There are as many kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking
To say the word
Romanticism is to say modern art—that is, intimacy, spirituality,
color, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every means available
to the arts.
Are you not the
oasis where I dream, and the gourd from which I drink in long draughts
the wine of memory?
(Moon in Cancer square Venus)
Genius is no more
than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man’s
physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that
enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily
The past is interesting
not only for the beauty which the artists for whom it was the present
were able to extract from it, but also as past, for its historical value.
The same goes for the present. The pleasure which we derive from the
representation of the present is due not only to the beauty in which
it may be clothed, but also from its essential quality of being present.
These beings have
no other profession than to cultivate the idea of beauty in their person,
to satisfy their passions, to feel and to think.
(Venus in Aries)
A frenzied passion
for art is a canker that devours everything else.
(Venus conjunct Jupiter in 8th house)
Dandyism does not
even consist, as many thoughtless persons appear to believe, in an immoderate
taste for the toilet and material elegance. These things are for the
perfect dandy only symbols of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.
Venus square Moon.
equal and interchangeable terms for the active and prolific poet.
All which is beautiful
and noble is the result of reason and calculation.
(Venus conjunct Saturn)
The study of beauty
is a duel in which the artist cries with terror before being defeated.
signifies the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of
art of which the other half is the eternal and the immutable.
It is time to get
drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk; get drunk
without stopping! On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.
Dandyism is the
last flicker of heroism in decadent ages.... Dandyism is a setting sun;
like the declining star, it is magnificent, without heat and full of
melancholy. But alas! the rising tide of democracy, which spreads everywhere
and reduces everything to the same level, is daily carrying away these
last champions of human pride, and submerging, in the waters of oblivion,
the last traces of these remarkable myrmidons.
The poet enjoys
the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself and others, as
(Mercury in Pisces)
Let us beware of
common folk, of common sense, of sentiment, of inspiration, and of the
Evil is done without
effort, naturally, it is the working of fate; good is always the product
of an art.
I have cultivated
my hysteria with pleasure and terror.
The dandy should
aspire to be uninterruptedly sublime. He should live and sleep in front
of a mirror.
found precisely neither in the choice of subjects nor in exact truth,
but in a way of feeling.
I have always been
astonished that women were allowed to enter churches. What conversation
can they possibly have with God?
The artist is today
and has been for many years, despite his absence of merit, simply a
spoiled child. So many honors, so much money bestowed on men without
souls and without education.
To handle a language
skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery.
(Mercury in Pisces. Virgo Ascendant. Gemini on MC)
Where one should
see only what is beautiful, our public looks only for what is true.
does not lie in gas, nor in steam, nor in turn-tables. It lies in the
reduction of the traces of original sin.
Being a useful man
has always seemed to me to be something truly hideous.
To glorify the
cult of iimages (my great, my only, my primitive passion).
I have to confess
that I had gambled on my soul and lost it with heroic insouciance and
lightness of touch. The soul is so impalpable, so often useless, and
sometimes such a nuisance, that I felt no more emotion on losing it
than if, on a stroll, I had mislaid my visiting card.
If the poet has
pursued a moral objective, he has diminished his poetic force.
Any man who does
not accept the conditions of life sells his soul.
(Sun conjunct Saturn in Aries)
is allowed to stand in for art in some of its functions it will soon
supplant or corrupt it completely thanks to the natural support it will
find in the stupidity of the multitude. It must return to its real task,
which is to be the servant of the sciences and the arts, but the very
humble servant, like printing and shorthand which have neither created
nor supplanted literature.
inquiry, the human spirit, imitating the movement of the stars, must
follow a curve which brings it back to its point of departure. To conclude
is to close a circle.
We have psychologized
like the insane, who make their insanity greater by striving to understand
On poets of his
You must shock
(Uranus in Capricorn conjunct Neptune)
Who among us has
not, in moments of ambition, dreamt of the miracle of a form of poetic
prose, musical but without rhythm and rhyme, both supple and staccato
enough to adapt itself to the lyrical movements of our souls, the undulating
movements of our reveries, and the convulsive movements of our consciences?
This obsessive ideal springs above all from frequent contact with enormous
cities, from the junction of their innumerable connections.
is an abyss,—action, dream, desire, speech!
