Monthly Archives: February 2009

Jeremy Bentham @261

Jeremy Bentham @261

The Presidio Modelo was a model prison of Panopticon design by you.

Presidio Modelo, Cuba, photo by Friman

Jeremy Bentham (February 15 , 1748June 6, 1832)  was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer, best-known today for devising the Panopticon. He was a political radical and a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law. He is best known as an early advocate of utilitarianism and animal rights who influenced the development of liberalism. In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation he wrote of sexual ethics.

The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the “sentiment of an invisible omniscience.”

Bentham himself described the Panopticon as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Sholem Stein remarks:

It was among Jeremy Bentham many proposals for legal and social reform. Although it was never built, the idea had an important influence upon later generations of thinkers. Twentieth-century French philosopher Michel Foucault in his approach to New Historicism argued that the Panopticon was paradigmatic of a whole raft of nineteenth-century ‘disciplinary’ institutions.

Foucault’s discussions of the panopticon are particularly useful for New Historicism. Bentham stated that the perfect prison/surveillance system would be a cylindrical shaped room that held prison cells on the outside walls. In the middle of this spherical room would be a large guard tower with a light that would shine in all the cells. The prisoners thus would never know for certain whether they were being watched, so they would effectively police themselves, and be as actors on a stage, giving the appearance of submission, although they are probably not being watched.

Foucault included the panopticon in his discussion of power to illustrate the idea of lateral surveillance, or self-policing, that occurs in the text when those who are not in power are made to believe that they are being watched by those who are. His purpose was to show that power would often change the behavior of the subordinate class, and they would often fall into line whether there was a true need to do so or not.

But the way the panopticon really entered the public consciousness was via the term Big Brother, named afterBig Brother, a character from George Orwell‘s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is now a byword for authoritarianism as inforced by any omnipresent, seemingly benevolent figure representing oppressive control over individual(s) exerted by an authoritarian power, as well as surveillance in general and any surreptitious spying such as by way of closed-circuit television.

RIP Philip José Farmer (1918 – 2009)

RIP Philip José Farmer (1918 – 2009)

RIP Philip José Farmer by you.

Philip José Farmer (January 26, 1918 – February 25, 2009) was an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. Farmer’s works often contain sexual themes, and some of his early works were notable for their groundbreaking introduction of such to science fiction. Farmer’s first published science fiction story, “The Lovers,” which won him the Hugo Award for most promising new writer in 1953, was the first sf story to deal with sexual relations between humans and aliens. It instantly put Farmer on the map. His collection of short stories Strange Relations (1960) was a notable event in the history of sex in science fiction. He was one of three dedicatees of Robert A. Heinlein‘s 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which was also noted for breaking sexual taboos. Fire and the Night (1962) is a non-science-fiction novel about a love affair between a white man and a black woman that features some interesting sociological and psychosexual twists. Witness to that are these French translation covers. [1][2][3][4][5][6]

Contemporary voices in black music

This is Carl Hancock Rux‘s “No Black Male Show” mixed with “I Recall (There I Am)” from Rux’s Rux Revue album. Most readily, it seems to refer to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“.


The video by Philipp Virus and Ian Kerkhof under the alias Aryan Kaganof.

Ian Kerkhof was brought to my attention by Valter when he pointed me to The Dead Man 2: Return of the Dead Man.

Carl Hancock Rux is probably familiar with Saul Williams whose “List of Demands”[1] was one of the finds of 2008. See also contemporary voices in black music.

RIP Franciszek Starowieyski (1930 – 2009)

RIP Franciszek Starowieyski (1930 – 2009)

Le Grand Macabre by Franciszek Starowieyski , 1965

Poster for Michel De Ghelderode‘s play Le Grand Macabre (1965)

Franciszek Andrzej Bobola Biberstein-Starowieyski (born July 8, 1930 in Bratkówka, Poland, died February 23, 2009), was a Polish artist. From 1949 to 1955 he studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow and Warsaw. He specialized in poster, drawing, painting, stage designing, and book illustration. He was a member of Alliance Graphique International (AGI).

Here[1] is a fair collection of his work on Flickr.

I’ve previously reported on the Polish film poster[2].

Fred Katz @90

Fred Katz @90


Katz  on cello on gay anthem jazz standardMy Funny Valentine” by the Chico Hamilton band.

Fred Katz (born February 25, 1919) is an American composer, songwriter, conductor, cellist, and professor, perhaps best-known as the composer and lyricist of “Satan Wears a Satin Gown[1].

Folk Songs for Far Out Folk by Fred Katz

Folk Songs for Far Out Folk (1958)

Katz was classically trained at the cello and piano and began his career in a number of classical and swing orchestras. In the early 1950s, Katz accompanied singers such as Lena Horne, Tony Bennett and Frankie Laine. From 1955 through 1958, he was a member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet. He also recorded several solo albums such as Folk Songs for Far Out Folk[2] labels including Pacific Jazz, Warner Bros., and Decca Records.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, Katz scored a number of films for Roger Corman, including A Bucket of Blood, The Wasp Woman, Creature from the Haunted Sea and The Little Shop of Horrors. He also composed a number of pieces of classical music. Katz went on to become a professor of cultural anthropology at the University of San Fernando, specializing in ethnic music.

