Category Archives: culture

In praise of uncertainty

Of all the works I re-examined while reading Hans Holländer‘s Hieronymus Bosch: Weltbilder und Traumwerk, the detail of The Last Judgment (Bosch triptych fragment) is the one that caught my attention most. Just look at this delightful brightly coloured critter!

Ultimately, I find it very satisfying that nothing of the work of Bosch can be said with certainty.

So: in praise of uncertainty!

Jahsonic is the number one Tumblr in Belgium.

Jahsonic is the number one Tumblr in Belgium. It took me three days of intensive posting. I met a lot of great people and was literally barraged with good imagery. The quality of images is quite high and no other platform can compare in quantity. Tumblr is a blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, video, links, quotes, and audio to their tumblelog, a micro-blog. Users can “follow” other users and see their posts together on their dashboard. Micro-blogging is a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send brief text updates or micromedia such as photos or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, digital audio or the web. Leading social networking websites Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and XING also have their own micro-blogging feature, better known as status updates. On May the 3d I compared Tumbr with some other blogging platforms:  Last November I introduced At Her Discretion[1], my first exposure to the phenomeneon of micro-blogging. Today I took the Tumblr service for a test drive[2][3] and I was quite pleased with it. Tumblr is a web 2.0 micro-blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, video, links, quotes, and audio to their tumblelog, a short-form blog. Users can “follow” other users and see their posts together on their dashboard. Compared to other web 2.0 social internet services: Compared to[4]: Tumbler has no social bookmarking. Compared to Facebook[5]: Tumblr is public so it lets you reach a ider audience, but its ease of use is worse that that of Facebook. Compared to Twitter[6]: Tumblr may be a future competitor to Twitter, Twitter does not allow image previews. Compared to WordPress: Tumblr excells at creating little visual interesting posts fast, WordPress is better for the longer more pensive posts.  What with the proliferation of these social media and social networking sites, what we need is social network aggregation or lifestreaming.

Jahsonic is the number one Tumblr in Belgium.

It took me three days of intensive posting. I met a lot of great people and was literally barraged with good imagery. The quality of images is very high and no other platform can compare in quantity.

It reminded me of the old days when I used to blog at a maddening tempo over at from 2001 Nov until 2006 Aug.

I then switched to WordPress where I’ve had a very good time and my first availability in RSS format. I posted about 3,400 posts from August 2006 until today, an avarage of three posts per day.

John Calvin @500

John Calvin @500

Calvinism has been known at times for its simple, spartan and unadorned churches and lifestyles, as depicted in this painting by Emmanuel de Witte. Belgium, where I live, is on the Protestant-Catholic border between Northern and Southern Europe. The South is known for its joie de vivre, haute cuisine and exuberance, the North for its antithesis: frugality, meager food and general restraint.

John Calvin Jean Cauvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he suddenly broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1520s. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where in 1536 he published the first edition of his seminal work Institutes of the Christian Religion.

In the 1540s the Frenchman John Calvin founded a church in Geneva which forbade alcohol and dancing, and which taught God had selected those destined to be saved from the beginning of time. His Calvinist Church gained about half of Switzerland and churches based on his teachings became dominant in the Netherlands (the Dutch Reformed Church) and Scotland (the Presbyterian Church).

Anyone against him was called a Libertine, providing the origins of a well-loved term of this blog. The group of Libertines was led by Ami Perrin and argued against Calvin’s “insistence that church discipline should be enforced uniformly against all members of Genevan society”. By 1555, Calvinists were firmly in place on the Genevan town council, so the Libertines, led by Perrin, responded with an “attempted coup against the government and called for the massacre of the French … This was the last great political challenge Calvin had to face in Geneva.

Engraving of the Iconoclasm from G. Bouttat (1640-1703)

Many Protestant reformers including John Calvin were against religious art by invoking the Decalogue’s prohibition of idolatry and the manufacture of graven images of God. As a result, statues and images were damaged in spontaneous individual attacks as well as unauthorised iconoclastic riots. In my part of the world, this started in 1566, two years after Calvin’s death and resulted in the Beeldenstorm.

Calvin’s legacy in modern times has produced a variety of opinions. Certainly the execution of Servetus has left a negative view of Calvin. Voltaire mentions the event in his Poème sur la loi naturelle (Poem on Natural Law, 1756) and Dialogues chrétiens (Christian Dialogues, 1760). For Voltaire, Calvin’s philosophy had not produced any improvement over the intolerance presented in previous revealed religions. Calvin is discussed in Max Weber’s classic work on the The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in which he argues that Calvin’s teachings provided ideological impetus for the development of capitalism. Political historians have recognised his contributions to the development of representative democracy in general and the American system of government in particular.

