Category Archives: French culture

RIP Paul Virilio (1932 – 2018)

Paul Virilio was a French theorist, urbanist, and aesthetic philosopher.

He is best known for his book Bunker Archeology (1975), a book I discovered one lonely night in Brussels spent with a young woman at her place. She had acquired it that same afternoon.

One of the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall was photographed by myself in 2007 [1].

I’v yet to hold a copy of this book in my hands.

A nude woman isn’t indecent

Via peeking into Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (mentioned in previous post[1]) come Diderot’s thoughts on the difference between decency and indecency, or, by extension, the difference between erotica and pornography. According to Diderot, “it is the difference between a woman who is seen and a woman who exhibits herself.”

Here are Diderot’s thoughts in full from an unidentified translation:

“A nude woman isn’t indecent. It’s the lavishly decked out woman who is. Imagine the Medici Venus is standing in front of you, and tell me if her nudity offends you. But shoe this Venus’ feet with two little embroidered slippers. Dress her in tight white stockings secured at the knee with rose-colored garters. Place a chic little hat on her head, and you’ll feel the difference between decent and indecent quite vividly. It’s the difference between a woman seen and a woman displaying herself. (translator unidentified[2], probably John Goodman)

French original:

“Une femme nue n’est point indécente. C’est une femme troussée qui l’est. Supposez devant vous la Vénus de Médicis, et dites-moi si sa nudité vous offensera. Mais chaussez les pieds de cette Vénus de deux petites mules brodées. Attachez sur son genou avec des jarretières couleur de rose un bas blanc bien tiré. Ajustez sur sa tête un bout de cornette, et vous sentirez fortement la différence du décent et de l’indécent. C’est la différence d’une femme qu’on voit et d’une femme qui se montre.”

Please do not take Diderot too seriously when it comes to eroticism, I’ve previously written on Diderot’s hypocrisy. In my view, if it isn’t indecent, it isn’t erotic. That is why I do not consider many pieces of erotic art, erotic at all since they do not provoke erotic arousal. Shame is the most powerful aphrodisiac.

RIP Thierry Jonquet (1954 – 2009)

RIP Thierry Jonquet

RIP Thierry Jonquet, sometime collaborator of Jacques Tardi, author of the nouveau polar français, author of Mygale (1984), currently being filmed by Pedro Almodóvar as Tarantula.

Thierry Jonquet’s Tarantula was blurbed as “An unholy collaboration between Sade and Sartre, with occasional comic interventions by that honorary Frenchman Jerry Lee Lewis

Tip of the hat to De Papieren Man

Floris and Blancheflour (is) (not) the missing link …

Floris and Blancheflour (is) (not) the missing link between European medieval literature and the Arabian Nights.

Many of the details, such as the Tower of Maidens (i.e. harem), eunuch guards, and the odalisques (white slavery) derive from material carried to the west via The Arabian Nights. The frame tale of The Nights (the king “re-marries” every night) is reflected in a plot element (“the king re-marries every year”) in Floris and Blancheflour.

The tale could be originally French, or possibly of Oriental origins, or a synthesis of motifs. Kathleen Coyne Kelly, in her essay “Bartering of Blauncheflur,” summarized the discussion of the sources as follows: “Scholars disagree as to whether Floris and Blauncheflur is an oriental tale that was adapted for Western audiences, or a tale whose European author simply supplied it with an oriental setting.”

Compared to other medieval romances, the story has not frequently been brought to the screen. In 1978 Fabrice Luchini and Arielle Dombasle (photo) portrayed Floris and Blancheflour in Perceval le gallois by Éric Rohmer.

Introducing Anton Solomoukha and Icon of Erotic Art #53

Via Ponyxpress comes Anton Solomoukha

via vonneumannmachine.files.wordpress.com

Anton Solomoukha (born 1945, Kiev) is an Ukrainian painter and photographer, currently living in Paris, France. He graduated from the Fine Arts School of Kiev and left the USSR in 1978. His works are mostly neoclassicist; Sigmund Freud, eroticism and psychoanalysis are recurring themes in his works.

Gustave Courbet @190 and IoEA #47 and 48

Gustave Courbet @190

The Origin of the World (1866) by Gustave Courbet

The Origin of the World (1866) by Gustave Courbet

Le Sommeil (1866) by Gustave Courbet

Le Sommeil (1866) by Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet (18191877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting, best-known today paintings The Origin of the World, The Stonebreakers and Burial at Ornans.

