same environment as he! The madman takes pity on the sage, and from that moment the idea of his superiority begins to dawn on the horizon of his intellect.
Soon it will grow great and broad, and burst like a meteor. I was once witness of a scene of this kind which was carried very far, and whose grotesqueness was only intelligible to those who were acquainted, at least by means of observation of others, with the effects of the substance and the enormous difference of diapason which it creates between two intelligences apparently equal.
A famous musician, who was ignorant of the properties of hashish, who perhaps had never heard speak of it, finds himself in the midst of a company, several persons of which had taken a portion.
They try to make him understand the marvellous effects of it; at these prodigious yarns he smiles courteously, by complaisance, like a man who is willing to play the fool for a minute or two. The comicality of it lightened them all like a flash; their joy boiled over.
Not knowing whether he is dealing with genuine madmen or only with people who are pretending to be mad, our friend thinks that the part of discretion is to go away; but somebody shuts the door and hides the key. Another, kneeling before him, asks his pardon, in the name of the company, and declares insolently, but with tears, that despite his mental inferiority, which perhaps excites a little pity, they are all filled with a profound friendship for him. He makes up his mind to remain, and even condescends, after pressure, to play a little music.
But the sounds of the violin, spreading themselves through the room like a new contagion, stab -- the word is not too strong -- first one of the revellers, then another. There burst forth deep and raucous sighs, sudden sobs, streams of silent tears. The frightened musician stops, and, approaching him whose ecstasy is noisiest, asks him if he suffers much, and what must be done to relieve him.
One of the persons present, a man of common sense, suggests lemonade and acids; but the "sick man," his eyes shining with ecstasy, looks on them both with ineffable contempt.
To wish to cure a man "sick" of too much life, "sick" of joy! As this anecdote shows, goodwill towards men has a sufficiently large place in the feelings excited by hashish: a soft, idle, dumb benevolence which springs from the relaxation of the nerves. In support of this observation somebody once told me an adventure which had happened to him in this state of intoxication, and as he preserved a very exact memory of his feelings I understood perfectly into what grotesque and inextricable embarrassment this difference of diapason and of pity of which I was just speaking had thrown him.
I do not remember if the man in question was at his first or his second experiment; had he taken a dose which was a little too strong, or was it that the hashish had produced, without any apparent cause, effects much more vigorous than the ordinary -- a not infrequent occurrence? He told me that across the scutcheon of his joy, this supreme delight of feeling oneself full of life and believing oneself full of genius, there had suddenly smitten the bar sinister of terror.
At first dazzled by the beauty of his sensations, he had suddenly fallen into fear of them. He had asked himself the question: "What would become of my intelligence and of my bodily organs if this state" which he took for a supernatural state "went on By the power of enlargement which the spiritual eye of the patient possesses, this fear must be an unspeakable torment.
Indeed, it was a frightful ride, and my thought, slave of circumstance, of milieu, of accident, and of all that may be implied by the word chance, had taken a turn of pure, absolute rhapsody. When this mood, which seemed to me to last for an infinite time, and which I daresay only occupied a few minutes, changed, when I thought that at last I might dive into the ocean of happiness so dear to Easterns which succeeds this furious phase, I was overwhelmed by a new misfortune; a new anxiety, trivial enough, puerile enough, tumbled upon me.
I suddenly remembered that I was invited to dinner, to an evening party of respectable people. I foresaw myself in the midst of a well-behaved and discreet crowd, every one master of himself, where I should be obliged to conceal carefully the state of my mind while under the glare of many lamps. I was fairly certain of success, but at the same time my heart almost gave up at the thought of the efforts of will which it would be necessary to bring into line in order to win. By some accident, I know not what, the words of the Gospel, "Woe unto him by whom offences come!
My catastrophe, for it was indeed a catastrophe, then took a gigantic shape: despite my weakness, I resolved on vigorous action, and went to consult a chemist, for I did not know the antidotes, and I wished to go with a free and careless spirit to the circle where my duty called me; but on the threshold of the shop a sudden thought seized me, haunted me, forced me to reflect.
