“Music strode upon my weeping soul as a spike-heeled goddess. The world was banished, and I myself was dispersed, disintegrated… a kaffir woman in the same room with a white. I myself did not exist. Only this ravishment, this perfection; these horrible colors of a rapidly opening space, unfurled beneath me, a desert dawn bleeding into my being….” Oh, yes, his ‘raptures’ could go on and on, and I steeled my nerves to follow the heightened contradictions and activities of his imagination’s high flight; for I knew that it was I, and not he, that would be the poorer for having closed my ears to his pure vintage.
Eventually, he interrupted himself.
“Bonadventure, what time is it? Has my little clock flung the bold-faced day into its ashy residence?”
“Its eight o’clock, if that’s what you mean.”
The specter of a smile appeared upon his face, and then flashed away.
“Wagner! At once, your cloak.”
We rattled out into the wary streetlight. Charles’ short cloak, as he raced ahead of me, looked as though a devilfish had ascended from the deep and attached itself at his neck. Perhaps it had come to this misty midlight from the bottom of that despotic, extraordinary brain!
As we reached the gleaming steps of the L’OpÃ©ra Grainier, I wondered, like a slaughterhouse lamb, what final sight awaited me.
“Everything that is excessive, immense, ambitious, in the snaky spirit of ambling man… all swirl together in this Wagner’s ardent, invincible sound!” And with this mumbled preamble, Baudelaire swung open the Grainier’s doors with both hands, and, along with the powerful ruminative scents of pipe tobacco and a minx mix of women’s scents, came… the sound.
If we are born blind in a waterfall of milks and wonderments; if our skin cannot comprehend the varieties of space that console and confront us in that first minute; if indeed it is several years before we may tell our mothers and fathers of our interior tremblings and triumphs; if any of these dizzying statements contains even a marginal shade of truth, then how can I tell you anything at all about that moment when the Grainier’s frosted glass doors parted before me and the world dissolved?
And perhaps Mme. Sabatier, Charles’ new enthsiasm, will be in boxed attendance–her profile as ‘pure and reserved as Wagner is wild!’