Monthly Archives: September 2008

Norman Whitfield (1943 – 2008)

Norman Whitfield died yesterday.


Smiling Faces Sometimes” by The Undisputed Truth,  (Whitfield / Strong)

Now you are sad. You remember going religiously to the Passage 44 in Brussels every week to rent 10 CDs, you were determined to learn as much about music as was possible in a very short time. You discovered The Temptations at about the same time you discovered Lee Perry. Your love affair with black music was about to start.

Whitfield was and is an underrated music personality. In the words of pop historian and DJ David Haslam:

“The trad agenda set by commentators in the sixties, heavy with value judgments – glorifying the work of the Velvet Underground over Motown releases, the production skills of Brian Wilson over those of Norman Whitfield, and the social significance and songwriting talent of John Lennon rather than James Brown – persists.”


Introducing Illusory Confections

Introducing Illusory Confections

Marcel Roux

Self-portrait of Marcel Roux

A good blog watches part of the blogosphere you don’t frequently visit but ideally overlaps with your own blogroll for about 30% to 50%. This makes sure that you have common ground (the usual suspects). More than that percentage is too much overlap, you might as well be on your own blog.

The blogroll of the blog I am about to introduce, Illusory Confections[1] shares a good deal of links with my own blog, among which the recently discovered A journey round my skull, BibliOdyssey, Femme Femme Femme, Herbert Pfostl‘s Paper graveyard, Morbid Anatomy and John Coulthart‘s Feuilleton.

Its motto reads:

“We are left over from the time of Przybyszewski,
Ghosts who love Lautrec and despair”

It introduces a film of Pierre-Auguste Renoir[2] at work, photographs by Zola[3] and Mucha[4] and artwork by the underrated Marcel Roux[5], the latter “similar to Rops in content and style”.

One of its exemplary posts is titled “Wherein Mirbeau, Schlichter, and personal fashion statements collide, if somewhat disjointedly [6].

I have one minor gripe with the blog. It isn’t in the habit of crediting its visuals. So it is impossible to know whether the excellent morbid pictures in its latest posts[7] [8] [9] are by the blog’s owner or by someone else.

The “pin-up girl” of the French Surrealists

Augustine, Charcot's star patient at Salpêtrière by you.

Charcot‘s Louise Augustine, later dubbed the “pin-up girl” of the French Surrealists, attempted many escapes. The hospital’s last entry concerning Augustine, dated September 9, 1880, notes that she “escaped from the Salpetriere, disguised as a man.”  [2]

Surprisingly, Les démoniaques dans l’art – Charcot et Richer[3], a book I acquired over the summer, does not feature the photograph depicted above, nor others from this set[4].

British writer Helen Kitson has written a fictionalized account of the Charcot/Augustine history here[5].

An excerpt:

‘I have named her Augustine.’
‘Named a lunatic after a saint! Well, perhaps they are much the same. The idiot, the mystic…’
‘She is not an idiot.’
She listens at the door, biting her fingernails. She needs to know what they want from her so that she can perform when asked. She has to know how mad she’s supposed to be. Satisfied, she goes back to her room where she dreams of blood and fire. Faces hidden behind shrouds. Dead men.

Visual postscript:

illustration du livre Hystéro-épilepsie de Paul Richer 1881

“You tease, she thought, you wicked tease”

For lovers of erotic literature.

Tale of the Tub

American author Evie Byrne found the origins of an engraving with a tub[1] and wrote her own version of this Decameron tale (seventh day, second story) which was taken from Apuleius’s The Golden Ass.

When her husband comes home, Peronella hides her lover in a tub and tricks her husband in believing that the lover is a purchaser who is inspecting the tub’s soundness and cleanness. The husband then crawls under the tub and starts cleaning it, the lover takes his mistress “like a Parthian mare,” and the cuckolded husband carries the tub to the lover’s home afterwards.

