Charles Baudelaire, “My Little Melancholy Monkey”

In a journal entry in the spring of 1856, Charles Baudelaire wrote at the top of his journal page the following title: “Self-Purification and Anti-Humanity.”   Directly under this title, he writes that “in the act of love,” there is “a great resemblance to torture or a surgical operation.”   In the spirit of irony and contradiction […]

The Trick is on the Trickster or Comic Self-Destruction: Traumatized Children and A Ruined Old Clown named Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin knew very well of the trickster.  To be sure, they saw themselves as tricksters who, in doing their comic tricks, looked to destroy something and find something else (something new) in the midst of ruin.  By way of shock, they both believed they could arrive at some kind of “hidden” […]

Getting Comically Wasted: On Charles Baudelaire’s Notion of Absolute Comedy

Baudelaire had a penchant for “intoxication” and comedy.  And what better day to discuss Baudelaire’s notion of the comic than on St. Patrick’s Day!  To be sure, Baudelaire thinks that the absolute comic, at its best, is like “intoxication.” Perhaps the “Satanic Serenity” that Walter Benjamin takes note of has a source in this; after […]

Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, and the Daemonic (Take 1)

In an essay on Walter Benjamin entitled “Walter Benjamin and his Angel,” Gershom Scholem notes that one of the things that disturbed him most about Benjamin was his interest in the daemonic.  Scholem, in this essay, notes that Benjamin’s interest increased the more he delved into the work of the Parisian poet and cultural critic […]

Who has the Last Word? Power or Comedy? On Baudelaire’s “A Heroic Death”

In our culture, comedians are cultural icons and, from time to time, they even come to influence public opinion.  Most recently, for instance, Jon Stewart’s parody of Egyptian President Mursi and the jailing of a comedian reached Mursi and caused a stir.  Sara Silverman, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert have also looked to use comedy […]