Abolishing Time: Baudelaire & Cocteau Side by Side

Cocteau 1Cocteau 2


I have been involved so deeply in so many things that they slip from my memory, and not just one, fifty. A wave from the depths brings them back to the surface for me with, as the Bible says,all that in them is. It is incredible how few traces are left in us of long periods which we had to live through in detail. That is why when I dig into my past, first of all I unearth a figure — with its earth still clinging to it. If I search for dates, for sayings, for places, for sights, they overlap, I add things, I bungle, I advance, I draw back, I no longer know anything.

My great concern is to live now in a way that is right for me. I do not boast that it is more expeditious than another, but it is more to my taste. This present of mine abolishes time to the point of letting me gossip with Delacroix and Baudelaire. It allowed me, when Marcel Proust was still unknown, to consider him famous and to treat him as if he had achieved the glory he was one day to enjoy. Having discovered that this state of being outside time was my privilege, that it was too late to acquire better ones, I perfected it and plunged even more deeply into it.
— Jean Cocteau

Per Bellaart: The text is taken from Cocteau’s The Difficulty of Being, written during a period of recovery from his recurrent opium addiction.




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