When reading the history of the Jewish people, of their flight from slavery to death, of their exchange of tyrants, I must confess that my sympathies are all aroused in their behalf. They were cheated, deceived and abused. Their god was quick-tempered unreasonable, cruel, revengeful and dishonest. He was always promising but never performed. He wasted time in ceremony and childish detail and in the exaggeration of what he had done. It is impossible for me to conceive of a character more utterly detestable than that of the Hebrew god. He had solemnly promised the Jews that he would take them from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey. He had led them to believe that in a little while their troubles would be over and that they would soon in the land of Canaan, surrounded by their wives and little ones, forget the stripes and tears of Egypt. After promising the poor wanderers again and again that he would lead them in safety to the promised land of joy and plenty, this God, forgetting every promise, said to the wretches in his power:—'Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and your children shall wander until your carcasses be wasted.' This curse was the conclusion of the whole matter. Into this dust of death and night faded all the promises of God. Into this rottenness of wandering despair fell all the dreams of liberty and home. Millions of corpses were left to rot in the desert and each one certified to the dishonesty of Jehovah. I cannot believe these things. They are so cruel and heartless, that my blood is chilled and my sense of justice shocked. A book that is equally abhorrent to my head and heart, cannot be accepted as a revelation from God.When we think of the poor Jews, destroyed, murdered, bitten by serpents, visited by plagues, decimated by famine, butchered by each, other, swallowed by the earth, frightened, cursed, starved, deceived, robbed and outraged, how thankful we should be that we are not the chosen people of God. No wonder that they longed for the slavery of Egypt and remembered with sorrow the unhappy day when they exchanged masters. Compared with Jehovah, Pharaoh was a benefactor and the tyranny of Egypt was freedom to those who suffered the liberty of God.While reading the Pentateuch, I am filled with indignation, pity and horror. Nothing can be sadder than the history of the starved and frightened wretches who wandered over the desolate crags and sands of wilderness and desert, the prey of famine, sword and plague. Ignorant and superstitious to the last degree, governed by falsehood, plundered by hypocrisy, they were the sport of priests and the food of fear. God was their greatest enemy and death their only friend.It is impossible to conceive of a more thoroughly despicable, hateful and arrogant being, than the Jewish god. He is without a redeeming feature. In the mythology of the world he has no parallel. He, only, is never touched by agony and tears. He delights only in blood and pain. Human affections are naught to him. He cares neither for love nor music, beauty nor joy. A false friend, an unjust judge, a braggart, hypocrite and tyrant, sincere in hatred, jealous, vain and revengeful, false in promise, honest in curse, suspicious, ignorant and changeable, infamous and hideous:—such is the God of the Pentateuch.
Robert G. Ingersoll
The last time I saw Collin was in 1917, at the foot of Mort-Homme.Before the great slaughter, Collin’d been an avid angler. On that day, he was standing at the hole, watching maggots swarm among blow flies on two boys that we couldn’t retrieve for burial without putting our own lives at risk.And there, at the loop hole, he thought of his bamboo rods, his flies and the new reel he hadn’t even tried out yet.Collin was imaging himself on the riverbank, wine cooling in the current his stash of worms in a little metal box and a maggot on his hook, writhing like… Holy shit. Were the corpses getting to him?Collin. The poor guy didn’t even have time to sort out his thoughts. In that split second, he was turned into a slab of bloody meat. A white hot hook drilled right through him and churned through his guts, which spilled out of a hole in his belly.He was cleared out of the first aid station. The major did triage. Stomach wounds weren’t worth the trouble. There were all going to die anyway and besides, he wasn’t equipped to deal with them.Behind the aid station, next to a pile of wood crosses, there was a heap of body parts and shapeless, oozing human debris laid out on stretchers, stirred only be passing rats and clusters of large white maggots. But on their last run, the stretcher bearers carried him out after all… Old Collin was still alive.From the aid station to the ambulance and from the ambulance to the hospital, all he could remember was his fall into that pit, with maggots swarming over the open wound he had become from head to toe… Come to think of it, where was his head? And what about his feet?In the ambulance, the bumps were so awful and the pain so intense that it would have been a relief to pass out. But he didn’t. He was still alive, writhing on his hook. They carved up old Collin good. They fixed him as best they could, but his hands and legs were gone. So much for fishing.Later, they pinned a medal on him, right there in that putrid recovery room.And later still, they explained to him about gangrene and bandages packed with larvae that feed on death tissue. He owed them his life. From one amputation and operation to the next – thirty-eight in all – the docs finally got him back on his feet. But by then, the war was long over.
