Category Archives: irrationalism

In praise of uncertainty

Of all the works I re-examined while reading Hans Holländer‘s Hieronymus Bosch: Weltbilder und Traumwerk, the detail of The Last Judgment (Bosch triptych fragment) is the one that caught my attention most. Just look at this delightful brightly coloured critter!

Ultimately, I find it very satisfying that nothing of the work of Bosch can be said with certainty.

So: in praise of uncertainty!

Medieval erotica and Icon of Erotic Art #46

Medieval erotica

Hell detail from Giotto's Last Judgement

Hell detail from Giotto‘s Last Judgement

As Peter Webb notes in his excellent The Erotic Arts, eroticism is rare in the art of the Early Christian period and the Middle Ages. Pagan monuments were often overtly sexual, but Christian art shunned the world of physical love. Christianity was a non-sexual religion (Virgin birth of Jesus, Saint Paul advocating clerical celibacy).

Gargoyle mooning another building, Frieburg, GER, photographed by macg.stiegler on 4/9/2004, image sourced here. (via Gargoyle )

Mooning gargoyle, Frieburg, GER, photographed by macg.stiegler on 4/9/2004.

It was an era of sexual repression, but there are exceptions of course. There were elegiac comedies such as Lidia, erotic folklore such as the fabliaux, seductive enchantresses such as the Morgan le Fay, succubi and incubi, sexual church gargoyle ornamentations and Sheela na Gigs and sexual misericords.

The Christian repression of sexuality led to the depiction of erotic horrors in various frescos such as Giotto‘s Last Judgement.

See also medieval, history of erotica, Christianity and sexual morality, Sexuality in Christian demonology and De Daemonialitate et Incubis et Succubis.

The mooning gargoyle of Frieberg is Icon of Erotic Art #46.

“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.

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)[1]

via www.tate.org.uk RIP  Stanley Chapman (1925 - 2009)  Fig.3 Stanley Chapman Cover illustration for Subsidia Pataphysica, no.1, 19 December              1965enlarge

via www.tate.org.uk

Cover illustration for Subsidia Pataphysica, no.1, 19 December 1965

Stanley Chapman (19252009) was a British architect, designer, translator and writer. His interests included theatre and pataphysics. He was involved with founding the National Theatre of London, was a member of Oulipo of the year 1960, founder of the Outrapo and a member also of the French Collège de ‘Pataphysique, president the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics and the Lewis Carroll Society. His English translation of Hundred Thousand Billion Poems was received with “admiring stupefaction” by Raymond Queneau.

Introducing Mr.Fox: Darker Deeper

Introducing Mr.Fox: Darker Deeper

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYN5fB_k-uw]

Mr.Fox: Darker Deeper[1][2] is an Anglophone visual culture blog with a focus on transgressive black and white photographs founded in May 2008.

As of May 2009, its most recent entries included Deus Irae Psychedelico[3], Robert Gregory Griffeth[4] , Rik Garrett[5] , Laurie Lipton[6] , Simon Marsden[7] , Sanne Sannes[8] , Jeffrey Silverthorne[9] , Edward Donato[10]

As of May 2009, the blog was connected with Blind Pony, EDK, Fetishart, Indie Nudes, Medieval Art, Morbid Anatomy, Ofellabuta, SensOtheque, With the ghost and Woolgathersome.

Nikolai Gogol @200

Nikolai Gogol @200

Poprishchin (protagonist of the novel by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol “Diary of a Madman”.  by Ilya Yefimovich Repin by you.

Poprishchin, protagonist of Nikolai Gogol‘s “Diary of a Madman” painted by Ilya Repin

Nikolai Gogol will be 200 tomorrow morning (that’s the day after tomorrow, I skipped a day here). Like so many of us of the internet generation, we stumbled upon Gogol via Mario Bava’s Black Sunday.

He is an icon of 19th century literature, Russian literature, grotesque literature and fantastic literature.

“What an intelligent, queer, and sick creature!” —Ivan Turgenev

“I don’t know whether anyone liked Gogol exclusively as a human being. I don’t think so; it was, in fact, impossible. How can you love one whose body and spirit are recovering from self-inflicted torture?” —Sergei Aksakov

Gogol wrote in the literary tradition of E.T.A. Hoffmann (The Sandman) and Laurence Sterne (Tristram Shandy), often involving elements of the fantastic and grotesque. In addition, Gogol’s works are often outrageously funny. The mix of humor, social realism, the fantastic, and unusual prose forms are what readers love about his work.

