Vinkenoog was born in the same year as Andy Warhol, Serge Gainsbourg, Jeanne Moreau, Nicolas Roeg, Guy Bourdin, Luigi Colani, Stanley Kubrick, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, William Klein, Roger Vadim, Yves Klein, Jacques Rivette, Alvin Toffler, Ennio Morricone and Oswalt Kolle.
Still from Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet
The good people at Mondo Macabro are releasing Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle), the last film by French master-erotomaniac Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Monell points out in a recent post .
C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle (2006) is a French language film by Alain Robbe-Grillet starring: James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle and Dany Verissimo. It premiered at the 2006 Venice film festival on September 8 and in French cinemas on May 9 of 2007.
The film, Grillet’s last, is a Franco-Belgian production loosely based on Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy by Wilhelm Jensen. The setting has been updated to modern times, at least, no earlier than the 1970s, based on vehicles and appliances seen in the film. It begins with an English art historian named John Locke is doing research in Morocco on the paintings and drawings that French artist Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) produced when he spent time in that country (back then, a French colony) more than a century before. Locke spots a beautiful, mysterious blonde girl (Gradiva, of course) in flowing robes dashing through the back alleys of Marrakech, and becomes consumed with the need to track her down. Like most of Robbe-Grillet’s cinematic output, this film is highly surrealistic and also involves a surprisingly explicit amount of “sex slave” nudity and S&M, although it is a serious film and not just softcore fluff.
- Some of the film’s prehistory.
The story is about an archaeologist named Norbert Hanhold who holds a fascination for a woman depicted in a relief that he sees in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Hanhold later dreams that he has been transported back in time to meet the girl, whose unusual gait captivates him as he imagines her walking on the stepping stones that cross the roads in Pompeii while the hot ashes subsume the city in 79 AD.
After that, Gravida became a favourite of the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí used the name Gradiva as a nickname for his wife, Gala Dalí. He used the figure of Gradiva in a number of his paintings, including Gradiva encuentra las ruinas de Antropomorphos (Gradiva finds the ruins of Antropomorphos). The figure Gradiva was used in other Surrealist paintings as well. Gradiva (Metamorphosis of Gradiva), 1939, by André Masson explores the sexual iconography of the character.
In 1937 the Surrealist wirter Andre Breton opened an art gallery on the Left Bank, 31 rue de Seine, christening it with the title: Gradiva. Marcel Duchamp designed it, giving its door the form of a double cast shadow.
The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced Apuleius‘ The Golden Ass, Petronius‘ Satyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.
Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit (1535) by Clément Marot.
Rabelais‘s blason and contreblason du couillon (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock(s)) respectively sing the praise and disparagement of the male testicles. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.
These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and content-wise liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.
The c. is short for couillons (bollocks).
Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives):
- Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
- Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
- Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
- Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
- Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
- Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
- Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
- Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
- Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
- Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
- Manual C. Partitional C.
- Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
- Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
- Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
- Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
- Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
- Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
- Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
- Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
- Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
- Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
- Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
- Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
- Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
- Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
- full blason here
Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):
- Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
- Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
- Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
- Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
- Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
- Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
- Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
- Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
- Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
- Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
- Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
- Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
- Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
- Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
- Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
- Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
- Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
- Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
- Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
- Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
- Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
- Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
- Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
- Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
- Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis
I’ve just spent a good deal of hours researching Comte de Gabalis, a quest prompted by a new release on Creation Books’ Creation Oneiros imprint and the reference I found there to occult fiction. Wikipedia has no entry on occult fiction but Googling them did bring up Gabalis.
I am not that a big a fan of occultism except when I find it represented in fiction, such as supernatural horror or le fantastique.
A recap of what I found:
The Comte De Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars, first published anonymously in 1670. The book is dedicated to Rosicrucianis and Cabalism and based on Paracelsus’s four elementals: Gnomes, earth elementals; Undines; water elementals, Sylphs, air elementals and Salamanders, fire elementals. It is composed of five discourses given by a Count or spiritual master to the student or aspirant. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology by the Gale Group notes that the work may be a satire of the writings of la Calprenède, a popular French writer of the 17th century.
