University of Virginia Library


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Even though God did not exist, Religion would be
none the less holy and divine.

God is the sole being who has no need to exist in
order to reign.

That which is created by the Mind is more living
than Matter.

Love is the desire to prostitute oneself. There is,
indeed, no exalted pleasure which cannot be related
to prostitution.

At the play, in the ball-room, each one enjoys
possession of all.

What is Art? Prostitution.

The pleasure of being in crowds is a mysterious
expression of sensual joy in the multiplication of

All is Number. Number is in all. Number is in the
individual. Ecstasy is a Number.

Inclinations to wastefulness ought, when a man is
mature, to be replaced by a wish to concentrate and
to produce.

Love may spring from a generous sentiment, the
desire for prostitution; but it is soon corrupted by
the desire for ownership.

Love wishes to emerge from itself, to become, like
the conqueror with the conquered, a part of its victim,
yet to preserve, at the same time, the privileges
of the conqueror.

The sensual delights of one who keeps a mistress
are at once those of an angel and a landlord. Charity


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and cruelty. Indeed, they are independent of sex, of
beauty and of the animal species.

The green shadows in the moist evenings of summer.

Immense depths of thought in expressions of
common speech; holes dug by generations of ants.

The story of the Hunter, concerning the intimate
relation between cruelty and love.


Squibs. Of the feminine nature of the Church, as a
reason for her omnipotence.

Of violet (love repressed, mysterious, veiled;
canoness colour).

The priest is a tremendous figure, because he
makes the crowd believe marvellous things.

That the Church should wish to do all things and
be all things is a law of human nature.

The People adore authority.

Priests are the servants and sectaries of the imagination.

Revolutionary maxim: the throne and the altar.

E. G. or The Seductive Adventuress.

Religious intoxication of the great cities.

Pantheism. I am all things. All things are myself.



Squibs. I believe I have already set down in my
notes that Love greatly resembles an application of
torture or a surgical operation. But this idea can be
developed, and in the most ironic manner. For even
when two lovers love passionately and are full of
mutual desire, one of the two will always be cooler


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or less self-abandoned than the other. He or she is
the surgeon or executioner; the other, the patient or
victim. Do you hear these sighs—preludes to a
shameful tragedy—these groans, these screams, these
rattling gasps? Who has not uttered them, who has
not inexorably wrung them forth? What worse sights
than these could you encounter at an inquisition
conducted by adept torturers? These eyes, rolled
back like the sleepwalker's, these limbs whose muscles
burst and stiffen as though subject to the action of a
galvanic battery—such frightful, such curious phenomena
are undoubtedly never obtained from even the
most extreme cases of intoxication, of delirium, of
opium-taking. The human face, which Ovid believed
fashioned to reflect the stars, speaks here only of an
insane ferocity, relaxing into a kind of death. For I
should consider it indeed a sacrilege to apply the
word `ecstasy' to this species of decomposition.

A terrible pastime, in which one of the players
must forfeit possession of himself!

It was once asked, in my hearing, what was the
greatest pleasure in Love? Someone, of course,
answered: To receive, and someone else: To give
oneself— The former said: The pleasure of pride,
and the latter: The voluptuousness of humility. All
these swine talked like The Imitation of Jesus Christ.
Finally, there was a shameless Utopian who affirmed
that the greatest pleasure in Love was to beget citizens
for the State. For my part, I say: the sole and
supreme pleasure in Love lies in the absolute knowledge
of doing evil. And man and woman know, from
birth, that in Evil is to be found all voluptuousness.


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Schemes. Squibs. Projects. Comedy à la Silvestre.
Barbora and the sheep.

Chenavard has created a superhuman type.

My homage to Levaillant.

The Preface, a blend of mysteriousness and drollery.

Dreams and the theory of dreams, in the manner
of Swedenborg.

The thought of Campbell (The conduct of life).


Power of the fixed idea.

Absolute frankness, the means of originality.

To relate pompously things which are comic. . . .