He was one of the firsts to criticize Academic art and denounce the use of  pretexts for depicting certain subjects when he said that:

“I have studied the art of the masters and the art of the moderns, avoiding any preconceived system and without prejudice. I have no more wanted to imitate the former than to copy the latter; nor have I thought of achieving the idle aim of ‘art for art’s sake.’ No! I have simply wanted to draw from a thorough knowledge of tradition the reasoned and free sense of my own individuality. To know in order to do: such has been my thought. To be able to translate the customs, ideas, and appearance of my time as I see them — in a word, to create a living art — this has been my aim.” Gustave Courbet, preface to World’s Fair catalogue, 1855.

The Origin of the World is  IoEA #47 and Le Sommeil IoEA #48.

“Gradiva” by Alain Robbe-Grillet out on DVD

http://mondomacabrodvd.blogspot.com/2009/06/gradiva-cover-art-stills-nsfw.html Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Still from Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

The good people at Mondo Macabro[1] are releasing Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle), the last film by French master-erotomaniac Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Monell points out in a recent post [2].

C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle (2006) is a French language film by Alain Robbe-Grillet starring: James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle and Dany Verissimo. It premiered at the 2006 Venice film festival on September 8 and in French cinemas on May 9 of 2007.

The film, Grillet’s last, is a Franco-Belgian production loosely based on Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy by Wilhelm Jensen. The setting has been updated to modern times, at least, no earlier than the 1970s, based on vehicles and appliances seen in the film. It begins with an English art historian named John Locke is doing research in Morocco on the paintings and drawings that French artist Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) produced when he spent time in that country (back then, a French colony) more than a century before. Locke spots a beautiful, mysterious blonde girl (Gradiva, of course) in flowing robes dashing through the back alleys of Marrakech, and becomes consumed with the need to track her down. Like most of Robbe-Grillet’s cinematic output, this film is highly surrealistic and also involves a surprisingly explicit amount of “sex slave” nudity and S&M, although it is a serious film and not just softcore fluff.

Some of the film’s prehistory.

via gutenberg.spiegel.de Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy

A Pompeiian Fancy is a novel by Wilhelm Jensen published by in German as Ein pompejanisches Phantasiestuck (Dresden and Leipzig: Carl Reissner) in 1903.

The story is about an archaeologist named Norbert Hanhold who holds a fascination for a woman depicted in a relief that he sees in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Hanhold later dreams that he has been transported back in time to meet the girl, whose unusual gait captivates him as he imagines her walking on the stepping stones that cross the roads in Pompeii while the hot ashes subsume the city in 79 AD.

via www.greeninteger.com

Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva (1907) is an essay by Sigmund Freud that analyzes the novel Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen from a psychoanalytical point of view.

After that, Gravida became a favourite of the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí used the name Gradiva as a nickname for his wife, Gala Dalí. He used the figure of Gradiva in a number of his paintings, including Gradiva encuentra las ruinas de Antropomorphos (Gradiva finds the ruins of Antropomorphos)[3]. The figure Gradiva was used in other Surrealist paintings as well. Gradiva (Metamorphosis of Gradiva)[4], 1939, by André Masson explores the sexual iconography of the character.

In 1937 the Surrealist wirter Andre Breton opened an art gallery on the Left Bank, 31 rue de Seine, christening it with the title: Gradiva. Marcel Duchamp designed it, giving its door the form of a double cast shadow.

via upload.wikimedia.org Gradiva

Never mind the bollocks, here’s Rabelais

Never mind the bollocks, here’s Rabelais

Friar John and  Panurge give the Blason and contreblason du couillon  by  Rabelais

As I noted in a previous post[1] on satirical pornography or pornographic satire, Rabelais‘s masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel is more emetic than erotic.

There is however a strain of eroticism to be found in Rabelais, a strain of the bawdy, ribald and burlesque variety, which dates back at its earliest to the Ancient Greek Milesian tale.

The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced ApuleiusThe Golden Ass, PetroniusSatyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.

Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit[2] (1535) by Clément Marot.

Rabelais‘s blason and contreblason du couillon (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock(s)) respectively sing the praise and disparagement of the male testicles. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.

