Monthly Archives: June 2007

New Babylon (1929) and the Paris Commune

New Babylon (1929)

Image sourced here

Novyy Vavilon (Eng:New Babylon) (1929), is a film directed Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg. A black and white silent film (120 minutes in its original version and 93 minutes in its 2004 restored version). The propaganda film in the expressionist tradition of the early 20th century deals with the Paris Commune of 1870 and is largely set in a fantastic department store. We follow the encounter and tragic destiny of two lovers separated by the barricades of the Paris Commune. Some interesting IMDb user comments here[2]. Footage from the film was used in Guy Debord‘s The Society of the Spectacle.

New Babylon is also a concept by Dutch philosopher-artist Constant Nieuwenhuys.

Fuses by Carolee Schneemann


Fuses (1967) by Carolee Schneemann

Carolee Schneemann (b. 1939) is an American performance artist, known for her discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. She received a B.A. from Bard College and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. A member of the Fluxus group, her work is primarily characterized by research into visual traditions, taboos, and the body of the individual in relationship to social bodies. Her most famous works include Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions (1963), Meat Joy (1964), Fuses (1967), and Interior Scroll (1975)

She has published widely, producing works such as Cezanne, She Was a Great Painter (1976) [2] and More than Meat Joy: Performance Works and Selected Writings (1997) [3].

Carolee Schneemann Google gallery



It’s been ages since I regularly listened to this Nick Cave classic. Cave’s more interesting songs are the biblical ones. I clearly remember the moment when I first heard about his novel “The Ass Saw the Angel.”

Nick Cave wrote the song The Mercy Seat for his 1988 Tender Prey album; his ‘signature tune’, it has been performed at nearly every concert since 1988. The song tells the story of a condemned man facing death on the electric chair seeking redemption in the afterlife. This song was later covered by Johnny Cash on his album, American III: Solitary Man.

Icons of counterculture

The Death of Socrates (1787) by Jacques-Louis David

I’ve started reading The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton and the book starts out with Socrates and his trial:

The trial and execution of Socrates was the climax of his career and the central event of the dialogues of Plato. According to Plato, both were unnecessary. Socrates admits in court that he could have avoided the trial by abandoning philosophy and going home to mind his own business. After his conviction, he could have avoided the death penalty by escaping with the help of his friends.

But he didn’t avoid the trial or flee. This makes him an icon of countercultural history.