Charles Baudelaire: Salon of 1846


Posted on February 8th, by Laurie Rojas in Books. Comments Off on Charles Baudelaire: Salon of 1846

Charles Baudelaire opens his Salon of 1846 addressing the bourgeoisie as:

“You are the majority – in number and intelligence; therefore you are the force – which is justice.”

Both scholars and owners are being clumped together as a class – might as well the scholars become owner and the owners scholars. As if Baudelaire is trying to say that they are not that different from each other.

There is an overall ironical tone, however, there is still sense of seriousness in certain statements. It is difficult to distinguish what should be taken in seriously and what should not.

More ironic:
“The aristocrats of thought… the monopolists of this of the mind… they are Pharisees.”
More serious:
“Truth, for all its multiplicity, is not two-faced,; and just as in your politics you have increased both rights and benefits, so in the arts you have set up a greater and abundant communion.”

Several religious connotations: Art as being part of a traditional/conservative part of life.

The main point: Baudelaire is addressing the bourgeoisie, at the same time that he is critiquing bourgeois life, especially the role of art in bourgeois life. And, even though there is a recognition of the role the bourgeoisie has played in funding/promoting the arts, it is being critiqued because:
-art is to be chucked into life during those hours separated for leisure.
-art has become another part daily business,
-“Art is an infinitely precious good…” art as one more commodity for the bourgeoisie
-the enjoyment of art has become a science, devoid of engagement of feeling

Is there a call for non-bourgeois art? For new art, new subjects in modern society?

Also, the same critique goes for how the bourgeoisie has gone about dealing with politics:
“For to allow oneself to be outstripped in art and in politics is so commit suicide; and for a majority to commit suicide is impossible.” (has bourgeois culture killed itself?)

So, this introduction (sort of preface) to the Salon writings of 1846, is not only setting up the tone of what is to come, but is framing the context in which the work exists – bourgeois society.

An assumption can be made about the final irony of “to the bourgeoisie”: the bourgeoisie is not an audience at all for him, that although it seems they are largest in number and intelligence, that he is no longer interested in their art, their culture, and hence he does not care for them as audience for his writings, because he wants to move beyond bourgeois society.

Tension between the real and ideal public (Hausser), the old and the new (Benjamin).





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