Marc Meulemans  (right) died of a heart attack last Friday. He was 50 years old. In the seventies he was member of the punk group De Kommeniste (1000 Titels), later he would become graphic designer for Belgian magazines such as MaoMagazine and Deng as well as sound designer for the theatrical producer Ivo van Hove (left).
“When you fall for a boy, you try to pin him down too soon. After three days, he wants to kick his way free and get as far away as he can.”
“Oh, yeah? So let’s see who can pick up a decent boy first. Any boy. Even a fat slob like you.”
“That shows how dumb you are. You’re great physically but once they get to know you, they run a mile. They run before even getting to know you!”
“I’m just too young. They’d be scared to sleep with me.”
“But you reek of loose morals.”
“I don’t sleep around.”
“That’s the only thing you don’t do. You have a weird notion of what ‘not sleeping around’ means.”
“That’s what matters, you know.”
“I don’t think so. If I meet a man I love, I’d want to be broken in. He won’t think my first time counts. The first time should be with nobody. I don’t want a guy bragging he had me first. Guys are all sick.”
Catherine Breillat’s obsession with the dialectical nature of love and violence could not be better articulated than in the haunting last words echoed by Anaïs:
Police officer: She was in the woods. She says he didn’t rape her.
Anaïs: Don’t believe me if you don’t want to.
Asia Argento, controversial filmmaker. Catherine Breillat, controversial filmmaker. Put the two together and it isn’t hard to imagine where they’ll likely end up. Argento is starring in Breillat’s latest, Une Vielle Maitresse, and the production company has recently posted the first batch of stills from the film to give a taste of what this will look like.
Here’s Breillat’s 2004 Rotterdam funding pitch for the film:
A costume drama An Old Mistress (Une Vieille Maitresse) adapted from the novel of the same by Barbey d’Aurevilly [The She-Devils (1874)], a book inspired by and covering much of the same ground as Choderlos De Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons. “Une Vieille Maitresse is the parable of an affair that seems to be over and whose force is underestimated because it is thought to have blown itself out,” says Breillat. Breillat discussed the role of the manipulative and ugly old lady with Madonna. “I had a meeting with her, but she did not want to do it. It would have been extremely gratifying if she had. But perhaps if she had it would no longer have been my film. So it may be for the better.”
I’ve finally seen Children of Men, on DVD, after missing it at the cinema. Watching it last week I asked myself, why is its rendering of apocalypse so contemporary?
British cinema, for the last thirty years as chronically sterile as the issueless population in Children of Men, has not produced a version of the apocalypse that is even remotely as well realised as this. You would have to turn to television – to the last Quatermass serial or to Threads, almost certainly the most harrowing television programme ever broadcast on British TV – for a vision of British society in collapse that is as compelling. Yet the comparison between Children of Men and these two predecessors points to what is unique about the film; the final Quatermass serial and Threads still belonged to Nuttall’s bomb culture, but the anxieties with which Children of Men deals have nothing to do with nuclear war.
Kris Melis pointed out to me that the plot of Children of Men is similar to that of the 1982 pomo porn film Café Flesh in which humans are divided into Sex Negatives and Sex Positives. The negatives get sick if they have sex so they go to Café Flesh to see positives who are forced to perform on stage for the negatives. If the similarity is superficial, both films belong to the category infertility in fiction in a post-apocalyptic world.
How much death and terror can nature contain and still be posited as a value — as a world that human beings reach for, steadying themselves. (p. 174)
A collection of Semiotext(e) titles that have been read.
In my previous post I wondered why Taschen does not publish on political counterculture since they have a penchant towards the realm where “high and low will no longer be perceived as contradictions”. Andrej Maltar answers in the comments section of that post that Taschen is not interested in subversion outside the aesthetic field and points us in the direction of publishers like Autonomedia [semiotext(e)] or the Pranks-issue of RE/Search. He asks “Aren’t these books very interesting in terms of contemporary political subversion?”
On Autonomedia and Semiotext(e):
Semiotext(e) is an American independent publisher. It is widely credited for having introduced French theory to America in the late 1970s via its magazine issues and Foreign Agents series. In 2000 the MIT Press began distributing Semiotext(e), taking it over from the anarchist publishing collective Autonomedia.
Without realizing it I already have two Semiotext(e) books in my library: Paul Virilio’s Pure War and his Aesthetics of Disappearance. I’ve read and very much enjoyed Pure War and started to tackle Disappearance. I bought Disappearance for its uncanny cover art.
Danae (1907-08) – Gustav Klimt
“We want to declare war on sterile routine, on rigid Byzantinism, on all forms of bad taste… Our Secession is not a fight of modern artists against old ones, but a fight for the advancement of artists as against hawkers who call themselves artists and yet have a commercial interest in hindering the flowering of art.”
This declaration by Hermann Bahr, the spiritual father of the Secessionists, may serve as the motto for the foundation in 1897 of the Vienna Secession, with Klimt as its leading spirit and president. The artists of the younger generation were no longer willing to accept the tutelage imposed by Academicism; they demanded to exhibit their work in a fitting place, free from “market forces”. They wanted to end the cultural isolation of Vienna, to invite artists from abroad to the city and to make the works of their own members known in other countries. The Secession’s programme was clearly not only an “aesthetic” contest, but also a fight for the “fight to artistic creativity”, for art itself; it was a matter of combatting the distinction between “great art” and “subordinate genres”, between “art for the rich and art for the poor” in brief, between “Venus” and “Nini”. In painting and in the applied arts, the Vienna Secession had a central role in developing and disseminating Art Nouveau as a counter-force to official Academicism and bourgeois conservatism. –Gilles Néret, 1993
P. S. The concept of “Venus” and “Nini” are the most intriguing part of these last posts on the book by Néret on Klimt I’ve been reading, and I want to add that it is unjust and unfair to direct the Nini page to “prostitution in art”. The woman who is impartial to casual sex and/or wants to lead an independent life is not a prostitute but is easily perceived as one. Most generally this dichotomy is labeled the mother/whore or Madonna/whore complex. If anyone knows of a very good exploration of this theme (apart from The Mother and the Whore (1973) – Jean Eustache and the work by Camille Paglia), please let me know.
“Cold Me” is Reza Negarestani and he or she intrigues me. Here is his/her linklist (following the saying ‘show me your links and I will tell you who you are’). I found a list of Bellmer’s dolls photos.
Elsewhere and unrelated to ‘Cold Me’; Mike reviews The Fruits of Passion (Shuji Terayama, 1981), the follow-up film to Story of O. Mike says:
“Viewers expecting the same sort of story as told in The Story of O, or even viewers expecting that sort of soft-focus eroticism will be sorely disappointed, as Terayama elevates the story to an even higher level than the former film or novel. He also improves greatly on the source material; while The Story of O itself is a masterpiece of literature, erotic or otherwise, Return to the Chateau: The Story of O II is hardly up to par, being a lackluster imitation of the book it’s responding to.”
Elsewhere and unrelated to Fruits of Passion: electronic music at Youtube