In find Calvin only mildly interesting, more radical Reformation info can be found under the headings of Thomas Müntzer, Jan Hus, the anabaptists and the Peasants’ War.

As was to be expected, John Calvin‘s writing was put on one of the more interesting compendiums of Western literature, The Index.

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) – James Hogg [] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Illustration by William Blake.

If you’d like to know more about religious fanaticism and the intricacies of Protestantism, I can recommend James Hogg‘s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (by way of Lichanos).

see also Calvinism, 16th century Europe, Northern Renaissance, Protestant work ethic, iconoclasm

Introducing Histoiredeloeil

Introducing Histoiredeloeil

via Histoiredeloeil

from that blog

Histoiredeloeil[1] is a Francophone culture blog which takes its name from French erotomaniac Georges Bataille‘s novel Histoire de l’oeil .

As of June 2009 it was connected to A La Piscine, Absinthe, Africa & Omega, Alainfinkielkrautrock, Alex Gross, Andrei Tarkovsky, Anthrolology, Antonin Artaud, Arthur Ignatowski, Arthur Schopenhauer, Asian Drillpop, Au Carrefour Etrange, Aubrey Beardsley, Audrey Kawasaki, Blonde Zombies, Cambodian Rock, Cinemas D’asie Et D’ailleurs, Cult Sirens, Dada, Dan Hillier, Dario Argento, David Lynch, Deadlicious, Debord Cineaste, Demeure Du Chaos, Demoralys, Dengue Fever, Diane Arbus, Dream Anatomy, E-L-I-S-E, Elli + Jacno, Ennio Morricone, Ernst Haeckel, Erwin Olaf, Espira, Felicien Rops, Florent Deloison, Food Curiosa, Francis Bacon, Fumeur, H.R.Giger, Hans Bellmer, Helnwein, Hi Fructose, Impur, Jan Saudek, Jared Joslin, J-J Perrey, Jpop Trash, Junko Mizuno, Kraftwerk, La Soucoupe, Laura Brink, Laurie Lipton, Le 3eme Oeil, Le Palace, Leiji Matsumoto, Les 400 Culs, L’etrange Festival, Mamie Van Doren Show, Margo Guryan, Mark Ryden, Martin Monestier, Martin Parr, Matt Groller, Meiko Kaji, Mondo Bizzarro, Moondog, Oculart, Old Orient Museum, Opium Museum, Our Body, Paco Camino, Patricia Piccinini, Pierre Molinier, Plaid Stallions, Pop Cards, Puppet Mastaz, Ray Caesar, Retro Atelier, Retro Zone, Ron Mueck, Ron Winter, Rotten Clinic, Scans Cinema, S.F.,…, Schwarz-Weiss, Sebastien Tellier, Sexy People, Silent Hill, Sixties Posters, Square America, Stanley Kubrick, Suehiro Maruo, Suzanne G., Telex, Terry Rodgers, Thanatos, The Hot Spot, The Marquis Von Bayros, The Prisoner, Title Screens, Ubu Web, Vania Zouravliov, Wendy Carlos, William Blake and Wrong Side Of The Art.

If you want to check the connected blogs and sites, follow [1]. Website without artandpop profile are encouraged to make one.

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)[1]

via RIP  Stanley Chapman (1925 - 2009)  Fig.3 Stanley Chapman Cover illustration for Subsidia Pataphysica, no.1, 19 December              1965enlarge


Cover illustration for Subsidia Pataphysica, no.1, 19 December 1965

Stanley Chapman (19252009) was a British architect, designer, translator and writer. His interests included theatre and pataphysics. He was involved with founding the National Theatre of London, was a member of Oulipo of the year 1960, founder of the Outrapo and a member also of the French Collège de ‘Pataphysique, president the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics and the Lewis Carroll Society. His English translation of Hundred Thousand Billion Poems was received with “admiring stupefaction” by Raymond Queneau.

Christophe Bruno’s Dadameter

Via Bright Stupid Confetti[1] comes Christophe Bruno‘s Dadameter

bright stupid confetti: packets of future transmission See Dadameter

The Dadamap

Christophe Bruno (born July 1, 1964) is a French artist. He began his artistic activity in 2001, influenced by the movement. His thesis is that through the web, and especially through the ability to search and monitor it thoroughly by means of Google, we are heading towards a global text that among other things enables a new form of textual, semantic capitalism, which he explores in his work. His artworks include Iterature, Logo.Hallucination, The Google Adwords Happening and many other pieces.

