Category Archives: French culture

Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis

Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis

Sourced via pierrepainblanc

I’ve just spent a good deal of hours researching Comte de Gabalis, a quest prompted by a new release on Creation BooksCreation 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.

David Teniers the Younger. The Alchemist. Oil on canvas. 44 x 58.5 cm. Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence, Italy.  Comte de Gabalis The Comte De Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars. 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.  It was anonymously published in 1670 under the title: “Comte De Gabalis.”  The meaning suggests the Count of the Cabala as the text is cabalistic in nature.  The “Holy Cabala” is mentioned explicitly throughout. 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.

David Teniers the Younger. The Alchemist

It was also very pleasant to find and wikify elements in fiction:

Shakespeare‘s plays abound in elemental beings including Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ariel in The Tempest. Alexander Pope was influenced by the Comte de Gabalis in his Rosicrucian poem “Rape of the Lock.” Sylphs have been the favorites of the bards. The “Mahābhārata” is full of stories about beings of the elements and their heroic offspring with their human partners. Similar themes and references are found in Homer‘s The Iliad and The Odyssey in which the elemental beings appear as gods and goddesses such as the mighty Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Achilles, son of a mortal man and the goddess Nymph Thetis (see The Iliad by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1990). German writer Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué wrote about a beautiful water-nymph, “Undine,” and Sir Walter Scott endowed the White Lady of Avenel with many of the attributes of the nymphs. Other works or characters influenced include Lord Lytton‘s Zanoni, James Barrie‘s Tinker Bell; and the bowlers Rip Van Winkle encountered in the Catskill Mountains. The story of Melusina is based on the historical marriage of a gentleman and a water nymph. Charles Mackay, father of Marie Corelli, wrote “Salamandrine,” a poem about a great love between a human and a female salamander. Cabalism, in general, influenced many Mediaeval poems as well as the writings of Dante.

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[1], an eighteenth-century work by Father Sinistrari on the dangers of incubi and succubi.

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)[1]

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

via www.tate.org.uk

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.

Charles Fourier’s Hierarchy of Cuckoldry (1924)

Charles Fourier: Hiérarchie du cocuage – Les presses du réel (book) Hiérarchie du cocuage by Charles Fourier (1924).

Charles Fourier‘s Hiérarchie du cocuage (1924)

“… let us first establish a hierarchy of cuckoldry and introduce into this serious debate the beacon of analytic method, which the philosophers regard as the path to truth. ”

“Among cuckolds, it is possible to distinguish nine degrees of cuckoldry, both among men and women, for women are cuckolded far more often than men; indeed if the husband has horns as tall as a stag’s antlers, the wife’s may be said to be as high as the branches of a tree.” —The theory of the four movements [1]

I stumbled upon this work via the excellent Anton Constandse Eros – de waan der zinnen (1977). The hierarchy of cuckoldry is part of a defense of free love.

Folies Bergère @140

Loie Fuller poster for the Folies Bergère in the late 19th century. (poster by PAL (Jean de Paléologue), printed by Paul Dupont)Loie Fuller poster for the Folies Bergère in the late 19th century.
(poster by PAL (Jean de Paléologue), printed by Paul Dupont)

On May 2, 1869, the Folies Bergère, a French cabaret, opens as the Folies Trévise.

It was at the height of its fame and popularity from the 1890s through the 1920s and is still in business. The Folies Bergère inspired the Ziegfeld Follies in the United States and other similar shows.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, painted and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882, was the last major work by French painter Édouard Manet before he died. It depicts a scene in the Folies Bergère nightclub in Paris, depicting a bar-girl, one of the demimondaine, standing before a mirror.

One of its most popular representations, Édouard Manet‘s 1882 well-known painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère depicts a bar-girl, one of the demimondaine, standing before a mirror.

Folies Bergère was a cabaret or music hall, of the type that had sprung up all over Europe following industrialization and urbanization, becoming a fixture of 18th and 19th century popular culture. Its music scene, the world of 19th century popular music remains — esp. compared to the high culture strain of 19th century music (i.e. Romantic music) — largely undocumented.

