07 September 2010

I expose myself to that risk voluntarily.

I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight! I am waiting.

- Émile Zola, J'accuse!

Painting: The Prisoner by Nikolai Alexandrovich Yaroshenko, 1878
"The Prisoner" by Nikolai Alexandrovich Yaroshenko, 1878 [1]

A man cannot live intensely except at the cost of the self. Now the bourgeois treasures nothing more highly than the self (rudimentary as his may be). And so at the cost of intensity he achieves his own preservation and security. His harvest is a quiet mind which he prefers to being possessed by God, as he does comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to that deathly inner consuming fire.

- Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

Painting: Zola Insulted by Henry de Groux
"Zola Insulted" by Henry de Groux, date unknown [2]

It appears to be an inborn and imperative need of all men to regard the self as a unit. However often and however grievously this illusion is shattered, it always mends again. The judge who sits over the murderer and looks into his face, and at one moment recognizes all the emotions and potentialities of the murderer in his own soul and hears the murderer's voice as his own, is at the next moment one and indivisible as the judge, and scuttles back into the shell of his cultivated self and does his duty and condemns the murderer to death. And if ever the suspicion of their manifold being dawns upon men of unusual powers and of unusually delicate perceptions, so that, as all genius must, they break through the illusion of the unity of the personality and perceive that the self is made up of a bundle of selves, they have only to say so and at once the majority puts them under lock and key, calls science to aid, establishes schizomania and protects humanity from the necessity of hearing the cry of truth from the lips of these unfortunate persons.

- Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

Antonin Artaud, La Pendue (The Hanged), 1945
"La Pendue" ("The Hanged") by Antonin Artaud, 1945 [3]

[1] Image taken from this page, where an oddly-phrased comment is good for a laugh: "[Yaroshenko's] genre paintings depict torture, struggles, fruit, bathing suits, and other hardships faced in Russia."

[2] From Dreyfus Rehabilitated: "painting by Henri Degroux depicting the hatred of the masses, a present to the writer from his admirers".

[3] Image taken from an excellent blog called A Journey Round My Skull; includes a link to a larger version of the image.

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