Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror. We are now at the 4th Canto, 1st Stanza.
PRELUDE TO A PRIVATE ARMAGEDDON
The supernatural being Maldoror has arrived at Dendera in Egypt. He is perforce surrounded by human beings and, given his loathing of humanity, he compares being among so many people to other unwholesome sensations. Among those: accidentally stepping on a frog and feeling it being crushed and smeared into the ground underfoot. Our narrator tells us he shivers with disgust at any contact with humans the way a dead shark’s heart continues to beat long after it is dead.
As usual Maldoror contradicts some of the information he has previously given readers about himself and claims that he stood in Dendera back when it was at its height in the 1st Century B.C. He disgustedly notes how swarms of wasps have inhabited so many of the corners and entrances of the ancient works of architecture. Their buzzing reminds him of the sound of his own sorrow when he ponders the perverse conduct of his archrival God.
Maldoror reflects on the fact that it has been eighty years since his wanderings last brought him to this location. He feels his latest arrival should be greeted by inferior humans with the same awe that accompanies a comet when it returns after an absence of decades or centuries. (Once again Maldoror’s love of meteor/ comet imagery is shown.)
Vague allusions are made to the Dendera Zodiac, a piece of artwork with applications in astronomy. That Zodiac, along with other artifacts from Dendera, were on display at the Louvre since around the 1820’s (I checked) so that is where I assume the author Isidore Ducasse saw them. I disagree with people who claim Ducasse must have visited Dendera in person.
Our vile protagonist makes with his usual wailing about how he and his enemies the human race are chained to this planet. (Though the Toad Angel claimed Maldoror could leave the Earth at will.) He reflects on how humanity has been fighting him since they were first capable of crafting weapons from stone. This long conflict – for reasons that Maldoror fails to provide – will end some day in a monumental battle right there in Dendera. After that battle is fought and Maldoror presumably emerges triumphant he will at last be able to rest in a world free of the infestation of humanity.
At Dendera he will stand alone against all the armies of the world, armed only with his Angel’s Harp. His songs and his music will enable him to defeat all the Earthly weapons of his opponents. Once again Maldoror hints that he is one of the angels who remained neutral in the war between God and Lucifer. His ties as a tutelary being to various Mystery Religions and secret societies are referenced again as well given Dendera’s status as a long-ago Nexus of ancient belief systems and the newly-formed faith of Christianity.
Dendera figures prominently in modern-day Ancient Astronaut mythology as well, since devotees of the irrational theory claim that artwork in the ruins depicts ancient alien technology. I have no idea if any hint of that was felt in Ducasse’s day but for modern-day readers Dendera as the site of Maldoror’s private Armageddon could be read as another insinuation that he is from another world.
Further adding to the fun are the fringe conspiracy theories tying Dendera to Grail folklore, and since Maldoror claims to have lived in the Grail Castle (Lapis Exillis version) long ago we can speculate about Dendera as the site of the Grail Castle when it fell from the heavens in the distant past. Remember, I don’t believe any of that it just makes for fun escapist thought.
At any rate Maldoror knows that the climactic battle between him and the “sublime monkeys” of the human race will provide sorrow to both sides and even if he winds up losing he relishes the sheer spectacle of the incredible battle that will be fought on the site where he now stands.
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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