Monthly Archives: February 2013

In praise of pornosophy

Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (2009) – [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

I want to read Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (2009) by Kelly Dennis.

Besides that pornosophy is my area of expertise, the book looks rather more clever than many porn studies that have recently flooded the American market and finding smart sentences such as the following has whetted my appetite:

“We can now see that the “sister arts,” the paragone, the hierarchy of genres, and even ekphrasis are all rooted in an opposition between word and image, between an acceptable literary pictorialism and a less acceptable pictorial literacy.”

I found this book while googling paragone and ekphrasis mentioned in my previous post on Baudelaire[1].

On the cover of Art/Porn is one panel from the Every Playboy centerfold, by decade series by Jason Salavon.

Poetry is like painting, cooking, and cosmetics

Title page[1] from the Carlos Schwabe illustrations for Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal.

I have no clue what plant it is (a flesh-eating plant perhaps?), nor if it is real or imaginary, but I’m pretty sure it fits in the horticultural horror category.

Additionally, as far as I know, this illustration is the only literal interpretation of the flowers of evil.

One thing inevitably leads to another:

On opening my copy of The Romantic Agony for the nth time brought up this passage:

“That poetry is like the arts of painting, cooking, and cosmetics in its ability to express every sensation of sweetness or bitterness, of beatitude or horror, by coupling a certain noun with a certain adjective, in analogy or contrast” writes Baudelaire in an unpublished preface to a 2nd preface of The Flowers of Evil (translation by Marthiel and Jackson Mathews).

Beautiful isn’t it, this trying to connect poetry to cuisine and cosmetics via adjectives and nouns in logical combinations, evoking diverse sentiments?

See also: literature and olfaction, synesthesia and literature, paragone and ekphrasis.

Once more, one thing leads to another

Encore” is a musical composition by Nicolas Jaar.

As usual, one thing leads to another.

This particular Youtube upload (above) features the photo “Dancers Wearing Gas Masks In England On February 1940“.

The photo stems from the Edward George Warris Hulton collection and features girls wearing gas masks and dancing a can-can-like dance.

The sample at the beginning of the song:

“from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing”

is from an audio recording of “The Creative Act,” a speech by ‘mere artist” Marcel Duchamp given in 1957.

In view of its non-elitist (although it can also be read as a defence of Duchamp’s own greatness) point of view (considering bad art also as art); its emphasis on reception and audience participation; its view as the artist as a mere medium, I pronounce “The Creative Act” to be a nobrow manifesto of sorts.

“Encore” by my poulain Nicolas Jaar is World Music Classic #699.

Metafiction, metapoetry, metatheatre, metafilm and metapainting

I was in my teens. One day, on television, an Italian film. The central scene takes place at a movie theater. A cowboy in a Western film points his gun at the theatre and pulls the trigger, killing one of the viewers in the audience.

When examined by the police, the projection screen reveals a small bullet hole.

Each time the film with in the film is played back someone else is shot. The last victim, a policeman who knows the shot is coming and who tries to evade the gunman by running up and down the theatre is followed by the cowboy, who merely adjusts his aim and mercilessly guns the man down. The cowboy then throws his cigar butt through the screen, which — if my memory doesn’t fail me — is later found by the police.

The film left an indelible impression on my teen brain and only after many years I found out it is called Closed Circuit (central scene on Vimeo).

What this cowboy did was breaking the fourth wall. Breaking the fourth wall indicates self-awareness of the medium and can be found in all the arts. The practice is usually designated by the prefix “meta- ” + “art form x.”

There is metafictionmetapoetrymetatheatremetafilm and metapainting. All of these have meta-references, meaning that they reference themselves, they are self-referential.

Related terms to self-referentiality include mise en abyme, the Droste effectrecursionMatryoshka dollsstory within a story and tautology.

I like it a lot.

A specter is haunting the world: the specter of capitalism

I finally watched Cronenberg’s latest film Cosmopolis and understand why it was top ten film for both Cahiers du cinéma andRichard Scheib.

Memorable moments: the rats, the prostate that has to “express itself”, the Jenny Holzer-like LED screen with the slogan “A specter is haunting the world: the specter of capitalism ” (above), the Nancy Babich-scene, Robert shooting a hole in his hand[1]and of course the prostate examination in itself.

The film is World Cinema Classic #139.

It’s a political film and a philosophical film.

The eeriness of hanging, dripping mosses

Following my previous post[1], Paul Rumsey identifies the mystery print[2] as one from the hand of Georg Lemberger, an Austrian artist so obscure he does not even have an English language Wikipedia page.

One of Lemberger’s paintings, Saint George Freeing the Princess (Lemberger)[3], has an Italian-language Wikipedia page, which I’ve partly translated and partly augmented:

The scene takes place in a fantastic forest. St George is preparing to face the monstrous dragon, hitting him with a spear, while the horse rears its head and front legs, according to the traditional iconography.

On the left the princess kneels in prayer.

Despite the small size of the work, it is emblematic of the role of landscape in the German art, full of fantastic effects and symbolic meanings, which characterizes the Danube School.

The trees are particularly elongated, and seem to germinate the one above the other, waving their spectral fronds, like in a dream vision.

The forest has a feeling of great mossy humidity and the branches of the trees seem to be covered with hanging, dripping mosses, like Spanish moss.

The feeling of being lost in the dark forest prevails and the work conveys a sense of the unknown, dominated by mysterious forces of nature.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili + Bomarzo + elephant = bible illustrations

It’s funny on how returning to the blogosphere after saying goodbye to it for quite some years, I bump straight into an old virtual friend when searching for “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili + Bomarzo + elephant”. The friend in question runs the fascinating culture blog Journey to Perplexity [1].

The reason I googled the words above was that my Dutch edition (translated by Ike Cialona) of Hypnerotomachia Poliphili claims that Colonna’ work inspired these works of architecture:

One thing leading to another, as they usually do, I found this [2] fascinating woodcut, of which the colour palette reminds me of Japanese woodcuts.

I wonder if the plate is part of Cranach’s illustrated version of Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible? Anyone?

RIP German sex educator Oswalt Kolle (1928 – 2010)

Oswalt Kolle played a significant role in the sexual revolution in Germany.

Of all sexual revolutions (see here), the one that occurred in the 1960s was the most pervasive, due to mass media, the pill and general economic prosperity.

It was a funny revolution. A friend once told me that it was just an excuse for all alpha males to bang as many women as they could get their hands on. This is an exaggeration, of course, but contains some truth.

It was the start of sex education in state schools, like the Sexualkundeatlas of 1969, but also of state-funded sexual education films Helga – Vom Werden des menschlichen Lebens.

Illustration Zázrak Lásky (Czech translation of Wunder der Liebe by Oswalt Kolle). For more visuals of Oswalt Kolle’s products, see my old page here[1].

Icon of Erotic Art #55

There is a scene in the film Story of O which juxtaposes a woman’s face in the throes of orgasm and the face of another woman who is being tortured. Supposedly, the facial expressions of both women cannot be distinguished, at least, that’s what the film claims (I don’t know whether the same claim is made in the book).

This is the first thing that came to my mind when I laid eyes on the recently published supposedly long-lost upper section of Gustave Courbet’s masterpiece The Origin of the World[1], a painting of a young woman’s face and shoulders which was — again supposedly — severed from the original work.

The woman depicted is the Irish redhead Joanna Hiffernan, who must have been around 23 when this work was painted. Joanna “Jo” Hiffernan (ca. 1843 – after 1903) was also the model of and romantically linked with American painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who painted her as The White Girl. Courbet also painted her as La belle Irlandaise and Le Sommeil.

I think the work is fantastic (regardless if it is a part of L’Origine or not) and frankly, just as exciting as the world famous beaver shot of the lower section. I love orgiastic faces (and swooning women) and I am not the only one. There is the website ‘Beautiful Agony,’ of which the name at least seems to corroborate the claim of the narrator of the Story of O.

The upper section of ‘L’Origine is Icon of Erotic Art #55.

The ‘fantastique naturel’: the weird axolotl

 

The Weird (2012) – [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

I’m into weird stuff and anthologies. So I’m happy with the new book The Weird, dedicated to 20th century literature in the category weird fiction, a book I discovered while researching Dino Buzzati (check out this [1] and this [2]). It was put together by Jeff VanderMeer and his wife Ann.

But…

Yes, there is a but.

The cover of this anthology is ugly beyond belief.

Beyond belief is perhaps putting it too strongly and I don’t like negative criticism without at least providing an alternative.

So why not have put an axolotl on the cover? A good choice since there is also a short story by my favourite author Julio Cortázar in the anthology titled “Axolotl” and the axolotl is a creature like the star-nosed mole and the baby armadillo by Dora Maar which belongs in the category ‘fantastique naturel‘ and the fantastique is the natural precursor of weird fiction.