Biography | DeCasseres

The following biographical sketch by Émile Armand was published in the March 1946 issue of L’Unique, shortly after DeCasseres died. L’Unique was a French individualist anarchist publication edited by Armand that ran from 1945 to 1956. It prefaced a French translation of DeCassere’s 1926 biographical sketch of Verlaine.

The translation from French was done by Robert Carmonius and is used here with permission.


Émile Armand
Émile Armand

I knew Benjamin DeCasseres ill. He ended up succumbing to what Madame DeCasseres calls “pernicious anemia.” This former print corrector in Philadelphia was one of the most curious and original minds in the United States. He was an impenitent and fierce, aggressive, even nihilistic individual, an adversary of all the idealisms he regarded as lies, claiming Nietzsche and Stirner, unreservedly subscribing to the thesis of the Will to Power, an admirer of Jules de Gaultier and Spinoza (of whom he descended “by women”), DeCasseres published a number of works, volumes of essays and poems, then, finding no publishers, published a periodical written from end to end by Himself (The DeCasseres Books). Among his writings are Forty Immortals, The Chameleon, The Shadow Eater, Anathema, The Muse of Lies. For some time he composed scenarios for cinema. We often translated into L’apart from essays from him. DeCasseres had entered into relations with Rémy de Gourmont and collaborated with the Mercure de France. Nothing was sacred to this writer, nothing found favor before him, which exhaled a relent of conformity, of tutelage of the individual, of gregarious absorption. He regarded the “ego” as the standard of all values. “I am an individualist,” he proclaimed, “I believe in the greatness and divinity of man, considered individually, in opposition to muzzle, public opinion, the Church or the State. An individual is a person who does not plan a program for himself or herself. ” He was the eternal fighter of morals, of conceptions, of standardized judgments. To be individualist, according to him, was to cultivate his personality, his autonomy, his selfishness. He admitted the state however, as long as its necessity would be felt, but a state as Jefferson, Spencer, and Huxley conceived: an administrative nihilism. He has often presented the Universe, the Cosmos, as the creation, the production, the domain of a demiurge, the supreme ironist, the friend of Satan.

Three things appeared to him indestructible through the changes and variations of the Universe: (1) Power, synonymous with Will. He regarded the Will of Power as fundamental and irreducible. The Conquest of Self was one of the results of the Will to Power (Buddhist extinction in Nirvana, he said, is only the Will to Power). 2. Beauty. In this respect he was a disciple of Plato; He asserted himself a poet, a mystic, at first, at last, always. 3. The Joy. Humor, irony and joy are inherent, according to him, to all the forces of life.

Let us add that B. DeCasseres was married, that he led a regular life, marked here and there by some plunge in originality.

Since we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Verlaine, we give below the translation of an essay by B. DeCasseres on this eminent poet. It was written in 1926, that is to say, 20 years.

Émile Armand