The Four Seasons are a series of four paintings by Joos de Momper, allegorically depicting spring, summer, autumn and winter in the form of anthropomorphic landscapes. As of 2013, all four of these paintings are in private collections. At least one of them is believed to be in the collection of Robert Lebel. I saw all four of them over the weekend in Lille, France at the superb exhibition Flemish Landscape Fables. This weekend is your last chance to get a look at them.
“The engraver has chosen the model case of withdrawal into the life of saints and penitents. An ascetic monk takes refuge – probably to escape worldly temptations – near the image of the crucified Saviour. This cross fades like a shadow and in its place the radiant image of a naked woman in full bloom, takes its place, also in the shape of a crucifixion. Other painters, whose psychological insight was not as penetrating, positioned their analogous representations of temptation, with sin insolent and triumphant, somewhere alongside the Saviour on the Cross. Only Rops made it take the place of Our Lord Himself on the Cross; he seemed to know that the repressed thought returns at the very moment of its repression…” —Translation James Strachey
Some snippets in original German:
“Eine bekannte Radierung von Felicien Rops illustriert diese wenig beachtete und der Würdigung so sehr bedürftige Tatsache eindrucksvoller”
“Ein asketischer Mönch hat sich – gewiss vor den Versuchungen der Welt – zum Bild des gekreuzigten Erlösers geflüchtet. Da sinkt dieses Kreuz schattenhaft nieder und strahlend erhebt sich an seiner Stelle, zu seinem Ersatze, das Bild eines üppigen nackten Weibes in der gleichen Situation der Kreuzigung.”
The subject of Saint Anthony was first presented in the 10th century at Italian fresco paintings. In the European Middle Ages one can watch an accumulation of the theme in book illumination and later in German woodcuts.
In the good old days — now comes the dirty conclusion, I’ve warned you, it’s really dirty — in the good old days of really existing socialism a joke was popular among dissidents. A joke used to illustrate the futility of their progresses. In 15th century Russia, occupied by Mongols, that’s the joke, a farmer and his wife walked along a dusty country road, a mongol warrior on a horse stops at their side and tells the farmer that he will now rape his wife. He then adds, but since their is a lot of dust on the ground, you should hold my testicles, while I am raping your wife so that they do not get dusty — dirty. After the Mongol finishes his job and rides away, the farmer starts to laugh and jump with joy. The surprised wife asks him: “How can you be jumping with joy when I just brutally raped?” The farmer answers: “But I got him! His balls were full of dust.”
This sad joke tells of the predicament of dissidents. They thought they were dealing serious blows to the party nomenclatura. But all they were doing was getting a little bit of dust on the nomenclatura’s testicles.
What is so brilliant in this piece of “toilet philosophy“ (I am more inclined while writing these words of nobrow philosophy, of which Zizek and Sloterdijk are the greatest contemporary examples in this category) is that Zizek returns to this joke for closing his arguments. In the same vein in the same speech he has the embodied metaphor of “cutting of the balls of capitalism” and how to proceed for capitalism’s castration. Brilliant.