His cello can also be heard on Ken Nordine‘s Word Jazz projects, on Dorothy Ashby‘s The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby, and Billy Bean‘s Makin’ It.

Riccardo Freda @100

Riccardo Freda @100

Barbara Steele in The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) – Riccardo Freda
image sourced here.

Riccardo Freda (born in Alexandria,Egypt, February 24, 1909 – died in Paris, France, December 20, 1999) was an Egyptian-born Italian film director. Ironically best known for his horror and thriller movies, Freda had no great love for the horror films he was assigned, but rather favored the epic sword and sandal pictures. Freda’s Sins of Rome (1953) was one of the first Italian peplums, predating Steve Reeves‘s Hercules by four years, and his classic Giants of Thessaly (1961) was theatrically released one year before Ray Harryhausen‘s famous Jason and the Argonauts. He directed Kirk Morris and Gordon Scott in two classic Maciste films in the sixties, in addition to several spy films, spaghetti westerns, historical dramas and World War 2 actioners.


The Horrible Dr. Hichcock

He never finished either of the two horror films he was assigned in the fifties (I Vampiri and Caltiki – The Immortal Monster), but rather allowed his cinematographer Mario Bava to complete them. Bava’s great effects work on Caltiki in particular launched him on a directing career of his own in 1960. Thus many fans regard Freda as Mario Bava’s mentor in the film industry.

Freda’s greatest horror films were his two 1960s titles, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock and The Ghost, both of which starred Barbara Steele, but he really enjoyed doing the adventure films a lot more. He directed Anton Diffring and the legendary Klaus Kinski in giallos later in the decade, and then slowed down in the early seventies, inexplicably emerging from his retirement at 72 to direct one last slasher film (“Murder Obsession“). He died in 1999 of natural causes (at age 90).

See also: Italian horror film

Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye: the film


Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye is a 2004 American film adaptation of the 1928 novel by the French writer Georges Bataille. The film, directed by Andrew Repasky McElhinney, takes place in a seemingly abandoned house where a group of people engage in wordless acts of passion. The film covers a period from evening to morning, and the sexual couplings among the members of the house becomes increasingly harrowing as daylight arrives.

Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye began as a video installation before being reconfigured into a feature-length film. It had its New York theatrical premiere in September 2004, and its support was led by Dave Kehr of the New York Times, who wrote of the production; “This is transgression in a literal sense, an act of aggression that Bataille would no doubt have appreciated. This is not a movie for passive consumption, but a film that bites back.”

Musidora @120

Musidora by you.

Musidora in Les Vampires (1915)


Musidora in Les Vampires (1915)

Musidora (February 23, 1889December 11, 1957) was the stage name of a popular French silent film actress of the early 20th century. She is best-remembered for her vamp persona in the roles of Irma Vep and Diana Monti in the early motion picture crime serials Les Vampires (1915) and Judex (1916), respectively.

Poster for Les Vampires

Adopting the moniker of Musidora (Greek for “gift of the muses“) and affecting a unique vamp persona that would later be popularized in the United States of America by actress Theda Bara, Musidora soon found a foothold in the nascent medium of moving pictures. With her heavily kohled dark eyes, somewhat sinister make-up, pale skin (see the heroin chic aesthetic) and exotic wardrobes, Musidora quickly became a highly popular and instantly recognizable presence of European cinema.

Beginning in 1915, Musidora began appearing in the hugely successful Feuillade-directed serials Les Vampires as Irma Vep (an anagram of “vampire”), a cabaret singer, opposite Edouard Mathé as crusading journalist, Philippe Guerande. Contrary to the title, the Les Vampires were not actually about vampires, but about a criminal gang cum secret society inspired by the exploits of the real-life Bonnot Gang. The somewhat surreal series was an immediate success with French cinema-goers and ran in ten installments until 1916. After the Les Vampires serial, Musidora starred as ‘Diana Monti’ in another popular Feuillade serial, Judex, filmed in 1916 but delayed for release until 1917 because of the outbreak of World War I. Though not intended to be “avant-garde,” Les Vampires and Judex have been lauded by critics as the birth of avant-garde cinema and cited by such renowned filmmakers as Fritz Lang and Luis Buñuel as being extremely influential in their desire to become directors.

I’ve previously mentioned Les Vampires[1].

RIP Oreste Lionello (1927 – 2009)

Michaela Miti in Biancaneve & Co (1982) – Mario Bianchi

Oreste Lionello (Rodi, April 18, 1927 – Rome, February 19, 2009) was an Italian actor, cabaretier and dubber. He famously dubbed Woody Allen‘s voice and was involved in the Italian exploitation film Biancaneve & Co. based on the adult comic Biancaneve, directed by Mario Bianchi and featuring starlet Michela Miti with Oreste Lionello, Gianfranco d’Angelo and Aldo Sambrell. It was released in English as Snow White and 7 Wise Men.