As I passed I had just seen myself in the looking-glass of a shop-front, and my face had startled me. This paleness, these lips compressed, these starting eyes! Add to that the ridicule which I wished to avoid, the fear of finding people in the shop. But my sudden goodwill towards this unknown apothecary mastered all my other feelings. I imagined to myself this man as being as sensitive as I myself was at this dreadful moment, and as I imagined also that his ear and his soul must, like my own, tremble at the slightest noise, I resolved to go in on tiptoe.
You know it, this hashish voice: grave, deep, guttural; not unlike that of habitual opium-eaters. The result was the exact contrary of my intention; anxious to reassure the chemist, I frightened him. He was in no way acquainted with this illness; had never even heard of it; yet he looked at me with a curiosity strongly mingled with mistrust.
Did he take me for a madman, a criminal, or a beggar? Nor the one nor the other, doubtless, but all these absurd ideas ploughed through my brain. I was obliged to explain to him at length what weariness! When I had quite finished I beg you well to understand all the humiliation which these words contained for me he asked me simply to go away. Such was the reward of my exaggerated thoughtfulness and goodwill. I went to my evening party; I scandalised nobody.
No one guessed the superhuman struggles which I had to make to be like other people; but I shall never forget the tortures of an ultra-poetic intoxication constrained by decorum and antagonised by duty.
The man who told it to me is not cured. He continued to crave at the hands of the cursed confection the excitement which wisdom finds in itself; but as he is a prudent and settled man, a man of the world, he has diminished the doses, which has permitted him to increase their frequency. He will taste later the rotten fruit of his "prudence"! I return to the regular development of the intoxication.
After this first phase of childish gaiety there is, as it were, a momentary relaxation; but new events soon announce themselves by a sensation of coolth at the extremities -- which may even become, in the case of certain persons, a bitter cold -- and a great weakness in all the limbs. You have then "butter fingers"; and in your head, in all your being, you feel an embarrassing stupor and stupefaction. Your eyes start from your head; it is as if they were drawn in every direction by implacable ecstasy.
Your face is deluged with paleness; the lips draw themselves in, sucked into the mouth with that movement of breathlessness which characterises the ambition of a man who is the prey of his own great schemes, oppressed by enormous thoughts, or taking a long breath preparatory to a spring.
The throat closes itself, so to say; the palate is dried up by a thirst which it would be infinitely sweet to satisfy, if the delights of laziness were not still more agreeable, and in opposition to the least disturbance of the body. Deep but hoarse sighs escape from your breast, as if the old bottle, your body, could not bear the passionate activity of the new wine, your new soul. From one time to another a spasm transfixes you and makes you quiver, like those muscular discharges which at the end of a day's work or on a stormy night precede definitive slumber.
This time it is a man of letters who speaks, and in some parts of his story one will I think be able to find the indications of the literary temperament. The crisis of gaiety had not lasted long, and I found myself in a state of languor and wonderment which was almost happiness.
I looked forward, then, to a quiet and unworried evening: unfortunately chance urged me to go with a friend to the theatre. I took the heroic course, resolved to overcome my immense desire to to be idle and motionless. All the carriages in my district were engaged; I was obliged to walk a long distance amid the discordant noises of the traffic, the stupid conversation of the passers-by, a whole ocean of triviality.
My finger-tips were already slightly cool; soon this turned into a most acute cold, as if I had plunged both hands into a bucket of ice-water. But this was not suffering; this needle-sharp sensation stabbed me rather like a pleasure. Yet it seemed to me that this cold enveloped me more and more as the interminable journey went on. I asked two or three times of the person with whom I was if it was actually very cold.
He replied to me that, on the contrary, the temperature was more than warm. Installed at last in the room, shut up in the box which had been given me, with three or four hours of repose in front of me, I thought myself arrived at the Promised Land.
The feelings on which I had trampled during the journey with all the little energy at my disposal now burst in, and I give myself up freely to my silent frenzy. The cold ever increased, and yet I saw people lightly clad, and even wiping their foreheads with an air of weariness.
