Category Archives: life

The fascinating and revolting love lives of gastropoda

Having recently seen the documentary film Microcosmos (to be viewed in its entirety on Vimeo here[1]), I’d like to share these two pictures of snails mating.

These images are instances of zoological horror or the zoological fantastique, depending on your view.

Both horror and the fantastique are just as much rooted in fascination as in revulsion, ergo in ambiguity of emotions. And what could be more ambivalent and cause more ‘mixed feelings’ than slimy slugs and snails ‘getting it on’, an act which may involve hermaphroditism, firing love darts (a source of the Cupid myth, state some sources), apophallation (gnawing at stuck penises) and even sexual cannibalism?

Of course, the attentive reader will have noticed that in the photo of ‘Courtship in the edible snail, Helix pomatia’ the soft bodies of the snails look exactly like the labia majora of an adult female human mammal.

It needs not to be said that the whole field of animal sexuality is highly fascinating and has been represented in art not often enough. Apart from Microcosmos, there has been Green Porno and the magnificent films of Jean Painlevé (Acera, or the Witches’ Dance[2] comes to mind).

The History of Erotica, from Caveman to Marquis de Sade

In September 2009 I bade you farewell.

I’m back with a book, a history of erotica which starts in prehistory and ends for now with Henry Fuseli,  J. – J. Lequeu and Marquis de Sade.

It features some 250 images and about as many citations.

It is for the time being only available in Dutch and costs 25 euros.

The book was presented on the evening of valentine’s day, 2011.

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.

James Fox @70

James Fox @70

James Fox (born 19 May 1939) is an English actor best-known for his portrayal of Chas in Performance (1970, directed by Donald Cammell and Nicholas Roeg).

Chas (James Fox) is a “performer,” an ultra-violent enforcer for an East London gang who begins to enjoy his work a little too much, culminating in the murder of an associate. He goes on the run, both from the police and from his former colleagues and finds himself a hideout in the house of a reclusive, eccentric rock star named Turner (Mick Jagger) who lives there with his female friends. Chas and Turner are initially repelled by each other, but come to see that the worlds of the rock star and the gangster are not as different as they first appear.

His previous cult film was The Servant (1963, directed by Joseph Losey) in which Tony (James Fox), a wealthy young Londoner, hires Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) as his manservant. Nothing being what it seems, the characters manoeuvre around each other until roles reverse and Tony emerges enslaved to his butler.

Both Performance and The Servant are WMCs.

Mary Wollstonecraft @250

Mary Wollstonecraft @250

John Opie, Mary Wollstonecraft, (c. 1797) by you.

John Opie, Mary Wollstonecraft, (c. 1797)

Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Mary Wollstonecraft (17591797), English philosopher and early feminist, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and mother of Mary Shelley who would become the  author of Frankenstein.

She was one of the first writers to mention a philosophy of sex; she referred to it as a philosophy of lasciviousness.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman quoting from Rousseau‘s Emilius:

“In the union of the sexes, both pursue one common object, but not in the same manner. From their diversity in this particular, arises the first determinate difference between the moral relations of each. The one should be active and strong, the other passive and weak: it is necessary the one should have both the power and the will, and that the other should make little resistance. This principle being established, it follows that woman is expressly formed to please the man: if the obligation be reciprocal also, and the man ought to please in his turn, it is not so immediately necessary: his great merit is in his power, and he pleases merely because he is strong. This, I must confess, is not one of the refined maxims of love; it is, however, one of the laws of nature, prior to love itself. If woman be formed to please and be subjected to man it is her place, doubtless, to render herself agreeable to him, instead of challenging his passion. The violence of his desires depends on her charms; it is by means of these she should urge him to the exertion of those powers which nature hath given him. The most successful method of exciting them, is, to render such exertion necessary by their resistance; as, in that case, self-love is added to desire, and the one triumphs in the victory which the other obliged to acquire. Hence arise the various modes of attack and defence between the sexes; the boldness of one sex and the timidity of the other; and, in a word, that bashfulness and modesty with which nature hath armed the weak, in order to subdue the strong.” — Rousseau‘s Emilius.

I shall make no other comment on this ingenius passage, than just to observe, that it is the philosophy of lasciviousness. –from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) by Mary Wollstonecraft

Bernd Eichinger @60

Bernd Eichinger @60

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG6sXLQwlJU&]

Christiane F. (1982, directed by Uli Edel)

To the sound of “Heroes” by Bowie

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAyCi4cObmI]

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (2008, directed by Uli Edel)

Bernd Eichinger (born April 11, 1949 in Neuburg an der Donau) is a German film producer and director. He attended film school in the 1970s, and bought a stake in the fledgling studio company Constantin Film but continues to produce some films independently (for example The Downfall). He has only directed two movies himself. Eichinger’s latest film is about the left-wing terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF) based on the book Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (“The Baader-Meinhof Complex“) by Stefan Aust. He debuted as producer with The Wrong Move by Wim Wenders.

Some well-known films produced by Eichinger include:

Max von Sydow @80

Max von Sydow @80

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCjoNt0iCzY]

Break-up scene in Hannah and Her Sisters

Max Carl Adolf von Sydow, (born 10 April 1929 in Lund) is a Swedish actor (also French, since obtaining citizenship in 2002), known in particular for his collaboration with filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. He has acted in films as diverse as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Hour of the Wolf, The Exorcist, Illustrious Corpses, Death Watch, Hannah and Her Sisters, What Dreams May Come and Minority Report.

The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet) is an existential 1957 Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman about the journey of a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) across a plague-ridden landscape. Its best-known scene features the knight playing chess with the personification of Death, his life resting on the outcome of the game. The film has long been regarded a masterpiece of cinema.

