Category Archives: philosophy

Kings and philosophers shit – and so do ladies

Kings and philosophers shit – and so do ladies(Montaigne (1533-1592) in his Essays)

Der kleine Narr illustrates the first draft of the translation of my “Satirical pornography and pornographic satire, the caveman is agitated” chapter in The History of Erotica.

Mind the turd.

“One can look at seeing but one can’t hear hearing” –Duchamp

I want to read Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener.

”Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener” (2010) by David Toop
[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Back in 2007, I attended[1] a lecture by David Toop. The title was Ways of Hearing.

In 2010, this lecture crystallized as the book Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener.

On the cover is a detail of «Soplones», nº 48 of Goya series Los Caprichos.

It is a book about listening, the way sound is portrayed in painting and other “silent arts”, about arts that involve sound, about the resonance of architecture, about auditory artefacts and about self-reflexivity.

Michaelangelo Matos called it “an exploration of sound in novels, poems, and paintings from before the era of sound reproduction.”

Threaded through the book is Marcel Duchamp’s observation “One can look at seeing but one can’t hear hearing” and his concept of the infrathin, those human experiences so fugitive that they exist only in the imaginative absences of perception.

David Toop is always interesting, he introduced me to the eavesdropper paintings by 17th century Dutch painter Nicolaes Maes and the concept of silence in painting.

A certain Guilherme Werneck has made a pinterest board consisting of a “visual guide” to Sinister Resonance.

Toop’s magnum opus is Ocean of Sound.

See also my current research on medium specificity.

Poetry is like painting, cooking, and cosmetics

Title page[1] from the Carlos Schwabe illustrations for Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal.

I have no clue what plant it is (a flesh-eating plant perhaps?), nor if it is real or imaginary, but I’m pretty sure it fits in the horticultural horror category.

Additionally, as far as I know, this illustration is the only literal interpretation of the flowers of evil.

One thing inevitably leads to another:

On opening my copy of The Romantic Agony for the nth time brought up this passage:

“That poetry is like the arts of painting, cooking, and cosmetics in its ability to express every sensation of sweetness or bitterness, of beatitude or horror, by coupling a certain noun with a certain adjective, in analogy or contrast” writes Baudelaire in an unpublished preface to a 2nd preface of The Flowers of Evil (translation by Marthiel and Jackson Mathews).

Beautiful isn’t it, this trying to connect poetry to cuisine and cosmetics via adjectives and nouns in logical combinations, evoking diverse sentiments?

See also: literature and olfaction, synesthesia and literature, paragone and ekphrasis.

Once more, one thing leads to another

Encore” is a musical composition by Nicolas Jaar.

As usual, one thing leads to another.

This particular Youtube upload (above) features the photo “Dancers Wearing Gas Masks In England On February 1940“.

The photo stems from the Edward George Warris Hulton collection and features girls wearing gas masks and dancing a can-can-like dance.

The sample at the beginning of the song:

“from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing”

is from an audio recording of “The Creative Act,” a speech by ‘mere artist” Marcel Duchamp given in 1957.

In view of its non-elitist (although it can also be read as a defence of Duchamp’s own greatness) point of view (considering bad art also as art); its emphasis on reception and audience participation; its view as the artist as a mere medium, I pronounce “The Creative Act” to be a nobrow manifesto of sorts.

“Encore” by my poulain Nicolas Jaar is World Music Classic #699.

Let no man unwilling to engage in love affairs with other visitors enter my doors

I finally hold a copy of Sferen in my hands, a Dutch translation of Spheres I and II, with a detail of two lovers in a bubble from the The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch on the cover.

The detail is “showing nudes cavorting within a transparent sphere. …The figures’s arms are entwined, while the female’s head bends towards the male’s attentive mouth.”(Belting)

Sloterdijk first caught my attention when stumbling on his arse comments.

“The arse seems to be condemned to live in the dark. Among the different parts of our body, it leads the life of a tramp. It truly is the idiot of the family. Yet it would be a miracle if this black sheep of the body did not have a ready opinion of the events taking place in higher regions, just like those who have been rejected by society often express the most sober views of it.” — Critique of Cynical Reason by Peter Sloterdijk

This book had me laughing on the second page when Sloterdijk adds an imaginary plate to hang above the entrance to Plato‘s academy (the original one is “let no one destitute of geometry enter my doors.”), titled “let no man unwilling to engage in love affairs with other visitors enter my doors,” thereby filling the world with an embodied philosophy, one which does not deny Eros.