Squibs. Suggestions. When a man takes to his bed,
nearly all his friends have a secret desire to see him
die; some to prove that his health is inferior to their
own, others in the disinterested hope of being able to
study a death-agony.

The Arabesque is the most spiritualistic of designs.


Squibs. Suggestions. The man of letters shakes
foundations. He promotes the taste for intellectual

The Arabesque is the most ideal of all designs.

We love women in so far as they are strangers to
us. To love intelligent women is a pleasure of the
pederast. Thus it follows that bestiality excludes


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The spirit of buffoonery does not necessarily
exclude Charity, but this is rare.

Enthusiasm applied to things other than abstractions
is a sign of weakness and disease.

Thinness is more naked, more indecent than


Tragic Sky. An abstract epithet applied to a
material entity.

Man drinks in light with the atmosphere. Thus the
masses are right in saying that the night air is unhealthy
for work.

The masses are born fire-worshippers.

Fireworks, conflagrations, incendiaries.

If one imagined a born fire-worshipper, a born
Parsee, one could write a story . . .


Mistakes made about people's faces are due to an
eclipse of the real image by some hallucination to
which it gives rise.

Know therefore the pleasures of an austere life and
pray, pray without ceasing. Prayer is the fountain
of strength. (Altar of the Will. Moral dynamic. The
Sorcery of the Sacraments. Hygiene of the Soul.

Music excavates Heaven.

Jean-Jacques said that he always entered a café
with a certain emotional disturbance. For a timid
nature, the ticket-office in a theatre is rather like the
tribunal of Hell.

Life has but one true charm: the charm of gambling.
But what if we are indifferent to gain or loss?


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Suggestions. Squibs. Nations—like families—only
produce great men in spite of themselves. They make
every effort not to produce them. And thus the great
man has need, if he is to exist, of a power of attack
greater than the power of resistance developed by
several millions of individuals.

Of sleep, every evening's sinister adventure, it may
be observed that men go daily to their beds with an
audacity which would be beyond comprehension
did we not know that it is the result of their ignorance
of danger.


There are some skins as hard as tortoise shell
against which scorn has no power.

Many friends, many gloves. Those who loved me
have been despised persons; worthy of being despised,
I might even say, if I were determined to
flatter the respectable.

For Girardin to speak Latin! Pecudesque locutae

It was typical of a Society without faith to send
Robert Houdin to the Arabs to convert them from
belief in miracles.


These great and beautiful ships, imperceptibly
poised (swayed) on calm waters; these stout ships,
with their out-of-work, home-sick air—are they not
saying to us in dumb show: When shall we set sail
for happiness?

Do not neglect the marvellous element in drama—
the magical and the romanesque.

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The surroundings, the atmospheres in which the
whole narrative must be steeped. (See Usher, and
compare this with the most intense sensations of
hashish and opium.)


Are there mathematical lunacies and madmen
who believe that two and two make three? In other
words, can hallucination invade the realms of pure
reason—if the words do not cry out (at being joined
together)? If, when a man has fallen into habits of
idleness, of day-dreaming and of sloth, putting off
his most important duties continually till the morrow,
another man were to wake him up one morning
with heavy blows of a whip and were to whip him
unmercifully, until he who was unable to work for
pleasure worked now for fear—would not that man,
the chastiser, be his benefactor and truest friend?
Moreover, one may go so far as to affirm that
pleasure itself would follow, and this with much
better reason than when it is said: love comes after

Similarly, in politics, the real saint is he who
chastises and massacres the People, for the good of
the People.

Tuesday, May 13, 1856

Take some copies to Michel.

Write to Moun,

to Urriès.

to Maria Clemm.

Send to Madame Dumay to know if Mirès . . .


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That which is not slightly distorted lacks sensible
appeal; from which it follows that irregularity—that
is to say, the unexpected, surprise and astonishment,
are an essential part and characteristic of beauty.


Notes. Squibs. Théodore de Banville is not precisely
a materialist; he gives forth light.

His poetry represents happy hours.

Whenever you receive a letter from a creditor
write fifty lines upon some extra-terrestrial subject,
and you will be saved.

