Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reminder from the Age of Ancient Heroes

It is true that this great tradition has been lost, and that the new one is not yet established. But what was this great tradition, if not a habitual everyday idealization of ancient life — a robust and material form of life, a state of readiness on the part of each individual…? Before trying to distinguish the epic side of modern life, and before bringing examples to prove that our age is no less fertile in sublime themes than past ages, we may assert that since all centuries and all peoples have had their own form of beauty, so inevitably we have ours. That is the order of things… But to return to our principle and essential problem, which is to discover whether we possess a specific beauty, intrinsic to our new emotions… The pageant of fashionable life and the thousands of floating existences —- criminals and kept women — which drift about in the underworld of the great city; the Gazette des Tribunaux and the Moniteur all prove to us that we have only to open our eyes to recognize our heroism. For the heroes of the Iliad are but pigmies compared to you —- who dared not publically declaim your sorrows in the funeral and tortured frock coat which we all wear today! — you the most heroic, the most extraordinary, the most romantic and the most poetic of all the characters that you have produced from your womb!
- Baudelaire, “The Salon of 1846: On the Heroism of Modern Life”
"In this regards, my friend, you're like the public, to whom one should never offer a delicate perfume. It exasperates them. Give them only carefully selected garbage."
- Charles Pierre Baudelaire

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