The Chapel of the Abyss

Blessèd be thine hands, for they are unclean!
At every joint lie secret sins unseen,
Their white nails beneath the lamp
Evoke hosts stolen beneath the white shadow of the lamp,
And upon thy finger, the captive opal’s gloss
Is the last sigh of Jesus on the cross.

- Remy de Gourmont, from Oraisons Mauvaises.

The Chapel of the Abyss is a virtual reliquary, a cenotaph devoted to the extravagant saints and angels who have fallen out of fashion and elsewhere. The kernel of this group is in the decadent and occult-themed literature of the 1890s and early 20th century. The focus, along with the theme, will continue to expand or metastasize as the mysteries of decay, of sickness, and of the wound, and their link to an original sin, perhaps one of omission, but nevertheless mortal and without appeal, are enduring and may be pursued at any point in time.

"And perhaps it was not perceptible to him in the midst of his tumultuous agitation, how much higher than all the voices of nature resounded here with a dissonant clamour the glaring disappropriation of all things - of the altar all the more majestic for being abandoned, of the useless lance, of the tomb as perturbing as a cenotaph, of the clock ticking for nothing outside of time, on which its gears had no more grip than a mill-wheel in a dried-up stream, of the lamp burning in full daylight, of the windows palpably made to be looked into from outside...."

- Julien Gracq, Chateau d'Argol

"Such is the nature of this place.... Horror and ecstasy abide here together."

- Fyodor Sologub, The Created Legend

"This life is a hospital where every patient is possessed with the desire to change beds; one man would like to suffer in front of the stove, and another believes that he would recover his health beside the window. It always seems to me that I should feel well in the place where I am not, and this question of removal is one which I discuss incessantly with my soul."

- Charles Baudelaire

"It is always Autumn at Bruges.... The sameness of this terribly constant old city seems to intensify the change that has come to oneself."

- Ernest Dowson

In his classic novel of the occult, Là-Bas, Joris Huysmans wrote “Now from lofty Mysticism to base Satanism there is but one step. In the Beyond all things touch.” Essence becomes the surface of things: the priesthood of art and the cult of the senses. By piety or perversion- through prayer, or by "the rational derangement of all the senses" -one must obtain to the Beyond.

The decadent is concerned with the mysteries of the artificial, the urban, masks, the passion play of the self. The city is the pool of Narcissus, a black mirror in which to scry one’s own voluptuous postures of decay.

"Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."

- Kakuzo Okakura

Over-refined, faithless and morbidly self-observant, the decadent is a mystic guided by "desire without light, curiosity without wisdom, seeking God by strange ways, by ways traced by the hands of men; offering rash incense upon the high places to an unknown God, who is the God of darkness." (Ernest Hello)

"The decadence is fundamentally a literature of deep religious concern."

- George Ross Ridge

One can keep to the well-worn way and aver that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, but entry demands devious routes. Christ thus advised the elect: go against nature, "Love one another as you love yourself."

For less hardy souls, sensual indulgence and depravity serve as stations of the cross. Severin’s journey into the dark and Durtal’s return to the Church indicate that the underlying theme is pilgrimage, quest (the dead end?)- if not for spiritual transcendence, then for moral transformation - for a new order of existence: to undertake oneself, "to create one's own aesthetic." The fate of Narcissus is henosis.

"Let everyone be his own lover...."

- Emile Hennequin

"I do not like inaccessible grandeur in mountains, nor in persons, nor in nature. I prefer, in all things, an honest moderation. Should one aspire to the ... sublime... one should at least go about it with discretion!"

- Auguste Villiers de L'Isle-Adam

"We hate the Crowd, the Law, the World."

- Renée Vivien

“I like the word ‘decadent,’ all shimmering with purple and gold … it throws out the brilliance of flames and the gleam of precious stones. It is made up of carnal spirit and unhappy flesh and of all the violent splendors of the Lower Empire; it conjures up the paint of the courtesans, the sports of the circus, the breath of the tamers of animals, the bounding of wild beasts, the collapse among the flames of races exhausted by the power of feeling, to the invading sound of enemy trumpets. The decadence is Sardanapalus lighting the fire in the midst of his women, it is Seneca declaiming poetry as he opens his veins, it is Petronius masking his agony with flowers.”

