ISSUE 10/ August 2021


the satanic aristocracy in the Halls

Hogarth, the comic and spleen time

by Aftermath laika

Baudelaire greatly appreciates winding roads.
Formed by those same letters that it questions, it faces the
passivity of French society kneeling in romanticism. It is in 1844 when he begins to write and publish his art criticisms; their Salons. Meanwhile, he escapes from the debts that he is already worryingly accumulating just after his twenties. Suddenly the Bonapartist revolution of 1848 agitated him until he was mobilized to the streets.

Credits: Photography: Juan Martín Carballo / Aftermath Laika ® Design / Buenos Aires, 2021

The recommendation of M., - the director of the Revue Française– Baudelaire is frank: "Be brief, do not compile a catalog, but give us a general impression, something like the story of a quick philosophical walk through the paintings"

Baudelaire replies in letter form. He is going to fulfill his wish, in part because he thinks the same: writing the painting section in art salons is boring, but he clarifies that although brevity requires expertise, in the case that he is entrusted there is no other possibility: there is no admiration or any need to create new categories of critical language to tackle those absolutely geniusless, absurdly classic, predictably old French jobs: "Do not be surprised then, that the banality of the painter has engendered the 'common place' in the writer"

 Let's be concise then, as M. recommends to the artist for his criticism From Salon of 1859; text that Baudelaire called The painter of modern life.

In 1840 Baudelaire, barely twenty years old, is already a strange fish swimming in a society that highlights its artists under the bourgeois customs of the time. French domestic life echoes the rigorous and stylistic structure of romanticism; artists meanwhile, observe with extreme caution the benefits of civil thought. Writing is highly influential as the texts of Lamartine and Hugo show: epic, suitably political, and decidedly clerical. Even though the majority of French poets write through the experience of passion - always private and sad -, romantic writing it never departs from a historical refinement, a tradition that cannot have stylistic or syntactic fissures. While the ideal of the time is understood from a virtue of naive nature: the kind individual who acts optimistic in a society that grows radiant under an edifying progress. But for Baudelaire these are not the unquestionable engines that give meaning to existence. Baudelaire greatly appreciates winding roads. Formed by those same letters that he questions, he faces the passivity of French society kneeling in romanticism.

It is then in 1844 when he begins to write and publish his art criticisms; their Lounges In this way, he attempts a moral utility and to escape from the debts that he already accumulates in a disturbing way just after twenty years. Suddenly the Bonapartist revolution of 1848 agitated him until he was mobilized to the streets. Napoleon's nephew, supported by the popular classes, became president of the Second Republic with the veiled idea of ​​perpetuating himself indefinitely. Victor Hugo understands that it is a kind of trap «It is not a prince who returns: it is an idea»: The real Napoleon no longer exists. Baudelaire - like the proletarians and the church - supports the new dynastic empire while handing out pamphlets and some bullets.

 During the revolt edit "Le Salut Public". He becomes a journalist, a critic; as a writer who lives off his job. He deeply studies the English language and translates Poe whom he admires and refers to stylistically in his own early writing. Anyway, it's been at least 10 years since you've started shaping The flowers of Evil, which will see the light with successive additions and deletions twenty years later by grace of Poulett-Malassis, its publisher, when he publishes the definitive edition in 1868.

His writing is shaken. Writes "Critical reflections on some of my contemporaries" Meanwhile in The artificial paradises accuses his experience with drugs and alcohol.In 1857, a note from Le Figaro warns about the immoral character of The flowers of Evil and the publication suffers from the omission of some poems –among them Lesbos y "To the one who is too cheerful" and a series of fines that further impoverish the artist.

Victor Hugo sends him a letter where he warns him that a persecution is nothing other than the path of greatness and tells him to continue to have courage: The future has many names. For the weak it is unattainable. For the fearful, the unknown. For the brave is the opportunity. Baudelaire does not seem to need those limits since he suffers the hostility of life itself in his daily life: he feels useless and locked in his political errors in the same way that he does not see possible independence from his mother who sends him to Calcutta first and then to him. imposes a judicial notary to control the waste of a bohemian and lustful life.

