Category Archives: American culture

Why I like the rhetoric of censors so much

Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (1981) is one of the best anti-pornography documents around, better than Perversion for Profit (1965).

I found Not a Love Story while researching my paper and being sidetracked into feminist antiporn rhetoric.

The most blatant variety of this rhetoric is the part where they say that pornography leads to rape, first expressed by Robin Morgan in 1974 when she said “pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice“.

Recent feminists such as Anne W. Eaton have toned down their statements from the once virulent rhetoric of women such as Robin Morgan, but Rae Langton, a well respected source in the current debate, still references Ed Donnerstein in “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts“, her much-cited paper of 1993.

Researching Ed Donnerstein brought this film to my attention. He is interviewed on the effects of violent porn.

New to me was a soundbite uttered by Robin Morgan who states that “the first things that the Nazis did when they moved into Poland was to engineer a huge proliferation of pornography.”

The statement baffled me and I knew right away that I would not be able to find whether this was true or not, the only thing I could hope to discover is who first spread this piece of information.

After some googling I found this information cited in Take Back the Night (1980) by Laura Lederer. Some more googling and I discovered that it can be pinpointed to Pamela Hansford Johnson’s statement “when the Nazis took on the government of Poland, they flooded the Polish bookstalls with pornography” recorded in On Iniquity (1967), an attack on permissive society occasioned by the Moors murders.

I’ve previously mentioned why I like the rhetoric of censors so much but must write more about it, see in praise of censorship. This documentary is up here in its entirety but for how long considering the amount of explicit imagery?

PS 1. There is another explicit video on censorship, which has escaped the YouTube censor, I’ve written on it here and the video is still there.

PS 2. If you know where Pamela Hansford Johnson got her info from, I’d love to hear from you.

RIP Cecil Taylor (1929 – 2018)

Cecil Taylor was an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as having been one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion, for example described as “eighty-eight tuned drums” (referring to the number of keys on a standard piano). He has also been described as “like Art Tatum with contemporary-classical leanings”.

His composition Indent (1973) is on Thurston Moore’s Top Ten Free Jazz Underground (1995).

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 Dennis Edwards (1943 – 2018)

Dennis Edwards was an American singer, notably a lead singer in The Temptations.

He scored a solo hit in 1984 with “Don’t Look Any Further” (day-o day-o, mombajee ai-o!), the video of which [above] is in the top ten of worst videos ever. Just watching it fills you with vicarious shame.

For the jaded and tired among us, it’s a good thing to listen to “City Lights” by William Pitt [above], which rips the bassline and chord structure.

The first well-known sample of the song’s distinctive bassline is in Eric B. & Rakim’s 1987 single “Paid in Full” [above].

Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ in the public domain

The following authors and their works are in the public domain as of January 1 of this year according the 70 years rule:

Robert Musil, Austrian author of The Man Without Qualities; Bruno Schulz, Polish author of The Street of Crocodiles, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, draughtsman of The Book of Idolatry; Franz Boas, German-born American anthropologist, author of Anthropology and Modern Life, The Mind of Primitive Man and Primitive Art; Stefan Zweig, Austrian author of Letter from an Unknown Woman, Fear and World of Yesterday; Germaine Dulac French director of The Seashell and the Clergyman; Jindřich Štyrský , Czech artist, author-photographer of Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream; Grant Wood, an American painter, best known for his painting American Gothic; Bronisław Malinowski, Polish anthropologist, author of The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia; Léon Daudet, French journalist, writer, often called the French Dickens and Walter Sickert, painter known for his The Camden Town Murder.

Illustration: American Gothic (1930) by American painter Grant Wood. This is the best-known work of Wood, up to the point that it is one of the most famous works of art. But in his oeuvre you will also find Rousseau-esque discursions such as Young Corn.

RIP Les Paul (1915 – 2009)

Les Paul (1915 – 2009)

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yuLChdljNE]

RIP Les Paul, 94, American guitarist and inventor. In 1954, Les Paul commissions Ampex to build the first eight track tape recorder, at his own expense.

“Country Living” recording above related to Les Paul via an “Ampex + Jahsonic” Google search.

Jahsonic is interested in the “recording studio as a musical instrument.”

“Disco Sucks” @30

On this day 30 years ago in 1979, Disco Demolition Night heralded the last days of disco.

Disco started in small nightclubs in American urban centers in the early seventies with imported records such as “Soul Makossa.” During the 1970s disco steadily increased in popularity reaching a high point with Saturday Night Fever in 1977.

This was followed with a homophobic, racist backlash two years later when rock music fans started to consider disco culture — with its perceived drug-fuelled sexual promiscuitysilly and effeminate, and objected to the idea of centering music around an electronic drum beat and synthesizers instead of live performers.

Another (more masculine) subculture, punk music, arrived on the scene.

Parodies of disco music became common. The backlash was epitomized in Chicago by the riotous Disco Demolition Night.

Nile Rodgers, guitarist for the popular disco era group Chic said “It felt to us like Nazi book-burning, This is America, the home of jazz and rock and people were now afraid even to say the word ‘disco’.”

There was never a focused backlash against disco in Europe.

Now, for the first time on this blog: local news coverage of this Dionysian moment.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpQfCcsqQ0E]