When I read Just Kids by Patti Smith about a year ago, I noticed how enamored she was with Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry. As such, I made it a personal mission to seek out some of his works in order to see what all the fuss was about.
Here we have A Season in Hell, which Rimbaud wrote at age 19. In the preface of my version, it gives a bit of a biography of Rimbaud’s life. Let’s just say it wasn’t overly cheerful: absent father, domineering & loveless mother, obsessive relationships, drugs, and running away from home etc. The guy had a rough life. He was very intelligent, but also seemed to attract (or perhaps create) chaos wherever he turned up. He ends up being shot at, contracting syphilis, has a leg amputated, and ultimately paralyzed on his death-bed (where he actually seems to find some peace with God).
I found these poems a little hard to get into at first. At first glance, I though maybe I was just in too happy a space to get into his head, but when I did some research, I found that several of these poems were most likely written when he was high on absinthe, opium &/or hashish…so yeah, I didn’t feel as bad about not being able to connect as a reader. There are points of lucidity and narrative flow that are enjoyable, but other times you are wallowing through the muck and mire of a mind that ebbs and flows between contemplative, wandering sophisms and utter hopelessness…while on drugs.
sophism (n): an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid
Is it possible for one drug addled mind to understand the sophisms of another drug addled mind? Are the sober left out in the cold? Or perhaps no one holds the key to these labyrinth-like riddles. Are they profound on some other plain of consciousness or are they only smoke & mirrors, noise and nonsense?
Books Read: 9