Saturday, August 1, 2009

Clay: Appendix 5: Rimbaud and Exorcism


Rimbaud's oeuvre is a pack of lies.

Rimbaud was too busy barking and howling to listen.

What kind of poet is this anyway?

An admirable teen rebellion. Beautiful blue-eyed Demiurgette. Pint-sized Promethiite.

We scribes don't give a damn for his virtuosity, his pyrotechnics.

A poet of the visual spectrum. All in all a rather more charming child of the Enlightenment than most. Toy trains, the Corpus Hermeticum, romantic oriental fetishes, obsessive inventiveness, the "new".

His color is nasty blue--the same blue as on our flags, but more fluorescent. Blue approaching the shiny blue of certain species of hornet.

Baudelaire's colors are faded gold leaf, black, purple, blood red, black, Avignon ochre, ash, ivory or ebony flesh, black, etc.

Baudelaire: the master of Latinity in our two centuries.

III. Mystique...

A clear night sky. After so much hashish--this time!--how the stars flatten out and press down upon me!

Tiring of the sky, he lies on his side near the campfire, gazing into it. --[--We know he doesn't really understand mysticism. --He has perhaps read of the Zoroastrians? --Who doesn't know of these hashishin microcosms?]--

After so much hashish--this time!--the crumbling logs heaped in the fire become for him a landscape in flames.

Off the top of the hill formed by the logs in flames, bits of ash rise with the heat; then, whirling, descend. They are tiny angels spinning in grey-white woolen robes.

On the left, a darkened log crackles and smokes. Ruts have broken into its surface: the charred remains and sounds of a battle.

On the right, embers glow in white and mystic heat: Oriental splendor! The wisdom of ages!

The fire hisses and cracks, and as the stoned youth turns to gaze upward, eyes stinging from the heat and the drug, he sees brown and black curdles of smoke rising away and rolling. --Are they the lost time of men? --Are they that which is burned away? --Are they the remains of all the struggles and nights?

The starry sky behind the campfire, the vague flicker of light against the trees, stretch down like a canvas or a basket, the whole scene collapsing into the broken perspective of hashish and medieval murals, turbulent foreground pushed up against flat background.

Down at the very bottom--wrapped round the hottest embers like a mantle of purest candy--the soft glow of blue flames: the liminal color.

Once--when I may have dared to taste!

[. . .] XI.
I understand Rimbaud. I look into him as into a mirror. I understand his shame. It is all true, all of it. It is a shame so absolute. It is the encounter. All of Europe. It is much deeper and harder than . . . It is a wretchedness in the very Shaman's Dance of Europe, a wretchedness never cleansed or appeased, for which no sacrifice . . .

Case in point.]

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