In that respect, the following book seems interesting: Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris and Vienna

Its product description reads:

“The phrase “popular music revolution” may instantly bring to mind such twentieth-century musical movements as jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. In Sounds of the Metropolis, however, Derek Scott argues that the first popular music revolution actually occurred in the nineteenth century, illustrating how a distinct group of popular styles first began to assert their independence and values. London, New York, Paris, and Vienna feature prominently as cities in which the challenge to the classical tradition was strongest, and in which original and influential forms of popular music arose, from Viennese waltz and polka to vaudeville and cabaret.
Scott explains the popular music revolution as driven by social changes and the incorporation of music into a system of capitalist enterprise, which ultimately resulted in a polarization between musical entertainment (or “commercial” music) and “serious” art. He focuses on the key genres and styles that precipitated musical change at that time, and that continued to have an impact upon popular music in the next century. By the end of the nineteenth century, popular music could no longer be viewed as watered down or more easily assimilated art music; it had its own characteristic techniques, forms, and devices. As Scott shows, “popular” refers here, for the first time, not only to the music’s reception, but also to the presence of these specific features of style. The shift in meaning of “popular” provided critics with tools to condemn music that bore the signs of the popular-which they regarded as fashionable and facile, rather than progressive and serious.

Introducing Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802)

Le Discret by Joseph Ducreuxducreux002

Ducreux-2Ducreux1

Introducing Joseph Ducreux, yet another artist strongly motivated by physiognomy, that most maligned of sciences.

Joseph, baron Ducreux (17351802) was a French portrait painter whose early portraits include those done of the connoisseurs Pierre-Jean Mariette, the Comte de Caylus (Oeuvres badines et galantes du comte de Caylus) and Ange-Laurent de la Live de July.

Physiognomy (Gk. physis, nature and gnomon, judge, interpreter) is a theory based upon the idea that the assessment of the person’s outer appearance, primarily the face, may give insights into one’s character or personality.

Strong and independent women: Kiki de Montparnasse

Kiki by Julian Mandel by you.

Erotic postcard by Julian Mandel (c. 1920), the model is Kiki de Montparnasse

I like the histories of strong and independent women. In France their have been Joan of Arc, George Sand, Colette and Kiki de Montparnasse, to name the most ringing names. The last two played a decisive role in 1920s Paris.

Catel and Bocquet - Kiki de Montparnasse by you.

Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel Muller & José-Louis Bocquet

In 2007, Kiki’s life was celebrated in the biographical graphic novel, Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel Muller & José-Louis Bocquet. On its cover is Le violon d’Ingres[1], one of the works of art in the collective unconscious, which started its life in 1924 as gelatin silver print photograph by Man Ray portraying Alice Prin (aka Kiki de Montparnasse) in the pose of the Valpinçon Bather[2]. Man Ray photographically superimposed sound holes, or f holes, onto the photograph of the back of a female nude, making the woman’s body resemble that of a violin.

The grahic novel remains untranslated into English as of April 2009.

I was three years old when May 68 happened

May 1968

burning Citroën DS during May 68 from here.

I was three years old when May 68 happened. May 68 was the direct precursor of the hippie movement here in Western Europe. Most of our teachers had been brought up in the “hippie” climate.

Yesterday E-L-I-S-E posted this burning Citroën DS (the photo is new to me and is unsourced at E-L-I-S-E). It brings me to repost one of my favorite quotes on art and politics.This is from one year before May 68.

The juvenile delinquents — not the pop artists — are the true inheritors of Dada. Instinctively grasping their exclusion from the whole of social life, they have denounced its products, ridiculed, degraded and destroyed them.

A smashed telephone, a burnt car, a terrorised cripple are the living denial of the ‘values’ in the name of which life is eliminated. Delinquent violence is a spontaneous overthrow of the abstract and contemplative role imposed on everyone, but the delinquents’ inability to grasp any possibility of really changing things once and for all forces them, like the Dadaists, to remain purely nihilistic.

They can neither understand nor find a coherent form for the direct participation in the reality they have discovered, for the intoxication and sense of purpose they feel, for the revolutionary values they embody. The Stockholm riots, the Hell’s Angels, the riots of Mods and Rockers — all are the assertion of the desire to play in a situation where it is totally impossible.

All reveal quite clearly the relationship between pure destructivity and the desire to play: the destruction of the game can only be avenged by destruction. Destructivity is the only passionate use to which one can put everything that remains irremediably separated. It is the only game the nihilist can play; the bloodbath of the 120 Days of Sodom proletarianised along with the rest. —Timothy Clark, Christopher Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith & Charles Radcliffe in The Revolution of Modern Art and the Modern Art of Revolution (1967) via http://www.notbored.org/english.html

Cheri: New Michele Pfeiffer film

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUdEXqiNZ0]

Cheri

Cheri is an upcoming film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend (The Libertine), and directed by Stephen Frears. It is an adaptation of the novel by French author Colette. The film premiered at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. Set in 1920s Paris, Cheri tells the story of the end of a six-year affair between an aging retired courtesan, Léa, and a pampered young man, Chéri. Turning stereotypes upside-down, it is Chéri who wears silk pajamas and Léa’s pearls, and who is the object of gaze.

The film also stars Kathy Bates (Misery) and Anita Pallenberg (Performance).