A great smile on the beautiful face of a giant.


Of suicide and suicidal mania considered in their bearings
upon statistics, medicine, and philosophy.


Look up the passage: To live with someone who feels
towards you nothing but aversion. . . .

The portrait of Serenus by Seneca. That of Stagirus
by St. John Chrysostom. Acedia, the malady of

Taedium Vita.


Squibs. Translation and paraphrase of La Passion
rapporte tout à elle.

Spiritual and physical pleasures caused by the
storm, electricity and the thunderbolt, tocsin of dark
amorous memories, from the distant years.


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Squibs. I have found a definition of the Beautiful,
of my own conception of the Beautiful. It is something
intense and sad, something a little vague,
leaving scope for conjecture. I am ready, if you will,
to apply my ideas to a sentient object, to that object,
for example, which Society finds the most interesting
of all, a woman's face. A beautiful and seductive
head, a woman's head, I mean, makes one dream,
but in a confused fashion, at once of pleasure and of
sadness; conveys an idea of melancholy, of lassitude,
even of satiety—a contradictory impression, of an
ardour, that is to say, and a desire for life together
with a bitterness which flows back upon them as
if from a sense of deprivation and hopelessness.
Mystery and regret are also characteristics of the

A beautiful male head has no need to convey, to
the eyes of man, at any rate—though perhaps to
those of a woman—this impression of voluptuousness
which, in a woman's face, is a provocation all the
more attractive the more the face is generally melancholy.
But this head also will suggest ardours and
passions—spiritual longings—ambitions darkly repressed—powers
turned to bitterness through lack
of employment—traces, sometimes, of a revengeful
colnss (for the archetype of the dandy must not be
forgten here), sometimes, also—and this is one of
the most interesting characteristics of Beauty—of
mystery, and last of all (let me admit the exact point
to which I am a modern in my aesthetics) of Unhappiness.
I do not pretend that Joy cannot associate


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with Beauty, but I will maintain that Joy is one of
her most vulgar adornments, while Melancholy may
be called her illustrious spouse—so much so that I
can scarcely conceive (is my brain become a witch's
mirror?) a type of Beauty which has nothing to do
with Sorrow. In pursuit of—others might say obsessed
by—these ideas, it may be supposed that I
have difficulty in not concluding from them that the
most perfect type of manly beauty is Satan—as
Milton saw him.


Squibs. Auto-Idolatry. Poetic harmony of charactter.
Eurhythrnic of the character and the faculties.
To preserve all the faculties. To augment all the

A cult (Magianism, evocatory magic).

The sacrifice and the act of dedication are the
supreme formulae and symbols of barter.

Two fundamental literary qualities, supernaturalism
and irony. The individual ocular impression, the
aspect in which things present themselves to the
writer—then the turn of satanic wit. The supernatural
comprises the general colour and accent—
that is to say, the intensity, sonority, limpidity,
vibrancy, depth and reverberation in Space and

There are moments of existence at which Time
and Duration are more profound, and the Sense of
Being is enormously quickened.

Of magic as applied to the evocation of the great
dead, to the restoration and perfection of health.


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Inspiration comes always when man wills it, but it
does not always depart when he wishes.

Of language and writing, considered as magical
operations, evocatory magic.

Of airs in Woman.

The charming airs, those in which beauty consists,

The blasé,

The bored,

The empty-headed,

The impudent,

The frigid,

The introspective,

The imperious,

The capricious,

The naughty,

The ailing,

The feline—a blend of childishness, nonchalance
and malice.

In certain semi-supernatural conditions of the
spirit, the whole depths of life are revealed within
the scene—no matter how commonplace—which
one has before one's eyes. This becomes its symbol.

As I was crossing the boulevard, hurrying a little
to avoid the carriages, my halo was dislodged and
fell into the filth of the macadam. Fortunately, I had
time to recover it, but a moment later the unhappy
thought slipped into my brain that this was an ill
omen; and from that instant the idea would not let
me alone; it has given me no peace all day.


