Category Archives: sensibility

Introducing Mr.Fox: Darker Deeper

Introducing Mr.Fox: Darker Deeper


Mr.Fox: Darker Deeper[1][2] is an Anglophone visual culture blog with a focus on transgressive black and white photographs founded in May 2008.

As of May 2009, its most recent entries included Deus Irae Psychedelico[3], Robert Gregory Griffeth[4] , Rik Garrett[5] , Laurie Lipton[6] , Simon Marsden[7] , Sanne Sannes[8] , Jeffrey Silverthorne[9] , Edward Donato[10]

As of May 2009, the blog was connected with Blind Pony, EDK, Fetishart, Indie Nudes, Medieval Art, Morbid Anatomy, Ofellabuta, SensOtheque, With the ghost and Woolgathersome.

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.

“Carrier/Carrière is surrealist in drowning”

In the history of 20th century subculture, the surreal sensibility, and Surrealism in particular takes center stage.

Surrealism itself deserves a decentralized and regionalized historiography.


Polish surrealism for example brings the work of latter surrealist Jacek Yerka[1].

More than just a celebration of the new, Surrealism sought to find itself in the past and opened a revisionist approach to historiography. It sought to trace a sensibility in retrospect.

Faustino Bocchi

Faustino Bocchi (ill. above) would have been dubbed surrealist, if Breton had known him.


Arcimboldo (ill. above) would have been dubbed surrealist, if Breton had known him

In “What is Surrealism?Breton defines what we can label proto-Surrealism.

See the insets for the Carrier/Carrière debate

“Young‘s Night Thoughts are surrealist from cover to cover. Unfortunately, it is a priest who speaks; a bad priest, to be sure, yet a priest.
Heraclitus is surrealist in dialectic.
Lully is surrealist in definition.
Flamel is surrealist in the night of gold.
Swift is surrealist in malice.
Sade is surrealist in sadism.
Carrier is surrealist in drowning.
Monk Lewis is surrealist in the beauty of evil.
Achim von Arnim is surrealist absolutely, in space and time
Rabbe is surrealist in death.
Baudelaire is surrealist in morals.
Rimbaud is surrealist in life and elsewhere.
Hervey Saint-Denys is surrealist in the directed dream.
Carroll is surrealist in nonsense.
Huysmans is surrealist in pessimism.
Seurat is surrealist in design.
Picasso is surrealist in cubism.
Vaché is surrealist in me.
Roussel is surrealist in anecdote. Etc.”

This list comes from a lecture given by Breton in Brussels in 1934, either on May 12 or June 1 of that year, and published as a pamphlet immediately afterwards by René Henriquez, with as cover art Magritte‘s The Rape, which was created for that purpose. The enumeration in the lecture harks back to a list published in the first Surrealist Manifesto in 1924.

Other versions exist, one was published in the “Surrealist Number” of This Quarter. Another version was translated to Czech and published as “Co je surrealismus?” (1937), with a cover by Karel Teige. This list reprised the 1924 version.

Many of the names on the list are obscure, but I have managed to track all … but one.

When Breton says “Carrier is surrealist in drowning,” I have no idea who he means. Apparently, I am not the only one.

Marguerite Bonnet says in the 1975 André Breton: naissance de l’aventure surréaliste

… “Nous n’avons pas encore retrouvé le texte français de cet article, dont la version anglaise donne au « nom « Carrière » que Breton a corrigé en Carrier”
… “We have been unable to find the French text of this article, of which the English version gives as name Carrière, which Breton later correct as Carrier

If Bonnet confesses that she could not find the French text (published by René Henriquez) there is even more room for confusion. The “Surrealist Number” (1932) of Parisian “little magazineThis Quarter (edited by Edward W. Titus)[2]; and André Breton: naissance de l’aventure surréaliste [3] each mention additional names such as Helen Smith (surrealist in tongue), Uccello (in the free for all fight), Radcliffe (in the landscape), Maturin (in despair); and can’t agree on the spelling Carrière/Carrier.

