Monthly Archives: March 2007

Erotomaniac and countercultural historian Bouyxou given carte blanche

Unidentified photograph of Bouyxou
Sourced here.

For those of you living in Paris, or visiting Paris, the cinémathèque has given Jean-Pierre Bouyxou carte blanche to run a retrospective of “his kind of cinema“. Bouyxou (born 1946 in Bordeaux) is an erotomaniac and a countercultural historian. Most recently, Mike of Esotika … reviewed his film Satan bouche un coin. I also added some Bouyxou products to my Flickr account here and here as well as a cover of his magazine Sex Star System here. Some other magazines Bouyxou contributed to were Vampirella, Zoom, Métal hurlant, L’Echo des savanes, Penthouse, Lui, Hara-Kiri and Paris Match. He was editor-in-chief of Fascination (thirty issues from 1978 to 1986).

Bouyxou belongs to that European tradition of eroticism which is represented in Italy for example by the people of the Glittering Images publishing house to which Bouyxou is a contributor. For a review of one of the products of this publisher, see this and this blog entry at K. H. Brown’s Giallo Fever.

Thanks to Harry Tuttle of Unspoken Cinema for the notice.

Here is the program:

  100% SEXUEL, 100% EXPERIMENTAL… – 2007 – 110’  
  Vendredi 16 Mars 2007 – 21h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, José Bénazéraf, Yves-Marie Mahé
 
  ANDY MILLIGAN, QUELQUE PART… – ANDY MILLIGAN – 2007 – 85’  
  Vendredi 30 Mars 2007 – 19h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou

  AUTOUR DE W.S. BURROUGHS – 2007  
  Vendredi 25 Mai 2007 – 19h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou

  AVANT-GARDE JAPONAISE – 2007 – 147’  
  Vendredi 27 Avril 2007 – 21h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou et Sébastien Bondetti

  ECCE BOUYXOU – 2007 – 116’  
  Vendredi 25 Mai 2007 – 21h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou

  MARXISME, TENDANCE RAVACHOL – 2007 – 140’  
  Vendredi 13 Avril 2007 – 21h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou et Tobias Engel

  LE PARAPLUIE ET LA MACHINE A COUDRE – 2007 – 140’  
  Vendredi 13 Avril 2007 – 19h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou et Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  L’UNDERGROUND EN FRANCE… – 2007 – 95’  
  Vendredi 16 Mars 2007 – 19h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, Philipe Bordier, Raphaël Bassan, Gérard Courant, Gérald Lafosse, Marie-France O’Leary
 
  VERTIGES ONIRIQUES – 2007 – 101’  
  Vendredi 30 Mars 2007 – 21h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou et Stéphane du Mesnildot

  VOYAGES AU BOUT DE LA FOLIE – 2007 – 97’  
  Vendredi 11 Mai 2007 – 21h30 – SALLE GEORGES FRANJU
En présence de Jean-Pierre Bouyxou

The common tendency to do exactly the wrong thing

For lack of a better illustration: Ligeia read by Vincent Price

The Imp of the Perverse is a metaphor for the common tendency, particularly among children and evildoers, to do exactly the wrong thing in a given situation. The conceit is that the misbehavior is due to an imp (a small demon) leading an otherwise decent person into mischief.

The phrase has a long history in literature, and was popularized (and perhaps coined) by Edgar Allan Poe in his short story, “The Imp of the Perverse“. It is a study in guilt or the human thirst for self-destructive behaviour.

“Guilt” should not be taken here in either the standard legal or moral senses. Poe’s characters usually do not feel “guilt” because they did a “bad” thing—that is, the story is not didactic (in his essay “The Poetic Principle” Poe called didacticism the worst of “heresies”); there is no “moral to the story.” Guilt, for Poe, is “perverse,” and perverseness is the desire for self-destruction. It is completely indifferent to societal distinctions between right and wrong. “Guilt” is the inexplicable and inexorable desire to destroy oneself eo ipso.