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Of the cult of oneself as a lover—from the point
of view of health, hygiene, the toilet, spiritual
nobility, eloquence.

Self-purification and anti-humanity

There is, in the act of love, a great resemblance to
torture or to a surgical operation.

There is, in prayer, a magical operation. Prayer
is one of the great forces of intellectual dynamism.
There is, as it were, an electric current.

The rosary is a medium, a vehicle. It is Prayer
brought within the reach of all.

Work—a progressive and accumulative force,
yielding interest like capital, in the faculties just as
much as by its fruits.

Gambling, even when it is conducted scientifically,
is an intermittent force and will be overcome, however
fruitful it may be, by continuous work, however

If a poet demanded from the State the right to
have a few bourgeois in his stable, people would be
very much astonished, but if a bourgeois asked for
some roast poet, people would think it quite natural.

That would not scandalize our wives, our daughters
or our sisters.

Presently he asked permission to kiss her leg, and,
profiting by the occasion, he kissed that beautiful
limb in such a position that her figure was sharply
outlined against the setting sun!

`Pussy, kitty, catkin, my cat, my wolf, my little
monkey, big monkey, great big serpent, my little
melancholy monkey.'


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Such caprices of language, too often repeated,
such excessive use of animal nicknames, testify to a
satanic aspect in love. Have not demons the forms of
beasts? The camel of Cazotte—camel, devil and

A man goes pistol-shooting, accompanied by his
wife. He sets up a doll and says to his wife: `I shall
imagine that this is you'. He closes his eyes and
shatters the doll. Then he says, as he kisses his companion's
hand, `Dear angel, let me thank you for
my skill!'

When I have inspired universal horror and disgust,
I shall have conquered solitude.

This book is not for our wives, our daughters and
our sisters. I have little to do with such things.

There are some tortoise-like carapaces against
which contempt ceases to be a pleasure.

Many friends, many gloves—for fear of the itch.

Those who have loved me were despised people, I
might even say worthy of being despised, if I were
determined to flatter the respectable.

God is a scandal—a scandal which pays.


Squibs. Despise the sensibility of nobody. Each
man's sensibility is his genius.

There are only two places where one pays for the
right to spend: women and public latrines.

From a passionate concubinage one may guess at
the joys of a young married couple.


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The precocious taste for women. I used to confuse
the smell of women with the smell of furs. I remember
. . . Indeed, I loved my mother for her elegance.
I was a precocious dandy.

My ancestors, idiots or maniacs, in their solemn
houses, all victims of terrible passions.

The protestant countries lack two elements indispensable
to the happiness of a well-bred man;
gallantry and devotion.

The mixture of the grotesque and the tragic is
agreeable to the spirit, as are discords to the jaded ear.

What is exhilarating in bad taste is the aristocratic
pleasure of giving offence.

Germany expresses her dreams by means of line,
England by means of perspective.

There is, in the creation of all sublime thought, a
nervous concussion which can be felt in the cerebellum.

Spain brings to religion the natural ferocity of

Style. The eternal touch, eternal and cosmo-polite.
Chateaubriand, Alph. Rabbe, Edgar Poe.


Squibs. Suggestions. It is easy to guess why the rabble
dislike cats. A cat is beautiful; it suggests ideas of
luxury, cleanliness, voluptuous pleasures . . . etc.


Squibs. A small amount of work, repeated three
hundred and sixty-five times, gives three hundred


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and sixty-five times a small sum of money—that is to
say, an enormous sum. At the same time, glory is
achieved. [In the margin] Similarly, a crowd of small
pleasures compose happiness.

To write a pot-boiler, that is genius. I ought to
write a pot-boiler.

A really clever remark is a masterpiece.

The tone of Alphonse Rabbe.

The tone of a kept woman (My beautifullest! Oh,
you fickle sex!

The eternal tone.

The colouring crude, the design profoundly simplified.

The prima donna and the butcher boy.

My mother is fantastic; one must fear and propitiate

Hildebrand the arrogant.

Caesarism of Napoleon III (Letter to Edgar Ney),
Pope and Emperor.


