Saturday, July 02, 2005

Baudelaire Poem: Correspondences

Nature is a temple, where, from living pillars, a flux
of confused words is, sometimes, allowed to fall:
Man travels it, through forests of symbols, that all
observe him, with familiar looks.

Like far echoes that distantly congregate,
in a shadowy and profound unity,
vast as the night air, in its clarity,
perfumes, colours, sounds reverberate.

There are fresh perfumes, like the flesh of children,
mellow as oboes, green as prairies,
- and others, rich, glorious and forbidden,

having the expansive power of infinities,
amber, musk, benjamin and incense,
that sing of the ecstasies of spirit and sense.

- Baudelaire


Blogger edward said...

There is a fascinating, necessary and vital production going on within this poem. Great idea to post it because it opens up new ideas precisely because it is a production, a machine which triggers other productions. It demands both plenitude and great concentration in order to give such a specific and singular distribution. I keep banging on about production and limitation, a couple that seems operative here.

The 'flux of confused words'
appears not to be expressing an eternal truth but the continual re-creation of which nature is capable. Negation is not operative because sensation expresses the power of its own plenitude. As such it is an expression of pure difference to which we must be open. Otherwise, nature becomes covered over by its own shadow. Man as traveler finds that symbols observe him because they demand response, they are triggers to always think the new. The freshness of sensation is its being, its intensive and productive depth, triggering creation in the poet. 'the expansive power of infinities' express the operation of symbols produced by nature and with a being that continually recreates. Nature is thus this 'temple' but with no transcendent God it is animated by its own principles. 'ecstasies of spirit and sense' are the beatitudes of immanence where plenitude and its singular and intense incarnations are sufficient unto infinity. In this sense transcendence becomes the negative, a shadow cast by the plenitude of immanence. Beauty relies upon this is order to express nature fully, each instance being both clear and confused: intense in its singularity but also confuedly expressing the whole of nature.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I don't often get access to an uncensored PC these days, so I'll take the oppertunity to post a brief comment. First of all I very much enjoying your posts Joseph, your lurching back and forth between the profound and absurd is interesting and engaging.

As for Ed's response about nature, from a Deleuzian perspective, I find that I am increasingly coming to terms with this terminology. Although this terminology should never itself be taken to be fixed. My interest is not so much in the notion of naure as a vital resivoir of creative potential, but in the finitude of any actual productive expression of this difference in-itself. In the later stages of Difference and Repetition Deleuze talks about the creative potential of an Idea as always being cancelled in an actual productive procedure. I do not have a problem with this idea at the moment, and I see it as an important notion of commitment.

Whereas for Badiou, and other thinkers preoccupied with the subjective exercise of freedom, commitment is somthing that can and must be maintained by an individual/subject. The subject is only formed, or made authentic, in its fidelity to some cause or decision, and this must necessarily be maintained indefinitely, maybe even eternally. Now in Deleuze this becomming involed in an idea seems less serious and more productive, instead of trying to preserve the motivating idea as eternally generative, and treating the subject's relation to it as some sort of mystical/religous devotion, Deleuze advocates an immanent involvement. One no longer maintains a knowing distance from the idea, but is involved with it, moreover disolved in it. Such a commitment, or decision is far more dangerous, as there is no garuntee of returning or re-emerging from such an engagement. It does not lead to a comfortable position of being able to repeate one's commitment to a cause, and it does not reinforce a subject or self.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that, lest this comment constitute a post in its own right.

11:43 AM  
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11:52 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Did you do this translation? If not, where did you pull it from?

5:03 PM  

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