Writing leads him to produce profusely but barely retains an equally meager pay. The literary break at the moment is essentially thematic, he writes within the world he knows and for that world in decline. An obscene world that the conservative bourgeoisie detests. He writes for his loves who are nothing but desperate alternatives; clashes and tensions between his public evidence and his private life, exotic travels, childhood of innocent pleasures. Baudelaire becomes an abject Dandy who receives a pitiful quarterly sum. Baudelaire becomes critical, scathing; atrocious.

His father, whom he loves unconditionally, dies at 67. His mother becomes his first love. He is six years old. Little Charles is passionate. It is an obsessive idyll that lasts a handful of months, precisely until the arrival of another man: the detestable Colonel Aupick. Charles will not be able to forget that passion and after the death of the military man he will write to his mother who is already elderly a fiery confession. At the age of 20 he related to a Jewish prostitute –Sarah– whom he met in a lupanar, perhaps taking refuge in rebellion due to the unexpected intrusion of a military stepfather who authoritatively replaced the family position of his dead father. Will the text be for Sarah "One night I was with a horrible Jewess"? Or maybe «You would put the whole universe in your alley»? Your childhood maid receives a sensitive poem.

For the time, the function of a wet nurse was to nurture her bourgeois masters with worldly knowledge, moral corrections and sexual initiation. Thus he writes to Mariette: "To the maid with a big heart who made you jealous." Then it is the turn of Jeanne Duval, a beautiful lame and perhaps one-eyed mulatto who conveniently scandalizes the atmosphere of refined French salons. She probably writes "I adore you like the night vault" and "Posthumous remorse." Later, it is the turn of a theatrical actress: Marie Daubrun; and finally, Madame Sabatier, a loving woman of lovers, who lives comfortably while attracting the poet in the literary environments in her own literary salon.

Perhaps all these movements and passions have also been propelling fins to separate from romanticism. The meaning of his deeply provocative and ruthless speech will project his artistic life to modernity even though his texts can be considered in its beginnings simply in progress and stylistically within classicism. In this restless transit, Baudelaire writes as the protagonist of the experiences he lives, no longer from the perspective of autobiographical romanticism –– which he deplores–– but from that of a spectator consciously organized by himself in a kind of exact science.

Baudelaire hits the destination of his path knowing what he is doing: "The wise man does not laugh, but fearfully", He thus introduces Wagner to France while slowly delving into his Lounges; a writing that can be read dually as an essay or prose poems. France ignores him and travels to Belgium but with the same result. He leaves Brussels not without first dedicating a job to them in this regard: Poor Belgium! Except for his creditors, no one seems to be interested in his life and even less in his writing: curiously, they once again disdain his Poems in prose, That can be said without error, it will be his masterpiece.

But Verlaine and Mallarmé, still young, value his poetry. Baudelaire thinks that there is still a step to go to leave classical lyricism behind. Questioning the Parnassianism, all three become symbolists. Technically, both movements are derivatives of the criticism of classicism from complementary aesthetics: some proclaim art for its own sake, while the Symbolists confront realism through metaphor and the secrecy of ambiguity. The synesthesia It is the novel instrument associating colors with numbers, or sounds with flavors. But Baudelaire also does not depart from the satanic, from the irony. Robert Seymour, the great English black humor cartoonist and illustrator, commits suicide after a fight with Dickens over the illustrations the artist makes for one of his books: The Pickwick Papers. Baudelaire writes about Seymour, whose personality - in the English way - does not depart from the brutal ways of explaining a subject: the violence and love of the excessive.

Baudelaire nevertheless writes The generous player where it is the artist himself who has a personal dialogue with himself Diablo. They chat about the future, the life of death: I asked him for news from God and asked him if he had seen it recently. They also speak of the reality of the universe. It then approaches the ambiguity and the strange feelings of the citizen soul: the depression that takes place as the devastating confrontation of the spiritual with the immediate material universe. Baudelaire finally intuits the musicality of objects in words. He then describes the city of Paris with an emphasis on emotions using harmonically complex developments. As it is, the strong ideal aspiration swings against existential depression; finally the spleen, the vital anguish that hovers between sensuality and death; in the midst of inspiration and pain. The literary instruments are the breaking of the classical verse and the anointing to the paradox. Baudelaire undoubtedly concentrates the artistic force that will determine the outbreak of the poetic language of the XNUMXth century by pushing poetry ––Rimbaud by–– into the light of the XNUMXth century.

