A splendidly sunny autumnal evening, so I decided to stay inside and read this bad boy - just to get into the seasonable mood, you know.
"Soon into frozen shades, like leaves, we’ll tumble.
Adieu, short summer’s blaze, that shone to mock.
I hear already the funereal rumble
Of logs, as on the paving-stones they shock.
Winter will enter in my soul to dwell —
Rage, hate, fear, horror, labour forced and dire!
My heart will seem, to sun that polar hell,
A dim, red, frozen block, devoid of fire.”
from “Song of Autumn”, Charles Baudelaire (tr. Roy Campbell)
So it always is as we approach the source of our desires. As Rilke observed, love requires a progressive shortening of the senses: I can see you for miles; I can hear you for blocks; I can smell you, maybe, for a few feet, but I can only touch on contact, taste as I devour. And as we blend, sight, the sovereign sense and concept’s chief content, blurs. “The lover,” Rilke wrote, “is in such splendid danger just because he must depend upon the co-ordination of his senses, for he knows that they must meet in that unique and risky centre, in which, renouncing all extension, they come together and have no permanence.”
Is it the sight of death, the thought of saying? What sinks us deeper into melancholy: sexual incompleteness or its spastic conclusion? What seems to line our life with satin? What brings the rouge to both our cheeks? Loneliness, emptiness, worthlessness, grief… each is an absence in us. We have no pain, but we have lost all pleasure, and the lip that meets our lip is always one-half of our own. Our state is exactly the name of precisely nothing, and our memories, with polite long faces, come to view us and to say to one another that we never looked better; that we seem at last at peace; that our passing was… well — sad — still — doubtless for the best (all this in a whisper lest the dead should hear). Disappointment, constant loss, despair… a taste, a soft quality in the air, a color, a flutter: permanent in their passage. We were not up to it. We missed it. We could not retain it. It will never be back. Joy-breaking gloom continues to hammer. So it’s true: Being without Being is blue.
Rose, oh pure contradiction, delight
of being no one’s sleep under so
It was said: “To honour a visitor, the Egyptian beauty Nimet Eloui, Rilke gathered some roses from his garden. While doing so, he pricked his hand on a thorn. This small wound failed to heal, grew rapidly worse, soon his entire arm was swollen, and his other arm became affected as well”, and so he died.
the twenty-fourth Sonnet to Orpheus:
Look at the flowers, so faithful to what is earthly,
to whom we lend fate from the very border of fate.
And if they are sad about how they must wither and die,
perhaps it is our vocation to be their regret.
All Things want to fly. Only we are weighed down by desire,
caught in ourselves and enthralled with our heaviness.
Oh what consuming, negative teachers we are
for them, while eternal childhood fills them with grace.
If someone were to fall into intimate slumber, and slept
deeply with Things—: how easily he would come
to a different day, out of the mutual depth.
Or perhaps he would stay there; and they would blossom and praise
their newest convert, who now is like one of them,
all those silent companions in the wind of the meadows.
Baudelaire’s supreme delight was to contemplate a woman’s beautiful body, and when her beauty was perfect, he seems to have attained a moment of full calm, a spiritual beatitude. But fleeting, for contemplation cannot continue without tempting. Baudelaire’s vice is indeed vice, since it does not spring from a primitive blind thirst, but from the gradual and irritating infiltration of an idea.
In the beginning, you are free to reject this idea, but once accepted, you can no longer control it, and desire seems to become more resistless than in an actual need. Wilde’s deep word comes to mind: “Yes, one of the great secrets of life is to cure the soul through the senses, and then the senses through the soul.” But whoever has come to that, is doomed to the first circle of a moral hell. […]
Yes, Baudelaire had every right to go mad. But instead the Fleurs du mal arise.
You like it under the trees in autumn,
Because everything is half dead.
The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.
In the same way, you were happy in spring,
With the half colors of quarter-things,
The slightly brighter sky, the melting clouds,
The single bird, the obscure moon—
The obscure moon lighting an obscure world
Of things that would never be quite expressed,
Where you yourself were not quite yourself,
And did not want nor have to be,
Desiring the exhilarations of changes:
The motive for metaphor, shrinking from
The weight of primary noon,
The A B C of being,
The ruddy temper, the hammer
Of red and blue, the hard sound—
Steel against intimation—the sharp flash,
The vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X.
Love is the name given to the power that ensures the continuity of existence, and the bounds of love are binding.
To carry out its mission, fate counts on the complicity of our freedom, and to be free, we must overcome fate.Octavio Paz
Dancing Dead Leaves by Yunfan Tan
Have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight? Batman has, but surely the fallen leaves that have given their lives annually for a few thousand millennia know that feel as well, though Yunfan believes that need not be a saddening sacrifice: looping the withering process and turning it into an endless dance, the leaves’ way of saying this isn’t goodbye… just we’ll do this again next year.