The Alchemist by David Teniers the Younger
The most interesting aspect of The Comte De Gabalis is the sexual union of gods and mortals. I like half creatures and I like the sexual part of it. It was the work of the minor British publisher of anthropologica Robert H. Fryar who most clearly brought this link to my attention by reprinting in the late 19th century the Comte de Gabalis with its tale of the immortalization of elementals through sexual intercourse with men and supplementing the work with long citations from the recently discovered Demoniality Or Incubi and Succubi, an eighteenth-century work by Father Sinistrari on the dangers of incubi and succubi.
An Italian translation of Malory by American author James Hadley Chase
Cover design by Carlo Jacono
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.
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.
- British exploitation
- French exploitation
- German exploitation
- Italian exploitation
Most iconic image of Dreyer’s career, from Vampyr
Second most iconic image of Dreyer’s career, from Vampyr
Still from The Passion of Joan of Arc
Still from The Passion of Joan of Arc
Carl Theodor Dreyer (February 3, 1889 – March 20, 1968) was a Danish film director. He is regarded as one of the greatest directors in cinema. Although his career spanned the 1910s through the 1960s, his meticulousness, dictatorial methods, idiosyncratic shooting style, and stubborn devotion to his art ensured that his output remained low. In spite of this, he is an icon in the world of art film.
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Though made in the late 1920s (and therefore without the assistance of computer graphics), includes a relatively graphic and realistic treatment of Jeanne‘s execution by burning. The film stars Antonin Artaud. The film was banned in Britain for its portrayal of crude English soldiers who mock and torment Joan in scenes that mirror biblical accounts of Christ’s mocking at the hands of Roman soldiers.
Scenes from Passion appear in Jean-Luc Godard‘s Vivre sa Vie (1962), in which the protagonist Nana sees the film at a cinema and identifies with Joan. In Henry & June Henry Miller is shown watching the last scenes of the film and in voice-over narrates a letter to Anaïs Nin comparing her to Joan and himself to the “mad monk” character played by Antonin Artaud.
Vampyr is a French-German film released in 1932. An art film, it is short on dialogue and plot, and is admired today for its innovative use of light and shadow. Dreyer achieved some of these effects through using a fine gauze filter in front of the camera lens to make characters and objects appear hazy and indistinct, as though glimpsed in a dream.
The film, produced in 1930 but not released until 1932, was originally regarded as an artistic failure. It got shortened by distributors, who also added narration. This left Dreyer deeply depressed, and a decade passed before he able to direct another feature film, Day of Wrath.
Film critics have noted that the appearance of the vampire hunting professor in Roman Polanski‘s film The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) is inspired by the Village doctor played in Vampyr. The plot is credited to J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s collection In a Glass Darkly, which includes the vampire novella Carmilla, although, as Timothy Sullivan has argued, its departures from the source are more striking than its similarities.
A Gold Medal Books original by Westlake under the name Stark.
Film still from Point Blank
I’ve introduced two fictional characters on this blog. One has been rather active, Sholem Stein, another, Waloli has only done three posts. The butler may be third character (although the only character I now feel comfortable with – in terms of what kind of message he can bring – is Sholem Stein.
As for the encylopedic stuff:
Mutoscopes were a popular feature of amusement arcades and pleasure piers from the 1890s until the mid-20th century. The typical arcade installation included multiple machines offering a mixture of fare. Both in the early days and during the revival, that mixture usually included “girlie” reels which ran the gamut from risqué to outright soft-core pornography. It was, however, common for these reels to have suggestive titles that implied more than the reel actually delivered. The title of one such reel, What the Butler Saw, became a byword, and Mutoscopes are commonly known in England as “What-the-Butler-Saw machines.” (What the butler saw, presumably through a keyhole, was a woman partially disrobing.)
English playwright Joe Orton appropriated the title What the Butler Saw to make a theatrical farce of the same name, first staged in London on 5 March 1969. Cinema-goers recognised situations used by Orton’s contemporaries, the Carry On comedians of the late 1960s. For example, Carry On Doctor was showing whilst the play was being written in 1967.