What does it mean to be a revolutionary today? by Slavoj Zizek’s @ Marxism 2009

Via Belgian blogger Martin Pulaski comes What does it mean to be a revolutionary today?, Slavoj Zizek‘s response[1] to Alex Callinicos at Marxism 2009.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GD69Cc20rw]

At exactly 21:55 comes a hilarious joke on the self-inflatibility of futile resistance.

In the good old days — now comes the dirty conclusion, I’ve warned you, it’s really dirty — in the good old days of really existing socialism a joke was popular among dissidents. A joke used to illustrate the futility of their progresses. In 15th century Russia, occupied by Mongols, that’s the joke, a farmer and his wife walked along a dusty country road, a mongol warrior on a horse stops at their side and tells the farmer that he will now rape his wife. He then adds, but since their is a lot of dust on the ground, you should hold my testicles, while I am raping your wife so that they do not get dusty — dirty. After the Mongol finishes his job and rides away, the farmer starts to laugh and jump with joy. The surprised wife asks him: “How can you be jumping with joy when I just brutally raped?” The farmer answers: “But I got him! His balls were full of dust.”

This sad joke tells of the predicament of dissidents. They thought they were dealing serious blows to the party nomenclatura. But all they were doing was getting a little bit of dust on the nomenclatura’s testicles.

What is so brilliant in this piece of “toilet philosophy[2] (I am more inclined while writing these words of nobrow philosophy, of which Zizek and Sloterdijk are the greatest contemporary examples in this category) is that Zizek returns to this joke for closing his arguments. In the same vein in the same speech he has the embodied metaphor of “cutting of the balls of capitalism” and how to proceed for capitalism’s castration. Brilliant.

Other outstanding episodes include Victor Kravchenko I Chose Freedom/I Chose Justice case.

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.

Hitler @120

Adolf Hitler @120

Heartfield vs. Hitler

John Heartfield Hitler Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk, 1932. [1]

Adolf Hitler (18891945) remains a powerful and dark figure even 64 years after his death. His legacy as a personification of evil in the 20th century is rivalled only by Joseph Stalin‘s. Both were possessed by the Devil, Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, asserted in 2006.

Which brings me to the problem of evil.

Epicurus is generally credited with first expounding the problem of evil, and it is sometimes called “the Epicurean paradox” or “the riddle of Epicurus.”

“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?” — Epicurus, as quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief

But shocking as it may sound, both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin believed that they were actually bettering the world by their actions; the evil of Hitler and Stalin had — in their own eyes — a purpose.

Some feel that true evil lacks this purpose and only enjoys causing destruction and chaos as a form of ultraviolence without motive. As such, figures like serial killers, spree killers and psychopaths are the personificaton of evil.

It is their kind of gratuitous violence we fear most, because it is unmotivated, a caprice.

“Stranger-killing, the killing which has no motive, is something which we associate to “pure evil“, and that we fear more than anything else in the world. There are several excellent examples of this morbid fascination, especially in the world of cinema: some of the most “relevant” contemporary blockbusters deal with the theme of serial killing (Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal” and “The Silence of the Lambs“, David Fincher’s “Seven“, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho“, Mary Harron’s “American Psycho“).” — Albert Hofer[2] via [3]

While we like to think –not without reason, the first spree killer is a postwar development — that this kind of senseless violence is a late 20th century phenomenon, proof exists that gratuitous acts of violence already existed as far back as the early 19th century. Witness this illustration by Dutch illustrator Christiaan Andriessen:

Senseless Violence

A boy attacked in the street by a butcher’s apprentice with a cleaver, 22nd of November 1806. “What’s the matter lad? Well, that boy over there just cut me in my face with his cleaver.” — from the diary of Christiaan Andriessen:

Zizek @60

Slavoj Žižek @60

Zizek in The Birds by you.

Slavoj Zizek inserts himself into The Birds in this promotional image for The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema.

Slavoj Žižek (born 21 March 1949) is a Slovenian sociologist, contemporary philosopher, filmosopher and cultural critic.

I’ve been drawn to Žižek since the early days of the internet, perhaps making my way to him via Gilles Deleuze, my first philosophy/internet love. My interest peaked in 2006 when he released The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema in which he celebrated his brand of psychoanalytical film theory based on horror films and psychological thrillers. Last summer I spent about 3 continuous hours “getting” Žižek only to find out that Žižek’s entire work is the endeavour to use Lacan as a tool to reactualize German idealism using the Lacanian concepts of the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real (see Zizek and the German idealists).

If I had my way, I would organize the David Bordwell vs Slavoj Žižek Celebrity Deathmatch.