This delightful idea took hold of me, that I was a privileged man, to whom alone had been accorded the right to feel cold in summer in the auditorium of a theatre. This cold went on increasing until it became alarming; yet I was before all dominated by my curiosity to know to what degree it could possibly sink. At last it came to such a point, it was so complete, so general, that all my ideas froze, so to speak; I was a piece of thinking ice. I imagined myself as a statue carved in a block of ice, and this mad hallucination made me so proud, excited in me such a feeling of moral well-being, that I despair of defining it to you.
What added to my abominable enjoyment was the certainty that all the other people present were ignorant of my nature and of the superiority that I had over them, and then with the pleasure of thinking that my companion never suspected for a moment with what strange feelings I was filled, I clasped the reward of my dissimulation, and my extraordinary pleasure was a veritable secret. You know that hashish always invokes magnificences of light, splendours of colour, cascades of liquid gold; all light is sympathetic to it, both that which streams in sheets and that which hangs like spangles to points and roughnesses; the candelabra of salons, the wax candles that people burn in May, the rosy avalanches of sunset.
It seems that the miserable chandelier spread a light far too insignificant to quench this insatiable thirst of brilliance. I thought, as I told you, that I was entering a world of shadows, which, moreover, grew gradually thicker, while I dreamt of the Polar night and the eternal winter. As to the stage, it was a stage consecrated to the comic Muse; that alone was luminous; infinitely small and far off, very far, like a landscape seen through the wrong end of a telescope.
I will not tell you that I listened to the actors; you know that that is impossible. From time to time my thoughts snapped up on the wing a fragment of a phrase, and like a clever dancing-girl used it as a spring-board to leap into far-distant reveries.
You might suppose that a play heard in this manner would lack logic and coherence. Undeceive yourself! I discovered an exceeding subtle sense in the drama created by my distraction. Nothing jarred on me, and I resembled a little that poet who, seeing Esther played for the first time, found it quite natural that Haman should make a declaration of love to the queen. It was, as you guess, the moment where he throws himself at the feet of Esther to beg pardon of his crime.
If all plays were listened to on these lines they all, even those of Racine, would gain enormously. The actors seemed to me exceedingly small, and bounded by a precise and clear-cut line, like the figures in Meissonier's pictures.
I saw distinctly not only the most minute details of their costumes, their patterns, seams, buttons, and so on, but also the line of separation between the false forehead and the real; the white, the blue, and the red, and all the tricks of make-up; and these Lilliputians were clothed about with a cold and magical clearness, like that which a very clean glass adds to an oil-painting.
When at last I was able to emerge from this cavern of frozen shadows, and when, the interior phantasmagoria being dissipated, I came to myself, I experienced a greater degree of weariness than prolonged and difficult work has ever caused me. It is then that the hallucinations begin; external objects take on wholly and successively most strange appearances; they are deformed and transformed.
Then -- the ambiguities, the misunderstandings, and the transpositions of ideas!
Sounds cloak themselves with colour; colours blossom into music. That, you will say, is nothing but natural. Every poetic brain in its healthy, normal state, readily conceives these analogies.
But I have already warned the reader that there is nothing of the positively supernatural in hashish intoxication; only those analogies possess an unaccustomed liveliness; they penetrate and they envelop; they overwhelm the mind with their masterfulness.
Musical notes become numbers; and if your mind is gifted with some mathematical aptitude, the harmony to which you listen, while keeping its voluptuous and sensual character, transforms itself into a vast rhythmical operation, where numbers beget numbers, and whose phases and generation follow with an inexplicable ease and an agility which equals that of the person playing.
It happens sometimes that the sense of personality disappears, and that the objectivity which is the birthright of Pantheist poets develops itself in you so abnormally that the contemplation of exterior objects makes you forget your own existence and confound yourself with them. Your eye fixes itself upon a tree, bent by the wind into an harmonious curve; in some seconds that which in the brain of a poet would only be a very natural comparison becomes in yours a reality.
At first you lend to the tree your passions, your desire, or your melancholy; its creakings and oscillations become yours, and soon you are the tree.
