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A Season in Hell & Illuminations

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2000

    Absolute Human

    In 'Season in Hell', Rimbaud has chosen to affirm himself as an ideal human: before us is a voice steeped in the languages of the widespread forms of consciousness historically coexisting within culture; forms whose seeming lack of relation is surpassed by a thought that captures their inherent conceptual quality (and dignity) -their purest essence- by dedicating a spiritual epoch of its life to becoming (and thus exploring) each and every one of them. That is, Rimbaud shares with us his experience of having been, through the engaged efforts and workings of his thought, all the forms of the human he was able to become: as himself, in social terms, he became the savage, the poor man, the adventurer, the worker; as a Westerner, he became, momentarily, through cultural right, the judge, the priest, the general, Nobility and Honor; outside the West (outside his culture and himself), he saw and became the pagan, the Black man, and the Orient. Thus, as a thinker, he transforms into the Absolute of the Human: he makes himself responsible for all sentient things, for all the forms of consciousness, for the Zeitgeist, for the World. He accomplishes this by understanding and encarnating the Art of the Possible: that is, he is a politician in a spiritual sense. But in this ascension through the knowledge of his self-made all powerfull epistemological ego, he must also stop to plough the earth of his psychology (which he invariably sees a mere object): there, he acknowledges the reality of having undergone, as a person, suffering, madnesses, and degradations. These things, these hells, however, do not frighten him (despite the residuals of Christian guilt which he yet feels, as a man of the Ocident): he willingly makes and accepts himself as responsible for his lot in life and his actions. In the end, he recognizes himself as an agent of his culture, and opts for the concrete ideality of a radical real-realism: to be an absolute human individual, with his sight set towards the future, determined not to live in vain with the rest of the world.

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