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).
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.
Nuit dété (Summer Night) [above] is one of them. Sickert’s erotica is exemplary of the cult of ugliness. Nevertheless, I like his nudes better than Lucian Freud’s, which belong to the same ‘cult of ugliness’ category. Of note is also that Sickert wrote of eroticism in the visual arts in writings such as “The Naked and the Nude“.
I say “writings“, but I’m not sure he did more writing on the nude than this one.
I finally read the original page on which the problem of the tautological genre-trap is first elaborated [above].
The page is from Andrew Tudor’s 1974 Theories of Film, the chapter’s title is “Critical Method: Auteur and Genre”, the page 135.
The text reads:
“To take a genre such as a ‘Western’, analyse it, and list its principal characteristics, is to beg the question that we must first isolate the body of films which are ‘Westerns’. But they can only be isolated on the basis of the ‘principal characteristics’ which can only be discovered from the films themselves after they have been isolated. That is, we are caught in a circle that first requires that the films be isolated, for which purposes a criterion is necessary, but the criterion is, in turn, meant to emerge from the empirically established common characteristics of the films.”
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.”
Besides that pornosophy is my area of expertise, the book looks rather more clever than many porn studies that have recently flooded the American market and finding smart sentences such as the following has whetted my appetite:
“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?