We have been swindled. Look, brothers, upon the scene before us: the glorious garden we have been so careful to cultivate is dead. The garden appears healthy enough on the surface - still they are awash in their carnival of colors, still their bouquets waft lavishly through the air. The farce reveals itself upon closer inspection, for only looking closer do we notice the petals have textures of sandpaper. Within the harsh petals, the flowers are barren, without stamen or pistol. It is our terrible discovery that every one of the flowers are rotted within.
The grave reality: it is not God, but Satan that is our groundskeeper. We, the poor rotted flowers have allowed ourselves to be uprooted and transplanted among his flowers of evil, so ensnared were we in the threads of ennui that we never even noticed. So states Charles Baudelaire in To the Reader from the collection of poems, The Flowers of Evil.
Baudelaire begins by stating our souls, in a sense, are not our own, so possessed are they by sin and depravity. The evils of greed, of lust, of sadism and avarice writhe en masse within the souls of men, reaching out to strangle and clench. The soul is clenched so fiercely that the body withers away in the force of their grip. We are not unaware of this abominable situation; indeed, we allocate our sins by shedding our crocodilian tears of remorse and returning every time to our sins. We allow them to attach to our souls and bleed us dry, despite efforts to do otherwise. Sin is obstinate, stubborn and unmoving, which cannot be found as too much of a surprise when no efforts to deter from them are heartfelt.
We make such grand performances inside the confessions box: we weep for what we have done, we form grand vows to never again return to sin, to form new life, a new philosophy, a new path of virtue, of righteousness, of everlasting unyielding God-fearing ethicality. It is a quite impressive performance, almost impressive enough for one to believe in, but as with all performances, in the end, it is only farce.
The Devil, our eternal cultivator, stands in the wings, surely watching this performance with delight, for his hard work has come to fruition. He has spent many a night tending to the ill being of our collective souls, composing his foul songs, the precious formula he has formed to melt down the constitutions of our resolve. The Devil's composition is fed to us steadily, silently, so that we would not notice the barrier of our will slowly corrode until it is no longer a barrier, but a bit of harmless vapor in the air.
The will boiled clean away, the devil has naught to deter him from bending men to his will. He is free to wrap his strings about our limbs with his cunning flattery, and watches delightedly as his marionette strides into the arms of sin, down the walkway to Hell. It is true, his puppet may pause here and again, discouraged by the remains of other unfortunate souls ruined by the Devil's workings, but it is only a minor detour. His marionette's strings always become untangles, they are always realigned down the proper downwards path.
We are creatures of everlasting want and lust, thirsting for what we cannot have, or at least that of which we can never have enough of, never full and always starving. We dive deep into our transgressions, maws wide and gullet empty, demolishing anything and everything we may find, wherever and whenever we may find it. No trepidations of Hell haunt us in the midst of our feeding; no concern is there that what we feed upon forms a trail down into the fire. As our decadence becomes stronger, the more ferocious our consumption becomes. When there are no more vices to indulge in, we rove off in search of another to stave off our starvation until we expire. From the depths of our cravings come hordes of demons, like black flies they smother men's souls in a massive, writhing swarm. They cloak around the mind, body and soul, leaving no room for clarification of thought, and within their grasp, we are overwhelmed in the cesspool of want. In the midst of the horde, pounded by wave upon wave of our hunger, we drown.
It may be that we do not indulge some physical manifestations of our want of sin. We may not willingly poison ourselves with drink and drugs. It may be that the dark efforts of others suffering their pangs of hunger do not manage strike us down by knife or the results of unhindered sexual activity. It may be that none of these things reach out to strike us down at all, but if that indeed is the case, it is not for our pure efforts, but only because we lack the boldness to venture into such vices.
It is a horrific montage, this collection, this hellish menagerie of sin, depravity, lust, sadism, greed, indulgence, and want. They are tangling and mangling and fornicating amongst themselves, they are overriding and overbearing, their fangs are long, their habits vile, leaving trails of excrement in their wake. This is the manifestation of our souls. Yet, among this grotesque assortment, there is still one more addition we have forgotten.
It is not unusual for this last sin to be forgotten, as that is usually the case. It brings very little attention to itself, causing little fuss, never raising its voice, sitting very discreetly in the corner of our souls. It moves so little, is so silent, it is easy to forget that it lingers there in the shadows at all, yet linger it does. Do not be deceived by its tame appearance, do not mistake its yawns for inattentiveness, and, by all means, do not, underestimate this sin. For but a moment to rest it's eyes it would gladly topple the world without a second glance, without breaking a sweat, without even opening an eye. We both know this sin well, for it is always with us, always cocooning us in its embrace and we are so used to its presence we do not realize the damage it slowly does to us.
This wickedest of sins is that of ennui, of lolling, melancholy, everlasting boredom. It is the monotonous tirade of everyday life and the static environments in which we surround ourselves. It eases us into complacence; it leaves us not wanting to move forward, nor backward, urging to commit neither good nor evil. It only asks that we simply sit awhile with it and watch the evils of the world play out before us, letting all other sins settle to our core to properly congeal, so that we yield to our decay. It is a sin that resides with in all of us, as we speak of good but make no move to make good on our words. It resides in Baudelaire, and also in the reader, his fellow hypocritical brother in sin.
It is often said that bad men triumph when good men do nothing. Baudelaire states that evil in itself is allowed to not only take root but flourish in a stagnant environment that makes no move to hinder it's growth, and may even produce other evils that distract and coax us into staying where we are: miserable and jaded.
Only in the soils of ennui can the dark blooms blossom, and we cannot help but cultivate the flowers of evil.