Salute to Bacchus

Today is the feast of the Roman god Bacchus, known by the Greeks as the Greek god Dionysus. In my hometown Sint Niklaas, there used to be a bar called Bacchus. That was in the late seventies and early eighties.

I had to wait until the 1990s and the first issue of Wired Magazine to be properly introduced to Bacchus via Camille Paglia’s interview on her recently published Sexual Personae in which Paglia mentions the Nietzschean dichotomy of Apollonian and Dionysian.

Popular perceptions of Dionysus and Bacchus

Dionysus was seen as the god of everything uncivilized, of the innate wildness of humanity that the Athenians had tried to control. The Dionysia was probably a time to let out their inhibitions through highly emotional tragedies or irreverent comedies. During the pompe there was also an element of role-reversal – lower-class citizens could mock and jeer the upper classes, or women could insult their male relatives. This was known as aischrologia – αἰσχρολογία or tothasmos, a concept also found in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Bacchus is less wel documented in text, but all the better in painting (Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio). His name is connected with bacchanalia, a term in moderate usage today to indicate any drunken feast; drunken revels; as well as binges and orgies, whether literally or figuratively.

Bacchanal by Rubens

Rubens

Bacchanalia

The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women.

Bacchanalia by Auguste (Maurice François Giuslain) Léveque  The Bacchanalia were traditionally held on March 16 and March 17

The festivals occurred on three days of the year in a grove near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17. Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. According to Livy, the extension happened in an era when the leader of the Bacchus cult was Paculla Annia.

Cornelis de Vos Triumph of Bacchus

Cornelis de Vos

Paculla Annia

Paculla Annia was a priestess from the southern Italy who, according to Livy, largely changed the rules of Bacchanalias so that regarding nothing as impious or forbidden became the very sum of Bacchuscult. In the rites, men were said to have shrieked out prophecies in an altered state of consciousness with frenzied bodily convulsions. Women, dressed as Bacchantes, with hair dishevelled, would run down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunge them into the water, and take them out again. The rites gradually turned into sexual orgies, particularly among the men, and men who refused to take part were sacrificed. It is said these men were fastened to a machine and taken to hidden caves, where it was claimed they were kidnapped by the gods.

Prohibition by the Roman Senate

The festivities were reported to the Roman Senate which authorized a full investigation. In 186 BC, the Senate passed a strict law (the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus) prohibiting the Bacchanalia except under specific circumstances which required the approval of the Senate. Violators were to be executed.

Normal love

Normal love

Click for credits

My dear friend Walter gave me Cinema of Obsession[1] as a present.

Cinema of Obsession traces the history of obsessive love and erotic fixation. Seminal works of obsession, The Blue Angel, Peter Ibbetson, and Phantom of the Opera are seen as setting the groundwork for films that follow. The book defines and surveys examples of the explosive nature of amour fou, issues of male control (no matter how tenuous), and the fugitive couple – love on the run – in such films as Romeo and Juliet, Last Tango in Paris, Vertigo, Basic Instinct, and Wild at Heart. Male masochism is explored through film noirs, including Criss Cross, The Killers, Gilda, and The Postman Always Rings Twice. The book shifts gears in its finale and concentrates on the female gaze, films of female obsession: Jane Eyre, The Piano, The Lover, Fatal Attraction, and Vanilla Sky.

The introduction to the book mentions new (to me) theoretical work on love and fetishism. First there is Max Dessoir (pseudonym Ludwig Brunn) and a 1888 essay entitled “The Fetichism of Love,” from which comes this clever quote:

Normal love appears to us as a symphony of tones of all kinds. It is roused by the most varied agencies. It is, so to speak, polytheistic. Fetichism recognises only the tone-colour of a single instrument; it issues forth from a single motive; it is monotheistic.”

“Fetichism of Love” reprises the final two chapters of Alfred Binet‘s “Du Fétichisme dans l’amour” published the previous year, which is generally regarded as the first work on sexual fetishism.

The book also references Denis de Rougemont‘s L’Amour et l’Occident (1939, revised 1972), translated as Love in the Western World as well as the standard work in this category, Georges Bataille‘s Erotism.

From that last book.

eroticism differs from animal sexuality in that human sexuality is limited by taboos and the domain of eroticism is that of the transgression of these taboos.”

The phrase that inspired this post and above all the photo above is “normal love“.