Squibs. Suggestions. To give oneself to Satan. What
does this mean?

What can be more absurd than Progress, since
man, as the event of each day proves, is for ever the
double and equal of man—is for ever, that is to say,
in the state of primitive nature! What perils have the
forest and the prairie to compare with the daily
shocks and conflicts of civilization? Whether man
ensnares his dupe upon the boulevard or pierces his
victim within the trackless forests, is he not everlasting
man, the most perfect of the beasts of prey?


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People tell me that I am thirty, but if I have lived
three minutes in one . . . am I not ninety years old?

Is not work the salt which preserves mummified

At the beginning of a story attack the subject, no
matter where, and open with some very beautiful
phrases which will arouse the desire to complete it.


I believe that the infinite and mysterious charm
which lies in the contemplation of a ship, especially
of a ship in motion, depends firstly upon its order
and symmetry—primal needs of the human spirit as
great as those of intricacy and harmony—and,
secondly, upon the successive multiplication and
generation of all the curves and imaginary figures
described in space by the real elements of the object.

The poetic idea which emerges from this operation
of line in motion is an hypothesis of an immeasurably
vast, complex, yet perfectly harmonized entity, of an
animal being possessed of a spirit, suffering all
human ambition and sighing all the sighs of men.

You civilized peoples, who are for ever speaking
foolishly about Savages and Barbarians—soon, as
d'Aurevilly says, you will have become too worthless
even to be idolaters.

Stoicism, a religion which has but one sacrament:

To conceive a sketch for a lyrical or fairy extravagance
for a pantomime and to translate it into a
serious romance. To plunge the whole into a supernatural,
dreamlike atmosphere—the atmosphere of


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the great days. That there should be something lulling,
even screne, in passion. Regions of pure poetry.

Moved by contact with those pleasures which were
themselves like memories, softened by the thought
of a past ill spent, of so many faults, so many quarrels,
of so many things which each must hide from
the other, he began to weep; and his tears fell warm,
in the darkness, upon the bare shoulder of his beloved
and still charming mistress. She trembled. She, also,
felt moved and softened. The darkness shielded her
vanity, her elegant affectation of coldness. These
two fallen creatures, who could still suffer, since a
vestige of nobility remained with them, embraced
impulsively, mingling, in the rain of their tears and
kisses, regrets for the past with hopes, all too uncertain,
for the future. Never, perhaps, for them, as
upon that night of melancholy and forgiveness, had
pleasure been so sweet—a pleasure steeped in sorrow
and remorse.

Through the night's blackness, he had looked
behind him into the depths of the years, then he had
thrown himself into the arms of his guilty lover, to
recover there the pardon he was granting her.

Hugo often thinks of Prometheus. He applies an
imaginary vulture to his breast, which is scared only
by the moxas of vanity. Then, as the hallucination
becomes more complex and varied, following always,
however, the progressive stages which medical men
describe, he believes that a fiat of Providence has
substituted Jersey for St. Helena.


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This man is so little of a poet, so little spiritual,
that he would disgust even a solicitor.

Hugo, like a priest, always has his head bowed—
bowed so low that he can see nothing except his own

What is not a priesthood nowadays? Youth itself
is a priesthood—according to the young.

And what is not a prayer? To sh—is a prayer—
according to the rabble, when they sh—

M. de Pontmartin—a man who has always the air
of having just arrived from the provinces.

Man—all mankind, that is to say—is so naturally
depraved that he suffers less from universal degradation
than from the establishment of a reasonable

The world is about to end. Its sole reason for continuance
is that it exists. And how feeble is this
reason, compared with those which announce the
contrary, particularly the following: What, under
Heaven, has this world henceforth to do? Even
supposing that it continued materially to exist,
would this existence be worthy of the name or the
Historical Dictionary? I do not say that the world
will be reduced to the clownish shifts and disorders
of a South American republic, or even that we shall
perhaps return to a state of nature and roam the
grassy ruins of our civilization, gun in hand, seeking
our food. No; for these adventures would require a
certain remnant of vital energy, echo of earlier ages.
As a new example, as fresh victims of the inexorable
moral laws, we shall perish by that which we have
believed to be our means of existence. So far will


