Where You Go When You Want to Think

This site has excerpts of my novel-in-progress, Hot Love on the Wing, as well as thoughts on post postmodernism, avant garde art, literature, music, and the community of artists in Bushwick and New York.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baudelaire and Millenialism

Baudelaire is a boss. His 1857 work, Fleurs de Mal (Flowers of Evil) is arguably the most important French poetic work from the 19th century. It inspired a movement of symbolists, and helped to create modern poetry. Symbolism was all about generating emotion through metaphor and comparison, all with the help of a Platonic ideal.

I've been thinking a lot about art today and I think that a similar idea is apparent in many artistic and literary works. Recently, I came across the term, "object-hood," which is another way of saying "symbolic content," the representation of feelings and ideas through materiality. For more on this see my post postmodernism manifesto below. Tradition is inescapable, so it was only natural that I turned to Baudelaire's "The Soul of Wine" as a prime example of wine's object-hood. Here it is:

L'Ame du Vin
Un soir, l'âme du vin chantait dans les bouteilles:
«Homme, vers toi je pousse, ô cher déshérité,
Sous ma prison de verre et mes cires vermeilles,
Un chant plein de lumière et de fraternité!
Je sais combien il faut, sur la colline en flamme,
De peine, de sueur et de soleil cuisant
Pour engendrer ma vie et pour me donner l'âme;
Mais je ne serai point ingrat ni malfaisant,
Car j'éprouve une joie immense quand je tombe
Dans le gosier d'un homme usé par ses travaux,
Et sa chaude poitrine est une douce tombe
Où je me plais bien mieux que dans mes froids caveaux.
Entends-tu retentir les refrains des dimanches
Et l'espoir qui gazouille en mon sein palpitant?
Les coudes sur la table et retroussant tes manches,
Tu me glorifieras et tu seras content;
J'allumerai les yeux de ta femme ravie;
À ton fils je rendrai sa force et ses couleurs
Et serai pour ce frêle athlète de la vie
L'huile qui raffermit les muscles des lutteurs.
En toi je tomberai, végétale ambroisie,
Grain précieux jeté par l'éternel Semeur,
Pour que de notre amour naisse la poésie
Qui jaillira vers Dieu comme une rare fleur!»
— Charles Baudelaire

The Soul of Wine
One night, the soul of wine was singing in the flask:
"O man, dear disinherited! to you I sing
This song full of light and of brotherhood
From my prison of glass with its scarlet wax seals.
I know the cost in pain, in sweat,
And in burning sunlight on the blazing hillside,
Of creating my life, of giving me a soul:
I shall not be ungrateful or malevolent,
For I feel a boundless joy when I flow
Down the throat of a man worn out by his labor;
His warm breast is a pleasant tomb
Where I'm much happier than in my cold cellar.
Do you hear the choruses resounding on Sunday
And the hopes that warble in my fluttering breast?
With sleeves rolled up, elbows on the table,
You will glorify me and be content;
I shall light up the eyes of your enraptured wife,
And give back to your son his strength and his color;
I shall be for that frail athlete of life
The oil that hardens a wrestler's muscles.
Vegetal ambrosia, precious grain scattered
By the eternal Sower, I shall descend in you
So that from our love there will be born poetry,
Which will spring up toward God like a rare flower!"
— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

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