In the same way with the bird which hovers in the abyss of azure: at first it represents symbolically your own immortal longing to float above things human; but soon you are the bird itself. Suppose, again, you are seated smoking; your attention will rest a little too long upon the bluish clouds which breathe forth from your pipe; the idea of a slow, continuous, eternal evaporation will possess itself of your spirit, and you will soon apply this idea to your own thoughts, to your own apparatus of thought.
By a singular ambiguity, by a species of transposition or intellectual barter, you feel yourself evaporating, and you will attribute to your pipe, in which you feel yourself crouched and pressed down like the tobacco, the strange faculty of smoking you! Luckily, this interminable imagination has only lasted a minute.
For a lucid interval, seized with a great effort, has allowed you to look at the clock. But another current of ideas bears you away; it will roll you away for yet another minute in its living whirlwind, and this other minute will be an eternity.
For the proportion of time and being are completely disordered by the multitude and intensity of your feelings and ideas. One may say that one lives many times the space of a man's life during a single hour. Are you not, then, like a fantastic novel, but alive instead of being written?
There is no longer any equation between the physical organs and their enjoyments; and it is above all on this account that arises the blame which one must give to this dangerous exercise in which liberty is forfeited. When I speak of hallucinations the word must not be taken in its strictest sense: a very important shade of difference distinguishes pure hallucination, such as doctors have often have occasion to study, from the hallucination, or rather of the misinterpretation of the senses, which arises in the mental state caused by the hashish.
In the first case the hallucination is sudden, complete, and fatal; beside which, it finds neither pretext nor excuse in the exterior world. The sick man sees a shape or hears sounds where there are not any. In the second case, where hallucination is progressive, almost willed, and it does not become perfect, it only ripens under the action of imagination.
Finally, it has a pretext. A sound will speak, utter distinct articulations; but there was a sound there. The enthusiast eye of the hashish drunkard will see strange forms, but before they were strange and monstrous these forms were simple and natural. The energy, the almost speaking liveliness of hallucination in this form of intoxication in no way invalidates this original difference: the one has root in the situation, and, at the present time, the other has not.
Better to explain this boiling over of the imagination, this maturing of the dream, and this poetic childishness to which a hashish-intoxicated brain is condemned, I will tell yet another anecdote. This time it is not an idle young man who speaks, nor a man of letters.
It is a woman; a woman no longer in her first youth; curious, with an excitable mind, and who, having yielded to the wish to make acquaintance with the poison, describes thus for another woman the most important of her phases. I transcribe literally. The spiritual excitement is too lively, the fatigue which results from it too great; and, to say all in a word, I find in this return to childhood something criminal.
Ultimately after many hesitations I yielded to curiosity, since it was a folly shared with old friends, where I saw no great harm in lacking a little dignity. Sometimes one thinks oneself recovered from the intoxication; but it is only a deceitful peace.
There are moments of rest, and then recrudescences. Thus, before ten o'clock in the evening I found myself in one of these momentary states; I thought myself escaped from this superabundance of life which had caused me so much enjoyment, it is true, but which was not without anxiety and fear. I sat down to supper with pleasure, like one in that state of irritable fatigue which a long journey produces; for till then, for prudence sake, I had abstained from eating; but even before I rose from the table my delirium had caught me up again as a cat catches a mouse, and the poison began anew to play with my poor brain.
Although my house is quite close to that of our friends, and although there was a carriage at my disposal, I felt myself so overwhelmed with the necessity of dreaming, of abandoning myself to this irresistible madness, that I accepted joyfully their offer to keep me till the morning.
You know the castle; you know that they have arranged, decorated, and fitted with conveniences in the modern style all that part in which they ordinarily live, but that the part which is usually unoccupied has been left as it was, with its old style and its old adornments.
They determined to improvise for me a bedroom in this part of the castle, and for this purpose they chose the smallest room, a kind of boudoir, which, although somewhat faded and decrepit, is none the less charming.
I must describe it for you as well as I can, so that you may understand the strange vision which I underwent, a vision which fulfilled me for a whole night, without ever leaving me the leisure to note the flight of the hours.
From the height of the cornice the ceiling arches itself to a vault; the walls are covered with narrow, long mirrors, separated by panels, where landscapes, in the easy style of the decorations, are painted. On the frieze on the four walls various allegorical figures are represented, some in attitudes of repose, others running or flying; above them are brilliant birds and flowers.
