Category Archives: fiction

Ivan Turgenev @ 190

Ivan Turgenev @ 190

Great Short Stories of the World

I cannot find any interesting visuals for Turgenev, I gave up and give you the above, an ode to the short story. For what is a novel? Is it not a padded short story?

Ivan Turgenev (November 9, 1818September 3, 1883) was a Russian novelist and playwright best known for his novel Fathers and Sons. He popularized the concept of superfluous man in The Diary of a Superfluous Man (1850).

He also wrote short stories, such as The Mysterious Tales, some of which are collected in Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday (Calvino) and Blood and Roses : Vampires in 19th Century Literature (Gladwell and Havoc). I just ordered the latter.

On the nature of guilty pleasures

Related: Mondo Cane (1962)Mondo BizarroItalian cinemaGualtiero Jacopetti

Mondo Cane (1962) – Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco E. Prosperi

Having recently received comments by Lichanos and o. h. about the validity of guilty pleasure as a separate cultural category I show the film above, Mondo Cane (1962), by Gualtiero Jacopetti and his colleague whose name escapes me at this time.

I always feel tempted instead of arguing to cite a collection of words and concepts which will tautologically exlain the concept. I will not resist the temptation now. Here they come:

bad tastecampkitsch“low culture”trashtaboo

I continue:

See also: “body” genres”bread and circuses“low” artlowbrow (American art movement)working class cultureculturefolk culturepopular culture

Related by connotation: artificialbad tastebasic instinctcampcheapcommercialconventionalcommonderivativeentertainingephemeraexploitationformulaiclow budgetluridmassordinarypoppopularproletariatprurientsensationalismscatologyshockingstereotypetrash under-the-counterundergroundvulgar

Contrast: “high” culture

See also: low modernism

In film: B-moviesexploitation filmsgrindhouse filmsparacinematelevisionvideo nastiesviolent films

In print: comicsescapist fictiondime novelsgenre fictionmen’s magazinesparaliteraturepopular fictionpulp fictionyellow journalism

In music: discohousemusic hallpopular musicpop music

In the visual realm: advertisingapplied artscaricaturedecorative artsdesign graffitikitsch

In performing arts: burlesquecircuspeepshowstripteasevaudeville

By genre: adventure“body” genrescarnivalcomedyhorrormelodramapornographyromance

Perhaps one day I will put all of the above words in the right order, divide them into chapters, add adjectives, conjunctions, phrases and clauses and page numbers.

Furthermore, guilty pleasures are marketing categories (see the Foute CD products in the Dutch-speaking region), and marketing categories are the strongest indication of genre identity.

Notice that all links go to pages, a project which was from the outset a “guilty pleasure” in nature and purpose.

Thomas Kyd @550

Thomas Kyd, author of The Spanish Tragedy @550

The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd by you.

The Spanish tragedy: or, Hieronimo is mad againe: Containing the lamentable end of Don Horatio, and Belimperia; with the pitifull death of Hieronimo

Publisher: London : Printed by Augustine Mathewes, for Francis Grove, and are to bee sold at his shoppe, neere the Sarazens Head, upon Snovv-hill, 1633.

When one researches the history of horror[1], one encounters the revenge tragedy in the 16th century, featured because of the genre’s cruelty. In the 1580s, an incredible series of gruesome revenge plays were performed on the stages of England.

An example of the gruesomeness of these plays:

“Enter the empress’s sons with Lavinia, her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out, and ravished.” —stage direction to Shakespeare‘s Titus Andronicus. (Chiron and Demetrius had taken Lavinia away and raped her over her husband’s body. To keep her from revealing what she has seen and endured, they had cut out her tongue and cut off her hands.)

The Spanish Tragedy (d. 1594) by Thomas Kyd is exemplary and one of the earliest items in the history of the revenge play.

The play is also noted for being an early instance of the metatheatre (play-in-play) trope. Aditionally, Thomas Kyd is also an icon in the history of counterculture (he was put on the rack for allegations of heresy).

The history of horror is an interesting subject because of its ontological and temporal issues. It starts with horror fiction and horror art and ends at the commodified terrain of the horror film and gothic fashion.

Most recently the concept of horror was explored by Collapse journal volume 4.

The gullibility of American audiences


October 30, 1938 radio broadcast

Orson Welles first gained wide American notoriety 70 years ago today for his October 30, 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. WellsThe War of the Worlds. Adapted to sound like a contemporary news broadcast, it caused a large number of listeners to panic, now commonly and somewhat euphemistically referred to as mass hysteria. Welles and his biographers subsequently claimed he was exposing the gullibility or naïveté of American audiences in the tense preamble to the Second World War.

