January 1st, 2005


2. beaten into dignity

     PAUVRES. S’en occuper tient lieu de toutes les vertus.
RADICALISME. D’autant plus dangereux qu’il est latent.
RÉPUBLICAINS. Les républicains ne sont pas tous voleurs, mais les voleurs sont tous républicains.
— Gustave Flaubert, Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues
POOR. To concern oneself with them does the duty of all virtues.
RADICALISM. All the more dangerous when it is latent.
REPUBLICANS. Not all republicans are thieves, but all thieves are republicains.
— Gustave Flaubert, The Dictionary of Received Ideas[0]
It is July of 1865. Charles Baudelaire is forty-four years old. He is a self-proclaimed pederast, cannibalistic patricide, police spy, and proofreader of pornography. He is a voluntary exile from his native France. He constantly denounces the character of his countrymen, while equally detesting his philistine Belgian hosts. His hip and edgy public fails to take heed of his cautionary messages concerning the perils of intoxicants. The future beacons of symbolism, Mallarmé and Verlaine, already regard him as their literary master. During his brief passage through Paris, he deposes “an enormous bundle” of new manuscripts in the office of Gervais Charpentier, editor of the Revue nationale et étrangère. The texts have been long promised to the bookseller Julien Lemer. Charpentier has published several of their predecessors seven years earlier. He knows what to expect. Nevertheless, of the eleven eagerly anticipated prose poems contained therein, he chooses to publish but six. He rejects the rest as unsuitable for public consumption.[1] Among the texts so designated, a flagrant insult to the moral sensibilities of the progressive republicans and other moderate opponents and loyal supporters of the Saint-Simonian regime of the Second Empire, a jeering, brutal slogan: Collapse ) Here ends the second chapter of the second part of the book previously entitled Representation and Modernity, begun in 1986 and submitted by the author and accepted by Hilary Putnam and William Mills Todd III, in partial satisfaction of 1993 degree requirements at Harvard University. Some of the subsequent chapters have been posted elsewhere in this journal. Comments, questions, suggestions, and requests shall be gratefully considered and promptly answered.