The Poe Decoder notes that “When Poe speaks of perverseness, he does not intend narrower denotations of the various forms of the word. He does not mean “perverted,” as in sexual miscreance. Though such deviancy may be perverse, it bears little resemblance to the examples of perversity which Poe elucidated in his tales.” As such, Poe’s interpretation of perverseness deserves a prominent place in the history of irrationalism.

In Poe’s words:

“… no reason can be more unreasonable; but in fact, there is none more strong. With certain minds, under certain conditions, it becomes absolutely irresistible. I am not more certain than I breathe, than that the assurance of the wrong or error of any action is often the one unconquerable force which impels us, and alone compels us to its prosecution. Nor will this overwhelming tendency to do wrong for the wrong’s sake, admit of analysis, or resolution into ulterior elements. It is a radical, primitive impulse–elementary.”

and

“We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss – we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is the shrink away from the danger. Unaccountably we remain… it is but a thought, although a fearful one, and one which chills the very marrow of our bones with the fierceness of the delight of its horror. It is merely the idea of what would be our sensations during the sweeping precipitancy of a fall from such a height… for this very cause do we now the most vividly desire it.”

See also:
Interpretation of The Raven, The Imp of the Perverse and The Black Cat.
The Poe decoder, I am Safe!

The Imp of the Perverse is also masterfully exemplified in The Bad Glazier, a prose poem by Baudelaire collected in Paris Spleen:

Baudelaire’s prose poem “The bad glazier” is a marvelous example of the imp of the perverse; after a discourse on personality and action, a man calls a glazier up to his fourth-story apartment. He inspects the glazier’s glass, “discovers” that there is no colored glass in the man’s pack (which we sense he may have known all along), and sends the glazier back on his way. When the poor glazier reaches the ground floor and leaves the building, our protagonist throws a flower pot at him and breaks his glass. “And drunk with my madness,” the protagonist tells us, “I shouted down at him furiously: ‘Make life beautiful! Make life beautiful!'” Rachel Barenblat via www.webdelsol.com/InPosse/barenblat.htm

Arts pricing and public funding

Have you ever liked a work of art (and here and here) very much but felt that the community, museum or government that had commissioned it paid too much for it?

This exactly what happened to me when I learned about the 750,000 euros the Flemish people paid for the 2006 water sculpture Diepe Fontein which reflects the façade of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts when full.

A fraction of the money spent (I cannot remember the exact details but if I remember well the proportion was about 10%) was used for the actual production of the piece. The majority of the money went to Spanish contemporary artist Cristina Iglesias (1956, San Sebastián, Spain) who was primarily rewarded for her intellectual property.

This article by Prof. Paul Ilegems (born 1946, curator of the Friet-museum in Antwerp) has the best description of the work. It mentions that the idea to invite Iglesias to design this work was by architect Hilde Daems, together with Paul Robbrecht and Marie-José Van Hee who had been at that time responsible for the re-design of the Leopold De Waelplaats. Ilegems mentions how the work is huftervrij, which is a Dutch term that translates as shitheadproof and denotes vandal proof. Vandalism is a big problem in public space art and it has been of recent interest in Antwerpen. Cel Crabeels’s article on the destruction of Dan Graham’s public space artwork Funhouse for Children (1998) on the Antwerp Sint – Jansplein documents this.

As I mentioned before, the main gripe I have with the work of art is not necessarily the price of it, but the fact that only a small fraction of the cost was for the actual production of the work. I specifically want to compare Diepe Fontein to another 2006 work of art, even if the work I am referring to was ‘only’ an ephemeral performance by a French company who is called Royale de Luxe. They produce the best piece of street theatre I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing: The Sultan’s Elephant. Its performance cost the Antwerp municipality 800,000 euros but the majority of it went to the actual performance (which lasted three days and were extravagant and deeply moving), not just a concept. I saw grown men and women weep with joy and awe. Watch it here if they did not come to your town last summer.

See also the sociology of art and on government funding of art.