Behind the figures a trellis rises, painted so as to deceive the eye, and following naturally the curve of the ceiling; this ceiling is gilded. All the interstices between the woodwork and the trellis and the figures are then covered with gold, and at the centre the gold is only interrupted by the geometrical network of the false trellis; you see that that resembles somewhat a very distinguished cage, a very fine cage for a very big bird.
I must add that the night was very fine, very clear, and the moon brightly shining; so much so that even after I had put out my candle all this decoration remained visible, not illuminated by my mind's eye, as you might think, but by this lovely night, whose lights clung to all this broidery of gold, of mirrors, and of patchwork colours.
There were limpid rivers, and green meadows admiring their own beauty in calm waters: you may guess here the effect of the panels reflected by the mirrors. In raising my eyes I saw a setting sun, like molten metal that grows cold. It was the gold of the ceiling.
But the trellis put in my mind the idea that I was in a kind of cage, or in a house open on all sides upon space, and that I was only separated from all these marvels by the bars of my magnificent prison. In the first place I laughed at the illusion which had hold of me; but the more I looked the more its magic grew great, the more it took life, clearness, and masterful reality. From that moment the idea of being shut up mastered my mind, without, I must admit, too seriously interfering with the varied pleasures which I drew from the spectacle spread around and above me.
I thought of myself as of one imprisoned for long, for thousands of years perhaps, in this sumptuous cage, among these fairy pastures, between these marvellous horizons. I imagined myself the Sleeping Beauty; dreamt of an expiation that I must undergo, of deliverance to come. Above my head fluttered brilliant tropical birds, and as my ear caught the sound of the little bells on the necks of the horses which were travelling far away on the main road, the two senses pooling their impressions in a single idea, I attributed to the birds this mysterious brazen chant; I imagined that they sang with a metallic throat.
Evidently they were talking to me, and chanting hymns to my captivity. Gambolling monkeys, buffoon-like satyrs, seemed to amuse themselves at this supine prisoner, doomed to immobility; yet all the gods of mythology looked upon me with an enchanting smile, as if to encourage me to bear the sorcery with patience, and all their eyes slid to the corner of their eyelids as if to fix themselves on me.
I came to the conclusion that if some faults of the olden time, some sins unknown to myself, had made necessary this temporary punishment, I could yet count upon an overriding goodness, which, while condemning me to a prudent course, would offer me truer pleasures than the dull pleasures which filled our youth. You see that moral considerations were not absent from my dream; but I must admit that the pleasure of contemplating these brilliant forms and colours and of thinking myself the centre of a fantastic drama frequently absorbed all my other thoughts.
This stayed long, very long. Did it last till morning? I do not know.
All of a sudden I saw the morning sun taking his bath in my room. I experienced a lively astonishment, and despite all the efforts of memory that I have been able to make I have never been able to assure myself whether I had slept or whether I had patiently undergone a delicious insomnia. A moment ago, Night; now, Day. And yet I had lived long; oh, very long!
The notion of Time, or rather the standard of Time, being abolished, the whole night was only measurable by the multitude of my thoughts. So long soever as it must have appeared to me from this point of view, it also seemed to me that it had only lasted some seconds; or even that it had not taken place in eternity.
They say that the enthusiasm of poets and creative artists resembles what I experienced, though I have always believed that those persons on whom is laid the task of stirring us must be endowed with a most calm temperament. But if the poetic delirium resembles that which a teaspoonful of hashish confection procured for me I cannot but think that the pleasures of the public cost the poets dear, and it is not without a certain well-being, a prosaic satisfaction, that I at last find myself at home, in my intellectual home; I mean, in real life.
She speaks of supper as of a pleasure arriving at the right moment; at the moment where a momentary remission, momentary for all its pretence of finality, permitted her to go back to real life. Indeed, there are, as I have said, intermissions, and deceitful calms, and hashish often brings about a voracious hunger, nearly always an excessive thirst. Only, dinner or supper, instead of bringing about a permanent rest, creates this new attack, the vertiginous crisis of which this lady complains, and which was followed by a series of enchanting visions lightly tinged with affright, to which she so assented, resigning herself with the best grace in the world.