Jacques Tardi
March 1898What a strange dream I had last night! I wandered in the warm streets of a port, in the low quarter of some Barcelona or Marseille. The streets were noisome, with their freshly-heaped piles of ordure outside the doors, in the blue shadows of their high roofs. They all led down towards the sea. The gold-spangled sea, seeming as if it had been polished by the sun, could be seen at the end of each thoroughfare, bristling with yard-arms and luminous masts. The implacable blue of the sky shone brilliantly overhead as I wandered through the long, cool and sombre corridors in the emptiness of a deserted district: a quarter which might almost have been dead, abruptly abandoned by seamen and foreigners. I was alone, subjected to the stares of prostitutes seated at their windows or in the doorways, whose eyes seemed to ransack my very soul.They did not speak to me. Leaning on the sides of tall bay-windows or huddled in doorways, they were silent. Their breasts and arms were bare, bizarrely made up in pink, their eyebrows were darkened, they wore their hair in corkscrew-curls, decorated with paper flowers and metal birds. And they were all exactly alike!They might have been huge marionettes, or tall mannequin dolls left behind in panic - for I divined that some plague, some frightful epidemic brought from the Orient by sailors, had swept through the town and emptied it of its inhabitants. I was alone with these simulacra of love, abandoned by the men on the doorsteps of the brothels.I had already been wandering for hours without being able to find a way out of that miserable quarter, obsessed by the fixed and varnished eyes of all those automata, when I was seized by the sudden thought that all these girls were dead, plague-stricken and putrefied by cholera where they stood, in the solitude, beneath their carmine plaster masks... and my entrails were liquefied by cold. In spite of that harrowing chill, I was drawn closer to a motionless girl. I saw that she was indeed wearing a mask... and the girl in the next doorway was also masked... and all of them were horribly alike under their identical crude colouring...I was alone with the masks, with the masked corpses, worse than the masks... when, all of a sudden, I perceived that beneath the false faces of plaster and cardboard, the eyes of these dead women were alive.Their vitreous eyes were looking at me...I woke up with a cry, for in that moment I had recognised all the women. They all had the eyes of Kranile and Willie, of Willie the mime and Kranile the dancer. Every one of the dead women had Kranile's left eye and Willie's right eye... so that every one of them appeared to be squinting.Am I to be haunted by masks now?
Jean Lorrain
THOMAS GuiltyOf mankind. I have perpetrated human nature. My father and mother were accessories before the fact, But there’ll be no accessories after the fact, By my virility there won’t! Just see me As I am, like a perambulating Vegetable, patched with inconsequential Hair, looking out of two small jellies for the meansOf life, balanced on folding bones, my sexNo Beauty but a blemish to be hiddenBehind judicious rags, driven and scorched By boomerang rages and lunacies which neverTouch the accommodating artichokeOr the seraphic strawberry beaming in its bed:I defend myself against pain and death by painAnd death and make the world go round, they tell meBy one of my less lethal appetites:Half this grotesque life I spend in a state Of slow decomposition, using The name of unconsidered God as a pedestal On which I stand and bray that I’m bestOf beasts, until under some patientMoon or other I fall to pieces, Like a cake of dung. Is there a slut would Hold this in her arms and put her lips against it?JENNETSluts are only human. By a quirkOf unastonished nature, your obscene Decaying figure of vegetable funCan drag upon a woman’s heart, as thoughHeaven were dragging up the roots of hell. What is to be done? Something compels us into The terrible fallacy that man is desirable and there’s no escaping into truth. The crimesAnd cruelties leave us longing and campaigning Love still pitches his tent of light amongThe suns and moons. You may be decay and a platitudeOf flesh, but I have no other such memory of life. You may be corrupt as ancient applies, well thenCorruption is what I most willingly harvest. You are Evil, Hell, the Father of Lies; if soHell is my home and my days of good were a holiday:Hell is my hill and the world slopes away from itInto insignificance. I have come suddenlyUpon my heart and where it is I see no help for.
Christopher Fry
How strange! This bed on which I shall lie has been slept on by more than one dying man, but today it does not repel me! Who knows what corpses have lain on it and for how long? But is a corpse any worse than I? A corpse too knows nothing of its father, mother or sisters or Titus. Nor has a corpse a sweetheart. A corpse, too, is pale, like me. A corpse is cold, just as I am cold and indifferent to everything. A corpse has ceased to live and I too have had enough of life…. Why do we live on through this wretched life which only devours us and serves to turn us into corpses? The clocks in the Stuttgart belfries strike the midnight hour. Oh how many people have become corpses at this moment! Mothers have been torn from their children, children from their mothers - how many plans have come to nothing, how much sorrow has sprung from these depths and how much relief!… Virtue and vice have come in the end to the same thing! It seems that to die is man’s finest action - and what might be his worst? To be born, since that is the exact opposite of his best deed. It is therefore right of me to be angry that I was ever born into this world! Why was I not prevented from remaining in a world where I am utterly useless? What good can my existence bring to anyone? … But wait, wait! What’s this? Tears? How long it is since they flowed! How is this, seeing that an arid melancholy has held me for so long in its grip? How good it feels - and sorrowful. Sad but kindly tears! What a strange emotion! Sad but blessed. It is not good for one to be sad and yet how pleasant it is - a strange state…
Frédéric Chopin