There are in every
man, always, two simultaneous allegiances, one to God, the other to
Satan. Invocation of God, or Spirituality, is a desire to climb higher;
that of Satan, or animality, is delight in descent.
It is this admirable
and immortal instinct for beauty which causes us to regard the earth
and its spectacles as a glimpse, a correspondence of the beyond.
We are all born
marked for evil.
For the perfect
idler, for the passionate observer it becomes an immense source of enjoyment
to establish his dwelling in the throng, in the ebb and flow, the bustle,
the fleeting and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel
at home anywhere; to see the world, to be at the very center of the
world, and yet to be unseen of the world, such are some of the minor
pleasures of those independent, intense and impartial spirits, who do
not lend themselves easily to linguistic definitions. The observer is
a prince enjoying his incognito wherever he goes.
of an eternal, invariable element, whose quantity is excessively difficult
to determine, and of a relative, circumstantial element, which will
be, if you like, by turns or all together, the era, its fashion, its
morals, its passions.
me becomes allegory.
The dance can reveal
everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional
merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.
The pleasure we
derive from the representation of the present is due, not only to the
beauty it can be clothed in, but also to its essential quality of being
Alas, human vices,
however horrible one might imagine them to be, contain the proof (were
it only in their infinite expansion) of man’s longing for the
infinite; but it is a longing that often takes the wrong route.... It
is my belief that the reason behind all culpable excesses lies in this
depravation of the sense of the infinite.
Nature ... is nothing
but the inner voice of self-interest.
That in all times,
mediocrity has dominated, that is indubitable; but that it reigns more
than ever, that it is becoming absolutely triumphant and inhibiting,
this is what is as true as it is distressing.
Even if it were
proven that God didn’t exist, Religion would still be Saintly
Drawing is a struggle
between nature and the artist, in which the better the artist understands
the intentions of nature, the more easily he will triumph over it. For
him it is not a question of copying, but of interpreting in a simpler
and more luminous language.
For the merchant,
even honesty is a financial speculation.
In literature as
in ethics, there is danger, as well as glory, in being subtle. Aristocracy
The taste for pleasure
attaches us to the present. The concern with our salvation leaves us
hanging on the future.
There exist only
three respectable beings: the priest, the warrior, the poet. To know,
to kill, and to create.
An artist is an
artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which
shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which at the same time implies
and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportions.
It is at the same
time by poetry and through poetry, by and through music, that the soul
glimpses the splendors found behind the tomb; and when an exquisite
poem brings tears to one’s eyes, these tears are not the sign
of excessive pleasure, they are rather witness to an irritated melancholy,
to a condition of nerves, to a nature exiled to imperfection and which
would like to seize immediately, on this very earth, a revealed paradise.
The world only
goes round by misunderstanding.
an almost divine faculty which, without recourse to any philosophical
method, immediately perceives everything: the secret and intimate connections
between things, correspondences and analogies.
(Neptune square Chiron)
To be just, that
is to say, to justify its existence, criticism should be partial, passionate
and political, that is to say, written from an exclusive point of view,
but a point of view that opens up the widest horizons.
The whole visible
universe is but a storehouse of iimages and signs to which the imagination
will give a relative place and value; it is a sort of pasture which
the imagination must digest and transform.
The man who, from
the beginning of his life, has been bathed at length in the soft atmosphere
of a woman, in the smell of her hands, of her bosom, of her knees, of
her hair, of her supple and floating clothes, ... has contracted from
this contact a tender skin and a distinct accent, a kind of androgyny
without which the harshest and most masculine genius remains, as far
as perfection in art is concerned, an incomplete being.
(Venus in Aries)
What is exhilarating
in bad taste is the aristocratic pleasure of giving offense.
There is no more
steely barb than that of the Infinite.
Whether you come
from heaven or hell, what does it matter, O Beauty!
thirst for everything which lies beyond, and which life reveals, is
the most living proof of our immortality.
Common sense tells
us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality
is only in dreams.
Love is the natural
occupation of the man of leisure.
My soul travels
on the smell of perfume like the souls of other men on music.
We are weighed
down, every moment, by the conception and the sensation of Time. And
there are but two means of escaping and forgetting this nightmare: pleasure
and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose.
