Category Archives: transgression

RIP James Kirkup (1918 – 2009)

RIP James Kirkup

James Kirkup, FRSL (23 April 1918 – 10 May 2009) was a prolific English poet, translator and travel writer, best-known for his controversial poem The Love that Dares to Speak its Name, which describes a sexual fantasy of a homosexual soldier for the dead Christ.

The Dead Christ (1582) by Annibale Carracci

The Dead Christ (1582) by Annibale Carracci

The Love that Dares to Speak its Name is  written from the viewpoint of a Roman centurion who is graphically described having sex with Jesus after his crucifixion, and also claims that Jesus had had sex with numerous disciples, guards, and even Pontius Pilate. Its title The Love that Dares to Speak its Name was taken from a line in the poem “Two Loves” by Lord Alfred Douglas.

Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c. 1480) by Andrea Mantegna

Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c. 1480) by Andrea Mantegna

Dead Christ

In Western art, the death of Christ and its depiction is usually known by the term lamentation of Christ and it is a very common subject in Christian art from the High Middle Ages to the Baroque. After Jesus was crucified, his body was removed from the cross and his friends and family mourned over his body. This event has been depicted by many different artists.

Ruggero Deodato @70

Ruggero Deodato @70


Ruggero Deodato (born May 7 1939 in Potenza) is a controversial Italian film director, actor and screen writer, best known for his infamous 1980 film cannibal film Cannibal Holocaust.

Ruggero Deodato belongs to the same mantle that holds Joe D’Amato, Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Tinto Brass, Ruggero Deodato, Lucio Fulci, Riccardo Freda, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Sergio Leone, Antonio Margheriti and Bruno Mattei.

These were filmmakers of the pre-internet dark ages, the terra incognita of the 20th century, who exploited the ignorance of the general audience regarding prurient matters such as sex, drugs and rock and roll.

In 1979 Deodato started work on Mondo-style Cannibal Holocaust. Deodato caused massive controversy in Italy and the United Kingdom following the release of Cannibal Holocaust, which was accused to be a genuine snuff film. Deodato was forced to reveal the secrets behind the film’s impalement[1] scene and to parade the lead actors before an Italian court in order to prove that they were still alive. More importantly, Deodato was harshly criticized for the use of real animal torture in his films. Deodato’s film license was then revoked and he would not get it back until three years later

Younger viewers may have spotted Ruggero as a client in the film Hostel: Part II.

See also Italian exploitation, Italian horror film, Italian film, cannibal films

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.

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

Hitler @120

Adolf Hitler @120

Heartfield vs. Hitler

John Heartfield Hitler Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk, 1932. [1]

Adolf Hitler (18891945) remains a powerful and dark figure even 64 years after his death. His legacy as a personification of evil in the 20th century is rivalled only by Joseph Stalin‘s. Both were possessed by the Devil, Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, asserted in 2006.

Which brings me to the problem of evil.

Epicurus is generally credited with first expounding the problem of evil, and it is sometimes called “the Epicurean paradox” or “the riddle of Epicurus.”

“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?” — Epicurus, as quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief

But shocking as it may sound, both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin believed that they were actually bettering the world by their actions; the evil of Hitler and Stalin had — in their own eyes — a purpose.

Some feel that true evil lacks this purpose and only enjoys causing destruction and chaos as a form of ultraviolence without motive. As such, figures like serial killers, spree killers and psychopaths are the personificaton of evil.

It is their kind of gratuitous violence we fear most, because it is unmotivated, a caprice.

“Stranger-killing, the killing which has no motive, is something which we associate to “pure evil“, and that we fear more than anything else in the world. There are several excellent examples of this morbid fascination, especially in the world of cinema: some of the most “relevant” contemporary blockbusters deal with the theme of serial killing (Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal” and “The Silence of the Lambs“, David Fincher’s “Seven“, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho“, Mary Harron’s “American Psycho“).” — Albert Hofer[2] via [3]

While we like to think –not without reason, the first spree killer is a postwar development — that this kind of senseless violence is a late 20th century phenomenon, proof exists that gratuitous acts of violence already existed as far back as the early 19th century. Witness this illustration by Dutch illustrator Christiaan Andriessen:

Senseless Violence

A boy attacked in the street by a butcher’s apprentice with a cleaver, 22nd of November 1806. “What’s the matter lad? Well, that boy over there just cut me in my face with his cleaver.” — from the diary of Christiaan Andriessen:

Icon of Erotic Art #43

Three Young White Men and a Black Woman by Dutch painter Christiaen van Couwenbergh

Three Young White Men and a Black Woman (1632) by Christiaen van Couwenbergh

To pronounce the painting above erotic art, is perhaps stretching the concept of eroticism. However after my illustrious predecessor Georges Bataille stated in 1957 “Eroticism … is assenting to life up to the point of death” there is not much stretching to be done. Truly one of the curiosities in the history of painting, here is Icon of Erotic Art #43 Three Young White Men and a Black Woman.

Maurice Girodias @90

Maurice Girodias @90

Tropic of Cancer, first edition published by Maurice Girodias's father. Cover drawing by Girodias himself. by you.

In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer.

The cover states: “Ne doit pas etre exposé en étalage ou en vitrine,” in English that is: “Cannot be displayed in show window.”

