Friday, 20 June 2014

The Bohemianism Of Fin De Siecle -"Things are beautiful to behold but to be them is quite different" From The One Single True Word: Of Rimbaud To Jim Morrison's Wilderness Symbolism

"I shed more tears than God could have required..
Idle youth enslaved to everything; by being too sensitive i have wasted my life.....
Ah, let the time come when hearts are enamoured
I said to myself: Let be, And let no one see you: Do without the promise of higher joys. Let nothing delay you, majestic retirement......
I'm now making myself as scummy as i can. Why? I want to be a poet. And I'm working at turning myself into a seer. You wont understand any of this, and I'm almost incapable of explaining it to you. The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering but one must be strong and be born a poet, its really not my fault.
I say that one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious,and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he reaches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him and keeps only their quintessences. This is an unspeakable torture during which he needs all his faith and superhuman strength, and during which he becomes the great patient, the great criminal, the great accursed- the great learned one!-among men.- For he arrives at the unknown! Because he has cultivated his own soul-which was rich to begin with-more than any other man! He reaches the unknown; and even if, crazed, he ends up losing the understanding of his visions, at least he has seen them! Let him die charging those unutterable, unnameable things; other horrible workers will come: they will begin from the horizons from where he has succumbed!

One Single True Word is : Come Back, I want to be with you, I love you . If you listen to this you will prove your courage and sincerity. Otherwise,  I am sorry for you but I love you I kiss you and we'll see each other again....-Rimbaud    
                  A SEASON IN HELL
    Delirium II Alchemy Of The Word

                       It is recovered.
                      What?- Eternity
                   In the whirling light 
                   Of the sun in the sea.

                    O my eternal soul,
                   Hold fast on desire
                   In spite of the night 
                   And the day on fire.

             You must set yourself free
             From the striving of Man 
         And the applause of the World
              You must fly as you can...

                                           -No hope forever
                                                No oriteur
                                         Science and patience
 The torment is sure.

The fire within you
Soft silken embers
Is our whole duty
But no one remembers.

It is recovered.
What? -Eternity
In the whirling light 
Of the sun in the sea.


"I am a slave of my baptism, parents you have caused my misfortune, and you have caused your own"-Rimbaud

The Fin de siecle, saw a revolutionary transformation in the genre of poetics, art and music with the onset of the Symbolic movement. French writers and stalwarts were floored with the use of symbolisms in their poetic artforms. By the likes of Paul Verlain, Stéphanie Mallarme, Arthur Rimbaud, Jules Laforgue, Paul Velary, etc...symbolism became the dawn of the New Age...

Although synonymous yet distinctly different rose the decadent movement and its laurels. Identifying with hermeticism alingned with the tint of Byronic Romanticism, it used precieux (precious), ornamental and morbid subjects. Thematically, the decadents underlined the common yet unconscious historical background of the decadence of the Roman Empire, being expressed through individual motifs and personal expressions. One such example can be traced in Paul Verlain's Langueur from Jadis et Naguere
"I am the Empire, at the end of decadence, who watches the large, white barbarians passing, while composing lazy acrostic poems in a gilded style, in which the languor of the sun dances."


As Jean Moreas puts it, symbolism meant "to clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form". In other words, symbolism is an indirect expression of the inner condition of the Poet's soul and his subjective impression and experiences, penned down in symbols through words. A self-motivated artform, the concept arises from the Poet's epiphany or a moment of immense self realisation, a spiritual hallucination, or through excesses of emotive sensations (synesthesia). The idea emerged in 1857 with the publication of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal along with the subtle literary legacy of Edgar Allan Poe who in turn had influenced Baudelaire.

As published on 18th September 1886 in his essay Le Manifeste du Symbolisme in Le Figaro, Moreas writes
"In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial ideals."

