Friday, 20 June 2014

The Bohemianism Of Fin De Siecle -"Things are beautiful to behold but to be them is quite different" From The One Single True Word: Of Rimbaud To Jim Morrison's Wilderness Symbolism

"I shed more tears than God could have required..
Idle youth enslaved to everything; by being too sensitive i have wasted my life.....
Ah, let the time come when hearts are enamoured
I said to myself: Let be, And let no one see you: Do without the promise of higher joys. Let nothing delay you, majestic retirement......
I'm now making myself as scummy as i can. Why? I want to be a poet. And I'm working at turning myself into a seer. You wont understand any of this, and I'm almost incapable of explaining it to you. The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering but one must be strong and be born a poet, its really not my fault.
I say that one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious,and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he reaches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him and keeps only their quintessences. This is an unspeakable torture during which he needs all his faith and superhuman strength, and during which he becomes the great patient, the great criminal, the great accursed- the great learned one!-among men.- For he arrives at the unknown! Because he has cultivated his own soul-which was rich to begin with-more than any other man! He reaches the unknown; and even if, crazed, he ends up losing the understanding of his visions, at least he has seen them! Let him die charging those unutterable, unnameable things; other horrible workers will come: they will begin from the horizons from where he has succumbed!

One Single True Word is : Come Back, I want to be with you, I love you . If you listen to this you will prove your courage and sincerity. Otherwise,  I am sorry for you but I love you I kiss you and we'll see each other again....-Rimbaud    
                  A SEASON IN HELL
    Delirium II Alchemy Of The Word

                       It is recovered.
                      What?- Eternity
                   In the whirling light 
                   Of the sun in the sea.

                    O my eternal soul,
                   Hold fast on desire
                   In spite of the night 
                   And the day on fire.

             You must set yourself free
             From the striving of Man 
         And the applause of the World
              You must fly as you can...

                                           -No hope forever
                                                No oriteur
                                         Science and patience
 The torment is sure.

The fire within you
Soft silken embers
Is our whole duty
But no one remembers.

It is recovered.
What? -Eternity
In the whirling light 
Of the sun in the sea.


"I am a slave of my baptism, parents you have caused my misfortune, and you have caused your own"-Rimbaud

The Fin de siecle, saw a revolutionary transformation in the genre of poetics, art and music with the onset of the Symbolic movement. French writers and stalwarts were floored with the use of symbolisms in their poetic artforms. By the likes of Paul Verlain, Stéphanie Mallarme, Arthur Rimbaud, Jules Laforgue, Paul Velary, etc...symbolism became the dawn of the New Age...

Although synonymous yet distinctly different rose the decadent movement and its laurels. Identifying with hermeticism alingned with the tint of Byronic Romanticism, it used precieux (precious), ornamental and morbid subjects. Thematically, the decadents underlined the common yet unconscious historical background of the decadence of the Roman Empire, being expressed through individual motifs and personal expressions. One such example can be traced in Paul Verlain's Langueur from Jadis et Naguere
"I am the Empire, at the end of decadence, who watches the large, white barbarians passing, while composing lazy acrostic poems in a gilded style, in which the languor of the sun dances."


As Jean Moreas puts it, symbolism meant "to clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form". In other words, symbolism is an indirect expression of the inner condition of the Poet's soul and his subjective impression and experiences, penned down in symbols through words. A self-motivated artform, the concept arises from the Poet's epiphany or a moment of immense self realisation, a spiritual hallucination, or through excesses of emotive sensations (synesthesia). The idea emerged in 1857 with the publication of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal along with the subtle literary legacy of Edgar Allan Poe who in turn had influenced Baudelaire.

As published on 18th September 1886 in his essay Le Manifeste du Symbolisme in Le Figaro, Moreas writes
"In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial ideals."

Hence by reference to symbols, allegories and metaphors, the aim was to evoke rather than describe or express. Where the depiction of reality and transcendence projected a spiritual hallucination, unnamed thoughts, unwordly feelings, strange sensations and a weird combination of words whose meaning lied at depth beyond the logical decipher of mere words. Where the Poet became a Schopenhauerian Genius swirling his magic wand among his readers transporting them to a hypnotic, silent esoteric realm used as a microcosmic camouflage of the macrocosmic truth. As Rimbaud himself puts it in The Alchemy Of Words....
"I dreamt of crusades, voyages of discovery that nobody had heard of, republics without histories, religious wars stamped out, revolutions in morals, movements of races and continents.  I used to believe in every kind of magic.
I invented colours for vowels A black, E white, I red, O green, U blue- I made the rules for the form and movement of every consonant, i boasted of inventing rhythms from within me a kind of poetry that all the senses, sooner or later, would recognize. And i alone would be its translator. It began as an investigation, i turned silences and nights into words, what was unutterable, i wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still."


