Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Doors of Perception

Someone was asking me about Huxley’s mescalin essay (based on the entry Huxley earlier) and so I managed to find it and reproduce a part of it below (not to be followed, the following for me reads like Dr Jekyll on a high, but then again Huxley loved Poe and translated many of his works):

The change which actually took place in that world was in no sense revolutionary. Half an hour after swallowing the drug I became aware of a slow dance of golden lights. A little later there were sumptuous red surfaces swelling and expanding from bright nodes of energy that vibrated with a continuously changing, patterned life. At another time the closing of my eyes revealed a complex of gray structures, within which pale bluish spheres kept emerging into intense solidity and, having emerged, would slide noiselessly upwards, out of sight. But at no time were there faces or forms of men or animals. I saw no landscapes, no enormous spaces, no magical growth and metamorphosis of buildings, nothing remotely like a drama or a parable. The other world to which mescalin admitted me was not the world of visions; it existed out there, in what I could see with my eyes open. The great change was in the realm of objective fact. What had happened to my subjective universe was relatively unimportant.

I took my pill at eleven. An hour and a half later, I was sitting in my study, looking intently at a small glass vase. The vase contained only three flowers-a full-blown Belie of Portugal rose, shell pink with a hint at every petal’s base of a hotter, flamier hue; a large magenta and cream-colored carnation; and, pale purple at the end of its broken stalk, the bold heraldic blossom of an iris. Fortuitous and provisional, the little nosegay broke all the rules of traditional good taste. At breakfast that morning I had been struck by the lively dissonance of its colors. But that was no longer the point. I was not looking now at an unusual flower arrangement. I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation-the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence.

“Is it agreeable?” somebody asked. (During this Part of the experiment, all conversations were recorded on a dictating machine, and it has been possible for me to refresh my memory of what was said.)

“Neither agreeable nor disagreeable,” I answered. “it just is.”

Istigkeit – wasn’t that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? “Is-ness.” The Being of Platonic philosophy – except that Plate seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the Idea. He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were – a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.


A little bit of prawn

My Tempura is obsessed about shopping bags! Sometimes I think she loves shopping more than me…


She gets to the items…and there is a mysterious present from Milly Walker!!~~

Aw… there’s a little pink furball pen to compete with her! And a Cirkus pink case I was so obsessed with when I first saw it at Kikki.k, a present from JRV. LOVE.

Lets go join the circus.

She is bored now, and high on CatnipSD. Very Huxley.

Super Mario on Violin

This guy is so adorable! I can’t tell where he’s from though! Irving, If he is japanese he would meet my dream of having a japanese violinist, no? Hee.

ps: Who exactly is Princess Peach?

Little straw hats

I love hats, and was so pleased to find this little bow hat to add to my collection!

 Because life simply is.
It is indeed sweet to be mad.

Chalk and ghost – TLP

“Your problem,” the doctor began, laying down his stethoscope “Is in being too real.”

The carriage clock on his desk chimed nine. “Your heart-aches, the dreams, memory loss, the peculiar sensation of moths in your lungs can all be attributed to this cause.”

I pinched my cheeks, rolling my tounge around the cavern of mouth. That couldn’t be right, I had been trying so hard not to exist. I had read all the right sort of books, while eating, walking, waiting for the train. I had changed my name at least three times in the last week. I had thought in the third person and past tense. I had even memorised The Jabberwocky until I could recite it backwards.

“A healthy girl of your age,” he continued, I wasn’t listening “ought to be no more real than a silk slip or a corn husk.”

My shoes felt too big all of a sudden. I was gripped by the fear that perhaps I had tried too hard. Tulle, ice, spectacles, fog.. I was forgetting something.

“Not to worry,” his bony hands scrawled something illegible on a yellow pad.

Windows, raindrops, crystal, plastic wrap.. oh, that was it. I had gone through to the other side, like cordial through a gauze sleeve. In unbecoming, I was nothing, and through nothing you can see everything. Everything, more bright and bold and painful than a gasp.

“Take three in the morning and two with your afternoon tea.” the doctor handed over the script.

I thanked him, turned, and walked through the wall.

An Affair to Remember

I want desperately to watch this with you, Irving! But you have probably watched this two-three times. Nevertheless, please let me bring your ego for a walk and to watch this with you all over again.

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) – Bio by Bernard Howells

Charles Baudelaire – one of my favourites and faithful followers to my blogs know I quote him often. Found this luscious biography on him specifically on his works (I am tired with those that write on their relationships and mistresses and babies and blindness, those are sometimes best reserved for Marilyn Monroe!) and I think Howells writes awfully well especially on his ideal of ‘pure poetry’.