The tyrannical hunger and thirst of which we speak are not easily assayed without considerable trouble. For the man feels himself so much above material things, or rather he is so much overwhelmed by his drunkenness, that he must develop a lengthy spell of courage to move a bottle or a fork.
The definitive crisis determined by the digestion of food is, in fact, very violent; it is impossible to struggle against it. And such a state would not be supportable if it lasted too long, and if it did not soon give place to another phase of intoxication, which in the case above cited interprets itself by splendid visions, tenderly terrifying, and at the same time full of consolations.
This new state is what the Easterns call Kaif. Since long you have not been your own master; but you trouble yourself no longer about that. Pain, and the sense of time, have disappeared; or if sometimes they dare to show their heads, it is only as transfigured by the master feeling, and they are then, as compared with their ordinary form, what poetic melancholy is to prosaic grief.
But above all let us remark that in this lady's account and it is for this purpose that I have transcribed it it is but a bastard hallucination, and owes its being to the objects of the external world. The spirit is but a mirror where the environment is reflected, strangely transformed. Then, again, we see intruding what I should be glad to call moral hallucination; the patient thinks herself condemned to expiate somewhat; but the feminine temperament, which is ill-fitted to analyse, did not permit her to notice the strangely optimistic character of the aforesaid hallucination.
The benevolent look of the gods of Olympus is made poetical by a varnish essentially due to hashish. I will not say that this lady has touched the fringe of remorse, but her thoughts, momentarily turned in the direction of melancholy and regret, have been quickly coloured by hope.
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This is an observation which we shall again have occasion to verify. She speaks of the fatigue of the morrow. In fact, this is great. But it does not show itself at once, and when you are obliged to acknowledge its existence you do so not without surprise: for at first, when you are really assured that a new day has arisen on the horizon of your life, you experience an extraordinary sense of well-being; you seem to enjoy a marvellous lightness of spirit.
But you are scarcely on your feet when a forgotten fragment of intoxication follows you and pulls you back; it is the badge of your recent slavery. Your enfeebled legs only conduct you with caution, and you fear at every moment to break yourself, as if you were made of porcelain. A wondrous languor -- there are those who pretend that it does not lack charm -- possesses itself of your spirit, and spreads itself across your faculties as a fog spreads itself in a meadow.
There, then, you are, for some hours yet, incapable of work, of action, and of energy. It is the punishment of an impious prodigality in which you have squandered your nervous force. You have dispersed your personality to the four winds of heaven -- and now, what trouble to gather it up again and concentrate it!
Have we not to speak of more serious things -- of modifications of our human opinions, and, in a word, of the morale of hashish? Up to the present I have only made an abridged monograph on the intoxication; I have confined myself to accentuating its principal characteristics.
But what is more important, I think, for the spiritually minded man, is to make acquaintance with the action of the poison upon the spiritual part of man; that is to say, the enlargement, the deformation, and the exaggeration of his habitual sentiments and his moral perception, which present then, in an exceptional atmosphere, a true phenomenon of refraction.
The man who, after abandoning himself for a long time to opium or to hashish, has been able, weak as he has become by the habit of bondage, to find the energy necessary to shake off the chain, appears to me like an escaped prisoner.
He inspires me with more admiration than does that prudent man who has never fallen, having always been careful to avoid the temptation. The English, in speaking of opium-eaters, often employ terms which can only appear excessive to those innocent persons who do not understand the horrors of this downfall -- enchained, fettered, enslaved.
Chains, in fact, compared to which all others -- chains of duty, chains of lawless love -- are nothing but webs of gauze and spider tissues. Horrible marriage of man with himself!
But in how many marvellous passages does Edgar Poe, this incomparable poet, this never-refuted philosopher, whom one must always quote in speaking of the mysterious maladies of the soul, describe the dark and clinging splendours of opium!
The lover of the shining Berenice, Egoeus, the metaphysician, speaks of an alteration of his faculties which compels him to give an abnormal and monstrous value to the simplest phenomenon.
