[Click on the image above to see the view with binoculars.]
The first section, entitled “Spleen et idèal,” opens with a series of poems that dramatize contrasting views of art, beauty, and the artist, who is depicted alternately as martyr, visionary, performer, pariah, and fool. The focus then shifts to sexual and romantic love, with the first-person narrator of the poems oscillating between extremes of ecstasy (“idèal”) and anguish (“spleen“) as he attempts to find fulfillment through a succession of women…Each set of love poems describes an erotic cycle that leads from intoxication through conflict and revulsion to an eventual ambivalent tranquility born of memory and the transmutation of suffering into art. Yet the attempt to find plenitude through love comes in the end to nothing, and “Spleen et idèal” ends with a sequence of anguished poems, several of them entitled “Spleen,” in which the self is shown imprisoned within itself, with only the certainty of suffering and death before it.
From the “Flowers of Evil’ series. Poem by Charles Baudelaire. Translation by William Aggeler.
Image made with Orca. Post-processed until it became just another disorienting encounter.