(Sun conjunct Saturn)
It is unfortunately
very true that, without leisure and money, love can be no more than
an orgy of the common man.... Instead of being a sudden impulse full
of ardour and reverie, it becomes a distastefully utilitarian affair.
It is one of the
prodigious privileges of art that the horrific, artistically expressed,
becomes beauty, and that sorrow, given rhythm and cadence, fills the
spirit with a calm joy.
from the first line to the last, is nothing but a web of horrors....
I cannot understand how an innocent hand can touch a newspaper without
convulsing in disgust.
Beauty is the sole
ambition, the exclusive goal of Taste.
God is the only
being who, in order to reign, doesn’t even need to exist.
What is art? Prostitution.
Nations, like families,
have great men only in spite of themselves. They do everything in their
power not to have any. And therefore, the great man, in order to exist,
must possess a force of attack which is greater than the force of resistance
developed by millions of people.
Every idea is endowed
of itself with immortal life, like a human being. All created form,
even that which is created by man, is immortal. For form is independent
of matter: molecules do not constitute form.
The unique and
supreme voluptuousness of love lies in the certainty of committing evil.
And men and women know from birth that in evil is found all sensual
There are moments
of existence when time and space are more profound, and theawareness
of existence is immensely heightened.
To be a great man
and a saint for oneself, that is the only important thing.
In certain almost
supernatural states of the soul, the profundity of life reveals itself
entirely in the spectacle, however ordinary it may be, before one’s
eyes. It becomes its symbol.
I consider it useless
and tedious to represent what exists, because nothing that exists satisfies
me. Nature is ugly, and I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is
a human existence may be, human unity is not bothered by it.
The vices of man,
as full of horror as one might suppose them to be, contain the proof
(if in nothing else but their infinitely expandable nature) of his taste
for the infinite; only, it is a taste that often takes a wrong turn.
To dream magnificently
is not a gift given to all men, and even for those who possess it, it
runs a strong risk of being progressively diminished by the ever-growing
dissipation of modern life and by the restlessness engendered by material
progress. The ability to dream is a divine and mysterious ability; because
it is through dreams that man communicates with the shadowy world which
surrounds him. But this power needs solitude to develop freely; the
more one concentrates, the more one is likely to dream fully, deeply.
Who would dare
assign to art the sterile function of imitating nature?
We want ... to
plunge into the depths of the abyss, Hell or Heaven, what does it matter?
into the depths of the Unknown to find something new!
Even in the centuries
which appear to us to be the most monstrous and foolish, the immortal
appetite for beauty has always found satisfaction.
All beauties contain,
like all possible phenomena, something eternal and something transitory,—something
absolute and something particular. Absolute and eternal beauty does
not exist, or rather it is only an abstraction skimmed from the common
surface of different sorts of beauty. The particular element of each
beauty comes from the emotions, and as we each have our own particular
emotions, so we have our beauty.
Nearly all our originality
comes from the stamp that time impresses upon our sensibility.
As a small child,
I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and
the ecstasy of life.
All fashions are
charming, or rather relatively charming, each one being a new striving,
more or less well conceived, after beauty, an approximate statement
of an ideal, the desire for which constantly teases the unsatisfied
But what does an
eternity of damnation matter to one who has found for one second the
infinity of pleasure?
I can barely conceive
of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.
A book is a garden,
an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor,
a multitude of counselors.
A breath of wind
from the wings of madness.
A sweetheart is
a bottle of wine, a wife is a wine bottle.
Any healthy man
can go without food for two days - but not without poetry.
work is less boring than amusing oneself.
In order for the
artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this
world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among
of working every day.
It is by universal
misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood
each other, they would never agree.
Modernity is the
transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is one half of art, the
other being the eternal and the immovable.
Nothing can be
done except little by little.
Our religion is
itself profoundly sad - a religion of universal anguish, and one which,
because of its very catholicity, grants full liberty to the individual
and asks no better than to be celebrated in each man's own language
- so long as he knows anguish and is a painter.
The life of our
city is rich in poetic and marvelous subjects. We are enveloped and
steeped as though in an atmosphere of the marvelous; but we do not notice
The man who says
his evening prayer is a captain posting his sentinels. He can sleep.
There are as many
kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking happiness.