HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

The Chapel of the Abyss

Blessèd be thine hands, for they are unclean!
At every joint lie secret sins unseen,
Their white nails beneath the lamp
Evoke hosts stolen beneath the white shadow of the lamp,
And upon thy finger, the captive opal’s gloss
Is the last sigh of Jesus on the cross.

- Remy de Gourmont, from Oraisons Mauvaises.

The Chapel of the Abyss is a virtual reliquary, a cenotaph devoted to the extravagant saints and angels who have fallen out of fashion and elsewhere. The kernel of this group is in the decadent and occult-themed literature of the 1890s and early 20th century. The focus, along with the theme, will continue to expand or metastasize as the mysteries of decay, of sickness, and of the wound, and their link to an original sin, perhaps one of omission, but nevertheless mortal and without appeal, are enduring and may be pursued at any point in time.

"And perhaps it was not perceptible to him in the midst of his tumultuous agitation, how much higher than all the voices of nature resounded here with a dissonant clamour the glaring disappropriation of all things - of the altar all the more majestic for being abandoned, of the useless lance, of the tomb as perturbing as a cenotaph, of the clock ticking for nothing outside of time, on which its gears had no more grip than a mill-wheel in a dried-up stream, of the lamp burning in full daylight, of the windows palpably made to be looked into from outside...."

- Julien Gracq, Chateau d'Argol

"Such is the nature of this place.... Horror and ecstasy abide here together."

- Fyodor Sologub, The Created Legend

"This life is a hospital where every patient is possessed with the desire to change beds; one man would like to suffer in front of the stove, and another believes that he would recover his health beside the window. It always seems to me that I should feel well in the place where I am not, and this question of removal is one which I discuss incessantly with my soul."

- Charles Baudelaire

"It is always Autumn at Bruges.... The sameness of this terribly constant old city seems to intensify the change that has come to oneself."

- Ernest Dowson

In his classic novel of the occult, Là-Bas, Joris Huysmans wrote “Now from lofty Mysticism to base Satanism there is but one step. In the Beyond all things touch.” Essence becomes the surface of things: the priesthood of art and the cult of the senses. By piety or perversion- through prayer, or by "the rational derangement of all the senses" -one must obtain to the Beyond.

The decadent is concerned with the mysteries of the artificial, the urban, masks, the passion play of the self. The city is the pool of Narcissus, a black mirror in which to scry one’s own voluptuous postures of decay.

"Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."

- Kakuzo Okakura

Over-refined, faithless and morbidly self-observant, the decadent is a mystic guided by "desire without light, curiosity without wisdom, seeking God by strange ways, by ways traced by the hands of men; offering rash incense upon the high places to an unknown God, who is the God of darkness." (Ernest Hello)

"The decadence is fundamentally a literature of deep religious concern."

- George Ross Ridge

One can keep to the well-worn way and aver that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, but entry demands devious routes. Christ thus advised the elect: go against nature, "Love one another as you love yourself."

For less hardy souls, sensual indulgence and depravity serve as stations of the cross. Severin’s journey into the dark and Durtal’s return to the Church indicate that the underlying theme is pilgrimage, quest (the dead end?)- if not for spiritual transcendence, then for moral transformation - for a new order of existence: to undertake oneself, "to create one's own aesthetic." The fate of Narcissus is henosis.

"Let everyone be his own lover...."

- Emile Hennequin

"I do not like inaccessible grandeur in mountains, nor in persons, nor in nature. I prefer, in all things, an honest moderation. Should one aspire to the ... sublime... one should at least go about it with discretion!"

- Auguste Villiers de L'Isle-Adam

"We hate the Crowd, the Law, the World."

- Renée Vivien

“I like the word ‘decadent,’ all shimmering with purple and gold … it throws out the brilliance of flames and the gleam of precious stones. It is made up of carnal spirit and unhappy flesh and of all the violent splendors of the Lower Empire; it conjures up the paint of the courtesans, the sports of the circus, the breath of the tamers of animals, the bounding of wild beasts, the collapse among the flames of races exhausted by the power of feeling, to the invading sound of enemy trumpets. The decadence is Sardanapalus lighting the fire in the midst of his women, it is Seneca declaiming poetry as he opens his veins, it is Petronius masking his agony with flowers.”