An early 1970s reference is the title of the film What the Swedish Butler Saw, also known as Champagnegalopp, a Swedish film from 1975 directed by Vernon P. Becker. The story is based on the Victorian anonymous novel The Way of a Man with a Maid. This sex comedy, in English known as What the Swedish Butler Saw or Confessions of a Swedish Butler, the film starred Ole Søltoft and Diana Dors.
A lovely surprise. I am spinning at a party, so it seems. Dear me.
Ann Savage discusses Detour
When it became public domain, Detour was often run on syndicated television and several versions were released on VHS home video. Although made on a small budget and containing only rudimentary sets and camera work, the film has garnered substantial praise through the years and is held in high regard. Director Wim Wenders called her work in Detour “at least 15 years ahead of its time”. The film’s ending is notable as an exemplum of involuntary manslaughter.
Harold Pinter is dead @78
Harold Pinter (1930 – 2008) is the man I know from his auctorial descriptive Pinteresque, his connection to the Theatre of the Absurd and his screenplay work on other writers’ novels, such as The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1970), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1980), and especially The Comfort of Strangers (1990), one of the more devastating film experiences of the eighties.
“Nick The Stripper” (1981) by The Birthday Party
Theatre of the Absurd
Harold Pinter is a defining playwright of the 1962-coined Theatre of the Absurd theatrical movement along with French Eugène Ionesco, British Samuel Beckett, French Jean Genet, and Russian Arthur Adamov. The movement’s avant-la-lettre predecessors include Alfred Jarry, Luigi Pirandello, Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Guillaume Apollinaire, and the Surrealists. Other playwrights associated are Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Fernando Arrabal and Edward Albee.
I don’t know what to think of Pinteresque. I feel as if Pinter and Buñuel share a set of the same sensibilities but I wonder. If one does a Celebrity Deathmatch between Pinteresque and Buñuelian, Pinter wins with 19000+ vs 6000+ for Bunuel. Which is a pity, because I find Buñuelian absurdism a fuller experience than the Pinteresque, Buñuel manages to add spiritualism, humor and sensuality to his work whereas Pinter seems to bog down in kitchen-sink-naturalism. But Pinteresque is clearly the winner here, with Wikipedia defining Pinteresque in their separate article characteristics of Harold Pinter’s work and clearly no Buñuelian counterpart.
The Pinter pause
Another interesting aspect of Pinter’s work is his use of pauses, typographically represented by ellipses. Pinter uses it to such an extent that it has gained fame as the “Pinter pause“, a theatrical technique used for example to great effect in the water dripping faucet seduction scene in The Servant (1963).
The following exchange between Aston and Davies in The Caretaker is typical of the Pinter pause:
- ASTON. More or less exactly what you…
- DAVIES. That’s it … that’s what I’m getting at is … I mean, what sort of jobs … (Pause.)
- ASTON. Well, there’s things like the stairs … and the … the bells …
- DAVIES. But it’d be a matter … wouldn’t it … it’d be a matter of a broom … isn’t it?
Still, I prefer my ellipses by Céline (although he shares Pinter’s pessimism), who famously used them in Death on the Installment Plan in 1936, and which then became his trademark style, giving innovative, chaotic, and antiheroic visions of human suffering. In Death on the Installment Plan, he extensively uses ellipses scattered all throughout the text to enhance the rhythm and to emphasise the style of speech.
An example of Céline’s ellipses:
- “So I start moseying down the Boulevard Sebastopol, then the rue de Rivoli . . . I’ve kind of lost track. It’s so stifling you can hardly move . . . I drag myself through the arcades . . . along the shop fronts . . . “How about the Bois de Boulogne!” I says to myself . . . I kept on walking quite a while . . . But it was getting to be unbearable . . . unbearable . . . When I see the gates of the Tuileries, I turn off … across the street and into the gardens . . . There was a hell of a crowd already.” —Death on the Installment Plan