Hence by reference to symbols, allegories and metaphors, the aim was to evoke rather than describe or express. Where the depiction of reality and transcendence projected a spiritual hallucination, unnamed thoughts, unwordly feelings, strange sensations and a weird combination of words whose meaning lied at depth beyond the logical decipher of mere words. Where the Poet became a Schopenhauerian Genius swirling his magic wand among his readers transporting them to a hypnotic, silent esoteric realm used as a microcosmic camouflage of the macrocosmic truth. As Rimbaud himself puts it in The Alchemy Of Words....
"I dreamt of crusades, voyages of discovery that nobody had heard of, republics without histories, religious wars stamped out, revolutions in morals, movements of races and continents.  I used to believe in every kind of magic.
I invented colours for vowels A black, E white, I red, O green, U blue- I made the rules for the form and movement of every consonant, i boasted of inventing rhythms from within me a kind of poetry that all the senses, sooner or later, would recognize. And i alone would be its translator. It began as an investigation, i turned silences and nights into words, what was unutterable, i wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still."


Josephine Peladan, the founder of the Mystic Order Of The Rose+Croix influenced by the medieval secret society of Rosicrusians, an active occultist himself, was highly regarded among the finest admirers of the symbolist movement. He promoted the Symbolists by establishing a state of the art Salon De La +Croix with the six galleries of exihibition space featuring avant garde experimentalism in poetry, arts and music. The elites and stalwarts of Symbolist poetry were associated with the Salon's much known public acclaim.


"Genius is the recollection of childhood at will..."  -Rimbaud.

The essence of symbolism reached its peak in 1884 with the publication of Paul Verlain's essay on Poetes Maudits or The Accursed Poets including Arthur Rimbaud, Stephane Mallarme, Tristan Corbiere, Marceline Desbordes Valmore, Gerad de Nerval and Verlain himself as Pauvre Lelian or Poor Lelain. Based on the victimization of these poets by their talents as an affect of their sensibility -a gift of their art, he claimed them as cursed with their own Geniuses. The idea was based on the aesthetics of Schopenhauer and Charles Baudelaire's poem Bénédiction in Les Fleurs Du Mal

"When by the decree of the supreme powers
The Poet appears in this world bored..."

...Be Blessed, my God, who us suffering
As a divine remedy of our impurities
And as the best and purest essence,
Who prepares the strong for holy pleasures! I know you keep a place in Poet, in the blessed ranks of the holy legions, and you invite him to the eternal feast of Thrones, Virtues, Dominions...."

Where Baudelaire describes the unaffected demeanor of the Poet retaining his inner peace and serenity, irrespective of the nuances of the outer world.

As stated by Schopenhauer "...Only through the pure contemplation....which becomes entirely absorbed in the object....are the Ideas comprehended; and the nature of Genius consists precisely in the preeminent ability for such contemplation.... This demands a complete forgetting of our own person."



"Things are certainly beautiful to behold but to be them is quite different...."

As Schopenhauer states The World As Will And Representation, in accordance to his doctrine of the Primacy of Will, he segregates the dual entities of representation and human will. The belief in the world as artistic representation negates the suffering of the world as the malignant human will. Thereby, art as an representation temporarily escapes the desires, depravation, grim and desolate realities of human will. Hence, emerging as the Plationic Ideal, Art performs the highest ritual of mental purgation escaping the mind to a silent state of self reality beyond the world of striving will. As he states, "On the occurence of an aesthetic appreciation, the will thereby vanishes entirely from the consciousness...." in Schopenhaeur's Parerga and Parilipomena. The Symbolists befitted idea, and adopted it as one of the priciple grounds of Symbolist poetry.

"Perhaps the reason why common objects in still life seem so transfigured and generally everything painted appears in a supernatural light is that we then no longer look at things in the flux of time and in the relation of cause and effect.....On the contrary we are snatched out of that eternal flux of all things and removed into a dead and silent eternity. In its individuality the thing itself was determined by time and by the (causal) conditions of understanding; here we see this connection abolished and only the Platonic Idea is left." - Schopenhauer.