In the quivering of a leaf -- in the hue of a blade of grass -- in the shape of a trefoil -- in the humming of a bee -- in the gleaming of a dew-drop -- in the breathing of the wind -- in the faint odours that came from the forest -- there came a whole universe of suggestion -- a gay and motley train of rhapsodical and immethodical thought.
These two characteristics of opium are perfectly applicable to hashish. In the one case, as in the other, the intelligence, formerly free, becomes a slave; but the word rapsodique, which defines so well a train of thought suggested and dictated by the exterior world and the accident of circumstance, is in truth truer and more terrible in the case of hashish.
Here the reasoning power is no more than a wave, at the mercy of every current and the train of thought is infinitely more accelerated and more rapsodique; that is to say, clearly enough, I think, that hashish is, in its immediate effect, much more vehement than opium, much more inimical to regular life; in a word, much more upsetting.
I do not know if ten years of intoxication by hashish would bring diseases equal to those caused by ten years of opium regimen; I say that, for the moment, and for the morrow, hashish has more fatal results. One is a soft-spoken enchantress; the other, a raging demon.
Hinweise und Aktionen
I wish in this last part to define and to analyse the moral ravage caused by this dangerous and delicious practice; a ravage so great, a danger so profound, that those who return from the fight but lightly wounded appear to me like heroes escaped from the cave of a multiform Proteus, or like Orpheus, conquerors of Hell.
You may take, if you will, this form of language for an exaggerated metaphor, but for my part I will affirm that these exciting poisons seem to me not only one of the most terrible and the most sure means which the Spirit of Darkness uses to enlist and enslave wretched humanity, but even one of the most perfect of his avatars. This time, to shorten my task and make my analysis the clearer, instead of collecting scattered anecdotes I will dress a single puppet in a mass of observation.
I must, then, invent a soul to suit my purpose. In his "Confessions" De Quincey rightly states that opium, instead of sending man to sleep, excites him; but only excites him in his natural path, and that therefore to judge of the marvels of opium it would be ridiculous to try it upon a seller of oxen, for such an one will dream of nothing but cattle and grass. Now I am not going to describe the lumbering fancies of a hashish-intoxicated stockbreeder.
Who would read them with pleasure, or consent to read them at all? To idealise my subject I must concentrate all its rays into a single circle and polarise them; and the tragic circle where I will gather them together will be, as I have said, a man after my own heart; something analogous to what the eighteenth century called the homme sensible, to what the romantic school named the homme incompris, and to what family folk and the mass of bourgeoisie generally brand with the epithet "original.
Let us add a cultivated mind, exercised in the study of form and colour, a tender heart, wearied by misfortune, but still ready to be made young again; we will go, if you please, so far as to admit past errors, and, as a natural result of these in an easily excitable nature, if not positive remorse, at least regret for time profaned and ill-spent. A taste for metaphysics, an acquaintance with the different hypotheses of philosophy of human destiny, will certainly not be useless conditions; and, further, that love of virtue, of abstract virtue, stoical or mystic, which is set forth in all the books upon which modern childishness feeds as the highest summit to which a chosen soul may attain.
If one adds to all that a great refinement of sense -- and if I omitted it it was because I thought it supererogatory -- I think that I have gathered together the general elements which are most common in the modern homme sensible of what one might call the lowest common measure of originality.
Let us see now what will become of this individuality pushed to its extreme by hashish. Let us follow this progress of the human imagination up to its last and most splendid serai; up to the point of the belief of the individual in his own divinity. If you are one of these souls your innate love of form and colour will find from the beginning an immense banquet in the first development of your intoxication.
Colours will take an unaccustomed energy and smite themselves within your brain with the intensity of triumph. Delicate, mediocre, or even bad as they may be, the paintings upon the ceilings will clothe themselves with a tremendous life. The coarsest papers which cover the walls of inns will open out like magnificent dioramas.
Nymphs with dazzling flesh will look at you with great eyes deeper and more limpid than are the sky and sea. Characters of antiquity, draped in their priestly or soldierly costumes, will, by a single glance, exchange with you most solemn confidences.
