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Showing posts from December 13, 2009

Drunkenness is a number

When Moreau de Tours writes of hashish, it is as a chemical means to simulate madness – implying that madness occurs by means of chemicals. When Baudelaire writes of intoxicants, he writes in an entirely different register. Wine, opium, and hashish are always connected, in Baudelaire’s works, to the “multiplication of individuality” - to quote the subtitle of “Wine and Hashish”. In his notebooks, published as Fusees, he puts it another way: “Tout est nombre. Le nombre est dans tout. Le nombre est dans l’individu. L’ivresse est un nombre.” [Everything is number. The number is in everything. The number is in the individual. Drunkeness is a number.] In the Artificial Paradise, the first section on hashish is entitled ‘the taste of infinity’ – LE GOÛT DE L’INFINI – which plays on the meaning of taste as both a thing of the tongue and an inclination of the spirit. There are also the great poems of multiplication, the most famous of which is the Seven Old Men , which begins: Fourmillante c

spleen and ideal

De fait, le cas le plus significatif me paraît être la route. Si l’on veut vraiment protéger la nature, il faut supprimer la plus grande partie des routes. – Jacques Ellul I love the term “artificial paradise”. A few remarks, philological and speculative. At first, according to a letter Baudelaire wrote to Poulet-Malassis, his publisher, on April 25, 1859, the essay on hashish and the translation of parts of the Opium Eater were to be published under the title, L’idéal artificial. L’idéal, in Baudelaire’s lexicon, has a prominent place in Fleurs de mal – where it is paired with Spleen. In Baudelaire’s poem, L’idéal, it is related to women – and yet, in that poem, the women are all plucked from either literature, prints, or painting: “Ce ne seront jamais ces beautés de vignettes, Produits avariés, nés d'un siècle vaurien, Ces pieds à brodequins, ces doigts à castagnettes, Qui sauront satisfaire un coeur comme le mien.” In the decision to use Paradise as the object modified by art

The Cia and poetry

In 1841, when I published my memoir on hallucinations, I wan’t yet able to study the effects of hashish except in an imperfect manner. Since, I have made a great number of experiments on myself and on some persons (among others, many doctors) that I succeeded, with some difficulty, in making decide to take it. – Moreau de Tours Central Intelligence Agency – what a marvelous deathgrip phrase, out of the forge of the Cold war, that titanic maker of acronyms and euphemisms! In its specific institutional form it was, of course, founded under Harry Truman in the USA in 1948 – but the principle of the Central Intelligent Agency – its spirit – was a spectre that haunted the happiness culture from the beginning. The convergence of intelligence towards some panoptic center – which would then be institutionally clad, in hospitals, schools, academies, government bureaucracies, and markets – something like this has always stirred on the horizon of the industrial economies, with their decreasing ru