- Paul Verlaine

"The eternal retribution of God exists. And everything that lives is flogged to death for its secret sin, committed in the darkness of eternity. Blessed is the one who breathes his last after the first few blows."

- Ladislav Klíma

Total members: 430 members

Recent members: CatInTheStacks, datrappert, kyuss, khyron1144, Tay.Ining, bittergrrl, ironcyborg, Pickled_vegetables, surtsey, Kuiperdolin, jtoneill0, anjenue, roseleydon, daemonialitate, souvlaki, jaysonwm, gcnr, julienligne4, Duty57, kingaaronz, Goblin_Investor, t29, millefleurs, friso_geerlings, Paduke, Zapharatu, tinaoldknow, AlchemicalToil, ossuary, AdamNicke

 
 next
Topics messagesLast message 
À la mémoire de l'anniversaire de J.K. Huysmans: 15benwaugh, Wednesday 9:05amignore
Presses of the Abyss 102benwaugh, Sunday 9:24pmignore
Music from the abyss, tres 206kswolff, Saturday 6:38pmignore
Odds and ends 336benwaugh, March 22ignore
Schwob 13CharlesFerdinand, March 20ignore
Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803 - 1849) 7benwaugh, February 14ignore
Collections in decadence 7benwaugh, February 5ignore
La haut ou notre dame de la salette by J K Huysmans 2benwaugh, February 5ignore
Sex 48kswolff, January 31ignore
Film 121kswolff, January 26ignore
Robert Ziegler, scholar of the French decadents 9vaniamk13, January 16ignore
Death 21kswolff, November 2018ignore
Tales of the occult and the supernatural 100benwaugh, November 2018ignore
Books I would like to see available in English translation 145benwaugh, October 2018ignore
Cannibalism 41kswolff, October 2018ignore
Decadent women writers 122VolupteFunebre, September 2018ignore
Texts of 19th century occultism, magic and Satanism 21benwaugh, September 2018ignore
The Blind Owl 80benwaugh, July 2018ignore
John Glassco and Philip Core 1benwaugh, July 2018ignore
Volupté: Interdisciplinary Journal of Decadence Studies 10benwaugh, July 2018ignore
The Press of Nichols and Smithers 1benwaugh, July 2018ignore
Illustrators of Decadence 152benwaugh, June 2018ignore
Artificial Paradise 15benwaugh, May 2018ignore
The Return of Enoch Soames 3CharlesFerdinand, May 2018ignore
Graphic Arts 7benwaugh, May 2018ignore
sex and horror 13kswolff, May 2018ignore
The Craft of Invective 56kswolff, May 2018ignore
Louisa May Alcott and psychotropic drugs 7tros, May 2018ignore
Gabrielle Wittkop 24kswolff, April 2018ignore
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater 11kswolff, April 2018ignore
East Euro Symbolists 54benwaugh, April 2018ignore
The Century Guilds 22LolaWalser, April 2018ignore
Mel Gordon 2benwaugh, March 2018ignore
Music from the abyss, et tu 212benwaugh, February 2018ignore
recent acquisitions 63kswolff, February 2018ignore
It's Paul Leppin's birthday... 6benwaugh, January 2018ignore
Golem City: The arts and literature of Prague 1kswolff, December 2017ignore
Boring shit! 80kswolff, November 2017ignore
(Neo)fascist literary trends 9kswolff, November 2017ignore
The uncrowned King of Bohemia: George Sterling 13benwaugh, November 2017ignore
Poetry, quotes, etc. 42benwaugh, November 2017ignore
Current Reads #3 46kswolff, October 2017ignore
fleurs du mal, or, the costive gardener 7benwaugh, September 2017ignore
Eastern decadents 40kswolff, July 2017ignore
El Modernismo 65benwaugh, July 2017ignore
Parisian Satanism and Berthe de Courrière 10LiminalSister, June 2017ignore
Encounters with the Green Fairy 48benwaugh, June 2017ignore