Introducing Wim T. Schippers

Wim T. Schippers by Marco Raaphorst

Wim T. Schippers

This post is mainly intended for people living in Antwerp or the environs.

Tonight, “Pollens, wat een heisa!,” an homage to Dutch artist Wim T. Schippers starts at the Monty in Antwerp.

There are many things to be said about Wim T. Schippers, but since I write this blog in English and most of my readers are from all over the globe, these things will be of interest to few. Suffice it to start by saying that Schippers belongs to the Dutch Dada tradition.

Digression #1

I say Dada because Surrealism is to weak a word; and it can be agreed upon that surrealism was not but an insipid decoction of Dada; Dada having the chronological benefit of course. On the other hand, I realize there is no use bemoaning the insipidness of Surrealism, since Surrealism was its best possible replacement. Nevertheless, Surrealism to my liking has always been too formalistic and dogmatic.

In discussing Schippers, a number of comparisons are called for. In the Dutch language geographical area, we have Doctorandus P. whom I celebrated here[1] and [2] and who is most certainly a precursor of Schippers. Internationally, one can compare Schippers to Monty Python.

Famous banana clip (I can’t hear you, I have a banana in my ear!)

Now the force of Schippers resides in his mainstream influence, most Dutch-speakers know him without knowing him, he is voice actor of a number of voices of the local version of Sesame Street, most famously Ernie. In The Netherlands he is also known by face as the presenter of a popular science quiz show.

Outside of some dim recollections of his 1970s TV shows, he crossed my personal path each Wednesday afternoon when I listened to his radio show on VPRO (Schippers in the persona of Jacques Plafond (Eng: Jacques Ceiling) [3]. These shows were hilariously irreverent. It was love at first sight.

Garage, Haarleem by Andy Field (Hubmedia)

Shit, I forgot my car, from a Sjef Van Oekel comic

Later still, there were the comics of Sjef Van Oekel, the brain of which was again Schippers.

In Belgium, the Dutch-speaking part where I live, there are two soul brother of Schippers: Kamagurka and Herr Seele. And perhaps Hugo Matthysen.

To conclude: Schippers is the nobrow example and canonical to this blog, even if you’ve never heard of him, try to find his equivalent in your country.

Ernies Drol by Laurens Bontes

Ernie’s drol (Ernie’s Turd)

photo Laurens Bontes

Much better than the similar work of Paul McCarthy

Going to the Dogs -Part 01 – This is the famous play for dogs by Dutch Wim T. Schippers.


The song “Pollens, wat een heisa!,” from which the homage’s title was taken. Notice the naked ladies towards the end


Phil Bloom, reading the news naked, in 1967 on national television.

Dream sequences in literature and film


Dream sequence in La Prisonnière (1968) by Henri-Georges Clouzot

I love dream sequences in film. Every Disney film has nearly one. Always psychedelic. Film as a medium is particularly well-suited to impart dream visions, much better than previous visionary literature, which required more narrative realism.

An interesting juxtaposition here is Dante‘s Divine Comedy compared to its first film adaptation[1].



The Divine Comedy exemplifies the conventions of dream-vision literature, though Dante specifically says that his Comedy is not a dream vision.

I guess what this post comes down to is the boring but somehow unavoidably attractive “literature vs. cinema” debate I’ve been engaging in.

The debate is boring when you limit it to either/or, but of interest if you view it from its technical angle, with fiction at the center, and medium-specificity at its perifery.

Notions such as unfilmability provide the best entry point.

But that notion I was not thinking about when going to bed last night. I thought about cinematic effects in literature, a notion first put forward to my knowledge by Lotte H. Eisner in The Haunted Screen.

She writes:

“Romantic authors such as Novalis or Jean Paul, while anticipating the Expressionist notions of visual delirium and of a continual state of effervescence, also seem almost to have foreseen the cinema’s consecutive sequences of images. In the eyes of Schlegel in Lucinde, the loved one’s features become indistinct: ‘very rapidly the outlines changed, returned to their original form, then metamorphosed anew until they disappeared entirely from my exalted eyes.’ And the Jean Paul of the Flegeljahre says: ‘The invisible world wished, like chaos, to give birth to all things together; the flowers became trees, then changed into columns of cloud; and at the tops of the columns flowers and faces grew. In Novalis‘s novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen there are even superimpositions.”

Der letzte Mann

Example of a superimposition in The Last Laugh (1924) – Murnau

She concludes:

“It is reasonable to argue that the German cinema is a development of German Romanticism, and that modern technique [cinematography] merely lends visible form to Romantic fancies.”

La Prisonnière is World Cinema Classic #67, L’Inferno #68.