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machinery have Americanized us, so far will Progress
have atrophied in us all that is spiritual, that no
dream of the Utopians, however bloody, sacrilegious
or unnatural, will be comparable to the result. I
appeal to every thinking man to show me what remains
of Life. As for religion, I believe it useless to
speak of it or to search for its relics, since to give
oneself the trouble of denying God is the sole disgrace
in these matters. Ownership virtually disappeared
with the suppression of the rights of the eldest son;
but the time will come when humanity, like an
avenging ogre, will tear their last morsel from those
who believe themselves to be the legitimate heirs of
revolution. And even that will not be the worst.

Human imagination can conceive, without undue
difficulty, of republics or other communal states
worthy of a certain glory, if they are directed by
holy men, by certain aristocrats. It is not, however,
specifically in political institutions that the universal
ruin, or the universal progress—for the name matters
little—will be manifested. That will appear in the
degradation of the human heart. Need I describe
how the last vestiges of statesmanship will struggle
painfully in the clutches of universal bestiality, how
the governors will be forced—in maintaining themselves
and erecting a phantom of order—to resort to
measures which would make our men of today shudder,
hardened as they are? Then the son will run
away from the family not at eighteen but at twelve,
emancipated by his gluttonous precocity; he will fly
not to seek heroic adventures, not to deliver a beautiful
prisoner from a tower, not to immortalize a


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garret with sublime thoughts, but to found a business,
to enrich himself and to compete with his
infamous papa, to be founder and shareholder of a
journal which will spread enlightenment and cause
Le Siècle of that time to be considered as an instrument
of superstition. Then the erring, the déclassées,
those women who have had several lovers and who
are sometimes called Angels, by virtue of and in gratitude
for the empty-headed frivolity which illumines,
with its fortuitous light, their existences logical as
evil—then these women, I say, will be nothing but
a pitiless wisdom, a wisdom which condemns everything
except money, everything, even the crimes of the
Then, any shadow of virtue, everything indeed
which is not worship of Plutus, will be brought into
utter ridicule. Justice, if, at that fortunate epoch,
Justice can still exist, will deprive of their civil rights
those citizens who are unable to make a fortune. Thy
spouse, O bourgeois! Thy chaste better half, whose
legitimacy seems to thee poetic—making legality to
be henceforth a baseness beneath reproach—vigilant
and loving guardian of thy strong-box, will be no
more than the absolute type of the kept woman. Thy
daughter, with an infantile wantonness, will dream
in her cradle that she sells herself for a million—and
thou, thyself, O bourgeois—less of a poet even than
thou art today—thou wilt find no fault in that, thou
wilt regret nothing. For there are some qualities in
a man which grow strong and prosper only as others
diminish and grow less; thanks to the progress of that
age, of thy bowels of compassion nothing will remain
but the guts!—That age is perhaps very near; who


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knows if it is not already come and if the coarseness
of our perceptions is not the sole obstacle which prevents
us from appreciating the nature of the atmosphere
in which we breathe?

For myself, who feel within me sometimes the
absurdity of a prophet, I know that I shall never
achieve the charity of a physician. Lost in this vile
world, elbowed by the crowd, I am like a worn-out
man, whose eyes see, in the depths of the years behind
him, only disillusionment and bitterness, ahead
only a tumult in which there is nothing new, whether
of enlightenment or of suffering. In the evening
when this man has filched from his destiny a few
hours of pleasure, when he is lulled by the process
of digestion, forgetful—as far as possible—of the past,
content with the present and resigned to the future,
exhilarated by his own nonchalance and dandyism,
proud that he is less base than the passers-by, he says
to himself, as he contemplates the smoke of his cigar:
What does it matter to me what becomes of these

I believe I have wandered into what those of the
trade call a hors-d'œuvre. Nevertheless, I will let
these pages stand—since I wish to record my days
of anger.