Monthly Archives: December 2007

World cinema classics #30


Lina: I love you!

Le Far West is a 1973 film directed by Jacques Brel. The film was co-written by Paul Andréota and Brel. It has the dubious honor of a 4.0/10 rating on IMDb. As with so many films, it was my father who pointed it out to me when it was shown on television in my early teens. If I remember the plot correctly, a band of drop-outs decides to create a new “far west” in a abandoned mine. Very funny.

Previous “World Cinema Classics” and in the Wiki format here.

Icons of erotic art #10

As we have learnt from the first nine issues in this series, in the nebulous realm of erotic art, uneroticism runs rampant. Not with the photos I am about to present. NSFW, previously unpublished online, here is Unica Zürn photographed by Hans Bellmer [1].

Previous entries in Icons of Erotic Art here, and in a Wiki format here.

Spinoza and bondage (“He swore he’d never touch her again”)

Of Human Bondage He Swore

“He swore he’d never touch her again and then she whispered his name and he was lost” -film tagline

Of Human Bondage 1964

“When a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune: so much so, that he is often compelled, while seeing that which is better for him, to follow that which is worse. ” —Ethics of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions, Spinoza

I believe my first exposure to radical Dutch enlightenment philosopher Spinoza was via Gilles Deleuze or via the “perishable monuments” of Thomas Hirschhorn which I discovered in Germany at documenta in 2002.

Via Guy de Maupassant and William Somerset Maugham‘s Of Human Bondage I discovered this bit on human bondage.

In the 1660s, the Dutch philosopher Spinoza writes, in his Ethics of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions (a part of his Ethics), that the term “bondage” relates to the human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions.

Icons of erotic art #9

Princess X, used here on the cover of Peter Webb’s The Erotic Arts (1975).

Constantin Brâncuşi‘s Princess X (1916) [1] is a representation of a phallus, although the artist – similar to a ploy used by Magritte in The Treachery Of Images when he said: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” – himself always contended that it depicted the “eternal feminine”. Brancusi’s contribution to the Paris Salon des Indépendants of 1920, it provoked a quite a furor and had to be withdrawn following the intervention of the police.

Please excuse the uneroticism of this work, it seems the realm of “erotic art” is littered with unerotics. To make it up to you, let me give you some new Yoshifumi Hayashi from the excellent blog Banana Hole (this NSFW post is ambiguously amusing/disturbing), and a previously published one of the same artist by the ever reliable @mateurdart.

Lastly, some eye candy by Hajime Sawatari here from this series by this blog.

Erotic (un)possibilities in an Antioch world

Over the past few days I’ve been mulling over Siri Hustvedt title essay A Plea for Eros which is a rumination on the effability and ineffability of sex in connection with the Antioch Ruling. Since January 1, 2006, the Antioch College in Ohio, United States, requires students to gain consent at each stage of a sexual encounter.

Hustvedt’s essay on the unreliability and ambiguity of language in relation to sexual ethics reminded me of Georges Bataille when he said that “sex begins where speech [or words] ends”, a statement I tend to agree with.


Emotionally charged scene in A History of Violence (French version)

Which brings me to Cronenberg penultimate film A History of Violence, the Straw Dogs of the 2000s. It is the story of Tom Stall, his wife Edie and their two children. Tom is a good-hearted impostor with organized crime roots. After his family finds out his true identity they initially reject him. He is finally accepted in a superb silent scene which is a celebration of the nuclear family; but not until after an emotionally charged fight between Tom and Edie followed by rough sex on the stairs. Notice the absence of adherence to the Antioch Ruling.

However, as Hustvedt points out at the beginning of her essay, an Antioch world can be full of erotic possibilities.

Imagine asking a female love interest “May I touch your left breast?”; patiently and eagerly waiting for the answer.

Dutch director Warmerdam’s cult film Little Tony predates Hustdvedt’s sentiments by 8 years. In this tragicomedy the erotic possibilities of explicitness in sexual encounters is illustrated by a key scene in which Brand, the protagonist illiterate farmer asks Lena, the school teacher who has been hired by Brand’s wife, “May I see your left breast?“. After a putative “Why?” by Lena, Brand answers: “So I can remain curious about the right one.”

History of Violence flotsam: Steven Shaviro gives a roundup of cinerati such as k-punk, girish twice, Chuck, Jodi — followed by k-punk’s reply and Jodi’s counter-replyJonathan Rosenbaum and his own view here.

World cinema classics #29


Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) – Michael Winterbottom

I’m not in to war films per se. But Welcome to Sarajevo (especially the first half before they leave Sarajevo) is a clever commentary on the mediatization of war. Watch out for a stellar performance by Woody Harrelson.

In one hour death undoes all.
What price beauty, what price riches?
What price honours, what price nobility?
Helinand of Froidmont‘s (“Verses of Death“) (1194 -1197)

Previous “World Cinema Classics” and in the Wiki format here.

World music classics #17


“Je pense a toi” (19__) Amadou & Mariam

Amadou and Mariam are a musical duo from Mali, composed of the couple Mariam Doumbia (vocals) and Amadou Bagayoko (guitar and vocals). The pair, known as “the blind couple from Mali” met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind, and found they shared an interest in music. They first came to international attention at the beginning of the 2000s via radio stations such as Radio Nova from Paris.

Please also enjoy “Dimanches a Bamako (c’est le jour du mariage)”, “Sundays at Bamako, (it’s the wedding day)” below.


Previous World Music Classics.