Josephine Peladan, the founder of the Mystic Order Of The Rose+Croix influenced by the medieval secret society of Rosicrusians, an active occultist himself, was highly regarded among the finest admirers of the symbolist movement. He promoted the Symbolists by establishing a state of the art Salon De La +Croix with the six galleries of exihibition space featuring avant garde experimentalism in poetry, arts and music. The elites and stalwarts of Symbolist poetry were associated with the Salon's much known public acclaim.


"Genius is the recollection of childhood at will..."  -Rimbaud.

The essence of symbolism reached its peak in 1884 with the publication of Paul Verlain's essay on Poetes Maudits or The Accursed Poets including Arthur Rimbaud, Stephane Mallarme, Tristan Corbiere, Marceline Desbordes Valmore, Gerad de Nerval and Verlain himself as Pauvre Lelian or Poor Lelain. Based on the victimization of these poets by their talents as an affect of their sensibility -a gift of their art, he claimed them as cursed with their own Geniuses. The idea was based on the aesthetics of Schopenhauer and Charles Baudelaire's poem Bénédiction in Les Fleurs Du Mal

"When by the decree of the supreme powers
The Poet appears in this world bored..."

...Be Blessed, my God, who us suffering
As a divine remedy of our impurities
And as the best and purest essence,
Who prepares the strong for holy pleasures! I know you keep a place in Poet, in the blessed ranks of the holy legions, and you invite him to the eternal feast of Thrones, Virtues, Dominions...."

Where Baudelaire describes the unaffected demeanor of the Poet retaining his inner peace and serenity, irrespective of the nuances of the outer world.

As stated by Schopenhauer "...Only through the pure contemplation....which becomes entirely absorbed in the object....are the Ideas comprehended; and the nature of Genius consists precisely in the preeminent ability for such contemplation.... This demands a complete forgetting of our own person."



"Things are certainly beautiful to behold but to be them is quite different...."

As Schopenhauer states The World As Will And Representation, in accordance to his doctrine of the Primacy of Will, he segregates the dual entities of representation and human will. The belief in the world as artistic representation negates the suffering of the world as the malignant human will. Thereby, art as an representation temporarily escapes the desires, depravation, grim and desolate realities of human will. Hence, emerging as the Plationic Ideal, Art performs the highest ritual of mental purgation escaping the mind to a silent state of self reality beyond the world of striving will. As he states, "On the occurence of an aesthetic appreciation, the will thereby vanishes entirely from the consciousness...." in Schopenhaeur's Parerga and Parilipomena. The Symbolists befitted idea, and adopted it as one of the priciple grounds of Symbolist poetry.

"Perhaps the reason why common objects in still life seem so transfigured and generally everything painted appears in a supernatural light is that we then no longer look at things in the flux of time and in the relation of cause and effect.....On the contrary we are snatched out of that eternal flux of all things and removed into a dead and silent eternity. In its individuality the thing itself was determined by time and by the (causal) conditions of understanding; here we see this connection abolished and only the Platonic Idea is left." - Schopenhauer.


A prized possesion for the Symbolists, it meant a unique amalgation of the sensory organs. The symbols co related with certain distinct visual imagery like colours (Chromesthesia), auditory (sounds) gustatory (tastes) and olfactory (scents) senses etc which can be well noted in this example of Baudelaire's Correspondences

"There perfumes that are fresh like children's flesh,
Sweet like oboes, grean like meadow
And others corrupt, rich and triumphant
Having the exanspiveness of the infinite things
Like amber, musc, benzoin, incenses
Which sing of the raptures of the soul and the senses."

