I used to buy issues of L’Écho des savanes in the late 1980s, a particularly fruitful time for comics, with highlights such as Tanino Liberatore, Enki Bilal, Wim T. Schippers, Jacques Tardi, Guido Crepax, Jean Giraud, Milo Manara, Georges Pichard and François Schuiten.
There was something subversive about the whole comics scene in those days, what you may now call the pre-internet days. Shops all of over Europe catered to the tastes of underground comic lovers, or so it seemed.
Only now that Claire Bretécher is dead, I discover her Agrippine character who was the heroin of nine albums. On the first self-titled album of 1988 Agrippine is shown reading the fictional Heidegger in the Congo (1988), a reference to Tintin in the Congo (1931).
I have not had the time to fully investigate Heidegger in the Congo but I suppose the link is that Heidegger was a Nazi and that Hergé’s album in the Congo is now considered racist.
I saw the film that composition stems from. I saw that film when it came out and never forgot the music. I later bought the twelve inch. I sold my collection of records when I moved into my current apartment in 2015.
Pierre Guyotat was a French writer. He is one of the last writers in the history of Western literature to have his book banned. The book was Eden, Eden, Eden and is a actually an enumeration of obscenities and atrocities in the tradition of Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom (1785, 1904).
The backdrop is the Algerian war, which was not really an Algerian war but a French war. Or at least a French-Algerian war. Pierre Guyotat fought in that war as a teenager and was arrested on charges of inciting to desert and put in a hole in the ground for three months.
In modern times, Spartacus became an icon for communists and socialists. Karl Marx listed Spartacus as one of his heroes and described him as “the most splendid fellow in the whole of ancient history” and a “great general, noble character, real representative of the ancient proletariat“.
Ilsa conducts sadistic scientific experiments designed to demonstrate that women are more capable of enduring pain than men are, and therefore should be allowed to fight in the army. Ilsa is also portrayed as having a voracious sexual appetite for her male prisoners, whom she then castrates and kills.
It plays with the tropes of male anxiety of sexual inadequacy and the fear of castration.
Her character was very loosely based on that of Ilse Koch.
His anti-pornography essay “Night Words” (1965) was the first of his writings which came to my attention in my capacity as pornosopher in the early 2000s.
Although I did not agree with them, his points were well-written and intellectually interesting.
“My true quarrel with the Olympia Reader and the genre it embodies is not that so much of the stuff should be boring and abjectly written. It is that these books leave a man less free, less himself, than they found him; that they leave language poorer, less endowed with a capacity for fresh discrimination and excitement. It is not a new freedom that they bring, but a new servitude. In the name of human privacy, enough!”
But then again, he also found the pearls and showed an appreciation for Diderot, Crebillon fils, Verlaine, Swinburne and Apollinaire. Pornography as such is just not very interesting, it is only interesting where it intersects with other genres or with other domains of interest in meaningful ways. In that sense, it is very similar to other art forms.
I happened to read In Bluebeard’s Castle (1971) during last summer. I had discovered the work when researching the notion of Western guilt. The book features the much quoted dictum:
“And it is true also that the very posture of self-indictment, of remorse in which much of educated Western sensibility now finds itself is again a culturally specific phenomenon. What other races have turned in penitence to those whom they once enslaved, what other civilizations have morally indicted the brilliance of their own past? The reflex of self-scrutiny in the name of ethical absolutes is, once more, a characteristically Western, post-Voltairian act.”
In that film she is baroness Frankenstein, wife and sister of baron Frankenstein (Udo Kier). The film’s pretty awful but the gore is marked by high production values and it features Van Vooren nude in a duo with Joe Dallesandro with some ridiculously loud armpit slurping.
The Poughkeepsie Shuffle: Tracing ‘The French Connection’ (2000)
Sonny Grosso was a New York City police detective turned movie and television producer, noted for his role in the “French Connection” heroin bust immortalized in the The French Connection (1971), directed by William Friedkin.
The BBC documentary The Poughkeepsie Shuffle: Tracing ‘The French Connection’ (2000) [above] features him extensively.
After being an adviser on The French Connection, Grosso went on to play a part in the film Cruising (1980), also directed by William Friedkin.
This film is also the subject of a documentary (above).