Volver, gay directors and campish music

Mother and child reunited after mother was believed dead

I viewed Pedro Almodóvar’s 2006 film Volver. A very good film (Pedro has yet to deliver his first dud) but not as great as Bad Education or All about my Mother. The DVD extras feature an interview by French distributor Pathé which is on YouTube here. (in French)

One of the most remarkable segments in the interview is when the interviewer compares Pedro to Woody Allen, who also features women prominently in his films. Pedro explains that the difference is that he makes films about women (as a gender group) and how they have been influential in his life whereas Woody Allen, he continues, just like Ingmar Bergman, make films about the women who have been their life partners.

The music of Almodóvar.

A part of the Volver soundtrack here. (the song ‘Volver’ itself starts around 4:00). Here is the song as performed by Estrella Morente who voices Penélope Cruz in the film. The hit tango by Carlos Gardel Volver is a leitmotiv of the film. View it here.

Like other gay directors such as the French director François Ozon, Almodóvar’s films are full of campish music. One of my fave soundtrack tracks is Luz Casal’s Un Año de Amor which is presented here as ‘Un anno d’amore’ by Mina recorded live for RAI television in 1965.

Mina is a real find! Just check Se telefonando (1966).

Unrelated to Almodóvar but within the realm of campish music: ‘Paroles paroles’ by Dalida and Delon.

So many blogs so little time

There has been an inundation of swell posts by the usual suspects but also by some relative newcomers.

A survey:

I had been wild about The Five Obstructions, I had loved Water Drops on Burning Rocks (I recently posted a clip of it) and The Pornographer and Porcile have been on my to-see-list for some time. Wet Street’s reviews are well written and imaginative. Recommendation to film buffs: subscribe.

The Trap: What happened to our dreams of freedom

Photo courtesy of the BBC

Reader Christopher Larner alerts us to an interesting documentary which:

“has started showing on BBC2 in the UK – It is made by Adam Curtis who also made ‘The Century of the Self’ and ‘The Power of Nightmares’. This new one is called ‘The Trap: What happened to our dreams of freedom‘ and attempts to show how our/and our politicians notions of freedom were born out of the cold war and ‘game theory‘ – as a filmmaker he perhaps ties too many disparate narratives together into a seemingly cohesive whole – the editing, footage and insight provided are nevertheless compelling.”

Here is the link. YouTube has, for some unknown reason, deleted parts 5 and 6. Amongst other subjects, these segments criticize psychiatry.

“After being flagged by members of the YouTube community and reviewed by YouTube staff, the video below has been removed due to its inappropriate nature.”

Internet pundit Momus was luckier than us (dependent on YouTube), he was sent the documentary on DVD. He appropriately labels Curtis a television essayist and juxtaposes his documentary to Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics.

K-Punk has this (There’s nothing very surprising in Adam Curtis’ The Trap: What happened to our dreams of Freedom, compelling as it is.).

See also: freedom

Perry’s 71st birthday

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (photo credit David Corio)

Via gmtPlus9 (-15) who also has:

I cannot overestimate the influence that Perry has had on my musical tastes since I first listened to Super Ape about twenty years ago.

 

He was a sad dog, it is true, and a dog’s death it was that he died

Terence Stamp as Toby Dammit

From Never Bet the Devil Your Head — A Tale with a Moral (1841)  by Edgar Allan Poe:

Defuncti injuria ne afficiantur was a law of the twelve tables, and De mortuis nil nisi bonum is an excellent injunction — even if the dead in question be nothing but dead small beer. It is not my design, therefore, to vituperate my deceased friend, Toby Dammit. He was a sad dog, it is true, and a dog’s death it was that he died; but he himself was not to blame for his vices. They grew out of a personal defect in his mother. She did her best in the way of flogging him while an infant — for duties to her well — regulated mind were always pleasures, and babies, like tough steaks, or the modern Greek olive trees, are invariably the better for beating — but, poor woman! she had the misfortune to be left-handed, and a child flogged left-handedly had better be left unflogged. The world revolves from right to left. It will not do to whip a baby from left to right. If each blow in the proper direction drives an evil propensity out, it follows that every thump in an opposite one knocks its quota of wickedness in. I was often present at Toby’s chastisements, and, even by the way in which he kicked, I could perceive that he was getting worse and worse every day. At last I saw, through the tears in my eyes, that there was no hope of the villain at all, and one day when he had been cuffed until he grew so black in the face that one might have mistaken him for a little African, and no effect had been produced beyond that of making him wriggle himself into a fit, I could stand it no longer, but went down upon my knees forthwith, and, uplifting my voice, made prophecy of his ruin.