Wild Strawberries is a 1957 film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The original Swedish title is Smultronstället, which literally means The Wild Strawberry Patch. The cast includes Bergman regulars Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin and Gunnar Björnstrand. Max von Sydow also appears in a small part. Bergman wrote the screenplay while in the hospital.

Hour of the Wolf is a Swedish film from 1968. It is Ingmar Bergman‘s only horror film. Hour of the Wolf originated from a manuscript with the working title “The Maneaters”. Bergman started working on it in the spring of 1965, during which time he suffered a minor nervous breakdown. In the end, the manuscript resulted in not one but two movies, Persona and Hour of the Wolf. Together with the former movie, Hour of the Wolf is probably one of Bergman’s most personal films, though he deals with himself in one way or another in almost all of his movies. It is filmed as if it is a true story about an artist who has disappeared. The story of the artist and his life just before his vanishing is based on interviews with his wife, and on his diaries.

The Exorcist is a 1973 American horror film, adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty, dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl, and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her daughter through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The film features Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair and Max von Sydow. Both the film and novel took inspirations from a documented exorcism in 1949, performed on a 14-year-old boy. The Film is one of a cycle of ‘demonic child‘ movies, including The Omen series and Rosemary’s Baby.

Cadaveri eccellenti

Illustrious Corpses poster designed by Enrico Baj.

Illustrious Corpses (Cadaveri eccellenti) is a 1976 thriller film directed by Francesco Rosi and starring Lino Ventura. The film was adapted from Leonardo Sciascia‘s novel Equal Danger a novel on organized crime. Its Italian poster art was designed by Enrico Baj. Cadaveri eccellenti literally means Excellent Cadavers and is also the name of a surrealist technique known in English as exquisite corpse.

Death Watch (French: La Mort en direct) is a 1980 French science fiction film directed by Bertrand Tavernier. It based on the novel The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by David G. Compton. Romy Schneider plays the dying heroine with whose death is being recorded on national television in an ongoing soap opera of morbid reality tv. Much of the filming took place in and around Glasgow.

Hannah and Her Sisters is an Academy Award-winning 1986 romantic comedy film which tells the intertwined stories of an extended family, told mostly during a year that begins and ends with a family Thanksgiving dinner. The movie was written and directed by Woody Allen and stars Mia Farrow as Hannah, with Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest as her sisters. The film is Allen’s biggest box office hit thus far, without adjusting for inflation, with a North American gross of $41 million. Adjusted for inflation it falls behind Annie Hall and Manhattan, and possibly also one or two of his early comedies.

What Dreams May Come is a 1998 dramatic film, starring Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Annabella Sciorra. The movie is based on the 1978 novel by Richard Matheson, and was directed by Vincent Ward. The title is taken from a line in Hamlet‘s To be, or not to be soliloquy.

Hugh Masekela @70

Hugh Masekela @70

Hugh Masekela (April 4, 1939) is a South African musician known for such songs as “Grazing in the Grass” and the discotheque hit “Don’t Go Lose It Baby“. He was married to Miriam Makeba[1].

 

Hugh Masekela, I Am Not AfraidColonial Man by MasekelaAmericanization of Ooga BoogaTechno BushIntroducing Hedzoleh Soundz

He was one of several African musicians to introduce African music in the west in the 1960s which has been a major factor in the shaping Western popular music.

Always a musical chameleon, Masekela has been classified as Afrobeat, jazz fusion, jazz funk, soul jazz; he even produced an album with drum machines, appropriately titled Techno Bush.

Erotic memoirs fake and true

I’m experiencing a sudden outburst of graphomania.

Though I meant to review the wonderful Feuchtgebiete[1] after I’d read Catherine Millet and Toni Bentley, I decided to publish this piece on erotic memoirs now after finding the (fake) erotic memoirs of Anne-Marie Villefranche. Reading Millet and Bentley will have to wait.

Joie D'amour (1983)  by Villefranche in the erotic memoir series by you.

Joie d’amour by Anne-Marie Villefranche

From my wiki on erotic memoirs:

Erotic memoirs include those of Casanova‘s Histoire de ma vie from the eighteenth century, ‘Walter’s My Secret Life from the nineteenth, Frank Harris‘s My Life and Loves (1922-27) from the twentieth and Catherine Millet‘s The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (2001), One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed (2003) by Melissa Panarello, Toni Bentley‘s The Surrender : An Erotic Memoir (2004) and Feuchtgebiete (2008) by Charlotte Roche from the twenty-first.

Notice the preponderance of female writers and protagonist (a tradition since the whore dialogues). For a male point of view, check the work of Henry Miller. And ooops … I almost forgot Anaïs Nin.

I continue form my wiki with erotic memoirs of the 19th century.

Sensational journalism such as W.T. Stead‘s The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon (1885) about the procuring of underage girls into the brothels of Victorian London has also provided a stimulus for the erotic imagination. Stead’s account was widely translated and the revelation of “padded rooms for the purpose of stifling the cries of the tortured victims of lust and brutality” and the symbolic figure of “The Minotaur of London” confirmed European observers worst imaginings about “Le vice anglais” and inspired erotic writers to write of similar scenes set in London or involving sadistic English gentlemen. Such writers include D’Annunzio in Il Piacere, Paul-Jean Toulet in Monsieur de Paur (1898), Octave Mirbeau in Jardin des Supplices (1899) and Jean Lorrain in Monsieur de Phocas (1901).

Update:

Here is a mini-review I wrote on February 17th of Feuchtgebiete:

I have started reading Feuchtgebiete. A very dry, cold and realistic style, almost devoid of poetics. The first page mentions an anal orgasm. There is a memorable scene where the protagonist and her friend take a great deal of drugs from a dealer-friend’s stash, later puke because it was too much, find that many of the pills had not been digested and drink their vomit all up again.