Hidden away behind the closed doors of aristocratic and bourgeois privilege, concealed under those ultra-respectable masks of black frock coat and veil, the green glow of corruption flickers into sight, steadies, and spreads everywhere, fostered by Lorrain's horrified and complicitous gaze. This decadent detective is at one with the criminal he pursues, acknowledging openly that the representation of corruption is one of the most pleasurable forms that corruption can take. In this enterprise, art is the mask that both exposes and conceals culpability.
Like symbolism, decadence puts forth the idea that the function of literature is to evoke impressions and 'correspondences', rather than to realistically depict the world... The decadent aestheticized decay and took pleasure in perversity. In decadent literature, sickness is preferable to health, not only because sickness was regarded as more interesting, but because sickness was construed as subversive, as a threat to the very fabric of society. By embracing the marginal, the unhealthy and the deviant, the decadents attacked bourgeois life, which they perceived as the chief enemy of art.
Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.