The Dadameter is an art project by French artist Christophe Bruno first presented in 2008. It was inspired by the work of french writer Raymond Roussel use of homophony described in How I Wrote Certain of My Books.

In the words of the Bruno “the project is a satire about the recent transmutation of language into a global market ruled by Google et al. and uses the most up-to-date technologies of control to draw cartographies of language at large scale.”

It was co-produced by the Rencontres Paris-Berlin-Madrid 2008 for contemporary art and new cinema and programmed by Valeriu Lacatusu.

The result of the project is the so-called Dadamap[2][3] in which each pixel corresponds to one couple of words. The project started from “a lexicon of several thousands of words which correspond to about 800,000 couples (as many pixels then), and we looked for homophonic correlations, as in billard / pillard [see Roussel], or for semantic correlations.”

The procedure provides three measurements for each couple of words corresponding to homophony (the Damerau-Levenshtein distance), Google Similarity (or semantic relatedness) and thirdly equivocation (to which extent a word has a univocal meaning or at the contrary is polysemic or equivocal).

The Dadamap is a topographical map resembling an ocean floor, it features green for wasteland, light blue for utilitarianism, blue for mainstream, deep blue for boredom and brown for homophony[4]. There is an equivocation separation line which roughly splits the map into two, or maybe that is a rift. From left to right, the map contains the following lemmata: OuLiPo, Roussel, Dada, rap, Tecktonik, 911, pop, Warhol, Fluxus, Duchamp, Jarry, Baudrillard, reality TV, spam, neen, bling-bling,, Debord, Burroughs, Mallarmé, spam, Hapax, Googlewhacks, epiphanies, infotainment, Joyce, Nouveau Réalisme, Sarkoland, recycling, Deleuze and Google.

Baron Haussmann @200, Haussmannization and creative destruction

Baron Haussmann @200

Paris_Arc_de_Triomphe by you.

Place de l’Étoile

Baron Haussmann (18091891) turned 200 today.

Haussmannwas a French urbanist who called himself an “artiste démolisseur,” literally translated as artist destroyer, a concept with a political equivalent of creative destruction. I’ve mentioned Haussmann and Haussmannization here [1] and here[2].

Haussmann’s renovation of Paris is often simply referred to as Haussmannization, connected to the notion of creative destruction, a political concept.

creative destruction, surplus product

The notion of creative destruction is found in the writings of Mikhail Bakunin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and in Werner Sombart‘s Krieg und Kapitalismus (War and Capitalism) (1913, p. 207), where he wrote: “again out of destruction a new spirit of creativity arises”. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized and used the term to describe the process of transformation that accompanies radical innovation. It contrasts with various tactics of preservation and embalming the past.

Interestingly, Flaubert’s friend Maxime du Camp said:

“Paris, as we find it in the period following the Revolution of 1848, was about to become uninhabitable.” — [Paris Arcades] quoting from Maxime du Camp, Paris, vol 6 (Paris, 1875), p.253.


“Its population had been greatly enlarged and unsettled … and now this population was suffocating in the narrow, tangled, putrid alleyways in which it was forcibly confined.” — [Paris Arcades] quoting from Maxime du Camp, Paris, vol 6 (Paris, 1875), p.253.]

It was Jules Ferry who wrote “Les Comptes fantastiques de Haussmann,” his indictment of the bold handling of public funds for the Haussmannization. It was published in 1867, its title being a play on words between contes, stories or tales – as in Les contes d’Hoffmann or Tales of Hoffmann, and comptes, accounts.

Introducing Isabel Sarli and Latin American erotica

Isabel Sarli

Sarli in Fuego

Isabel Sarli in Fiebre

Sarli in Fiebre

Isabel Sarli

Sarli in El sexo y el amor

Isabel Sarli is an example of Latin American erotica.

In 1968 and 1969, the duo [Isabel Sarli and Armando Bo] gets their best (something like Sgt. pepper era for the Beatles) and produced their three masterpieces: “Carne“, “Fuego” y “Fiebre“, three films that are unique in the world, three films that influenced John Waters big time and were a clear precedent to his revolutionary work, three film that are, to me, the closer that Argentinian cinema got to a national cinema style, but in Argentina Bo was forbidden and imprisoned many times for obscenity. “Fiebre” is an amazing piece of experimental film-making. The idea is “Isabel (or her character, its the same) falls in love with a horse.” –Patricio García Martinez via IMDb

Armando Bo seems to be the Latin American equivalent of Tinto Brass, combining experimental cinema with erotica. Isabel Sarli would have surely played in Russ Meyer‘s breast fetishism films.

