Monthly Archives: September 2014

RIP Jean-Jacques Pauvert (1926 – 2014)

Hollywood Babylon (Nigel Finch documentary)

French publisher Jean-Jacques Pauvert first came to my attention as the publisher of Hollywood Babylon, published by Pauvert in 1959.

Over at my Tumblr microblog I’ve posted[1] Jayne Mansfield’s décolleté on the cover of that book.

Pauvert was also the first publisher of the works of Marquis de Sade, which had not been published for a long time.

This led to an obscenity trial.

Above is Nigel Finch‘s documentary based on Hollywood Babylon.

Pauvert is in my canon.

“The road up and the road down are the same thing”

Heraclitus by Hendrick ter Brugghen

Via research into the canonical Giordano Bruno I stumbled upon the concept of the unity of opposites, which in turn led me to Heraclitus who is famous for two dicta: one involving a river: “You cannot step in the same river twice” and one involving a road, “The road up and the road down are the same thing.”

I’ve put the two dicta above in my category Dicta at I currently have 330 dicta. The first 330 of what will become an unranked top 1000.

I spent some time trying to find out why Heraclitus is often depicted with a globe. Unsuccessfully. Anyone?

“I think it’s somewhat of a sexy button.”

I saw an early episode of the Big Bang Theory which mentioned Olds and Milner’s rats and how these rats would self-stimulate their pleasure center to the point of exhaustion.

This led to my discovery of American psychiatrist Robert Galbraith Heath (1915 – 1999).

In a documentary dedicated to the work of this man, “Brain Mechanisms of Pleasure and Addiction”, an unidentified woman who has undergone deep brain stimulation pushes her own pleasure button repeatedly[1].

She even says “I think it’s somewhat of a sexy button.”

The experiment is considered unethical nowadays.

If an estimated 10% of the Western world is on anti-depressants (“One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four.”nytimes[2]), why is deep brain stimulation with a “pleasure button” considered unethical?

Deep brain stimulation is used with astonishing results in patients suffering from Obsessive–compulsive disorder.

Maybe one day we will all have an orgasmatron in our brains?

Would it prove to be so addictive that we would die in great numbers from starvation and fatigue just as Olds and Milner’s rats and Korean video game addict Lee Seung Seop, who died in 2006 after playing for more than fifty hours straight.

Or would there be more cases as the one of Kim Sa-rang, a 3-month-old Korean child, who would die in 2009 from malnutrition after both her parents spent hours each day in an internet cafe raising a virtual child in an online game.

I used to believe in the complete sovereignty of one’s own body.

But today I’m not against protecting people against themselves and against the overuse of their “sexy button.”

Here’s a quote of what happened to another woman who was unable to control self-stimulation of her “sexy button”:

“At its most frequent, the patient self-stimulated throughout the day, neglecting her personal hygiene and family commitments. A chronic ulceration developed at the tip of the finger used to adjust the amplitude dial and she frequently tampered with the device in an effort to increase the stimulation amplitude. At times she implored her family to limit her access to the stimulator, each time demanding its return after a short hiatus” (Portenoy et al., 1986)[2]

And then there’s the tragic story of patient B-19.

‘The Way Things Go’ is World Art Classic #463

The Way Things Go by Peter Fischli & David Weiss is World Art Classic #463.

Peter Fischli & David Weiss’s work is unclassifiable. Which is a good thing. Yet despite this quality of being genre-defying, their work is defined by playfulness and humor absent from 90% of contemporary art.

I rather enjoy wit and humor in art.

The absence thereof, seriousness, is, in my view, one of the faultlines in 20th century art. Modernism, for example, was reigned by a detrimental “cult of seriousness”.

I first realized my predilection for humor in art somewhere around 2006, when I saw the painting ‘Man weeping, his tears form a waterfall‘.

The humor of Peter Fischli & David Weiss reminds me obliquely of that of The Chapman Brothers, minus the Chapman’s fondness for painfullness.

I’ve recently canonized Fischli and Weiss.

As I said in the title of this post, The Way Things Go is ‘World Art Classic’ #463. Its alphabetical neighbors are The Unswept Floor, a second century AD mosaic and The Witch by Salvator Rosa.

Michel Houellebecq in ‘Near Death Experience’

Near Death Experience is a 2014 French film directed, produced and written by Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern coming to local screens from September onwards.

The film stars French writer Michel Houellebecq as Paul, a burn-out man who escapes to the mountains on his racing bike with the plan to commit suicide.

Some of Houellebecq’s work has already been filmed.

Several years ago I saw the decidedly philosophical film Extension du domaine de la lutte (also known as Whatever) which is now on YouTube in its entirety.

The “our hero” of Whatever reminds me of Paul.

Houellebecq’s debut as protagonist has been acclaimed.

He is part of my canon.