A prized possesion for the Symbolists, it meant a unique amalgation of the sensory organs. The symbols co related with certain distinct visual imagery like colours (Chromesthesia), auditory (sounds) gustatory (tastes) and olfactory (scents) senses etc which can be well noted in this example of Baudelaire's Correspondences

"There perfumes that are fresh like children's flesh,
Sweet like oboes, grean like meadow
And others corrupt, rich and triumphant
Having the exanspiveness of the infinite things
Like amber, musc, benzoin, incenses
Which sing of the raptures of the soul and the senses."

And Rimbaud's Voyelles

A, black, E white, I red, O green , U blue: vowels
I shall tell, one day, of your mystic origins
A, black velvety jacket of brilliant flies
which buzz around cruel smells.
Gulf of shadows; E, whiteness of vapours and of tents
Lances of proud glaciers, white kings, shiverings of cow parsley
I, purples, spat blood, smile of beautiful lips
In anger or in the raptures of penitence

U, waves, divine, shuddering of viridian seas
The peace of pastures dotted with animals, the peace of the furrows
Which alchemy prints on broad studious foreheads
O, sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds
Silences crossed by worlds and by angels
O, the omega, the violet rays of her eyes


The symbolists heralded Theophile Gautier's motto - L'art Pour L'art (Art for Art's Sake) The slogan depicting the radicalism of the French revolution the Bohemianism of Fin De Siecle and its libertine social setting. Where the concept of art was seen as an autotelic - self sufficient work of human talent and consciousness, complete in itself without the need of any moral conjecture or societal norms. The idea suggested in defiance of didatic utilitarianism, insisting that the artist possesed absolute freedom in expression of beyond any moral judgement or function as the value of art stood for art itself . The best explanation of this idea could be found in the work of Edgar Allan Poe, the most influential figure in the birth of symbolism, much admired by Charles Baudelaire.

According to Poe in his 1850 essay The Poetic Principle

"We have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for the poem's sake......and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force:-but the simple fact is that we permit ourselves to look into our own souls we should immediately there discover that under the sun there neither exists nor can exist any other work more thoroughly dignified, supremely noble, than this very poem, this poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem's sake."


I have streched ropes from steeple to steeple;
Garlands from window to window;
Golden chains from stars to stars,
And i dance.

  Rimbaud's drawing
Laitou (Roches) (Canton d' Attigny) May 73
Dear friend, you see my existence
O Nature, My mother!
O nature, my sister!
O nature my aunt.
Letter to Ernest Delahaye in May 1873.

A protégé, a poet with the most rebellious and restless soul searching for the unknown. Earning the reputation of an archetypal enfant terrible yet subtle sensitive at heart. He truly invented his world as expressed in his Letters of a Seer Letters du voyant. He became what he proclaimed leaving a legacy to future Surrealists, Dadaists and future Poets whose masterpieces and inventive thoughts yet remain indebted to Rimbaud, as his contemporary Paul Velary states -" all known literature is written in the language of common sense-except Rimbaud's ". Following are few of his creations......

My mind turned sour. I bid farewell to the world in poems ssomething like ballads

The Song From The Highest Tower

Let it come let it come
The season we can love

I have waited so long
That at length i forget;
And leave unto heaven
My fear and regret
A sick thirst darkens my viens

Let it come let it come
The season we can love

So the green fields
To oblivion falls,
Overgrown, flowering
With incense and weeds
And the cruel noise
Of dirty flies

Let it come let it come
The season we can love

The Sleeper In The Valley

IItis a green hollow where a river sings
Hanging madly her herbal rags
Silver where the sun
The proud mountain shines

A young soldier open mouthed bare headed
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses
Sleeps; she is streched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where light falls like rain

His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling like
A sick child smile, he is having a nap
Cradle him warmly, Nature:he is cold

No odour makes his nostrils quiver,
He sleeps in the sun with, his hand on his chest
Tranquil, At peace. There are two red holes in his right side.


