Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.
PRAYERS TO THE GODS CALLED LICE
The supernatural being Maldoror devotes this stanza to waxing rhapsodic about lice. Yes, actual lice. For the most part the demented yet brilliant figure does this as a wry mockery of religion itself but mixes in some of his own depraved acts of violence for some extra spice to the story.
His first prayer to the gods called lice praises them as powerful deities who could grow to the size of elephants and crush all animal life on earth if not for the offerings of blood that lice are given from the hair or fur of us beasts. This prayer calls lice the most esteemed of life forms, worthy of using the heads of mankind as their thrones.
Maldoror’s second prayer to the gods called lice describes them as “magnificent” and “beautiful” and as “monsters with the appearance of sages.” Praise is given to the way lice lay their eggs in human hair and to their prodigious number of offspring. Our insane narrator claims that the only reason lice do not devour the skulls of their victims is simply because they lack the strength to do so.
If that was not the case these dread deities would suck out the skull, brains and eyes of their hosts. He himself has used a microscope to study lice preying on the head of a young beggar.
This leads into Maldoror’s third prayer to the gods called lice, in which he chants that they are the mightiest of creatures who could even lay low whales if they wanted to. The elephant permits caresses, the prayer warns, but not the louse. If a human devotee dared to try caressing lice they would eat the offending hand whole, like piranha.
The mad being marvels at the harm that lice do to humanity but sighs with regret that they do not do more of it. His fourth prayer begins by imploring humanity to abandon worshiping god and to instead devote themselves to the more caring lice. Maldoror uses the natural disasters that continue to befall mankind no matter how much praise they heap on their Creator as proof that God is indifferent to them.
Our vile main character envisions louse-worship as a truly global cult, transcending all other faiths in its grandeur. He pictures humanity kneeling before these bloody gods and kissing the chains by which lice enslave them. Maldoror praises the sun as humanity’s invisible enemy and as the liberator of lice, who are spawned by the union of the goddess called Filth with human men.
The rest of the stanza is spent recounting another of Maldoror’s insane adventures, this one centering – of course – around lice. He tells the reader how he constructed a literal lice-mine. With his superhuman strength he dug a pit four leagues square and four leagues deep. Next he plucked a female louse from a human head and made love to her for three nights in a row before hurling her into the pit.
Due to Maldoror’s extraordinary fertility this mating caused the female louse to spawn thousands of lice within a few days. Though the lice knew no food but each other the enormous mass continued to expand because the rate of birth exceeded the rate by which the lice devoured each other.
Every now and then our protagonist says he treats the lice to a little variety in their diet by tossing in bastard children that he obtains from prostitutes after they give birth to unwanted babies. Periodically he feeds the writhing mass of lice the hacked-off arms of little girls whom he kidnaps in the dead of night.
Every fifteen years, when the world’s lice population seems to be shrinking Maldoror excavates his mine and extracts tons of lice to repopulate the world and feed on more victims. A chunk of the roiling mass of lice occassionally becomes so unstable it explodes and races across the sky like falling stars. (More meteor imagery from Maldoror.)
This section closes with Maldoror feverishly recounting how much joy he feels every fifteen years when his newly-freed lice prey on everything in their path including household pets. Like periodic plagues of locusts his creations torment mankind and he longs for the day when lice might be as plentiful as grains of sand. They will then bring an end to the human race while Maldoror, borne aloft by his wings, proudly watches from above.
I WILL RESUME THIS LOOK AT THE SONGS OF MALDOROR SOON. CHECK BACK ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK FOR NEW INSTALLMENTS.
FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2015/02/28/maldoror-a-neglected-masterpiece-of-surreal-horror/
FOR OTHER PARTS OF MALDOROR CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/maldoror/
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