“The perversity of woman!”

Danielle Darrieux is Mme de Rênal by Jahsonic

Danielle Darrieux is Mme de Rênal

I’m slowly and carefully moving towards the middle of The Red and the Black and am stricken by quotes on “female perversions” (there is no such thing, or is there?) and instances of “happiness in crime”:

“Their joy was thenceforward of a far higher nature, the flame that devoured them was more intense. They underwent transports of utter madness. Their happiness would have seemed great in the eyes of other people. But they never recaptured the delicious serenity, the unclouded happiness, the spontaneous joy of the first days of their love, when Madame de Renal’s one fear was that of not being loved enough by Julien. Their happiness assumed at times the aspect of crime. ” –Chapter 19 in The Red and the Black

The perversity of woman!thought Julien. “What pleasure, what instinct leads them to betray us?” –Chapter 21 in The Red and the Black

Is self-loathing the key to understanding Julien Sorel?

Gérard Philipe is Julien Sorel

Gérard Philipe is Julien Sorel in the film adaptation by Claude Autant-Lara

Is self-loathing the key to understanding Julien Sorel, the anti-hero of Stendhal’s The Red and the Black?[1], is the question I asked myself last night.

The American literary critic Hayden Carruth (R.I.P. 10 days ago) seems to confirm my suspicion by comparing him to Antoine Roquentin of Sartre’s Nausea . He wrote in 1959 of the way that “Roquentin has become a familiar of our world, one of those men who, like Hamlet or Julien Sorel, live outside the pages of the books in which they assumed their characters. . . . It is scarcely possible to read seriously in contemporary literature, philosophy, or psychology without encountering references to Roquentin’s confrontation with the chestnut tree, for example, which is one of the sharpest pictures ever drawn of self-doubt and metaphysical anguish.”

“Certainly, Nausea gives us a few of the clearest and hence most useful images of man in our time that we possess; and this, as Allen Tate has said, is the supreme function of art.” –Hayden Carruth

Reggae mythology


“Prophecy” by Fabian

Today is an important day in reggae mythology. Haile Selassie was crowned today 80 years ago. Unlike P-Funk mythology, reggae mythology does not have a Wikipedia page. Its nearest equivalent page is Rastafari movement.

As a term, reggae mythology has the advantage of being a subcategory of black science fiction (mainly because of the Lee Perry link). The introduction of the concept will also allow easier understanding of terms such as 400 Years.

Speaking of Perry, I found compositions off “Revolution Dub” at YouTube, notably Woman’s Dub[1] and the original of “Doctor on the Go” by Junior Byles [2].

“Doctor on the Go” and “Woman’s Dub” are WMCs, I’ve added the 174th entry for what will become a 1001-piece series.

Life imitating art: the model to copy

Red and the Black Stendhal, which painting by Jahsonic.

Penguin Classics cover: from which painting?

I started reading The Red and the Black by Stendhal. Chapter 7 is entitled Les affinités électives, possibly a reference to Elective Affinities, published by Goethe 21 years earlier. This passage perfectly illustrates life imitating art:

“À Paris, la position de Julien envers Mme de Rênal eût été bien vite simplifiée ; mais à Paris, l’amour est fils des romans. Le jeune précepteur et sa timide maîtresse auraient retrouvé dans trois ou quatre romans et jusque dans les couplets du Gymnase, l’éclaircissement de leur position. Les romans leur auraient tracé le rôle à jouer, montré le modèle à imiter ; et ce modèle, tôt ou tard, et quoique sans nul plaisir, et peut-être en rechignant, la vanité eût forcé Julien à le suivre.”[1]

“In Paris, Julien’s position with regard to Madame de Renal would very soon have been simplified; but in Paris love is the child of the novels. The young tutor and his timid mistress would have found in three or four novels, and even in the lyrics of the Gymnase*, a clear statement of their situation. The novels would have outlined for them the part to be played, shown them the model to copy; and this model, sooner or later, albeit without the slightest pleasure, and perhaps with reluctance, vanity would have compelled Julien to follow.” –translation by C. K. Scott-Moncrieff (18891930)

The first literary example of life imitating art was Don Quixote in which Alonso Quixano has been driven crazy by reading too many mediaeval knight-errantry romances such Amadis of Gaul, the pulp fiction of the day.

The Red and the Black is an exceedingly accomplished novel.

*My excellent Dutch translation by Hans van Pinxteren (Pandora Pockets, Uitgeverij Contact, p.45) translates Gymnase as cabaret (liedjes in het cabaret). Gymnase probably refers to the Théâtre du Gymnase Marie Bell, rather than a gymnasium.