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 aspires 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

"And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution."

- C. P. Cavafy

Total members: 405 members

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Topics messagesLast message 
Odds and ends 314tros, Yesterday 8:52pmignore
recent acquisitions 59LiminalSister, Yesterday 11:50amignore
Parisian Satanism and Berthe de Courrière 10LiminalSister, Yesterday 9:42amignore
Music from the abyss, tres 184benwaugh, Tuesday 9:22pmignore
Encounters with the Green Fairy 48benwaugh, Friday 9:36amignore
Luisa Casati, Queen of the Night 4benwaugh, Thursday 1:12pmignore
Hanns Heinz Ewers 97benwaugh, Thursday 12:54pmignore
Illustrators of Decadence 150benwaugh, Thursday 10:46amignore
The King in the Golden Mask by Marcel Schwob 1LiminalSister, June 18ignore
Decadent women writers 103LolaWalser, June 14ignore
Schwob 7benwaugh, June 10ignore
Eastern decadents 37benwaugh, June 8ignore
Poetry, quotes, etc. 33benwaugh, June 8ignore
Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803 - 1849) 4benwaugh, May 22ignore
Graphic Arts 4benwaugh, May 11ignore
Presses of the Abyss 96kswolff, April 17ignore
The Craft of Invective 51pgmcc, April 10ignore
Tales of the occult and the supernatural 58kswolff, April 3ignore
Artistic representations of Hermes, graphic and plastic 17benwaugh, March 23ignore
LeeRoy J. Tappan, The Meditations of Ali Ben Háfiz 1benwaugh, March 15ignore
Sadakichi Hartmann, American decadent 7benwaugh, March 15ignore
Beaux Monstres 7benwaugh, March 10ignore
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura 7DavidX, February 24ignore
Taxidermy and other hobbies ... 8kswolff, February 23ignore
Film 107benwaugh, February 15ignore
Death 14kswolff, February 8ignore
The burning eyes 38DavidX, January 12ignore
Modernisme Catala in literature 3benwaugh, January 11ignore
Decadence and Catholicism 14kswolff, December 2016ignore
Pics from the abyss 130kswolff, December 2016ignore
Books I would like to see available in English translation 136Soukesian, December 2016ignore
Opium Eaters 28kswolff, December 2016ignore
Our man in Paris: Vincent O'Sullivan 42benwaugh, November 2016ignore
It's Paul Leppin's birthday... 1veilofisis, 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
Cannibalism 40arthurfrayn, July 2016ignore
Anarchist World 8LiminalSister, July 2016ignore
Ernst Jünger 19kswolff, June 2016ignore
Eliphas Levi and the French Occult Revival 4paradoxosalpha, May 2016ignore
Artificial Paradise 11kswolff, May 2016ignore
Le Miasme d'Amour 20benwaugh, May 2016ignore
Dandys, fops and swells 99kswolff, May 2016ignore
Baltic decadents 9benwaugh, May 2016ignore
Gabrielle Wittkop 23benwaugh, May 2016ignore
William Theodore Peters 3benwaugh, May 2016ignore
Literary Podcasts? 5timwtheov, April 2016ignore
Sex 47kswolff, March 2016ignore
The Scapigliatura movement 41bluepiano, February 2016ignore
Blackstar: The Shrine to David Bowie 6benwaugh, January 2016ignore
Current Reads #3 37kswolff, January 2016ignore
East Euro Symbolists 48benwaugh, January 2016ignore
The uncrowned King of Bohemia: George Sterling 9LiminalSister, 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
El Modernismo 64benwaugh, 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
sex and horror 11kswolff, July 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
video: Dr Marco Pasi on Gustav Meyrink & His Esoteric Novels 4LiminalSister, December 2014ignore
Petrus Borel and the Bouzingo 1benwaugh, December 2014ignore
Calendrier Magique 3benwaugh, September 2014ignore
The Black Douglas 10Soukesian, August 2014ignore
Current reads? #2 198kswolff, August 2014ignore
Decadent Architecture 26kswolff, July 2014ignore
Gothics of note 5kswolff, July 2014ignore
Joseph Conrad and the Decadence of Empire 6kswolff, July 2014ignore
Yukio Mishima and the Erotics of Death 1kswolff, June 2014ignore
The Black Sun 3anarchistbanjo, June 2014ignore
Links 127kswolff, May 2014ignore
Decadence and Decay in the Works of William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams 13kswolff, May 2014ignore
Victorian Blood Book 2DavidX, May 2014ignore
Music from the abyss, et tu 210kswolff, April 2014ignore
Karl Hans Strobl 20anarchistbanjo, April 2014ignore
Some Unknown Gulf of Night by W.H. Pugmire 6wilum, April 2014ignore
Pimps and carnies 61kswolff, April 2014ignore
Illustrated edition of La Bas 8arthurfrayn, March 2014ignore
Call for Papers on Park Barnitz's BOOK OF JADE 7DavidX, March 2014ignore

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Language: English
Group id: decadencethemetamorp
Created: Oct 20, 2006

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