Ah … the good old “sous le manteau” days

“I remember a very funny story told to me by Maurice. He once had to take the train to Belgium, where he needed to bring a great deal of money. He had hidden the money bills in his shorts. Once on the train, he was overcome by diarrhea and forgot to remove the money from his shorts when he went to the toilet with the unfortunate result of soiling this small fortune. He cleaned the money as best as he could and afterwards reserved those bills to use as — quite literally — dirty money.” —Sholem Stein

Maurice Girodias (12 April 19193 July 1990), was the founder of the The Olympia Press. At one time he was the owner of his father’s Obelisk Press, and spent most of his productive years in Paris.

Girodias’s involvement with his father’s business started early. In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer. After his father’s early death in 1939, Girodias took over publishing duties, and at the age of 20 managed to survive Paris, World War II, Occupation and paper shortages.

The Affaire Miller ended with Girodias out of jail, but bankrupt and no longer in control of his company.

Olympia Press

Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebadged version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic novels and avant-garde literary works, and is best known for the first print of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Lolita.

Most, if not all, Olympia Press publications were promoted and packaged as “Traveller’s Companion” books, usually with simple text-only covers, and each book in the series was numbered.

Olympia Press was also the first publisher willing to print the controversial William S. Burroughs novel, Naked Lunch. Other notable works included J. P. Donleavy‘s The Ginger Man; the French trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett; A Tale of Satisfied Desire by Georges Bataille and Story of O by Pauline Réage.

English-language presses in Paris

The Enlish-language literary expatriates depended on the presence in Paris of a substantial number of English-language presses, periodicals, and bookstores. These small presses included such famous names as the Contact Press (of American poet Robert McAlmon), the Three Mountains Press (of Bill Bird), the Hours Press (of Nancy Cunard), the Black Sun Press (of Harry and Caresse Crosby), the Obelisk Press (of Jack Kahane), and the Olympia Press (of Maurice Girodias, son of Kahane).

French erotica, and, icon of erotic art #42

In the history of world erotica I present you with Le Poitevin’s diableries.

Les Diableries Erotiques by Eugène le Poitevin (1806 - 1870)

From the Les Diableries Erotiques by Eugène le Poitevin

Eugène le Poitevin (18061870) was a French artist, author of Les Diableries Erotiques.

He is an underrated figure in the history of French erotica and his engraving above from the aforementioned Les Diableries Erotiques is icon of erotic art #42.

Diableries are an interesting genre and illustrates how — before the “invention” of erotica and pornography — body parts and the people possessing them were used for subversive purposes, here as a form of satirical pornography or pornographic satire. The genre goes back to Rabelais, although his masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel was more emetic than erotic.

Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, illustrated by Gustave Doré in 1873

Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, illustrated by Gustave Doré in 1873

Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise by anonymous  Anonymous satirical caricature of the Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise (1717-1757); this engraving is a good example of "pornography" as a tool for political subversion during France's ancien régime.

Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise by anonymous
Anonymous satirical caricature of the Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise (1717-1757); this engraving is a good example of “pornography” as a tool for political subversion during France’s ancien régime.

Of course, artists such as Le Poitevin deserve a place in the history of derision, a playful and benign derision that is turned toward ourselves, toward the very core of human nature. As such it is also a piece of toilet philosophy.

Remarkably, the writeup on a Poitevin engraving not depicted here in my edition of Erotic Art of the Masters the 18th, 19th, 20th Centuries Art & Artists , author and editor Bradley Smith notes “penises and vaginas fly through the air like butterflies, are gathered in baskets and, personified, play games with adults and children.” This quote echoes the following by Deleuze and Guattari, “Flying anuses, speeding vaginas, there is no castration” (A Thousand Plateaus, p. 32).

Nikolai Gogol @200

Nikolai Gogol @200

Poprishchin (protagonist of the novel by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol “Diary of a Madman”.  by Ilya Yefimovich Repin by you.

Poprishchin, protagonist of Nikolai Gogol‘s “Diary of a Madman” painted by Ilya Repin

Nikolai Gogol will be 200 tomorrow morning (that’s the day after tomorrow, I skipped a day here). Like so many of us of the internet generation, we stumbled upon Gogol via Mario Bava’s Black Sunday.

He is an icon of 19th century literature, Russian literature, grotesque literature and fantastic literature.

“What an intelligent, queer, and sick creature!” —Ivan Turgenev

“I don’t know whether anyone liked Gogol exclusively as a human being. I don’t think so; it was, in fact, impossible. How can you love one whose body and spirit are recovering from self-inflicted torture?” —Sergei Aksakov

Gogol wrote in the literary tradition of E.T.A. Hoffmann (The Sandman) and Laurence Sterne (Tristram Shandy), often involving elements of the fantastic and grotesque. In addition, Gogol’s works are often outrageously funny. The mix of humor, social realism, the fantastic, and unusual prose forms are what readers love about his work.

RIP Nicholas Hughes (1962 – 2009)

Nicholas and Sylvia Plath

Nicholas Hughes with mother Sylvia Plath

Nicholas Hughes (January 17, 1962 – March 16, 2009), son of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath has commited suicide. He was suffering from clinical depression like his mother before him who took her life when he was one year old.

I first became empirically aware of the hereditary qualities of suicide via Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, a 1999 book by Kay Redfield Jamison on suicide and manic depression.