14 July 2020

Spiritual Swamp Fever

J. K. Huysmans, Les Foules de Lourdes (Paris: P. V. Stock, 1906), pp. 213-214 (my translation):
In the past there were scandals every day, but of course we were unaware of them. Now the press spreads them everywhere, even into the most remote corners of the country — and for quite some time they have made us less considerate and less deferential.

No one believes in the honesty of politicians any more, or in the value of generals, or in the independence of judges; no one thinks that the clergy are saints. Without allowing for the exceptions that still exist, we have thrown the peaked cap, the white wig, and the galero into the same bag and sent them all off to the dump. At the moment we are suffering from a kind of malaria of disrespect. No one is safe from this spiritual swamp fever; everyone is affected by it to some extent because no one can escape the atmosphere of his age, and people have even less hope of eluding the demonic influences that are more intense today than they have ever been... The devil is in everything we think, in everything we say, and he is the very air that we breathe.

Félicien Rops, Satan Sewing Weeds (1906)