Illustration: Contes Macabres (1966)
Tom Wolfe was an American author and journalist widely known for his association with New Journalism, a style of news writing and journalism developed in the 1960s and 1970s that incorporated literary techniques.
He wrote The Painted Word (1975) and From Bauhaus to Our House (1981), both critical of high modernism and avant-gardism to the extent that they have been connected to the death of the avant-garde meme.
Adam Parfrey was an American writer, editor, and publisher whose work centered on unusual, extreme, or “forbidden” areas of knowledge. He is perhaps best known for Rants and Incendiary Tracts (1989), which he co-edited with Bob Black.
Thanks to the death of Adam, I watched The Hate That Hate Produced (1955, above)
By the way, can anyone illuminate me on the cover photo of Rants?
It drew — among many other things — my attention to the satirical vignette against Bertrand Chaupy (above), an engraving better known as the “turd engraving by Piranesi.”
Regarding the obfuscation in this book, Robert Harbison says in The Built, the Unbuilt, and the Unbuildable (1993):
“Recently the idea has infiltrated academic consciousness that the eighteenth-century crank Lequeu, one of the world’s fringiest paper architects, is really Marcel Duchamp inserting himself Trojan-horse-like into the musty tomes of the Bibliotheque Nationale, whiling away countless hours creating a large hollow space in which a few hundred pseudo-eighteenth-century beings can roost.”
See on elucidation and obfuscation the dictum by Cioran: between the demand to be clear, and the temptation to be obscure, impossible to decide which deserves more respect.
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.
André S. Labarthe was a French actor, film producer and director.
He starred alongside Anna Karina in the 1962 film Vivre sa vie and was a celebrated television documentary maker.
He directed the documentary Georges Bataille – À perte de vue (1997) and David Cronenberg: I Have to Make the Word Be Flesh (1999).
As you may have heard, I have resumed my work as pornosopher and I am currently writing my master’s thesis which investigates whether porn can be art. In my research I get lost very often (which kind of seems to be the purpose).
However, it is time for me to stop getting lost, because I have another paper to finish on political myth, a paper which I have tentatively titled “Mythe, meute, Europa,” which translates as “Myth, mob, Europe.”
Before I start that work, one of my most satisfying finds of the latest obsessive quest: Annie Besant’s sublime pamphlet: “Is the Bible Indictable?” (illustration).
Besant asks (in 1877, mind you!):
“Does the Bible come within the ruling of the Lord Chief Justice as to obscene literature? Most decidedly it does, and if prosecuted as an obscene book, it must necessarily be condemned, if the law is justly administered.”
He was 107.
The photo: When I just started buying books, somewhere in the late 1990s, I saw this at Vulcanus, a book store in the Volkstraat 3 run by a lady named Yvette. I didn’t buy the book. I see they have it at my university. Maybe I’ll lend it one day.
While I’m researching my master thesis on the possibility of pornographic art I stumble across new information all the time.
But the best was this: as I was writing a possible rationale for why pornograpy had become salonfähig in the 1960s and 1970s and I wanted to write about nobrow and Sontag and Fiedler I did some extra research on Cross the Border — Close the Gap and found the whole transcript of the 1969 Playboy article including the page scans and including the illustration by Karl Wirsum (above).
Examining the bibliography of Art and Its Objects for my thesis Can Porn Be Art?, I came across Alain‘s System of the Fine Arts which in turn led me anew to the “killing of the hypothetical Mandarin“, a subject I had contemplated in some detail for the first time in 2013. I spent about six hours on the subject over the afternoon, time I did not spend on my thesis.
A new element in this afternoon reading and studying binge was “Killing a Chinese Mandarin“, an essay by Carlo Ginzburg (the current heir to Umberto Eco?) first published in 1994 and essential to the parable, referencing Aristotle’s Rhetoric, “Conversation of a Father with his Children” and “Letter on the Blind” (Diderot), Charles de Pougens, Modeste Mignon (Balzac), Ordinary Men (Christopher Browning) and David Hume.
As far as I’m concerned Alain made the definitive statement about the “hypothetical Mandarin” when he said ” proving that we are all victims of collective guilt, a point particularly poignant in the current migrant crisis.
Having lost a lot of time (time I should’ve spent on my thesis), I decided to write this snippet reporting my vagrancies. As I was thinking of a picture that could illustrate it, I suddenly thought of Death by a Thousand Cuts. Are we not guilty — with every Chinese product we buy — of the violations of human rights in China perpetrated on a daily basis? But then I couldn’t. The image is just too cruel.
Instead, I give you a cover of Alain on Happiness [above], from whence came Alain’s dictum on the mandarin, not referenced by Ginzburg in his sublime essay on emotional and social distance.