Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Torture Garden

Today I was able to start reading on an interesting book i've had my eye on for a long while. The Torture Garden by Octave Mirbaeu is an amazing account of one debaucherous frenchmans journey from the corruptions of Paris to the depths of Far East China. Its a really great book. Here is my favorite passage for you all to hear:

"You're a child." Clara repeated, "and talk like they do in Europe, darling. And you have stupid scruples, like in Europe. In China life is free, joyous, complete. Unconventional, unprejudiced, a lawless...at least for us. No other limits to liberty than yourself...or to love, than the triumphant variety of your desire. Europe and it's hypocritical ,barbaric civilization is a lie. What else do you do there except lie-- lie to yourself and others, lie about everything you recognize in your heart to be true? Your'e obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled, and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world. With us, there is nothing like it... you'll see! In Canton I own a palace amid marvelous gardens where everything is conductive to a free life, and to love. What are you of afraid of? What are you leaving behind?

- The Mission, Part 8, The Torture Garden


Being perfect artists and ingenuous poets, the Chinese have piously preserved the love and holy cult of flowers; one of the very rare and most ancient traditions which has survived their decadence. And since flowers had to be distinguied from each other, they have attributed graceful analogies to them , dreamy images, pure and passionate names which perpetuate and harmonize in our minds the sensations of gental charm and violent intoxication with which they inspire us. So it is a that certain peonies, their favorite flower, are saluted by the Chinese, according to their form or color, by these delicious names, each an entire poem and an entire novel: The Young Girl Who Offers Her Breasts, or: The Water That Sleeps Beneath The Moon, or: The Sunlight in the orest, or : The First Desire of the Reclining Virgin, or : My Gown Is No Longer All White Because in Tearing It the Son of Heaven Let a Little Rosey Stain; or even better, this one: I Possessed My Lover in the Garden.

- The Garden, Part 5, The Torture Garden

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