Most of the evening was spent on

Most of the evening was spent on researching JRMS interview[1] with Gilbert Alter-Gilbert:

Genealogy of the Cruel Tale by you.

Gilbert Albert-Gilbert’s Genealogy of the Cruel Tale from Bakunin v.6, 1997) [1]

and especially Gilbert‘s intriguing “Genealogy of the Cruel Tale[2] a perfect example of the kind of thematic literary criticism I’m rather fond of. The chart reminds of the aestheticization of violence and cruelty in general, of which Nietzsche said:

“One ought to learn anew about cruelty,” said Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil, 229), “and open one’s eyes. Almost everything that we call ‘higher culture‘ is based upon the spiritualizing and intensifying of cruelty….”

For your pleasure, here is the wikified version (information is scarce on the 20th century authors mentioned):


Genealogy of the Cruel Tale is a chart by American intellectual Gilbert Alter-Gilbert documenting the origins of the cruel tale, which begins etymologically with Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam‘s Contes cruels anthology and has content- and style-wise similarities with cult fiction and horror fiction, Dark Romanticism and the roman frénétique, black humor, transgressive fiction, grotesque literature and folk tales. Sholem Stein says that it is a continuation of the research done by Breton in Anthology of Black Humor. Texts such as Walter Scott‘s On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition, Lovecraft‘s Supernatural Horror in Literature, Mario Praz‘s Romantic Agony and Todorov’s The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre also come to mind. Notably absent is Sade.


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.

Art history revisionism

Grotesque Head (c. 1480-1510) by Leonardo da Vinci, clearly the inspiration for The Ugly Duchess
Grotesque Head (c. 14801510) by Leonardo da Vinci,
clearly the inspiration for The Ugly Duchess
The Ugly Duchess by Quentin Matsys

The Ugly Duchess (1525-30) by Quentin Matsys

In my previous post I argued for a revisionist approach to art history, favoring discarded art historical movements related to the grotesque and the fantastic. I called for a start of art history with the work of Bosch rather than Da Vinci. I realized when writing it that I sort of short-changed da Vinci since the latter has also made many lesser-known works including several grotesques [1] and caricatures[2]. See the book Leonardo Da Vinci: The Divine and the Grotesque by Martin Clayton.

The reason I short-changed da Vinci is that he is much better known for “mainstream” works such as the Mona Lisa and Vitruvian Man. While researching da Vinci’s relation to the grotesque I came up with Grotesque Head, a powerful caricature which is clearly the inspiration for Quentin Matsys‘s The Ugly Duchess. Enjoy.

Tracing sensibilities worldwide: two recent discoveries

A large part of my wiki is about tracing certain sensibilities around the globe. Recently, I made two discoveries which ‘opened’ Portugal and Belgium for me.

I found – what I believe to be – the Portuguese equivalent of Western publishing houses Losfeld, Pauvert, Olympia in France, März in Germany, Calders & Boyars in the UK or Grove Press in the U. S. : Edições Afrodite run by Fernando Ribeiro de Mello. Most of the info comes from the Portuguese Wikipedia and much of it still needs to be translated. My Portuguese is limited, so any help is welcome.

Quite a wonderful cover:

Textos Malditos

Textos Malditos, an Edições Afrodite edition

Freddy De Vree

Rita Renoir, enz.

In Belgium I found Freddy de Vree, Belgian intellectual, cult figure and companion to Sylvia Kristel in the last years of his life. He was a friend of Topor and W. F. Hermans, wrote critiques on such diverse topics as Pigalle stripteaseuse Rita Renoir or French ‘excremental’ philosopher Georges Bataille.

Below are two images from De Bezige Bij editions of Hermans’s King Kong by publisher De Bezige Bij, of which I found the graphics amazing. De Bezige Bij, an interesting Dutch publishing house.

Two very impressive Bezige Bij covers:

King Kong WF Hermans

King Kong

King Kong WF Hermans 2

King Kong tweede druk

De Bezige Bij also published De Vree’s book on W. F. Hermans: De aardigste man van de wereld.

I thought it would be nice to leave you with an image of Rita Renoir:

Rita Renoir