Saturday 26th of September 2020

freedom — sweet girl with golden eyes — and sour masked men of humanity....

libert�...

Jules Letambour revisits Paris, 1830... The painting above was done by Delacroix — not to illustrate the French revolution of 1789 — but to depict that of 1830 which toppled King Charles X of France. 

 

And by arranged coincidence, Jules sent us his translation of "La Fille Aux Yeux d'Or" by Honoré de Balzac... It is horrid, though as contemporary as New York and the rest of the word today...

 

 

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The Girl with the Golden Eyes

Paris, mars 1834 – avril 1835.


To Eugène Delacroix, painter.

One of the sights where the most horror is to be found is certainly the general aspect of the Parisian populace, a people horrible to see, gaunt, yellow, dusky. Isn't Paris a vast field incessantly stirred by a storm of interests under which swirls a harvest of men whom death mows down more often than elsewhere and who are always reborn as tight-arsed, whose contorted, twisted faces make through every pore the spirit, the desires, the poisons with which their brains are engrossed; not faces, but masks: masks of weakness, masks of strength, masks of misery, masks of joy, masks of hypocrisy; all exhausted, all imprinted with indelible signs of panting greed? What do they want? Gold, or pleasure?

A few observations on the soul of Paris can explain the causes of its cadaverous physiognomy which has only two ages, youth and decay: pale and colourless youth, cutthroat decay that wants to appear young. Seeing this exhumed people, foreigners who are not required to reflect, first of all feel a movement of disgust for this capital, a vast workshop of pleasures, from which they themselves soon cannot leave, and remain trapped, corrupted willingly. Few words will suffice to physiologically justify the almost infernal hue of the Parisian figures, for it is not only as a joke that Paris has been called a hell. Take this word to be true. There, everything smokes, everything burns, everything shines, everything bubbles, everything flames, evaporates, goes out, re-ignites, sparks, sparkles and is consumed. Never in any country was life more ardent, nor more bitter. This social nature always in a flux seems to say to itself after each finished work: — To another! as nature says to itself. Like nature, this social nature deals with insects, day flowers, trifles, ephemera, and also throws fire and flame through its eternal crater. Perhaps before analysing the causes which make a special physiognomy for each tribe of this intelligent and moving nation, we should point out the general cause which discolours, turns pale, blues and browns individuals more and less.
By a fake desire of being interested in everything, the Parisian ends up being interested in nothing.

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The Novella carries on in the same vein.... until the tragic end: the Girl with the Golden Eyes is dead — and seen as a matter of fact... probably killed by love, unfulfilled...


 

the upward mobility of cash...

More from The Girl with the Golden Eyes...

 

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This ambition introduces [us] ... to the second of the Parisian spheres. Go up one floor and go to the basement or go down from the attic and stay on the fourth floor; finally enter the world which has some thing: there, the same result. The wholesalers and their boys, the employees, the people of the small bank and of great rectitude, the rascals, the damned souls, the first and the last clerks, the clerks of the bailiff, the attorney, the notary, finally the active, thinking, speculative members of this petty bourgeoisie which triturates the interests of Paris and watches over its grain, monopolises the foodstuffs, stores the products produced by the proletarians, stores the fruits of the south, the fish of the ocean, wines from any coast loved by the sun; who stretches his hands over the East, takes there shawls scorned by the Turks and the Russians; goes to harvest as far as the Indies, lies down to await the sale, aspires for profit, discounts the bills, rolls and collects all the securities; wraps up the whole of Paris, the car, watches for the fantasies of childhood, watches for the whims and vices of middle age, squeezes illnesses; well, without drinking brandy like the worker, nor without going to wallow in the mire of the barricades, all also exceed their strength; strain their bodies and morale excessively, one by the other; wither from desires, spoil from hasty races. With them, the physical twist is accomplished under the whip of interests, under the scourge of ambitions which torment the lofty worlds of this monstrous city, just as that of the proletarians was accomplished under the cruel pendulum of material elaborations incessantly desired by despotism. I want him aristocrat. So there too, to obey this universal master, pleasure or gold, you have to devour time, press time, find more than twenty-four hours in the day and night, get angry, kill yourself, sell thirty years of old age for two years of sickly rest. Only the worker dies in the hospital, when his last term of stunting has occurred, while the petty bourgeois continues to live and lives, but cretinised: you meet him with his face worn, flat, old, without gleam in his eyes, without firmness in the leg, dragging himself dazedly on the boulevard, the road-belt of his Venus, of his beloved city. What did the bourgeois want? The cigarette-lighter of the National Guard, an eternal meat-stew, a decent place at Père-Lachaise [Paris most famous cemetery], and for his old age a little bit of legitimately earned gold. His Monday is Sunday; his rest is the ride in the coach, the country party, during which the wife and children happily swallow dust, or roast themselves in the sun; his last stop is the restaurateur whose poisonous dinner is famous, or some family ball where we suffocate until midnight. Some fools are astonished on St. Vitus 'Day to be affected like the microbes that the microscope reveals in a drop of water, but what would say Rabelais' Gargantua, a figure of sublime misunderstood audacity, what would this giant, fallen from celestial spheres, should he amuse himself by contemplating the movement of this second Parisian life, of which here is one of the formulas? Have you seen these little huts, cold in summer, with no other hearth than a heater in winter, placed under the vast copper top that caps the wheat stash? Madame is there in the morning, she is a Postwoman at the market, and earns twelve thousand francs a year for this job, they say. When Madame gets up, she goes into the dark study from where Monsieur lends petty cash to the merchants of his neighbourhood. At nine o'clock, he is at the passport office, of which he is one of the deputy heads. In the evening, he is at the cash desk of the Italian Theatre, or any other theatre you choose. The children are given to a nanny from whom they come back to go to college or a boarding school. Monsieur and Madame live on the third floor, have only one stove, give balls in a salon twelve feet by eight feet and lighted by candelabras, they give their daughter 150,000 francs, and they only have a rest when they reach fifty years of age, the age at which they began to appear in the third-class boxes at the Opera, in a cab at Longchamp [race course], or in faded dresses, every sunny day, on the boulevards, the espalier of these labours. Esteemed in the neighbourhood, loved by the government, allied with the upper middle class, at the age of sixty-five, Monsieur obtains the cross of the Legion of Honour, and the father of his son-in-law, mayor of a district, invites him to his soirées. These lifelong jobs therefore benefit the children that this petty bourgeoisie inevitably tends to raise to the top. Each sphere thus throws all its spawning into its upper sphere. The son of the rich grocer becomes a notary, the son of the lumber merchant becomes a magistrate. Not a tooth fails to bite its chosen apple, and everything stimulates the upward movement of cash...

 

 

See also: http://yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/37019

 

Please note that the segment above was written without any paragraphs, to be read in a single breath...