Monthly Archives: February 2008

Introducing Chris Morris

The list of sensibilities published in my recent post on Grillet prompted a regular reader to alert me to the work of Chris Morris.

Sex for Houses

Chris Morris (born 1965) started his career on radio, the clip above is from his television work, which – so it is said – is a little less powerful than his radiophonic work, but works better on the blog format.

The clip is very disturbing and funny, it appropriates the tropes of reality TV shows.

I’ve long stopped watching television on a regular basis, but I have known periods of serious telephilia. The BBC has always been a haven to the telephile.

Recent British television I did enjoy (on Youtube) have included:

Eyecandy #7: Arboretal arabesques

Winter (1573) by Arcimboldo Suddenly each saw the other putting forth leaves. Their skin started to turn into tree bark. They embraced each other and cried,

Suddenly Baucis and Philemon each saw the other putting forth leaves. Their skin started to turn into tree bark. They embraced each other and cried, “Farewell!” Baucis was turned into a linden tree and Philemon into an oak, two different but beautiful trees intertwined with one another.

Indeed Rafaela, thanks.

Part of the same trope is:

Apollo and Daphne

Apollo and Daphne, Apollo and Daphne by Antonio Pollaiuolo, one tale of transformation in the Metamorphoses—he lusts after her and she escapes him by turning into a bay laurel.

Previously on Eye Candy.

Cult fiction #3

The Nuba and Riefenstahl

From Leni Riefensthal’s book

[FR] [DE] [UK]

I have a habit of running into ontological problems, so my third entry in the “cult fiction” series [1] is appropriately not really fiction. It’s documentary photography, a problematic genre that is neither fact nor fiction. The Last of the Nuba belongs to the realm of documentary, faction, pseudo-documentary and pamphlet.

Leni Riefenstahl, better known for directing Triumph of the Will and Olympia, published a collection of her photographs of the people titled The Last of the Nuba in 1974. The book was extensively reviewed in Fascinating Fascism by Susan Sontag.

Fascinating Fascism is quite an essay. It was first published in 1975 and republished in Under the Sign of Saturn, in 1980. The essay considers the link between fascist aesthetics to sadomasochism.

[…] Between sadomasochism and fascism there is a natural link. “Fascism is theater,” as Genet said. As is sadomasochistic sexuality: to be involved in sadomasochism is to take part in a sexual theater, a staging of sexuality. Regulars of sadomasochistic sex are expert costumers and choreographers as well as performers, in a drama that is all the more exciting because it is forbidden to ordinary people. Sadomasochism is to sex what war is to civil life: the magnificent experience. (Riefenstahl put it: “What is purely realistic, slice of life, what is average, quotidian, doesn’t interest me.” As the social contract seems tame in comparison with war, so fucking and sucking come to seem merely nice, and therefore unexciting. The end to which all sexual experience tends, as Bataille insisted in a lifetime of writing, is defilement, blasphemy. To be “nice,” as to be civilized, means being alienated from this savage experience—which is entirely staged.

I started reading the essay last evening, and haven’t finished yet, but time and time again, Susan Sontag strikes me as one of the most insightful cultural critics of the 20th century, way up there with Walter Benjamin.

The essay is of an era that also saw Salò by Pasolini and The Night Porter by Cavani, both aesthetic meditations on fascism and sadomasochism.

World music classics #24

Embedding disabled by request, click to play

Can You Feel It” (1986) by Larry Heard

In the beginning, there was Jack. And Jack had a groove. And from this groove came the groove of all grooves. And while one day viciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldly declared, “Let there be House!” –first lines from the lyrics

I remember listenin to this song on Grand Theft Auto! I was speeding down the highway then ended up in the ocean and the song stopped and I went crazy and jumped off my house (in the game). -Youtube comment

Previous World Music Classics.

I am not a cinephile

I would have to concur with Alain Robbe-Grillet who stated in a televised interview that he is not a cinephile. He is interested in “certain films,” that’s it.

