Why I like the rhetoric of censors so much

Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (1981) is one of the best anti-pornography documents around, better than Perversion for Profit (1965).

I found Not a Love Story while researching my paper and being sidetracked into feminist antiporn rhetoric.

The most blatant variety of this rhetoric is the part where they say that pornography leads to rape, first expressed by Robin Morgan in 1974 when she said “pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice“.

Recent feminists such as Anne W. Eaton have toned down their statements from the once virulent rhetoric of women such as Robin Morgan, but Rae Langton, a well respected source in the current debate, still references Ed Donnerstein in “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts“, her much-cited paper of 1993.

Researching Ed Donnerstein brought this film to my attention. He is interviewed on the effects of violent porn.

New to me was a soundbite uttered by Robin Morgan who states that “the first things that the Nazis did when they moved into Poland was to engineer a huge proliferation of pornography.”

The statement baffled me and I knew right away that I would not be able to find whether this was true or not, the only thing I could hope to discover is who first spread this piece of information.

After some googling I found this information cited in Take Back the Night (1980) by Laura Lederer. Some more googling and I discovered that it can be pinpointed to Pamela Hansford Johnson’s statement “when the Nazis took on the government of Poland, they flooded the Polish bookstalls with pornography” recorded in On Iniquity (1967), an attack on permissive society occasioned by the Moors murders.

I’ve previously mentioned why I like the rhetoric of censors so much but must write more about it, see in praise of censorship. This documentary is up here in its entirety but for how long considering the amount of explicit imagery?

PS 1. There is another explicit video on censorship, which has escaped the YouTube censor, I’ve written on it here and the video is still there.

PS 2. If you know where Pamela Hansford Johnson got her info from, I’d love to hear from you.

Rodin’s eroticism

Les dessins de Rodin, part 1

Les dessins de Rodin, part 2

While researching my thesis, I came across the text “Les Dessins de Rodin” (above), in which Arthur Symons says:

“The principle of Rodin‘s work is sex-a sex aware of itself, and expending energy desperately to reach an impossible goal.”

Also new to me was Rodin’s Iris, Messenger of the Gods  and “Rodin’s Reputation“, Anne Wagner’s deft article on it.

All my research on Rodin and eroticism can be found at Eros and Rodin.

 Spanish Still Life @ BOZAR

There is a wonderful exhibition in Brussels right now. Spanish Still Life – Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Miró has two Cotáns, apart from Zurbarán, the crème de la crème of still life.

Sadly, behind glass, but seeing this is such a blast.

Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber (1602) by Juan Sánchez Cotán. This is the central piece of the exhibition. Jaw-droppingly beautiful. Below detail of the cucumber.

Still Life with Fruit and Vegetables (c.1600) by Juan Sánchez Cotán. Another Cotan, a little too full to my liking but still a top work.

Still Life With Bream, Oranges, Garlic, Condiments, and Kitchen Utensils (1772) by Luis Egidio Meléndez (detail)

Vanitas (Goya’s Skull) (1849) by Dionisio Fierros. This painting has a nice phrenology story behind it. Kind of similar to what happened to Sade’s skull.

There were two Goya’s: Still Life with Golden Bream and one with a bird (I was  unable to find the title, it’s this one). There were no Zurbaráns. I would have paid the price of the entrance for the two Cotans alone.

RIP Cecil Taylor (1929 – 2018)

Cecil Taylor was an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as having been one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion, for example described as “eighty-eight tuned drums” (referring to the number of keys on a standard piano). He has also been described as “like Art Tatum with contemporary-classical leanings”.

His composition Indent (1973) is on Thurston Moore’s Top Ten Free Jazz Underground (1995).

RIP Jacques Higelin (1940 – 2018)

Jacques Higelin was a French pop singer who rose to prominence in the early 1970s. Early in his career, many of Higelin’s songs were effectively blacklisted from French radio because of his controversial left wing political beliefs, and his association with socialist groups.

His song “Pars” (1978) was covered by Grace Jones on her album Warm Leatherette.

RIP Stéphane Audran (1932 – 2018)

Stéphane Audran was a French actress, known for her performances in award-winning movies such as The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and Babette’s Feast (1987) and in critically acclaimed films like The Big Red One (1980) and Violette Nozière (1978).

A well-known photo of the actress shows her sitting at a dressing table doing her toenails. It is from the film from the film La Femme Infidèle (1968).

Above is the clip of that film with Audran tending to her nails.

Of obfuscation and elucidation 

I finally hold a copy of Lequeu : An Architectural Enigma (1986) in my hand, a book on the oeuvre of French visionary architect Jean-Jacques Lequeu.

It is a strange mix of obfuscation and elucidation by its author Philippe Duboÿ.

It drew — among many other things — my attention to the satirical vignette against Bertrand Chaupy (above), an engraving better known as the “turd engraving by Piranesi.”

Regarding the obfuscation in this book, Robert Harbison says in The Built, the Unbuilt, and the Unbuildable (1993):

“Recently the idea has infiltrated academic consciousness that the eighteenth-century crank Lequeu, one of the world’s fringiest paper architects, is really Marcel Duchamp inserting himself Trojan-horse-like into the musty tomes of the Bibliotheque Nationale, whiling away countless hours creating a large hollow space in which a few hundred pseudo-eighteenth-century beings can roost.”

See on elucidation and obfuscation the dictum by Cioran:  between the demand to be clear, and the temptation to be obscure, impossible to decide which deserves more respect.

Major Jean-Jacques Lequeu exhibition coming up

Bâtisseur de fantasmes” (Phantasm builder) is the title of an exhibition of the work of personal hero Jean-Jacques Lequeu.

It is to be held at the Petit Palais in Paris from December 11, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

It probably hasn’t been since 1964, at the occasion of Les architectes visionnaires de la fin du XVIII° siècle curated by Jean-Claude Lemagny at the Bibliothèque Nationale, that the work of Lequeu was shown.

Illustration: “The Big Yawner

See also: phantasm