During the last quarter of a century all the authority associated with the function of spiritual guidance ... has seeped down into the lowest publications. ... Between a poem by Valéry and an advertisement for a beauty cream promising a rich marriage to anyone who used it there was at no point a breach of continuity. So as a result of literature’s spiritual usurpation a beauty cream advertisement possessed, in the eyes of little village girls, the authority that was formerly attached to the words of priests.
Paul Valéry insists on the inescapable commitment of the poetic language to the negation. The verses of this language “ne parlent jamais que de choses absentes.” They speak of that which, though absent, haunts the established universe of discourse and behavior as its most tabooed possibility neither heaven nor hell, neither good nor evil but simply “le bonheur.”herbert marcuse
Such words as spontaneity, sincerity, gratuitousness, richness, enrichment words which imply an almost total indifference to contrasts of value have come more often from their [the surrealists’] pens than words which contain a reference to good and evil. Moreover, this latter class of words has become degraded, especially those which refer to the good, as Valéry remarked some years ago. Words like virtue , nobility , honor , honesty , generosity , have become almost impossible to use or else they have acquired bastard meanings; language is no longer equipped for legitimately praising a man’s character.Simone Weil
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