These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and content-wise liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.

The c. is short for couillons (bollocks).

Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives):

Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
Manual C. Partitional C.
Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
full blason here

Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):

Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
full counterblason here

As I noted in a previous post[1] on satirical pornography or pornographic satire, Rabelais‘s masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel is more emetic than erotic.

There is however a strain of eroticism to be found in Rabelais, a strain of the bawdy, ribald and burlesque variety, which dates back at its earliest to the Ancient Greek Milesian tale.

The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced ApuleiusThe Golden Ass, PetroniusSatyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.

Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit[2] (1535) by Clément Marot.

Rabelais‘s Blason and contreblason du couillons (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock) are two blasons which are featured in the Third Book of Gargantua and Pantagruel. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.

These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and essential liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.

Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives)::

Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
Manual C. Partitional C.
Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
full blason here

Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):

Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
full counterblason here

Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis

Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis

Sourced via pierrepainblanc

I’ve just spent a good deal of hours researching Comte de Gabalis, a quest prompted by a new release on Creation BooksCreation Oneiros imprint and the reference I found there to occult fiction. Wikipedia has no entry on occult fiction but Googling them did bring up Gabalis.

I am not that a big a fan of occultism except when I find it represented in fiction, such as supernatural horror or le fantastique.

A recap of what I found:

The Comte De Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars, first published anonymously in 1670. The book is dedicated to Rosicrucianis and Cabalism and based on Paracelsus‘s four elementals: Gnomes, earth elementals; Undines; water elementals, Sylphs, air elementals and Salamanders, fire elementals. It is composed of five discourses given by a Count or spiritual master to the student or aspirant. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology by the Gale Group notes that the work may be a satire of the writings of la Calprenède, a popular French writer of the 17th century.

David Teniers the Younger. The Alchemist. Oil on canvas. 44 x 58.5 cm. Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence, Italy.  Comte de Gabalis The Comte De Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars. The book is dedicated to Rosicrucianis and Cabalism and based on Paracelsus’s four elementals: Gnomes, earth elementals; Undines; water elementals, Sylphs, air elementals and Salamanders, fire elementals. It is composed of five discourses given by a Count or spiritual master to the student or aspirant.  It was anonymously published in 1670 under the title: “Comte De Gabalis.”  The meaning suggests the Count of the Cabala as the text is cabalistic in nature.  The “Holy Cabala” is mentioned explicitly throughout. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology by the Gale Group notes that  the work may be a satire of the writings of la Calprenède, a popular French writer of the 17th century.

David Teniers the Younger. The Alchemist

It was also very pleasant to find and wikify elements in fiction:

Shakespeare‘s plays abound in elemental beings including Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ariel in The Tempest. Alexander Pope was influenced by the Comte de Gabalis in his Rosicrucian poem “Rape of the Lock.” Sylphs have been the favorites of the bards. The “Mahābhārata” is full of stories about beings of the elements and their heroic offspring with their human partners. Similar themes and references are found in Homer‘s The Iliad and The Odyssey in which the elemental beings appear as gods and goddesses such as the mighty Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Achilles, son of a mortal man and the goddess Nymph Thetis (see The Iliad by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1990). German writer Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué wrote about a beautiful water-nymph, “Undine,” and Sir Walter Scott endowed the White Lady of Avenel with many of the attributes of the nymphs. Other works or characters influenced include Lord Lytton‘s Zanoni, James Barrie‘s Tinker Bell; and the bowlers Rip Van Winkle encountered in the Catskill Mountains. The story of Melusina is based on the historical marriage of a gentleman and a water nymph. Charles Mackay, father of Marie Corelli, wrote “Salamandrine,” a poem about a great love between a human and a female salamander. Cabalism, in general, influenced many Mediaeval poems as well as the writings of Dante.

The most interesting aspect of The Comte De Gabalis is the sexual union of gods and mortals. I like half creatures and I like the sexual part of it. It was the work of the minor British publisher of  anthropologica Robert H. Fryar who most clearly brought this link to my attention by reprinting in the late 19th century the Comte de Gabalis with its tale of the immortalization of elementals through sexual intercourse with men and supplementing the work with long citations from the recently discovered Demoniality Or Incubi and Succubi[1], an eighteenth-century work by Father Sinistrari on the dangers of incubi and succubi.