sábado, 31 de agosto de 2013

A DASTARDLY AESTHETE

Let's be honest: some aesthetes/epicureans, like Lord Wotton, are just cozy-hearted. But there is another breed (let's call it Wallensteinian, for an obvious reason), that are corrupted by such a carefree lifestyle. Here you can find, pêle-mêle, drug addicts, Wallenstein-like social climbers whose thirst for earthly enjoyment can't be quenched, and many other depraved subspecies.
One such corrupt scoundrel was depicted by General Lew Wallace, the creator of Ben-Hur, in a lesser-known novel of his.
Dear readers, cross your fingers and hold tight, for Miss Dermark is proud as a peacock to introduce... (Drum rolls)... Demedes the Epicurean!

A genius thoroughly wicked—such was Demedes.
"Nature is the lawgiver; the happiness of man (read: of humankind) is the primary object of Nature: hence for youth, Pleasure; for old age, Repentance and Piety, the life hereafter being a respectable conjecture.", he said.
This was the motto in full, known only to the initiated—"Patience, Courage, Judgment in the pursuit of Pleasure".
Neither the money nor the time spent in this part of the preparation was begrudged; on the contrary, Demedes took delight in the occupation; it was exercise for ingenuity, taste, and judgment, always a pleasure to such as possess the qualities. In fact, the whole way through he likened himself to a bird building a nest for its mate.
Here we have a Palace of Pleasure illustrative of Epicureanism according to Demedes. The expense and care required to make it an actuality beget the inference that the float, rough outside, splendid within, was for a whole harem. Whosoever the favorite of the hour might be, the three pavilions were certainly the assigned limits of their beings; while the getting rid of her would be never so easy—the water flowing, no one knew whence or whither, was horribly suggestive. Once installed there, it was supposed that longings for the upper world would go gradually out. The mistress, with nothing to wish for not at hand, was to be a Queen, with Demedes and his chosen of the philosophic circle for her ministers. In other words, the Academic Temple in the upper world was but a place of meeting; this was the Temple in fact. There the gentle priests talked business; here they worshipped; and of their psalter and litany, their faith and ceremonial practices, enough that the new substitute for religion was only a reembodiment of an old philosophy with the narrowest psychical idea for creed; namely, that the principle of Present Life was all there was in man (read: humankind, as before) worth culture and gratification.

DISSECTION OF A FRAGMENT FROM GATTIAN PARABLES

Let´s look at this article, that I published two months ago, in particular at the Gatty excerpts included! Shall we?

Forgotten Victorian author Margaret Gatty wrote a series of "Parables from Nature", that is, moral and religious stories based upon natural phenomena.
One of them, "The Deliverer", set before the birth of Christ, tells of humankind's hope for a messianic redeemer. While most people expect a royal palace to be his birthplace and courtiers or royals for parents, "the lovers of pleasure hoped for a Deliverer in scenes of earthly enjoyment":
The conquering spoken of is but the overcoming of all wish for strife; the rule in store, the sovereignty of love, suppressing all desires but that for universal joy.
Ah! surely, when the Deliverer came it would be to make all people happy alike, and pour a healing balsam into every wound! Then would all the old griefs be buried and forgotten, and the soothed minds of the contented trouble themselves no more with struggle.
Oh for the dawning of that morn when the world should resound once more to the songs of rejoicing which gladdened the golden age! Had not the Sybils so spoken, and had not the Poet so sung? Then should everyone sit under his own vine and his fig-tree, and poor and rich alike cease from the land, for all should be equal and all happy.
"But whence should such a Deliverer be looked for—where be expected to arise?—Ah! surely only in some happy spot of Nature, some valley peaceful and beautiful as that of Cashmere, among a race of pastoral simplicity; in some perfect household, where disturbance was never known, and one mind prevailed. Thence alone could come He who would cause the cruel swords of war to be turned into ploughshares, and spears into reapinghooks, and animate and inanimate Nature to join in one general song of joy.
So these looked to the lovely valleys and the quiet nooks of Nature for the magic spot where discord had never entered. But they, too, looked and waited in vain—yet looked and waited on as before, and called upon Nature herself to confirm their hopes."
They looked and waited in vain because the Lord "had chosen base things of the world, and things which are despised, that no flesh should glory in His presence." And the Earth remained in suffering and oppression because "not many wise men after the flesh" are called by the Lord. That's why, according to Mrs. Gatty, Jesus was born in midwinter:
"Thus, thus, thus—while Nature lay torpid and hopeless, and half the world was winter-wrapt in snow. Thus, thus, thus—with healing on His wings, but not the healing they sought for: not a deliverance from death or sorrow, not a freedom from toil or pain, not even a ransom from temptation and sin." And, to add more fuel to the fire, the village inn where he was born and near which his carpenter father came from was located in a warzone (something Gatty never came to mention!).
Mrs. Gatty was a devout Christian, while I am a pacifist, an epicurean (i.e., a "lover of pleasure"), and a freethinker. The idea of "the magic spot where discord had never entered", so dismissed by the author's realism and spirituality simultaneously, is tantalizing to people like me in spite of its lacking foundation; for the problem of pain was and is a riddle without an answer.

Now look that I have color-coded some words: those related to suffering in red (like flesh and blood), and those related to enjoyment in pink (like cotton candy, sunsets, rosy cheeks, and Pinkie Pie). Try to find out what the theses displayed by a) Gatty and b) the "lovers of pleasure" are, respectively.

viernes, 2 de agosto de 2013

STILL IN SWEDEN

... AND CURRENTLY READING A WEBCOMIC SET IN THE 18TH CENTURY, AT THE AUSTRIAN COURT!! Woooooooow!
So far, Theresa, Francis, eldest son Joseph, and daughter-in-law Isabella have appeared, aside from Antoinette... the first-person narrator!
Read Queen of Hearts here: http://q-of-hearts.com/