Highly inspired by Rimbaud, the young poet. Jim's lines frame themselves to tell a story....

 I am Rimbaud in a leather jacket.

France is 1st, Nogales round up
Cross over the border
Land of eternal adolescence
Quality of despair
Unmatched anywhere on the perimeter
Message from the outskirts
Calling us home
This the private space of
a new order. We need saviours
To help us survive the journey.
Now who will come.
Now hear this:
We have started the crossing
Who knows? it may end badly.

The actors are assembled
Immediately they become enchanted
I, for one, am in esctasy enthralled
Can convince you to smile?

To speak to the heart
& give the great gift

Could any hell be horrible
More than now and real.

Princess osorrow
Dancing wings of envy
Call me tommorrow

In that year we had a great visitation of energy

Back in those days everything
Was simpler & more confused

I can only smile & fix a meal
& think about the child
Who will one day own you
                                                  -Jim Morrison

Aspiring Jim's poems, I wish to write a series of Symbolist poetry dedicated to Him. In future i might publish them in this blog or launch a kindle edition. Those who delighted can surely read..

Saturday, 7 June 2014

In The Cherry Blossom's Shade, There's No Such Thing As A Stranger....From The Zen Art Of Haiku To The Beat Counterculture, Influences On Psychedelic Rock & Poetics-Jim Morrison

In The Cherry Blossom's Shade,
There's No Such Thing
As A Stranger

                  - Issa

Im troubled immeasurably by your eyes
Struck by the feather of your soft reply
The sound of glass speaks quick disdain
And conceals what your eyes fight to explain.
                                           -Jim Morrison


A form of Japanese short poetry, known as Hokku, was later renamed Haiku by the 19 th century stalwart Zen poet Masaoka Shiki. Traditionally Haiku consists of 17 syllables known as on or morae usually divided into three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 written in a vertical single line in Japanese whereas when translated in English it is written in three parallel lines to facilitate its division into the three subsequent phrases.
Haiku is known for a Kireji or its cutting word which acts as a medium to conjoin the two juxtaposed imageries. The word acts as the connective link differentiating between the two distinct impressions. Generally choosing the beauty of nature as a subject to project its simple naturalness juxtaposed with imageries of daily life brings forth a poignant experience or a moment of awakening.

A Haiku also consists of kigo or seasonal references, metaphors and allusions usually derived from saijiki an account of extensively researched array of such referential words.

In summation, a Zen Haiku as i call it, reflects a moment of naturalness or an Epiphany depicted through simple lines.

Following is the world's most well known haiku
Basho's Old Pond

Old Pond
A frog leaps in
Water's sound.

The four stalwarts of Zen poetry and Haiku as the impressionistic subjective artform.

Another year is gone
A traveler's shade on my head
Straw sandals at my feet- Basho

The greatest Haiku poet of all times, Matsuo Basho is known for his simple lyricism, his journey onto the northern wilderness, reflection of his extensive travels, excellence in the art of linking Haikai verses and his lucid depictions of the surrounding outer world and its impressions in his inner mind. The West's fascination with Haiku and its subjective simplicity projected Basho as an archetypal Zen poet and Haiku as the ideal form of Japanese poetry.

Outliving them
Outliving them all
Ah the cold.....-Issa

Struck by life's experience, poverty and hard times made Kobiyashi Issa, the Buddhist priest of Jodu Sinshu or Pure Land Buddhism (also known as Shin Buddhism) the most humane Zen Poet with his Haikus reflecting irony juxtaposed with time and nature.

This dewdrop world
Is a dewdrop world
And yet and yet...

Trusting the Buddha (Amida), good and bad
I bid farewell
To the departing year- Issa
Idolizing Matsuo Basho came Yosa Buson the third stalwart painter poet of the Edo period . Learning the art of poesy under the tutelage of the Haikai master Hayano Haijin, Buson travelled and wrote extensively. Inspired by Basho's travelogue Oku no Hisomichi or The Narrow Road To The Interior, Buson travelled to Northern Honshu and resumed poetry

In nooks and corners
Cold remains
Flowers of the plum-Buson

In the 19 th century, Masaoka Shiki embarked the reformation of the traditional Haiku and its waning popularity in the modern Meiji period. As a literary critic, Shiki helped in cutting a niche for Haiku in the literary circa considering it as a pivotal form of Japanese heritage and literature. His high regards for Haiku helped in its revival in the modern period with much ardent love and interest along with few cultural reforms in accordance with the changing times. As the influence of Western literature, inspired Shiki to incorporate realism in his Haiku's deviating from the traditional parameters of Haiku writing.

Following the Mahayana path, Zen Buddhism arrived in Japan via China spreading eastwards to Korea and southwards to Vietnam. Initiated by Boddhidharma of India it spread as Chan in China during the 6 th century. Hence, Zen Buddhism carried influences of Chinese Taoism and Confucianism. Emphasising Dhyana or Zazen (Meditative state) and discourses with a zen master as the methods of self-attainment, understanding the principle of 'suchness'-observing reality as it is, 'sunyata' -nothingness, along with the Boddhisattva ideals of insight and 'karuna' compassion.

Practiced at three different schools of Soto, Rinzai and Obaku, the doctrine of Zen preaches the prime ideal of self realisation, introspection, and a direct subjective experience of enlightenment or Sartori, de-mystifying the ardent chanting of sutras and ritual texts.

Japanese Zen became the most popular counterculture conversion during the beat generation in 1950s with post war American youths leading the zen way of life. Zen attracted its many followers due to its minimalistic nature, lack of stringent religious dogmas, along with a lot of importance to liberty, free-mind-space and the importance of subjective self realisation helping in alternate creative exploration of the time.

"One day i will find the right words, and they will be simple......"

Post world war II began a journey...a journey of American youth of the coming new generation renamed as the beat generation. Coined by Jack Kerouac in 1948 during his conversations with John Clellon Holmes, the term 'beat' meant beaten down by society on one hand along with beatific vision and beatitude of music on the other.The movement started as a opposition to authority, social conformity expressing liberty as its ideal along with freedom of speech, literature, poetry. With Buddhism at its helm, zen art and Haiku poetry became important sources of inspiration. As Kerouac writes

"I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and i could do anything i wanted........"


In the mid 1950s, the beats conjoined to form the avant garde alternate poetic movement in San Francisco owing to the growing alternate literary scene. Founded by Kenneth Rexroth, a second generation modernist and literary critic highly inspired by Japanese Haiku, along with the beats formed the nucleus of the West Coast wing of the movement. The infamous Six gallery reading of Ginsberg's Howl and other performances by the likes of Gary Synder, Philip Whalen, Michael McClure and was also fictionalized in the second chapter of Kerouac's The Dharma Bums.


The beatniks meant living life on your own terms and the people who envisaged this dream envisioned life beyond cross cultural barriers, beyond societal norms, beyond familiar ties, beyond an ordinary life.....The Ones embodying this spirit included Jack kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William. S. Burroughs, Michael McClure, Neal Cassidy and Gary Synder. The beatnik life style along with the most influential and inspiring Beat Literature includes Jack Kerouac's On The Road, The Subterraneans, The Visions of Cody, Big Sur, Sartori in Paris, The Dharma Bums, etc.. Allen Ginsberg's Howl, Kaddish and other poems.


Apart from the Beatles, early Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan . The beat culture extensively influenced The Doors music as well . Jim's favourite being Kerouac's writings made him exclusively read, contemplate and write his own poetic compositions.


A barn
A cabin attic
Your own face mirrored in
The stationary window

White wings of rabbits
Grey velvet deer
The Canyon
The car, a craft wretched in

Sudden movements
& your past to warm you
In the Spiritless night

The lonely HWY
Cold hiker
Afraid of the wolves and his own shadow.