Or in an early English translation:

“Peronella hideth a lover of hers in a vat, upon her husband’s unlooked for return, and hearing from the latter that he hath sold the vat, avoucheth herself to have sold it to one who is presently therewithin, to see if it be sound; whereupon the gallant, jumping out of the vat, causeth the husband scrape it out for him and after carry it home to his house ”

On from Evie’s excellent version:

You tease, she thought, you wicked tease, but she tipped her rear end up, inviting more caresses. Beneath her belly, her husband began to use the rasp, sending deep vibrations through the wood. Giannello snaked his hand beneath her skirts and she widened her stance so he could feel that she was wet and hot as the mouth of hell. Even with her husband beneath her, because no matter where they were, or what they did, she was ready to take Giannello. It was that simple.”

According to “The Daily Blague”[2] Ravel’s one-act opera L’heure espagnole was based on this tale.

Stories of cuckoldry are always highly erotic, just why is that?

Pink Floyd member dies

Rick Wright (1943 – 2008) of Pink Floyd is dead. See this clip[1] from “Us and Them” and this one from “Paintbox,”[2]; both have writing credits by Wright.

I’m not much of a Pink Floyd fan, their art rock was just too arty, or not arty enough, I can’t explain. The only intensive listening I have done is to their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which I thought was brilliant. And the band member of Floyd that elicited most of my sympathy was Syd Barrett.

Sitting on a bench in Antwerp

My copy of Of Human Bondage, sitting on a bench in Antwerp

My copy of “Of Human Bondage,” sitting on a bench in Antwerp.

I was recently very irked by a series of posts[1] over at the Anglophone blog Gatochy (known for its excellent image juxtapositions). The posts were about sexual masochism and she painted a ridiculously malinformed picture of the sexual masochist as a person suffering from a mental disorder. When I reacted by guiding her gently towards Zizek‘s Enjoy Your Symptom! she graciously acknowledged to never having heard of him. After an exchange of about 3 comments she proposed to never speak to me again, to which I proposed to oblige, but first pointing her to and quoting from the relevant Wikipedia article which shows that masochism, just like homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder.

The results of newer studies have led to calls to abolish sadism and masochism as disease categories completely, arguing that the truly pathological forms are adequately covered by other diagnoses. The sadomasochistic subculture added a political dimension to this drive with claims of discrimination and by pointing to the precedent of removing of homosexuality from the list of mental disorders.

In response, the American Psychiatric Association modified the criteria for sadism and masochism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) in 1994 so that consensual sadomasochistic behavior alone is not considered a sexual disorder anymore. In the DSM-IV TR, published in 2000, sadomasochistic behavior can be diagnosed if the patient “has acted on these urges with a non-consenting person” or “the urges, sexual fantasies, or behaviors cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty,” so consensual sadomasochism can no longer be considered a disease unless it causes severe discomfort. In 1995, Denmark became the first country to completely remove sadomasochism from its classification of diseases.

Our entire conversation – and the comment above – was promptly erased by the author Marianna and I was doubly annoyed. I thought I had done her a favor by showing her the errors of her ways. I dedicate the photograph above to her. May she soon awaken from her obstinate ignorance.

[FR] [DE] [UK]


Jamaican reggae singer and producer Bertram Brown died. So did American writer David Foster Wallace. Suicide by hanging for the latter.


The dub of Lot’s wife by King Tubby & Soul Syndicate

Bertram Brown (1950 – September 8th 2008 ) ran Freedom Sounds and worked with Prince Alla, Earl Zero, Rod Taylor, and Philip Frazer. Some of his best work was compiled on Steve Barrow‘s  “Freedom Sounds In Dub” on Blood & Fire.

On a happier note, it’s Amy Winehouse 35th birthday today.

World Music Classics: the first 100

World Music Classic is a series I started on this blog in 2007. Below are the first 100 entries in a project that will eventually include 1001 postmodern world music classics. Most of the entries have YouTube links at the top of the page. Feel free to add missing YouTube connections. The series’ future entries will mainly be posted to my FaceBook account and on my wiki. So it’s a goodbye here as far as regular WordPress/WMC entries go, WordPress/WMC will be reserved for longer articles on particular musical compositions. Hope to see you on FaceBook, for all of you who have yet resisted, I can assure you that FaceBook is an amazingly elegant platform and very suitable to quick and responsive writing.











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