- Paul Verlaine

"The eternal retribution of God exists. And everything that lives is flogged to death for its secret sin, committed in the darkness of eternity. Blessed is the one who breathes his last after the first few blows."

- Ladislav Klíma

DiskussionDiskussionMeddelandenSenaste inlägget 
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Going to the Dogs by Erich Kastner3 olästa / 3tros, fredag 6:58pm
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THE MASTER and MARGARITA4 olästa / 4tros, oktober 16
Dennis Potter1 oläst / 1Randy_Hierodule, oktober 4
Ernst Jünger22 olästa / 22BillsProtennoia, september 19
Paul Busson3 olästa / 3slickdpdx, september 13
Group Pics2 olästa / 2Randy_Hierodule, augusti 30
Poetry, quotes, etc.51 olästa / 51Randy_Hierodule, augusti 29
The Altar of the Dead2 olästa / 2paradoxosalpha, augusti 25
Talbot Mundy1 oläst / 1tros, augusti 19
Books I would like to see available in English translation186 olästa / 186paradoxosalpha, juli 27
Hanns Heinz Ewers106 olästa / 106anarchistbanjo, juli 17
Der Orchideengarten English Translations3 olästa / 3anarchistbanjo, juli 9
Strange Ports Press8 olästa / 8Siderealpress, juni 26
Karl Hans Strobl1 oläst / 1anarchistbanjo, juni 16
The Craft of Invective69 olästa / 69Randy_Hierodule, juni 7
Stanislaw Przybyszewski4 olästa / 4anarchistbanjo, maj 23
"Russian" writers no longer russian?12 olästa / 12prosfilaes, maj 9
Decadent women writers126 olästa / 126Randy_Hierodule, april 27
Oz Bizarre: Barry Humphries16 olästa / 16Randy_Hierodule, april 26
Presses of the Abyss111 olästa / 111vaniamk13, april 6
Patriotism and Decadence -- Junger, Mishima, D'Annunzio, and Spengler19 olästa / 19Randy_Hierodule, april 5
1 oläst / 1Randy_Hierodule, mars 19
Schwob20 olästa / 20paradoxosalpha, november 2022
Wakefield Press, Twisted Spoon, Rixdorf, ....12 olästa / 12varielle, november 2022
Odds and ends344 olästa / 344Randy_Hierodule, oktober 2021
Gabrielle Wittkop29 olästa / 29Randy_Hierodule, juli 2021
Samalio Pardulus7 olästa / 7CharlesFerdinand, juli 2021
Tales of the occult and the supernatural106 olästa / 106elenchus, juli 2021
Dedalus Books26 olästa / 26Randy_Hierodule, juli 2021
some re-fresh research on Beckett10 olästa / 10Randy_Hierodule, juni 2021
Music from the abyss, tres215 olästa / 215Randy_Hierodule, mars 2021
Instagram?6 olästa / 6kswolff, november 2020
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Illustrators of Decadence156 olästa / 156housefulofpaper, september 2020
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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura8 olästa / 8LiminalSister, augusti 2019
Gustave Le Rouge (1867-1938)1 oläst / 1LolaWalser, juli 2019
The Blue Jade Library18 olästa / 18Randy_Hierodule, juli 2019
Artificial Paradise16 olästa / 16kswolff, juli 2019
À la mémoire de l'anniversaire de J.K. Huysmans:16 olästa / 16LiminalSister, juni 2019
Essential Machen9 olästa / 9Crypto-Willobie, juni 2019
Museum Félicien Rops3 olästa / 3LolaWalser, maj 2019
Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803 - 1849)7 olästa / 7Randy_Hierodule, februari 2019
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Louisa May Alcott and psychotropic drugs7 olästa / 7tros, maj 2018
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater11 olästa / 11kswolff, april 2018
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Music from the abyss, et tu212 olästa / 212Randy_Hierodule, februari 2018
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