AGAINST NATURE

“…It’s all down to knowing how to do it, knowing how to concentrate your mind on a single point, knowing how to abstract yourself sufficiently to bring about the hallucination and therefore substitute the dream of reality for reality itself. In short, artifice seemed to des Esseintes to be the distinctive stamp of man’s genius.

‘Nature has had her day,’ as he put it, ‘she’s finally worn out the mindful patience of the man of refinement through the sickening uniformity of her landscapes and her skies. At bottom, what were they but the platitudes of a specialist confined to her own petty sphere, the narrow-mindedness of a tradeswoman prizing a particular article to the exclusion of all others, what was she but a monotonous storehouse of meadows and trees, a banal purveyor of mountains and seas! ‘Moreover, there’s not a single one of her inventions, reputed to be so subtle and so grandiose, that human ingenuity cannot create; no forest of Fontainebleau, no moonlight that some theatrical scenery flooded with electric light cannot reproduce; no waterfall that hydraulics cannot imitate to perfection; no rock that papier-mâché cannot be made to look like; no flower that specious taffetas and delicately painted papers cannot equal..!”

J-K. Huysmans, À rebours
Translated as Against Nature by Brendan King

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