“What are commonly called true cinephiles are mental retards (débile mentale) who love “the movies”, people who run to any theatre to submit to viewing any film. They consume with the same pleasure whatever genre of film. That is what is known as cinephilia. It’s an illness, though a less common one than it used to be [during the heydays of the Nouvelle Vague],” he concedes.

From Alain Robbe-Grillet : Je ne suis pas un cinéphile ! Youtube clip posted by beethoven000999.

In the same interview Grillet adds that he is neither a devourer of books. The way I like to interpret this soundbite is that Grillet does not follow any medium, but rather is in search of certain sensibilities. Mine include:

absurdalternativeantiavant-gardebannedbizarreclandestinecontroversialcountercultureculteccentricelitistesotericexcessiveextravaganceexoticexperimentalforbiddengratuitousgrotesquehermetichiddenhorrorillegalincongruousindependentintellectualirrationalkinkykitschlibertinemacabremodernmonstrousnon-mainstreamobscureoccultoffbeatoffensiveoriginaloutsiderperversepostmodernqueerradicalrarerevolutionaryscatologicalsensationalstrangesubculturesubversivesupernaturalsurrealtaboo transgressivetravestyuglyuncannyunconventionalundergroundunusualweirdwild

P. S.: guilty pleasure of the day: Yelle – “A Cause des Garçons” Remix Tepr Video Tecktonik, a popular track when it first came out in 1987 in Francophone Europe, here in a recent remix.

World cinema classics #40

Today’s World Cinema Classic is Glen or Glenda Youtube, sorry embedding disabled, a film on transsexuality directed by Ed Wood, Jr. and released in 1953. I only saw this a couple of years ago. Since the arrival of the VCR, the film has been marketed as one of the worst ever. I would have to disagree with that statement, it’s very enjoyable. There is a dream scene in this film (a bit similar to the one shown in the clip) which ranks way up there with “genuine” surrealist films such as Un Chien Andalou. By all means, see it.

The defining sentence is “Pull the stringk!”

Caveat emptor: There is the slightest of chances that I liked the soundtrack (I cannot identify it, does anyone have the details?) so much that it prejudiced me in a favorable way.

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

Guilty pleasures #6


Ever since buying Die Grosse Jux-Box [1] late last year, I’ve been crazy about the La la la la la singing/laughing chant on that record. Today I hear it on Radio Centraal in a version by French singer Henri Salvador (1917 – 2008) who died last Wednesday. The track is called “Juanita Banana”. The eponymous heroine Juanita Banana is a banana grower’s daughter singing “Caro Nome” from Verdi‘s Rigoletto.

Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922 – 2008)

Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922 - 2008)

Poster for Trans-Europe-Express, a film by Grillet

Via De Papieren Man and Esotika comes the sad news that Alain Robbe-Grillet has died age 85 of a heart failure.

Alain Robbe-Grillet (August 18 1922 – February 18 2008), was a French writer and filmmaker; main exponent of the nouveau roman, best-known for his screenplay for the film Last Year at Marienbad, an extended meditation on the unreliable narrator. He was married to Catherine Robbe-Grillet. His frequent use of sadomasochist imagery caused him to be compared to that other French rebel, Marquis de Sade. His last novel is Un roman sentimental. A frequent translator of Grillet’s novels was Christine Brooke-Rose. Plenty of biographical details can be found in his widow’s 2004 private journals, published by Fayard in 2004 as Jeune mariée: Journal, 1957-1962.

Le Temple aux miroirs by Ionesco and Grillet

Le temple aux miroirs (1977), with Irina Ionesco

One of the more obscure works of Grillet, Le temple aux miroirs, photography by Irina Ionesco of her daughter, augmented with philosophical texts by Grillet published by Seghers, very rare and expensive.

World cinema classics #39


Erotissimo is a 1968 FrenchItalian film directed by Gérard Pirès. Its theme is a satire on the use of sex in advertising and sexual objectification of women. I’ve mentioned this film before and posted a different trailer, but this trailer is superb, good rhythm, extremely funny (sorry French only!), nice score and stunning visuals.

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