Monthly Archives: March 2018

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

Back from London …

I spent the day in London yesterday. I arrived at St Pancras railway station, headed for the University of London in Russell Square where there was a day on political myth and Hans Blumenberg. I skipped class and went to the National Gallery and saw:

Lady Standing at a Virginal by Johannes Vermeer, detail

The Vision of the Blessed Gabriele by Carlo Crivelli (left, the yoni detail), right other detail.

Witches at their Incantations by Salvator Rosa, full and cooking hag detail

Two Followers of Cadmus devoured by a Dragon by Cornelis van Haarlem, detail

Forgotten which this one is, I was quite impressed by it, I think it’s Dutch, detail

The Agony in the Garden by Andrea Mantegna, detail

The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs by Piero di Cosimo, detail

The Death of Procris by Piero di Cosimo, detail

Meeting Place of the Hunt by Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli, detail

Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway by J. M. W. Turner, detail

Forgot, probably a Jupiter and Antiope, I loved the way the nipple was pinched, detail

Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, Cunera van der Cock by Frans van Mieris the Elder, very small and delicate painting, this one.

The Ugly Duchess by Quentin Matsys, cleavage detail

The Agony in the Garden by Bellini, detail of village in the distance

A Scene from El Hechizado por Fuerza (‘The Forcibly Bewitched’) by Francisco Goya, apparently a portrait of Charles II of Spain, detail

Still Life with a Nautilus Cup by Gerrit Willemsz. Heda, detail

Bronisław Malinowski, Luis Buñuel, and the transvaluation of values

While I was investigating the first comprehensive study on Marquis de Sade, The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade (1934) by Geoffrey Gorer, I stumbled upon this quote:

“The natives of the Trobriand Islands […] consider eating as private as any other bodily function.”

I’d heard this before but never before had I considered the rather obvious link to the food taboo scene in Luis Buñuel‘s The Phantom of Liberty.

I started to investigate.

Wikipedia has it wrong, it attributes the following citation to a certain Jenefer Shute, who obviously copied it from here:

“Given the social importance of food, it might seem strange to discover that the Trobrianders eat alone, retiring to their own hearths with their portions, turning their backs on one another and eating rapidly for fear of being observed.” —Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating (1980), p. 8-9, Peter Farb, ‎George J. Armelagos

Now, there is only one anthropologist associated with the Trobriand Islands and that is Bronisław Malinowski.

First I found this in a 1958 issue of The Humanist:

B. Malinowski in his opus magnum reports that in the Trobriands males and females may have premarital sexual intercourse but never must they be seen eating together.”

I then combed through the three books on the Trobriand Islands and eventually found this in The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia:

“Food is displayed in all forms and on all occasions […] yet meals are never taken in public, and eating is altogether regarded as a rather dangerous and delicate act […] the custom of eating in common is limited […] people retire to their own fireplaces with their portion, each group turning its back on the rest […] they eat rapidly, no one else witnessing the performance […].”

Voila.

RIP Austryn Wainhouse (1927 – 2014)

I only now became aware that Austryn Wainhouse (1927 – 2014) passed away. He was best-known for translating the work of Marquis de Sade and the novel Story of O.

It is of course the work of Marquis de Sade that interests us here. It so happens that one of the translations of Wainhouse, Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings is freely available online. And the most interesting item in that collection is “Yet Another Effort“, perhaps the first piece of writing anyone who wishes to acquaint himself with de Sade should read.

Here is that link[1].

RIP André S. Labarthe (1931 – 2018)

André S. Labarthe was a French actor, film producer and director.

He starred alongside Anna Karina in the 1962 film Vivre sa vie and was a celebrated television documentary maker.

He directed the documentary Georges Bataille – À perte de vue (1997) and David Cronenberg: I Have to Make the Word Be Flesh (1999).

Georges Bataille – À perte de vue (1997)

David Cronenberg: I Have to Make the Word Be Flesh (1999)

 

“Is the Bible Indictable?” by Annie Besant

As you may have heard, I have resumed my work as pornosopher and I am currently writing my master’s thesis which investigates whether porn can be art. In my research I get lost very often (which kind of seems to be the purpose).

However, it is time for me to stop getting lost, because I have another paper to finish on political myth, a paper which I have tentatively titled “Mythe, meute, Europa,” which translates as “Myth, mob, Europe.”

Before I start that work, one of my most satisfying finds of the latest obsessive quest: Annie Besant’s sublime pamphlet: “Is the Bible Indictable?” (illustration).

Besant asks (in 1877, mind you!):

“Does the Bible come within the ruling of the Lord Chief Justice as to obscene literature? Most decidedly it does, and if prosecuted as an obscene book, it must necessarily be condemned, if the law is justly administered.” 

RIP Gillo Dorfles (1910 – 2018)

Gillo Dorfles  was an Italian art criticpainter, and philosopher best known for his 1968 book on kitschKitsch: The world of Bad Taste.

He was 107.

The photo: When I just started buying books, somewhere in the late 1990s, I saw this at Vulcanus, a book store in the Volkstraat 3 run by a lady named Yvette. I didn’t buy the book. I see they have it at my university. Maybe I’ll lend it one day.