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Blinding Suns

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"Look at him, listen to him!" Grantaire grumbles, drunk already. "But everyone is already taken by our glorious leader's speech, and I am talking only to myself, am I not, to give bad advice on the top. Why would I look, why would I listen, you ask? Oh, is his face not so pure that no statue could imitate him, is his hair not a glorious halo, each strand burning brighter than a sun, is his voice not as sharp as the blade of the guillotine? It would be easy to compare him to an angel, were it not well known by ancient and sanctioned sources that angels look like serpents or winged oxen - and I mean as sanctioned and respectable as every description of Helen of Troy hatching from an egg. Such unanimity on angels would seem to indicate that perhaps they do not exist, and if I were obligated to defend Enjolras' honor - although I am not - I would say that in any case the comparison does not do him justice. Even so, I would say that the Word of Revolution is worth the Word of God, and I say that not as a compliment. Some religions have done well with less good-looking prophets. The Cathars used to say that beauty is always a lie, a three-cent advert an evil god puts out daily to make us believe it's worth living. They thought the same about sex and alcohol, too; that's why they were slaughtered. But this beauty that you see before you is not only of the body. It is hard to credit, I know, but this man’s soul shines as brightly and twice as well. I know if I had said that to myself before knowing him I would have laughed in my own face; and yet look at me now. As hard as I try, I can compare Enjolras only to himself if I wish to describe him. He is like Shakespeare's crocodile. Flowers are no more than the genitals of plants, their beauty a happy accident; and in any case the whole of nature is self-consumed. An artist can only try to be failure enough to make his subjects less ugly, and justice and truth are as much a myth as angels; perhaps more so. I would say Enjolras bears the face of a pretty girl, if I knew any who were pretty enough. Ha, poets must imagine the ladies of times past to be more beautiful than the women of today, in order to pretend to adore them, mais où sont les neiges d'antan? Enjolras could be light, perhaps: starlight in dark night- sunlight, or something more radiant even than that- the light of the world, blinding; yes, that. Exactly that. Blinding, in order to deprive us of vision, to deprive us of each and every sense, until we are crawling and falling and never again seeing the world as it is, knowing only the light, and I shouldn't concede that I would be more drunk kissing his hands than drinking all the absinthe in the Musain, more moved than embracing a young, charming girl..."

Grantaire realizes only now that Enjolras has stopped talking, and he can't say for how long it has been so. He raises his head, and regrets having discarded the image of an angel, a furious one, whose gaze brings pain of such an intensity he need not wield a flaming sword.

"Do you find this funny? Do you think this is a joke?" Enjolras spits.

Grantaire twitches, but looks at him in the eye, and replies very softly, "No, I don't think this is funny at all."