- Birthday, Books, Excerpt, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery.”

Happy birthday, Charles Baudelaire! Here are some quotes from his writing.

“Always be a poet, even in prose.”

“The beautiful is always bizarre.”

“Remembering is only a new form of suffering.”

“If the word doesn’t exist, invent it; but first be sure it doesn’t exist.”

“Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.”

“What is intoxicating about bad taste is the aristocratic pleasure of offensiveness.”

“I consider it useless and tedious to represent what exists, because nothing that exists satisfies me. Nature is ugly, and I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is positively trivial.”

“Music fathoms the sky.”

“All beauties, like all possible phenomena, have something of the eternal and something of the ephemeral—of the absolute and the particular.”

“You gave me your mud and I have turned it to gold.”

“Everything, alas, is an abyss, — actions, desires, dreams,

“Which one of us has not dreamed, on ambitious days, of the miracle of a poetic prose: musical, without rhythm or rhyme; adaptable enough and discordant enough to conform to the lyrical movements of the soul, the waves of reverie, the jolts of consciousness?”

“The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist cries out in terror before being defeated.”

“What matters an eternity of damnation to someone who has found in one second the infinity of joy?”

“What good is it to accomplish projects, when the project itself is enjoyment enough?”

“This life is a hospital where each patient is possessed by the desire to change his bed.”

“Modernity is the transitory, fugitive, contingent, is but one half of art, of which the other half is the eternal and immutable.”

“The observer is a prince who enjoys his incognito everywhere.”

“Evil happens without effort, naturally, inevitably; good is always the product of skill.”

“An artist is only an artist thanks to his exquisite sense of beauty—a sense which provides him with intoxicating delights, but at the same time implying and including a sense, equally exquisite, of all deformity and disproportion.”




  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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