The snakiness of the lines is a definitely intelligible language where you read the sorrowing and the passion of their souls. Nevertheless a mysterious but only temporary state of the mind develops itself; the profoundness of life, hedged by its multiple problems, reveals itself entirely in the sight, however natural and trivial it may be, that one has under one's eyes; the first-come object becomes a speaking symbol.
Fourier and Swedenborg, one with his analogies, the other with his correspondences, have incarnated themselves in all things vegetable and animal which fall under your glance, and instead of touching by voice they indoctrinate you by form and colour. The understanding of the allegory takes within you proportions unknown to yourself.
We shall note in passing that allegory, that so spiritual type of art, which the clumsiness of its painters has accustomed us to despise, but which is realy one of the most primitive and natural forms of poetry, regains its divine right in the intelligence which is enlightened by intoxication. Then the hashish spreads itself over all life; as it were, the magic varnish. It colours it with solemn hues and lights up all its profundity; jagged landscapes, fugitive horizons, perspectives of towns whitened by the corpse-like lividity of storm or illumined by the gathered ardours of the sunset; abysses of space, allegorical of the abyss of time; the dance, the gesture or the speech of the actors, should you be in a theatre; the first-come phrase if your eyes fall upon a book; in a word, all things; the universality of beings stands up before you with a new glory unsuspected until then.
The grammar, the dry grammar itself, becomes something like a book of "barbarous names of evocation. Music, that other language dear to the idle or the profound souls who seek repose by varying their work, speaks to you of yourself, and recites to you the poem of your life; it incarnates in you, and you swoon away in it.
It speaks your passion, not only in a vague, ill-defined manner, as it does in your careless evenings at the opera, but in a substantial and positive manner, each movement of the rhythm marking a movement understood of your soul, each note transforming itself into Word, and the whole poem entering into your brain like a dictionary endowed with life.
It must not be supposed that all these phenomena fall over each other pell-mell in the spirit, with a clamorous accent of reality and the disorder of exterior life; the interior eye transforms all, and gives to all the complement of beauty which it lacks, so that it may be truly worthy to give pleasure.
It is also to this essentially voluptuous and sensual phase that one must refer the love of limpid water, running or stagnant, which develops itself so astonishingly in the brain-drunkenness of some artists. The mirror has become a pretext for this reverie, which resembles a spiritual thirst joined to the physical thirst which dries the throat, and of which I have spoken above.
The flowing waters, the sportive waters; the musical waterfalls; the blue vastness of the sea; all roll, sing, leap with a charm beyond words. The water opens its arms to you like a true enchantress; and though I do not much believe in the maniacal frenzies caused by hashish, I should not like to assert that the contemplation of some limpid gulf would be altogether without danger for a soul in love with space and crystal, and that the old fable of Undine might not become a tragic reality for the enthusiast.
I think I have spoken enough of the gigantic growth of space and time; two ideas always connected, always woven together, but which at such a time the spirit faces without sadness and without fear. It looks with a certain melancholy delight across deep years, and boldly dives into infinite perspectives. You have thoroughly well understood, I suppose, that this abnormal and tyrannical growth may equally apply to all sentiments and to all ideas.
Thus, I have given, I think, a sufficiently fair sample of benevolence. The same is true of love. The idea of beauty must naturally take possession of an enormous space in a spiritual temperament such as I have invented.
Harmony, balance of line, fine cadence in movement, appear to the dreamer as necessities, as duties, not only for all beings of creation, but for himself, the dreamer, who finds himself at this period of the crisis endowed with a marvellous aptitude for understanding the immortal and universal rhythm.
And if our fanatic lacks personal beauty, do not think he suffers long from the avowal to which he is obliged, or that he regards himself as a discordant note in the world of harmony and beauty improvised by his imagination.At first dazzled by the beauty of his sensations, he had suddenly fallen into fear of them. I must describe it for you as well as I can, so that you may understand the strange vision which I underwent, a vision which fulfilled me for a whole night, without ever leaving me the leisure to note the flight of the hours.
All such soon transform themselves into necessities. One is a soft-spoken enchantress; the other, a raging demon. There is nothing whirling and tumultuous about it.
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