Quotes & Notes

What constitutes the pleasure of the traveler is the obstacle, the fatigue, the peril itself. What pleasure can there be in an excursion where one is always sure of arriving, finding ready horses, a soft bed, an excellent supper, and all the comforts one can enjoy at home. One of the great misfortunes of modern life is the lack of the sudden surprise, the absence of all adventures. Everything is so well regulated, so well meshed, so well labeled, that chance is no longer possible; another century of perfection, and each one will be able to foresee, from the day of his birth, what will happen to him until the day of his death. Human will will be completely annihilated. No more crimes, no more virtues, no more physiognomies, no more originality. It will become impossible to distinguish a Russian from a Spaniard, an Englishman from a Chinese, a Frenchman from an American. People will not even be able to recognize one another, for everyone will be same. Then an immense boredom will seize the universe, and suicide will decimate the population of the globe, for the principal spring of life—curiosity—will have been destroyed forever.
This is that CONSOLATION DES ARTS which is the key-note of Gautier’s poetry, the secret of modern life foreshadowed - as indeed what in our century is not? - by Goethe. You remember what he said to the German people: ‘Only have the courage,’ he said, ‘to give yourselves up to your impressions, allow yourselves to be delighted, moved, elevated, nay instructed, inspired for something great.’ The courage to give yourselves up to your impressions: yes, that is the secret of the artistic life - for while art has been defined as an escape from the tyranny of the senses, it is an escape rather from the tyranny of the soul. But only to those who worship her above all things does she ever reveal her true treasure: else will she be as powerless to aid you as the mutilated Venus of the Louvre was before the romantic but sceptical nature of Heine.
The public, which has been wrong before and is wrong now, can accept only demons and angels on the stage