Category Archives: psychology

Les téléclitoridiennes

Princess Marie Bonaparte

The story of Princess Marie Bonaparte is as least as strange as that of her contemporary, Serge Voronoff who grafted monkey testicle tissue on to the testicles of men while working in France in the 1920s and 1930s.


Princesse Marie directed by Benoît Jacquot

Princess Marie Bonaparte (18821962) was a French psychoanalyst, closely linked with Sigmund Freud. Her wealth contributed to the popularity of psychoanalysis, and enabled Freud’s escape from Nazi Germany.

According to the 2008 book Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach, Marie first consulted Sigmund Freud for treatment of what she described as her frigidity, which was later described as a failure to have orgasms during missionary position intercourse. After conducting research on women’s orgasms, she concluded the reason was the distance between clitoris and vagina. She called those, like herself, the “téléclitoridiennes” — “she of the distant clitoris.” She then attempted to “cure” her own failure to orgasm by having her clitoris moved, surgically, closer to her vagina; although the removal worked, the reattachment was not successful. It was to Marie Bonaparte that Sigmund Freud remarked, “The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”.

Her story of her relationship with Sigmund Freud and how she helped his family escape into exile was made into a television film, released in 2004. Princesse Marie YouTube was directed by Benoît Jacquot and starred Catherine Deneuve as Marie Bonaparte, and Heinz Bennent as Sigmund Freud.

Albert Hofmann (1906 – 2008)

“I suddenly became strangely inebriated. The external world became changed as in a dream. Objects appeared to gain in relief; they assumed unusual dimensions; and colors became more glowing. Even self-perception and the sense of time were changed. When the eyes were closed, colored pictures flashed past in a quickly changing kaleidoscope. After a few hours, the not unpleasant inebriation, which had been experienced whilst I was fully conscious, disappeared. what had caused this condition?” —Albert Hofmann (Laboratory Notes, 1943)

Albert Hofmann (January 11 1906April 29 2008) was a Swiss scientist best known for synthesizing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann authored more than 100 scientific articles and wrote a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child.

Some LSD visuals:

Film poster for The Trip (1967)

The Acid Eaters (1968) – Byron Mabe
Tagline: The film of anti-social significance.

images from here.

Psych-Out (1968) – Richard Rush [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Unreason vs. reason


Adorable seventies graphic design on the book depicted above.

Of course, the classic illustration of unreason is:

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monstersis a 1799 print by Goya from the Caprichos series. It is the image the sleeping artist surrounded by the winged ghoulies and beasties unleashed by unreason.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is a 1799 print by Goya from the Caprichos series. It is the image the sleeping artist surrounded by the winged ghoulies and beasties unleashed by unreason.

Unreason on the whole is a subject of innumerable greater interest than reason. As such, I’ll take the counter-enlightenment over the enlightenment any day. Conceded, there were interesting aspects of the enlightenment, ignored by history, such as the enlightenment of Thérèse Philosophe. See Robert Darnton’s The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France.

World cinema classics #35


Knife in the Water (1962) – Roman Polański

Knife in the Water is a 1962 film directed by Roman Polański. It features only three characters and deals with rivalry and sexual tension. Polanski would return to those themes in the 1966 film Cul-de-sac.

Previous “World Cinema Classics” and in the Wiki format here.

Spinoza and bondage (“He swore he’d never touch her again”)

Of Human Bondage He Swore

“He swore he’d never touch her again and then she whispered his name and he was lost” -film tagline

Of Human Bondage 1964

“When a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune: so much so, that he is often compelled, while seeing that which is better for him, to follow that which is worse. ” —Ethics of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions, Spinoza

I believe my first exposure to radical Dutch enlightenment philosopher Spinoza was via Gilles Deleuze or via the “perishable monuments” of Thomas Hirschhorn which I discovered in Germany at documenta in 2002.

Via Guy de Maupassant and William Somerset Maugham‘s Of Human Bondage I discovered this bit on human bondage.

In the 1660s, the Dutch philosopher Spinoza writes, in his Ethics of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions (a part of his Ethics), that the term “bondage” relates to the human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions.

Erotic (un)possibilities in an Antioch world

Over the past few days I’ve been mulling over Siri Hustvedt title essay A Plea for Eros which is a rumination on the effability and ineffability of sex in connection with the Antioch Ruling. Since January 1, 2006, the Antioch College in Ohio, United States, requires students to gain consent at each stage of a sexual encounter.

Hustvedt’s essay on the unreliability and ambiguity of language in relation to sexual ethics reminded me of Georges Bataille when he said that “sex begins where speech [or words] ends”, a statement I tend to agree with.


Emotionally charged scene in A History of Violence (French version)

Which brings me to Cronenberg penultimate film A History of Violence, the Straw Dogs of the 2000s. It is the story of Tom Stall, his wife Edie and their two children. Tom is a good-hearted impostor with organized crime roots. After his family finds out his true identity they initially reject him. He is finally accepted in a superb silent scene which is a celebration of the nuclear family; but not until after an emotionally charged fight between Tom and Edie followed by rough sex on the stairs. Notice the absence of adherence to the Antioch Ruling.

However, as Hustvedt points out at the beginning of her essay, an Antioch world can be full of erotic possibilities.

Imagine asking a female love interest “May I touch your left breast?”; patiently and eagerly waiting for the answer.

Dutch director Warmerdam’s cult film Little Tony predates Hustdvedt’s sentiments by 8 years. In this tragicomedy the erotic possibilities of explicitness in sexual encounters is illustrated by a key scene in which Brand, the protagonist illiterate farmer asks Lena, the school teacher who has been hired by Brand’s wife, “May I see your left breast?“. After a putative “Why?” by Lena, Brand answers: “So I can remain curious about the right one.”

History of Violence flotsam: Steven Shaviro gives a roundup of cinerati such as k-punk, girish twice, Chuck, Jodi — followed by k-punk’s reply and Jodi’s counter-replyJonathan Rosenbaum and his own view here.

World music classics #15


Juxtapoem: Sylvester James‘s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and Pierre Janet‘s reality principle. An interesting side effect of the common mental illness known as falling in love is the feeling of recapturing a sense of reality.

Nineteen years ago today, Sylvester died aged 40 of complications from AIDS.

See previous entries in this series.

When the trailer is better than the film


The Night Porter (1974) – Liliana Cavani

The trailer features the bunker-cabaret scene with Greta Keller’s ‘Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte’ [Youtube] played in the background and Charlotte Rampling in a strange striptease. It’s the most memorable scene of the film. Greta Keller’s song is one of soothing melancholy.

Update: SensOtheque elaborates.

Introducing Gabriel von Max

Monkeys as Judges of Art, 1889

Monkeys as Judges of Art, 1889


Äffchen mit Zitrone Gabriel von Max Saure Erfahrung

Monkey with Lemon

Die ekstatische Jungfrau Katharina Emmerich, 1885

Katharina Emmerich, 1885


Der Anatom, 1869

The Anatomist, 1869

Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max (August 23, 1840, Prague – November 24, 1915, München) was a Prague-born Austrian painter. His themes were parapsychology and mysticism. He surrounded himself and with monkeys and painted them often, sometimes portraying them as human.

See also: Monkeys in art