As I was finishing the first drafts of the third part of SICK, I picked up the infamous Marquis de Sade. I had been wanting to read him for years. Would he be as depraved as I had been told?
The first thing I noticed was the similarities between his characters’ (or de Sade’s) logic and the philosphies of John Branch (my MC). I never read de Sade before, but hundreds of years later, the argument between nature and religion is the same. Do we live according to the instincts and impulses we were born with, or do we live according to what society deems as acceptable?
Despite the obsessive focus on anal sex and the tiresome naïveté of the protagonist, who, though heroic, gets duped time and time again, de Sade writes with admirable zeal and devotion. Most surprisingly, I felt an undertone of love throughout his writing for every facet of this confusing existence we humans face.
But of all the quotes I collected from my readings, I thought my fellow writers, those who are brave enough to go to the darkest depths of the human psyche and those who aren’t afraid to explore the places others dare not tread, would appreciate this one the most.
“…he is like unto those perverse writers whose corruption is so dangerous, so active, that their single aim is, by causing their appalling doctrines to be printed, to immortalize the sum of their crimes after their own lives are at an end; they themselves can do no more, but their accursed writings will instigate the commission of crimes, and they carry this sweet idea with them to their graves: it comforts them for the obligation, enjoined by death, to relinquish the doing of evil.”
I believe de Sade is taking stab at himself here. No doubt the public thought he wrote solely for these reasons, and he was mocking them. It was obvious to me that his drive to write was fueled by a calling much more profound than the reasons he mentions here, though I’m sure the thought of his ideas propogating into the future put a smirk on his face at the time of his death.
Since I first began writing, I often wonder why I go to such dark places. I never expected or intended to. I outlined my theories in this post here. But, I think what is important about de Sade and books like SICK, is to face the ugliest of humanity, to seek the truth no matter how horrific it is. No matter how hard we close our eyes, our sins will not go away. Sex slavery still exists. War, torture, and vice persist. There has been no decrease in the atrocities of the human world since de Sade’s time. That is why we still must write about them. That is why we must rip off the covers we hold so tightly to our chins. Maybe one day we will figure out why we keep harming each other, why we keep destroying the world, and and we continue denying the truth about ourselves.