Artificial Paradise

KeskusteluThe Chapel of the Abyss

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Artificial Paradise

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tammikuu 29, 2011, 1:11 am

Slowly working my way through Symond's Baudelaire. Artificial Paradise is
interesting to re-read after many years.
The descriptions of the various stages
and possible reactions to getting high
are some of the best I've read.
B confuses opium and hash though. Probably a 19th c. terror after witnessing the effects of opium?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 2011, 7:28 pm

I wonder if they had better hashish back then? And then another thought: could it have been opiated? In the hazy days of the 70s the returned fighting lads and entrepreneurial sons of diplomats used to provide us schoolboys with fortified hash (solid and liquiform): Lebanese blond, red oil, fragrant as an odalisque - lovely stuff, and capable of packing a padded punch, or so I hear. I will have to reread Baudelaire's essay.

tammikuu 31, 2011, 8:11 am

B. Mentions several distillation methods of hash including alcohol. He sounds extremely knowledgable, but concludes that hash is more dangerous than opium! Kind of strange.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 2011, 5:07 pm

i had hoped that the one benefical effect of the latest invasion of afghanistan would be the resumption of the flow of black afghani hash, but alas!

tammikuu 31, 2011, 2:33 pm

Ah, the fermented stuf. Yes, that is great. We can stilll get it here in Holland, occasionally.

tammikuu 31, 2011, 2:59 pm

4: It depends how amiable the DEA and CIA are these days. In the British minseries Traffik, a Pakistani heroin trafficker said life is always better there when the US is fighting itself. Afghanistan does seem to be the elephant graveyard of global empires, be it British, Soviet, or US.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 23, 2016, 10:18 am

This short story about ether consumption is not included in my Complete Stories of Maupassant:


They had just dined together, five old friends, a writer, a doctor and
three rich bachelors without any profession.

They had talked about everything, and a feeling of lassitude came over
them, that feeling which precedes and leads to the departure of guests
after festive gatherings. One of those present, who had for the last
five minutes been gazing silently at the surging boulevard dotted with
gas-lamps, with its rattling vehicles, said suddenly:

"When you've nothing to do from morning till night, the days are long."

"And the nights too," assented the guest who sat next to him. "I sleep
very little; pleasures fatigue me; conversation is monotonous. Never do
I come across a new idea, and I feel, before talking to any one, a
violent longing to say nothing and to listen to nothing. I don't know
what to do with my evenings."

The third idler remarked:

"I would pay a great deal for anything that would help me to pass just
two pleasant hours every day."

The writer, who had just thrown his overcoat across his arm, turned round
to them, and said:

"The man who could discover a new vice and introduce it among his fellow
creatures, even if it were to shorten their lives, would render a greater
service to humanity than the man who found the means of securing to them
eternal salvation and eternal youth."

The doctor burst out laughing, and, while he chewed his cigar, he said:

"Yes, but it is not so easy to discover it. Men have however crudely,
been seeking for--and working for the object you refer to since the
beginning of the world. The men who came first reached perfection at
once in this way. We are hardly equal to them."

One of the three idlers murmured:

"What a pity!"

Then, after a minute's pause, he added:

"If we could only sleep, sleep well, without feeling hot or cold, sleep
with that perfect unconsciousness we experience on nights when we are
thoroughly fatigued, sleep without dreams."

"Why without dreams?" asked the guest sitting next to him.

The other replied:

"Because dreams are not always pleasant; they are always fantastic,
improbable, disconnected; and because when we are asleep we cannot have
the sort of dreams we like. We ought to dream waking."

"And what's to prevent you?" asked the writer.

The doctor flung away the end of his cigar.

"My dear fellow, in order to dream when you are awake, you need great
power and great exercise of will, and when you try to do it, great
weariness is the result. Now, real dreaming, that journey of our
thoughts through delightful visions, is assuredly the sweetest experience
in the world; but it must come naturally, it must not be provoked in a
painful, manner, and must be accompanied by absolute bodily comfort.
This power of dreaming I can give you, provided you promise that you will
not abuse it."

The writer shrugged his shoulders:

"Ah! yes, I know--hasheesh, opium, green tea--artificial paradises.
I have read Baudelaire, and I even tasted the famous drug, which made me
very sick."

But the doctor, without stirring from his seat, said:

"No; ether, nothing but ether; and I would suggest that you literary men
should use it sometimes."

The three rich bachelors drew closer to the doctor.

One of them said:

"Explain to us the effects of it."

And the doctor replied:

"Let us put aside big words, shall we not? I am not talking of medicine
or morality; I am talking of pleasure. You give yourselves up every day
to excesses which consume your lives. I want to indicate to you a new
sensation, possible only to intelligent men--let us say even very
intelligent men--dangerous, like everything else that overexcites our
organs, but exquisite. I might add that you would require a certain
preparation, that is to say, practice, to feel in all their completeness
the singular effects of ether.

"They are different from the effects of hasheesh, of opium, or morphia,
and they cease as soon as the absorption of the drug is interrupted,
while the other generators of day dreams continue their action for hours.

"I am now going to try to analyze these feelings as clearly as possible.
But the thing is not easy, so facile, so delicate, so almost
imperceptible, are these sensations.

"It was when I was attacked by violent neuralgia that I made use of this
remedy, which since then I have, perhaps, slightly abused.

