in this way i urged myself on to a bold undertaking. i resolved to fix my dream-state and learn its secret. ‘why should i not,’ i asked myself, ‘at last force those mystic gates, armed with all my will-power, and dominate my sensations instead of being subject to them? is it not possible to control this fascinating, dread chimera, to rule the spirits of the night which play with our reason? sleep takes up a third of our lives. it consoles the sorrows of our days and the sorrow of their pleasures; but i have never felt any rest in sleep. for a few seconds i am numbed, then a new life begins, freed from the conditions of time and space, and doubtless similar to the state which awaits us after death. who knows if there is not some link between those two existences and if it is not possible for the soul to unite them now?
from that moment on i devoted myself to trying to find the meaning of my dreams, and this anxiety influenced my waking thoughts. i seemed to understand that there was a bond between the external and internal worlds: that only inattention or spiritual confusion distorted the outward affinities between them, -and this explained the strangeness of certain pictures, which are like grimacing reflections of real objects on a surface of troubled water.
p. 177 aurelia, italics mine
Let us rediscover the lost letter, the effaced sign, let us recompose the dissonant scale, and we shall gain power in the world of the spirits.
p. 149, Nerval
Do you know that old tale, Daphne,
That love song that always begins again,
At the foot of the sycamore or under white laurels,
Beneath the olive tree, myrtle or quivering willow?…
Do you remember the TEMPLE with the huge peristyle,
The bitter lemons in which you sank your teeth,
And that grotto, fatal to rash visitors,
Where sleeps the conquered dragon’s ancient seed?…
They will return, those gods you still weep for!
Time will bring back the order of the old days;
Earth has trembled with a sigh of prophecy…
But still the sibyl with the Latin countenance
Is sleeping under the arch of Constantine
-And nothing has disturbed the stern portico.
p. 221 Gerard de Nerval, Les Chimeres, (lil lost in translation, but still)
many times the idea has occurred to me that in certain serious moments in life some Spirit of the outer world becomes suddenly embodied in the form of an ordinary person, and influences or tries to influence us without the individual in question having any knowledge of it or remembering anything about it.
p. 120, Ah Aurelia Aurelia Aurelia
the child used nature, as Baudelaire presciently observed, as ‘pure excitation,’ as a point of departure for the presentation of an inner state, suppressing all detail and going to the essence of the thing-as when it destroyed a toy to reach its heart.
see ‘morale du joujou,’ baudelaire
like baudelaire, and somewhat like Hart Crane in America, Nerval wrote in the teeth of the utilitarian concept of the universe, and all these men died, like Cyrano, fencing with their shadows, their invisible, yet deadly enemy ‘la Sotisse,’ and exclaiming, ‘c’est bein plus beau lorsque c’est inutile.’
p. 39 geoffrey wagner
when we had reached a junction of three streets, however, i refused to go any further. it seemed that my friend was employing superhuman strength to make me move. he grew larger in my eyes and took on the aspect of an apostle. the spot on which we stood seemed to rise up and lose its urban appearance: on a hill, surrounded by enormous solitudes, that scene became a struggle between two spirits, like a biblical temptation.
‘no,’ i cried, ‘i don’t belong to your Heaven. those in that star are waiting for me. they went before the revelation you have announced to me. let me go to them, for the one i love belongs to them, and it is there we are to meet again.’
p. 120 nerval’s Aurelia