I’m very happy to have discovered Sarli (via Cinema of Obsession), I’ve pretty much documented (or at leased inventorized) European erotica and American erotica, touched upon Asian erotica, but Latin America, Africa and Australia drew blanks.

P.S. Most of the research on “world erotica” was done at

Carlo Jacono @80 and Italian exploitation

Carlo Jacono @80 and Italian exploitation

Segretissimo n° 75 (art cover by Carlo Jacono)

An Italian translation of Malory by American author James Hadley Chase

Cover design by Carlo Jacono

Carlo Jacono (March 17, 1929June 7, 2000) was an Italian illustrator detective novel covers and regular contributor to Mondadori’s gialli and Urania magazine.

A digression into Italian exploitation.

My interest in regional exploitation or pulp culture is that what it tells about the region where it is produced. I am searching for national stereotypes by way of their exploitation culture; regional stereotypes deduced from regional fears and desires (horror and eroticism).

Italian exploitation culture is literature and films in the “low culture” tradition originating from Italy, cultural products which address the prurient interests of its audience. A quick glance at Italian society on the one hand, which its firm anchor in puritan Christianity, and its abundance on the other hand of graphic exploitation material, quickly reveals its double standards.

In print culture there has been giallo fiction, quickly followed by adult comics, the so-called fumetti neri.

But the nature of Italian prurience is most readily revealed in Italian cinema. Genres such as cannibal films, Italian erotica, Italian horror films, giallo films, mondo films, il sexy, spaghetti westerns, sword and sandal films all went a tad further than contemporary products of European exploitation.

Had it not for the world wide web, these maligned genres would probably not have been so widely known, but if you prefer reading books to the internet, here is a list of publications on European exploitation you may enjoy.

Salute to Bacchus

Today is the feast of the Roman god Bacchus, known by the Greeks as the Greek god Dionysus. In my hometown Sint Niklaas, there used to be a bar called Bacchus. That was in the late seventies and early eighties.

I had to wait until the 1990s and the first issue of Wired Magazine to be properly introduced to Bacchus via Camille Paglia’s interview on her recently published Sexual Personae in which Paglia mentions the Nietzschean dichotomy of Apollonian and Dionysian.

Popular perceptions of Dionysus and Bacchus

Dionysus was seen as the god of everything uncivilized, of the innate wildness of humanity that the Athenians had tried to control. The Dionysia was probably a time to let out their inhibitions through highly emotional tragedies or irreverent comedies. During the pompe there was also an element of role-reversal – lower-class citizens could mock and jeer the upper classes, or women could insult their male relatives. This was known as aischrologia – αἰσχρολογία or tothasmos, a concept also found in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Bacchus is less wel documented in text, but all the better in painting (Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio). His name is connected with bacchanalia, a term in moderate usage today to indicate any drunken feast; drunken revels; as well as binges and orgies, whether literally or figuratively.

Bacchanal by Rubens



The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women.

Bacchanalia by Auguste (Maurice François Giuslain) Léveque  The Bacchanalia were traditionally held on March 16 and March 17

The festivals occurred on three days of the year in a grove near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17. Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. According to Livy, the extension happened in an era when the leader of the Bacchus cult was Paculla Annia.

Cornelis de Vos Triumph of Bacchus

Cornelis de Vos

Paculla Annia

Paculla Annia was a priestess from the southern Italy who, according to Livy, largely changed the rules of Bacchanalias so that regarding nothing as impious or forbidden became the very sum of Bacchuscult. In the rites, men were said to have shrieked out prophecies in an altered state of consciousness with frenzied bodily convulsions. Women, dressed as Bacchantes, with hair dishevelled, would run down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunge them into the water, and take them out again. The rites gradually turned into sexual orgies, particularly among the men, and men who refused to take part were sacrificed. It is said these men were fastened to a machine and taken to hidden caves, where it was claimed they were kidnapped by the gods.

Prohibition by the Roman Senate

The festivities were reported to the Roman Senate which authorized a full investigation. In 186 BC, the Senate passed a strict law (the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus) prohibiting the Bacchanalia except under specific circumstances which required the approval of the Senate. Violators were to be executed.