Luisa Casati, Queen of the Night 4benwaugh, June 2017ignore
Hanns Heinz Ewers 97benwaugh, June 2017ignore
The King in the Golden Mask by Marcel Schwob 1LiminalSister, June 2017ignore
Artistic representations of Hermes, graphic and plastic 17benwaugh, March 2017ignore
LeeRoy J. Tappan, The Meditations of Ali Ben Háfiz 1benwaugh, March 2017ignore
Sadakichi Hartmann, American decadent 7benwaugh, March 2017ignore
Beaux Monstres 7benwaugh, March 2017ignore
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura 7DavidX, February 2017ignore
Taxidermy and other hobbies ... 8kswolff, February 2017ignore
The burning eyes 38DavidX, January 2017ignore
Modernisme Catala in literature 3benwaugh, January 2017ignore
Decadence and Catholicism 14kswolff, December 2016ignore
Pics from the abyss 130kswolff, December 2016ignore
Opium Eaters 28kswolff, December 2016ignore
Our man in Paris: Vincent O'Sullivan 42benwaugh, November 2016ignore
Citations Infernales 74kswolff, November 2016ignore
Remy de Gourmont 10benwaugh, November 2016ignore
Parisian Satanism and Catholicism 8LiminalSister, November 2016ignore
Leonid Andreyev: Author, painter, photographer 16DavidX, October 2016ignore
Emil Cioran: Philosopher of the Abyss 14elenchus, August 2016ignore
Alfred Kubin 14CharlesFerdinand, August 2016ignore
Anarchist World 8LiminalSister, July 2016ignore
Ernst Jünger 19kswolff, June 2016ignore
Eliphas Levi and the French Occult Revival 4paradoxosalpha, May 2016ignore
Le Miasme d'Amour 20benwaugh, May 2016ignore
Dandys, fops and swells 99kswolff, May 2016ignore
Baltic decadents 9benwaugh, May 2016ignore
William Theodore Peters 3benwaugh, May 2016ignore
Literary Podcasts? 5timwtheov, April 2016ignore
The Scapigliatura movement 41bluepiano, February 2016ignore
Blackstar: The Shrine to David Bowie 6benwaugh, January 2016ignore
Algernon Charles Swinburne 6paradoxosalpha, November 2015ignore
Kirsten Lodge: Scholar and Translator of Russian and Eastern European Decadents 21kswolff, November 2015ignore
seeking le Fantome by Remy de Gourmont in English transaltion 4benwaugh, November 2015ignore
Decadence and the Great War 6kswolff, October 2015ignore
Dedalus Books 23benwaugh, September 2015ignore
tobacco and it's many forms 8tros, September 2015ignore
Hermann Hesse 16paradoxosalpha, September 2015ignore
Patriotism and Decadence -- Junger, Mishima, D'Annunzio, and Spengler 17kswolff, August 2015ignore
Munch 1tros, August 2015ignore
old favorites 8kswolff, July 2015ignore
The Blue Horns: a Georgian symbolist/decadent group 1Vraxoin, May 2015ignore
Kārlis Padegs (1911-1940), Latvian artist and dandy 2kswolff, May 2015ignore
Morbo Germanicus: Oskar Panizza 2benwaugh, May 2015ignore
Favorite translation of Flowers of Evil? 39benwaugh, March 2015ignore
Clark Ashton Smith 5elenchus, February 2015ignore
Frederic Soulié in English 14benwaugh, February 2015ignore
Julien Gracq 112kswolff, January 2015ignore
Bruno Schulz 6DavidX, January 2015ignore
Frederick Rolfe 9kswolff, January 2015ignore
True Detective 8kswolff, January 2015ignore
Albert Samain in English translation 6benwaugh, January 2015ignore
 next

Search members' books

Group pictures (1008)

  

(see all 1008 group pictures)

Activity level:
Members: 430
Language: English
Group id: decadencethemetamorp
Created: Oct 20, 2006

RSS Feeds

Recent messages
Recent members
Recent books added
Recent groups created

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 134,090,864 books! | Top bar: Always visible