On Baudelaire

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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odysseus
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Joined: Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:30 pm

On Baudelaire

Post by odysseus » Sun Jan 26, 2020 9:16 pm

You haven't really understood religion until you've thoroughly embraced the world, full and clear, in its presence, and its presence comprises (ethical) evil and well as good. For if there were no evil in the world, there would be no religion, for all things would be settled, and even the hard sciences would be obviated for the purpose to pursue them be absent. 'Evil' is a term that has an unfortunate history of broad connotative meanings, and such histories always say more than is fitting for an inquiry. Here, I mean all of it: it extends from the mildest inconvenience to the most savage inhumanity: all things have this one question, which is the question of purpose in the closest analysis; not the entanglements of daily living, but beneath those, to the value that hides behind (hides like a whale at sea!), the metavalue, as Wittgenstein would put it, the value of value. This is the philosophical world, not the complacency of day to day affairs, but the underpinnings to what these possess.

But IN this context of foundational inquiry, it is what is most poignant that is the most disturbing, because poignant events obtrude on our sense of well being, a sense based on a freedom from the world's atrocities committed not be us, but by the world. Baudelaire is not the kind of thing you will find in a liturgy, but it should be there along with the promising metaphysics, for evil is in the metaphysics as well. It is not as it was to medieval peasants who know all too well what it was to suffer; they needed no reminder. But today, what is deeply true about religion is lost, (replaced by mass media and an inability to read what inspires philosophical thinking).

Here is what is lost, one half of what is lost. We need Baudelaire "Fleurs du Mal" remind us:

To the Reader
Folly, error, sin, avarice
Occupy our minds and labor our bodies,
And we feed our pleasant remorse
As beggars nourish their vermin.
Our sins are obstinate, our repentance is faint ;
We exact a high price for our confessions,
And we gaily return to the miry path,
Believing that base tears wash away all our stains.
On the pillow of evil Satan, Trismegist,
Incessantly lulls our enchanted minds,
And the noble metal of our will
Is wholly vaporized by this wise alchemist.
The Devil holds the strings which move us !
In repugnant things we discover charms ;
Every day we descend a step further toward Hell,
Without horror, through gloom that stinks.
Like a penniless rake who with kisses and bites
Tortures the breast of an old prostitute,
We steal as we pass by a clandestine pleasure
That we squeeze very hard like a dried up orange.
Serried, swarming, like a million maggots,
A legion of Demons carouses in our brains,4 http://www.paskvil.com/
And when we breathe, Death, that unseen river,
Descends into our lungs with muffled wails.
If rape, poison, daggers, arson
Have not yet embroidered with their pleasing designs
The banal canvas of our pitiable lives,
It is because our souls have not enough boldness.
But among the jackals, the panthers, the bitch hounds,
The apes, the scorpions, the vultures, the serpents,
The yelping, howling, growling, crawling monsters,
In the filthy menagerie of our vices,
There is one more ugly, more wicked, more filthy !
Although he makes neither great gestures nor great cries,
He would willingly make of the earth a shambles
And, in a yawn, swallow the world ;
He is Ennui ! – His eye watery as though with tears,
He dreams of scaffolds as he smokes his hookah pipe.
You know him reader, that refined monster,
– Hypocritish reader, – my fellow, – my brother !

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