Too many days of de Sade

Curiosity killed the cat. In this instance, strung up, thrashed, allowed to heal, then abused further, the cat imagined only self-immolation.

120 Days of Sodom, written by the Marquis de Sade, is a truly twisted and gruesome tale, detailing acts of violence and brutality on multiple physical and psychological levels. Readers should expect an extremely unhealthy serving of every imaginable form of sadism, masochism, pedophilia, murder, rape, torture, bestiality, and kidnapping; all in excruciating painful detail.

Since hearing of the Marquis, and his experiences during and as part of the French Revolution, I have always meant to take up one of his tales. I always thought, for the period in which he wrote, how bad could they really be? Now I know, and very much understand why many thought he should be locked up and forgotten about.

It took more than 120 days to complete the book. Indeed, I would guess that it was closer to 420 days. On several occasions, I put the book aside in utter disgust at the scenes painted by an obviously twisted and perverted mind. I always returned, likely for no other reason than a base need for completion or closure of the situation.

The only other legitimate reason I could think is gruesome car crash syndrome, described perfectly by Stephen King in his Danse Macabre, in which folks are forever slowing traffic to get a good peek at the results of a deadly incident on the highway.

It is hard to believe that it is simply a horrific tale and nothing more though. There must be some purpose or deeper meaning behind this accounting. Is it some strange Dante-style effort, attempting to expose atrocities committed by extremely powerful men of the time through morally terrifying parables; if so, who were these people? Was he telling a truth of sorts, or was this just a perverse means of passing time while incarcerated. It is hard to know for certain, I suppose.

I must admit that I enjoyed his style of writing, and may take up another tale of his in the future, after my mind has had an opportunity to forget this one. Others have told me that Justine probably would have been a better place to start, and the short Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man seems as if it might be an interesting place to hear more of the his unique observations on man and the darker, unspoken, and politically incorrect for any time period, thoughts.

Below are a few of those observations, highlighted from 120 Days of Sodom, and saved for further pondering… read the entire book, only if you dare.

… beauty belongs to the sphere of the simple, the ordinary, whilst ugliness is something extraordinary, and there is no question but that every ardent imagination prefers in lubricity, the extraordinary to the commonplace.
One grows tired of the commonplace, the imagination becomes vexed, and the slender-ness of our means, the weakness of our faculties, the corruption of our souls, leads us to these abominations.
’tis the filthy act that causes the greatest pleasure: and the filthier it be, the more voluptuous…
How can you be happy if you are able to constantly satisfy yourself? It is not in desire’s consummation happiness consists, but in the desire itself, in hurdling the obstacles placed before what one wishes.
… all possession should be equally distributed in the world and that it is only strength and violence which are opposed to this equality…
I regard charity not only as something evil in itself, but, what is more, I consider it a crime against Nature who, having first made differences apparent to our eyes, has certainly never intended ideas of eliminating them to occupy our heads. And so, far from giving alms to the poor, consoling the widow, succoring the orphan, if it is according to Nature’s true intentions I wish to act, not only do I leave these wretches in the state Nature put them into, but I even lend Nature a strong right arm and aid her by prolonging this state and vigorously opposing any efforts they make to change it, and to this end I believe any means may be allowed.
Nature needs virtuous acts, and vicious ones too; I serve Nature as well by performing the one as when I commit the other.
…you’ll never see a man of any wit seek to make others grateful to him. Fully certain that benevolence creates nothing but enemies, he practices only the arts his wisdom approves for his safety.
it is most difficult to fathom all the tortures man invents for himself in order to find, in the degradation they produce, or the agonies, those sparks of pleasure which age or satiety have made to grow faint in him.