Charles Baudelaire is chiefly known as the author of Les Fleurs du mal (1857, 1861) The Flowers of Evil) and of a collection of experimental prose poems, Le Spleen de Paris (1869; Paris Spleen). But he is also important as a critic of painting and, to a much lesser extent, of literature and music. The essays on art are usually published under the collective title Curiosités esthétiques (Aesthetic curiosities), those on literature and music under the title L’Art romantique (Romantic art; a title not chosen by Baudelaire). The Salon de 1846 (Salon of 1846) first established his reputation as a writer and aesthete, and he is now judged one of the greatest art critics of 19th-century France. Over the last 50 years his critical essays have come to be considered an extension of his creative work because of the insights they provide into his aesthetics as a poet. The best exhibit the qualities one might expect of a poet—imaginative and emotional investment in his subject, allusive intellectual density, sensuous evocativeness—in keeping with Baudelaire’s conviction that the only aesthetics worthy of the name are a posteriori, the subsequent analysis of a richly sensuous lived experience, and not a matter of “principles” or abstract preconceptions about the beautiful. We can see this exemplified in “Richard Wagner et ‘Tannhäuser’ a Paris” (1861; Richard Wagner and Tannhäuser in Paris). Baudelaire’s musical experience was limited, but a concert of excerpts from Wagner’s music and the premiere of Tannhäuser in Paris in 1861 produced an overwhelming impression, evoked in the essay in terms of the poetic theory of correspondances (mystical correspondences) or synesthesia (in this case, sound suggesting qualities of light and color). Baudelaire referred to experience of this kind— sensation carried in the imagination to a point of almost preternatural intensity—as le surnaturalisme (supernaturalism). Wagner was to Baudelaire in music what Delacroix had been 15 years earlier in painting. A series of essays on drugs, published together under the title Les Paradis artificiels (1860; Artificial Paradise), explore similar states of heightened consciousness produced by alcohol, hashish, and opium, but Baudelaire’s celebration of their poetic effects is counterbalanced by his condemnation of drugs in terms of irresponsibility, delusion, and moral disintegration.

The literary criticism does not have quite the same intensity, though Baudelaire’s passion for Delacroix and Wagner was matched by his enthusiasm for Poe, whom he translated extensively. Poe provided not so much the revelation of a new experience as the confirmation of a theory of poetry toward which Baudelaire’s own intuition was guiding him. His most important collection of essays on literature, Réflexions sur quelques-uns de mes contemporains (1861; Reflections on some of my contemporaries), was commissioned as a series of prefatory essays for an anthology of French poetry produced by Eugène Crépet. Many of the poets discussed would now be considered minor and do not engage Baudelaire’s imagination in the same way as music or painting, the essays on Gautier and Hugo being exceptions. In these essays, Baudelaire, reflecting on the work of his contemporaries and thinking back over his own best poetry, comes closest to formulating his own ideal of a “pure poetry.”

The “Salon”—a critical account of the annual exhibition of contemporary painting held in Paris—became, in the wake of Diderot, an essay subgenre in the 19th century. They were commissioned by leading Parisian papers and journals and often published separately as brochures. They were often written by established or avant-garde writers (Musset, Heine, Champfleury) and were typical of the cross-fertilization between literature and the fine arts that was a feature of the intense artistic life of Paris from the Constitutional Monarchy onward. The aim in the first place was to offer an intellectual tour of the paintings on view and to act as a guide and stimulus to bourgeois buyers.

Baudelaire’s first Salon in 1845 follows this format. A year later, electrified by his recent acquaintance with Delacroix, Baudelaire wrote the Salon de 1846 and transformed the genre from a catalogue with commentary into an essay in high aesthetics. The Salon de 1846 is intellectually taut in its construction and polemically committed. In it Baudelaire states his own convictions as an artist at the outset of his career and promotes the genius of Delacroix, seen as the representative of the Romantic movement in France. Much of the essay turns on the distinction and opposition of color (Delacroix) and line (Ingres).

Line artificially separates objects and parts of objects from each other and creates stable conceptual identities; color blurs distinctions, including the distinction between subject (the viewer) and object (the viewed) and tends toward a poetic state of coalescence. The opposition of Delacroix and Ingres, as the two main rival representatives of contemporary French painting, is repeated in the text Baudelaire devoted to the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1855, which is perhaps more interesting in the brief glimpses it affords of the impact of non-European art (for example Chinese art) on Baudelaire’s sensibility. The Exposition made Baudelaire aware of the narrowness of the controversies (e.g. Romantic versus neoclassical) that were still feeding artistic debate in France.

Two essays on caricature, “Quelques caricaturistes français” (1857; Some French caricaturists)and “Quelques caricaturistes étrangers” (1857; Some foreign caricaturists), prefaced by a short metaphysical theory of the comic, “De l’essence du rire” (1855; The essence of laughter), show a Baudelaire fascinated by the moral suggestiveness of this genre, which he refused to consider as minor. On the contrary, caricature exhibits, in quintessential form, the processes of simplification and expressive generalization (what Baudelaire calls “idealization”) common to all the visual arts.

Baudelaire’s last Salon in 1859 is tightly organized around the concept of imagination, in the name of which he rejects realism as a philosophically untenable position. As a subjective idealist, he argues that we do not know nature in any objective sense; all we have are the ways in which individual imaginations totalize experience. Baudelaire’s abiding commitment to Delacroix made him hostile to Courbet and unsympathetic to the contemporary developments in French landscape painting that would lead to impressionism (he could not tolerate the erosion of compositional values). It also blinded him to the novel genius of Manet. Le Peintre de la vie moderne (1863; The painter of modern life) is the fullest development of a preoccupation announced as early as the Salons of 1845 and 1846—the necessity for modern painters to find the material of their art in the reality and lifestyle of their own historical moment. A comparatively minor illustrator of worldly life, Constantin Guys, is hailed as the artist who has opened his eyes to the bizarre beauty of Second Empire Paris, its types, its fashions, and the whole new world of nightlife made possible by gas lighting. The essay was influential in creating the climate of thought and sensibility that made possible the work of artists like Toulouse- Lautrec, Degas, and, of course, Manet himself.