Baudelaire's crisis is constant. When referring to the beautiful, he postulates a relationship of two factors. An invariable, the impossible eternity -the soul-, and another relative and circumstantial determined -in shifts or together- for fashion, time and passion, that is, the body itself. He will say of Sthendal that he is an impertinent spirit, but in his Salon of 1859 he quotes a phrase of his that pushes the nucleus of the aesthetic question: The beautiful is nothing but the promise of happiness.

 For Baudelaire, the discomfort of the phrase is eloquent: Sthendal does not finish stripping beauty of its aristocratic character. In this sense, the artist will seek by all means to horrify the bourgeois through the satanic depth of madness and debauchery. The contempt for the accepted beauty includes an unstoppable obsession with death where their vampires and corpses remain as subjects and framework of the most disgusting contingencies but far from the possibility of finding their own experience there, which they deeply fear.

His writing searches in the shadows, investigates the blurred form of the viewer facing the night, the shudders and torture that replace all known reality. That is the Baudelaire procedure.

That darkness, learned from Poe -a la death takes it head-on with value and then she is invited to a drink– and modified in its artistic maturity it is the mysterious source to overflow the pagan events in an elusive and decidedly atonal morality, but complete with nuances as unexpected as inspired: the perfect word that suggests.

En The crowds write like this: Not everyone is allowed to take a crowd bath; enjoying the crowd is an art; […] The poet enjoys the right to be himself and to be others. Like wandering souls in search of a body, it enters the person of each one whenever it wants. Only for him is everything vacant; and if certain places seem to be closed, it will be that in his eyes they are not worth a visit.

 In the 1859 salon, Baudelaire dwells on a key author whose work borders between moral commentary, social criticism, politics, and the allegory of the sinister. Is about William Hogarth who celebrates his talent as an imposture as cold as funereal but who has in front of the viewer an eloquent sharpness of manual.  Hogarth's paintings are haunting; abound in the moral. Sometimes he develops his works in series; scenarios that can be seen as if they were theatrical pictures. The profusion of details, expressions and environment makes the conflict perfectly understandable from a psychology and morality that is always critical. Even though Baudelaire thinks that Hogarth eventually tends to confuse things, the works are transparent and in their graphic eloquence they seem like a kind of protocomics where in any case there would be no need for dialogue balloons or auxiliary texts. I suggest looking at the serial paintings that Baudelaire himself observes for his critiques: the scenes from The prostitute race, The libertine raceFashionable marriage y Electoral campaign.

Even as he dedicates himself to his latest translation of Poe: Grotesque and Serious Stories, he writes in his journal: "Today, January 23, 1862, I felt a singular warning, I felt the wind of the wing of imbecility pass over me"

Soon, overcome by a path of recognition that history seems to deny him over and over again, Baudelaire collapses.Ess his friend, the eccentric photographer Felix Nadar who portrays him in the grief of his last years. It is about countless sessions in his environment, the French bohemian. A copy of "Charles Baudelaire on the couch », whose negative is lost, can be seen today in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris: the artist in a typical nineteenth-century pose, his right hand resting on one leg; the left hand that supports the convulsed head, contingent of ideas and confrontations; around, elusive but present, the spleen of Parisian life in the lost and paradoxically absent gaze.

Baudelaire, ill with syphilis in 1860, a common disease at the time. He died in 1867 after vanishing in the Church of Saint-Loup de Namur. During a long year of convalescence in a Belgian hospice he loses contact with his mind first, and then with the word: his mother takes him to Paris to surround him with his colleagues. In that critical, fleeting and desperate resistance he will never regain his voice except to blaspheme. With regard to the poet who died in the arms of his mother, Andreu Jaume writes beautifully about that scene: The image is a modern pietà, almost implausible of so perfect.

In the prologue of The narrative object, Juan Jose Saer warn that Criticism is now more necessary than ever. Then he adds that he is not trying to tear down false reputations: they tend to collapse on their own over time, […] to renounce criticism is to leave the field free to the vandals who, at the end of the second millennium of our era, seek to reduce art to its commercial value.

Aftermath Laika / China Sea, March 26, 2021