Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Aporias of the Avant-Garde


Einzelheiten by Enzensberger

While I was in Amsterdam in the winter of 2006-2007 I asked the people in a philosophy bookstore: “If Slavoj Žižek and Sloterdijk are my two favorite contemporary philosophers, who would the third be?” They came up with Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Alain Badiou.

I had remembered Badiou but had almost forgotten Enzensberger, but last weekend at the used book store De Slegte I bought a Dutch translation of Enzensberger’s Einzelheiten, and was very much taken by his analysis of the concept avant-garde in his essay The Aporias of the Avant-Garde.

Aporias, published in 1962 in Germany, is one of the first essays that preached the “death of the avant-garde” which has been celebrated since the advent of postmodernism. It features good analyses too of Lukacs petty defense of literary realism and stimulating reflections on the absurdity of some critics’ grouping of individual artists into art movements, especially in cases such as expressionist literature (no writer has ever called himself expressionist).

On a general level it provides excellent etymological and semantic analyses of the term avant-garde.

P.S. Published in the same year was another work on avant-garde practices, which I suspect is more an eulogy: The Theory of the Avant-garde by Renato Poggioli.

Honoré Daumier @ 200

Honoré Daumier would have been 200 today.

This Year, Venuses Again... Always Venuses! (1864) - Honoré Daumier
This Year, Venuses Again… Always Venuses! (1864) – Honoré Daumier

At the Theater (The Melodrama) (c. 1860-64) - Honoré Daumier
At the Theater (The Melodrama) (c. 186064) – Honoré Daumier

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (ca. 1865-70) - Honoré Daumier
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (ca. 186570) – Honoré Daumier

Honoré Daumier (February 26, 1808February 10, 1879), was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, sculptor, and one of the most gifted and prolific draftsmen of his time. He is best-known for his satirical work in Le Charivari, and underrated for his work as a painter.

RIP Teo Macero and Joe Gibbs

RIP Teo Macero [1] and Joe Gibbs

Teo Macero (October 30 1925 – February 19 2008), was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and record producer. He was a producer at Columbia Records for twenty years, and most notably produced the Miles Davis album Bitches Brew[2], one of the first albums to apply the studio as a musical instrument, featuring edits and studio effects that were an integral part of the music.

Joe Gibbs (1943 – 21 February 2008) was a Jamaican reggae producer, best-known for producing “Uptown Top Ranking”.

Uptown Top Ranking[3] (1978) is a single by Althea and Donna, produced by Joe Gibbs based on the riddim of the Alton Ellis’s song “I’m Still In Love” of 1967.

Alton Ellis‘ song “I’m Still In Love[4] is a 1967 single previously popularized by Marcia Aitken’s cover “I’m Still In Love With You Boy” and the dub track “Three Piece Suit” by Trinity. It’s still a popular riddim today.

Via Simon Reynolds [5].

A last farewell to Grillet

The French paper Le Monde reports [1] on the cremation of Alain Robbe-Grillet, who died last week. The attendance was small, about 80 people and members of the literary establishment were absent.

A text was read, a text that had been written by Robbe-Grillet for the occasion of Roland Barthes‘s death.

My translation from French:

“I love life, I do not like death. I like cats, I do not like dogs. I like little girls, especially when they are pretty, I do not care very much for little boys. (…) I dislike journalist gossip. I distrust psychiatrists. I like to irritate people. I don’t like people who annoy me.”

Via Papieren Man

Guilty pleasures #7

I’ve recently taken the decision to watch more pulp and listen to more pop. Let’s start with the pulp.


From: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005) is the sequel to the 1999 film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Rob Schneider stars as Deuce Bigalow, a male prostitute who must go to Europe to help his pimp T.J., played by Eddie Griffin, find a murderer who is killing the greatest male prostitutes of Europe. Film critic Roger Ebert includes the movie in his most hated films list.

This particular scene is about African American stereotypes . Don’t worry, plenty of European stereotypes in this American nouveau exploitation: the gross-out film. My previous male prostitute film was American Gigolo, I suppose. My latest male prostitute novel was Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet.

For pop I have an enduring classic of camp and pulp by Belgian’s own Lou Deprijck, principally known for his underground disco twelve inch “Que Tal America”. While the previous is considered the “high art” of disco, what I’m about to present you is truly guilty. Here is


“Disco Samba”

The dodgiest things about this track are that a) it is a medley; and b) it is rip-off of Jorge Ben but nevertheless succeeds in spreading a joyous vibe; c) the song originated in Belgium, a country of which American journalists have remarked in post-9/11 hysteria that they ” have trouble enough fighting bad breath, never mind a real enemy soldier.”

A wanderer on the face of the earth

Rice terrace in The Philippines

“He who has attained the freedom of reason to any extent cannot, for a long time, regard himself otherwise than as a wanderer on the face of the earth – and not even as a traveller towards a final goal, for there is no such thing. But he certainly wants to observe and keep his eyes open to whatever actually happens in the world; therefore he cannot attach his heart too firmly to anything individual; he must have in himself something wandering that takes pleasure in change and transitoriness.” –from The Wanderer, of Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human

Introducing Bxzzines

Charles Fort
Image sourced here.


Bxzzines [1], is a French-language blog by an anonymous internet user who goes by the pseudonym of Clifford Brown, indicating a link to Jess Franco (Franco worked under innumerable pseudonyms and was a big fan of jazz music, many of his pseudonyms are taken from famous jazz musicians, such as Clifford Brown and James P. Johnson).

Bxzzines is dedicated to zines and has featured posts on film directors Max Pécas, Michel Lemoine, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Jean Rollin, Jess Franco, Jean-François Davy and 1970s magazines such a Midi-Minuit Fantastique and Sex Stars System.

The illustration shown depicts a part of a promotional insert [2] for the Le Terrain Vague publishing imprint of Eric Losfeld, inserted in Midi-Minuit Fantastique n°15/16 (12/1966). The page depicted above is an advertisement for Charles Fort‘s The Book of the Damned, in its second French translation, translated by Robert Benayoun; with a forward by Tiffany Thayer.

The censored title on the same page is George de Coulteray‘s Sadism in the Movies.

Recent entries on the Bxzzines blog include: