Baudelaire, In an ode to the Painter of Modern Life

The crowd is his domain, just as the air is the bird’s and the water is that of the fish. His passion and his profession is to merge with the crowd. For the perfect idler, for the passionate observer it becomes an immense source of enjoyment to establish his dwelling in the throng, in the ebb and flow, the bustle, the fleeting and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel at home everywhere; to see the world, to be at the very centre of the world, and yet to be unseen of the world, such are the minor pleasures of those independent and impartial spirits, who do not lend themselves to definitions. He is a prime enjoying is incognito wherever he goes. The lover of life makes his whole world into a family, just as the picture lover lives in dreams painted on canvas. Thus the lover of universal life moves into the crowd as into a vast reservoir of electricity. He the lover of life may also be compared to a mirror as vast as his crowd; to a kaleidoscope endowed with consciousness, which with every one of his movements presents a pattern of life, in all its multiplicity, and the flowing grace of all its elements that go to compose life. It is an ego athirst for the non-ego, and reflecting it at every moment in energies more vivid than life itself, always inconstant and fleeting.


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