And Rimbaud's Voyelles

A, black, E white, I red, O green , U blue: vowels
I shall tell, one day, of your mystic origins
A, black velvety jacket of brilliant flies
which buzz around cruel smells.
Gulf of shadows; E, whiteness of vapours and of tents
Lances of proud glaciers, white kings, shiverings of cow parsley
I, purples, spat blood, smile of beautiful lips
In anger or in the raptures of penitence

U, waves, divine, shuddering of viridian seas
The peace of pastures dotted with animals, the peace of the furrows
Which alchemy prints on broad studious foreheads
O, sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds
Silences crossed by worlds and by angels
O, the omega, the violet rays of her eyes


The symbolists heralded Theophile Gautier's motto - L'art Pour L'art (Art for Art's Sake) The slogan depicting the radicalism of the French revolution the Bohemianism of Fin De Siecle and its libertine social setting. Where the concept of art was seen as an autotelic - self sufficient work of human talent and consciousness, complete in itself without the need of any moral conjecture or societal norms. The idea suggested in defiance of didatic utilitarianism, insisting that the artist possesed absolute freedom in expression of beyond any moral judgement or function as the value of art stood for art itself . The best explanation of this idea could be found in the work of Edgar Allan Poe, the most influential figure in the birth of symbolism, much admired by Charles Baudelaire.

According to Poe in his 1850 essay The Poetic Principle

"We have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for the poem's sake......and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force:-but the simple fact is that we permit ourselves to look into our own souls we should immediately there discover that under the sun there neither exists nor can exist any other work more thoroughly dignified, supremely noble, than this very poem, this poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem's sake."


I have streched ropes from steeple to steeple;
Garlands from window to window;
Golden chains from stars to stars,
And i dance.

  Rimbaud's drawing
Laitou (Roches) (Canton d' Attigny) May 73
Dear friend, you see my existence
O Nature, My mother!
O nature, my sister!
O nature my aunt.
Letter to Ernest Delahaye in May 1873.

A protégé, a poet with the most rebellious and restless soul searching for the unknown. Earning the reputation of an archetypal enfant terrible yet subtle sensitive at heart. He truly invented his world as expressed in his Letters of a Seer Letters du voyant. He became what he proclaimed leaving a legacy to future Surrealists, Dadaists and future Poets whose masterpieces and inventive thoughts yet remain indebted to Rimbaud, as his contemporary Paul Velary states -" all known literature is written in the language of common sense-except Rimbaud's ". Following are few of his creations......

My mind turned sour. I bid farewell to the world in poems ssomething like ballads

The Song From The Highest Tower

Let it come let it come
The season we can love

I have waited so long
That at length i forget;
And leave unto heaven
My fear and regret
A sick thirst darkens my viens

Let it come let it come
The season we can love

So the green fields
To oblivion falls,
Overgrown, flowering
With incense and weeds
And the cruel noise
Of dirty flies

Let it come let it come
The season we can love

The Sleeper In The Valley

IItis a green hollow where a river sings
Hanging madly her herbal rags
Silver where the sun
The proud mountain shines

A young soldier open mouthed bare headed
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses
Sleeps; she is streched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where light falls like rain

His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling like
A sick child smile, he is having a nap
Cradle him warmly, Nature:he is cold

No odour makes his nostrils quiver,
He sleeps in the sun with, his hand on his chest
Tranquil, At peace. There are two red holes in his right side.


Highly inspired by Rimbaud, the young poet. Jim's lines frame themselves to tell a story....

 I am Rimbaud in a leather jacket.

France is 1st, Nogales round up
Cross over the border
Land of eternal adolescence
Quality of despair
Unmatched anywhere on the perimeter
Message from the outskirts
Calling us home
This the private space of
a new order. We need saviours
To help us survive the journey.
Now who will come.
Now hear this:
We have started the crossing
Who knows? it may end badly.

The actors are assembled
Immediately they become enchanted
I, for one, am in esctasy enthralled
Can convince you to smile?

To speak to the heart
& give the great gift

Could any hell be horrible
More than now and real.

Princess osorrow
Dancing wings of envy
Call me tommorrow

In that year we had a great visitation of energy

Back in those days everything
Was simpler & more confused

I can only smile & fix a meal
& think about the child
Who will one day own you
                                                  -Jim Morrison

Aspiring Jim's poems, I wish to write a series of Symbolist poetry dedicated to Him. In future i might publish them in this blog or launch a kindle edition. Those who delighted can surely read..

1 comment:

  1. We need to reinvent the New Symbols to participate in the New Awakening - to find that magic that is lost in the forests or in the deeps we invoke our souls to create the new theater and after Rimbaud, Artaud and van gogh or Gauguin we rediscover the lost jewels from the ruins that foreshadowed it!
    Excellent stuff - it explains everything we need to know at this stage to complete the process!