The fact is that his precocity in vice was awful. At five months of age he used to get into such passions that he was unable to articulate. At six months, I caught him gnawing a pack of cards. At seven months he was in the constant habit of catching and kissing the female babies. At eight months he peremptorily refused to put his signature to the Temperance pledge. Thus he went on increasing in iniquity, month after month, until, at the close of the first year, he not only insisted upon wearing moustaches, but had contracted a propensity for cursing and swearing, and for backing his assertions by bets.

Through this latter most ungentlemanly practice, the ruin which I had predicted to Toby Dammit overtook him at last. The fashion had “grown with his growth and strengthened with his strength,” so that, when he came to be a man, he could scarcely utter a sentence without interlarding it with a proposition to gamble. Not that he actually laid wagers — no. I will do my friend the justice to say that he would as soon have laid eggs. With him the thing was a mere formula — nothing more. His expressions on this head had no meaning attached to them whatever. They were simple if not altogether innocent expletives — imaginative phrases wherewith to round off a sentence. When he said “I’ll bet you so and so,” nobody ever thought of taking him up; but still I could not help thinking it my duty to put him down. The habit was an immoral one, and so I told him. It was a vulgar one- this I begged him to believe. It was discountenanced by society — here I said nothing but the truth. It was forbidden by act of Congress — here I had not the slightest intention of telling a lie. I remonstrated — but to no purpose. I demonstrated — in vain. I entreated — he smiled. I implored — he laughed. I preached- he sneered. I threatened — he swore. I kicked him — he called for the police. I pulled his nose — he blew it, and offered to bet the Devil his head that I would not venture to try that experiment again. —continue reading …

This post inspired by the ever excellent Ombres Blanches who notes:

When approached for the Edgar Allan Poe omnibus Histoires Extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead) Fellini was initially reluctant to do it, but Toby Dammit turned out to be the film’s finest episode … Fellini chose to transpose Poe’s source story Never Bet the Devil Your Head to a contemporary setting …

Histoires Extraordinaires aka Spirits of The Dead (1968) – Louis Malle, Roger Vadim, Federico Fellini [Amazon.com]

Ombres Blanches points us to this wonderful clip of the Fellini short with an OST by Nino Rota. The live band are the Rutles. The scene is euro chic felliniesque.

Campish music and the quiddity of life, sex and relationships

The couple meets at the end of the film.

I finished viewing 5×2 by François Ozon this afternoon. It stars Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, the sister of singer/model Carla Bruni who also starred in the 2005 Ozon Time to Leave. Like Irréversible and Memento before it, 5×2 is an experiment in cinematic time since it is executed in reverse chronological order. The story concerns a couple; it opens with their divorce and moves in five scenes (Scenes from a Marriage by Bergman in reverse) towards — making halt at their marriage — their idyllic meeting pictured above. Ozon describes the quiddity of life, sex and relationships with an odd and compelling detachment.

This is a pensive film essay of which the highlights include the absence of the father during the birth of their son; the joyous dancing and later the romantic/forced encounter on their wedding night; the after-the-break-up-sex-scene; the beautifully rolled spliff and the birth of romantic love.

Ozon’s campish tastes in music (remember Cher’s ‘Bang Bang‘ (and here) in his short A Summer Dress; this scene from Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brûlantes; this scene from Sitcom and the dance scene from Swimming Pool) find full expression in the songs by Italian crooners which separates each sequence and Paolo Conte’s theme song “Sparring Partner”, featured in this YouTube remix of the film.

P. S. Just look how beautifully rolled this spliff is.