"I had acute pains in my head and neck, and an intolerable heat of the
skin, a feverish restlessness. I took up a large bottle of ether, and,
lying down, I began to inhale it slowly.

"At the end of some minutes I thought I heard a vague murmur, which ere
long became a sort of humming, and it seemed to me that all the interior
of my body had become light, light as air, that it was dissolving into

"Then came a sort of torpor, a sleepy sensation of comfort, in spite of
the pains which still continued, but which had ceased to make themselves
felt. It was one of those sensations which we are willing to endure and
not any of those frightful wrenches against which our tortured body

"Soon the strange and delightful sense of emptiness which I felt in my
chest extended to my limbs, which, in their turn, became light, as light
as if the flesh and the bones had been melted and the skin only were
left, the skin necessary to enable me to realize the sweetness of living,
of bathing in this sensation of well-being. Then I perceived that I was
no longer suffering. The pain had gone, melted away, evaporated. And I
heard voices, four voices, two dialogues, without understanding what was
said. At one time there were only indistinct sounds, at another time a
word reached my ear. But I recognized that this was only the humming I
had heard before, but emphasized. I was not asleep; I was not awake; I
comprehended, I felt, I reasoned with the utmost clearness and depth,
with extraordinary energy and intellectual pleasure, with a singular
intoxication arising from this separation of my mental faculties.

"It was not like the dreams caused by hasheesh or the somewhat sickly
visions that come from opium; it was an amazing acuteness of reasoning, a
new way of seeing, judging and appreciating the things of life, and with
the certainty, the absolute consciousness that this was the true way.

"And the old image of the Scriptures suddenly came back to my mind.
It seemed to me that I had tasted of the Tree of Knowledge, that all the
mysteries were unveiled, so much did I find myself under the sway of a
new, strange and irrefutable logic. And arguments, reasonings, proofs
rose up in a heap before my brain only to be immediately displaced by
some stronger proof, reasoning, argument. My head had, in fact, become a
battleground of ideas. I was a superior being, armed with invincible
intelligence, and I experienced a huge delight at the manifestation of my

"It lasted a long, long time. I still kept inhaling the ether from my
flagon. Suddenly I perceived that it was empty."

The four men exclaimed at the same time:

"Doctor, a prescription at once for a liter of ether!"

But the doctor, putting on his hat, replied:

"As to that, certainly not; go and let some one else poison you!"

And he left them.

Ladies and gentlemen, what is your opinion on the subject?

toukokuu 26, 2016, 10:49 am

Its a great tale but it might not be by Maupassant.

After he died there were quite a few tales attributed to him that weren't by him. I used to have a list somewhere (I have loved Maupassant for many years) but I dont remember the tale above being on it.
Its still fun though and it begs the question who did write it and did they write more?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 27, 2016, 8:06 pm

Let me know if you come across that list or a reference. Everyone seems to attribute it to GdM. Funny, Worldcat lists my edition as containing the story, but it does not.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 27, 2016, 8:37 pm

Wikipedia has a lengthy list of known Maupassant short stories, but Dreams isn't listed...? I've also read somewhere that many risqué stories were falsely attributed to him circa the 1930s-50s because clandestine "under-the-counter" publishers in the U.S. thought that attaching his then dirty-french-novel author reputation to the stories would lead to higher sales. Curiously, Colonel's Nieces, an erotic novel attributed to Maupassant appeared out of nowhere in the late '60s. I'd go find a copy if someone tells me Maupassant actually wrote it.

toukokuu 30, 2016, 9:31 pm

Inside Donald Trump's luxurious NYC penthouse mansion:

Gloriously, vulgarly, absurdly tacky. An artificial paradise par excellance. As if Louis XVI vomited in a Costco parking lot. To be fair, Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi showed more class with their personal domiciles.

toukokuu 14, 2018, 7:27 pm

an old fav, thanks!

toukokuu 28, 2018, 11:50 am

Transcendental gastronomy (and a majoun recipe!):

heinäkuu 23, 2019, 12:52 pm

Here's an odd stab at creating paradise by Wyndham Lewis from Blast 2: (Issue from July 1915.)

"Constantinople Our Star"

"That Russia will get Constantinople should be the prayer of every good artist in Europe. And, more immediately, if the Turks succeeded in beating off the Allies' attack, it would be my personal calamity to those interested in Art.

"A Russian Constantinople. I need only enumerate: 1-- Slav Christianity mingling with young catholic converts from England round St. Sophia. 2-- Probably the best Shakespeare Theatre in the world at this gate of the East. An entirely new type of Englishman, in the person of our poet, would be introduced to the amazed Oriental. 3-- Real efforts in Sciences and Arts more intelligently encouraged than in Germany, and on an equal scale. 4-- The traditional amenity and good manners of the Turk helping to make the Southern Russian Capital the more brilliant city poor suffering humanity has ever beheld, not excepting Paris and Vienna. 5-- Not to mention (a) a week-end bungalow in Babylon. (b) Picnics on the Islands beneath the shadow of the Golden Horn (I hope this is sound geography) with emancipated lady-telegraphists. (c) A long white "Independants" exhibition on the shores of the Bosporus. (d) Endless varieties of Cafes, Gaming-houses, Casinos and Cinemas."

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