bell hooks was an American author and social activist, working in the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender.
She is perhaps best known for Ain’t I a Woman?(1981).
I first came into contact with her work by way of Angry Women (1991), a book in the RE/Search series.
She also wrote on Paris Is Burning (1990) in a vocabulary typical of her corpus:
“Within white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy the experience of men dressing as women, appearing in drag, has always been regarded by the dominant heterosexist cultural gaze as a sign that one is symbolically crossing over from a realm of power into a realm of powerlessness.”
bell hooks on Paris is Burning in a piece published in Black Hooks (1992)
Each of these words, white, supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal, hetero-sexist sounds as meaningful and portentous as vacuous and meaningless. It is a description of a state of affairs that betrays a desire for change. The form of this change, however, is not spelled out. Would bell hooks prefer communism instead of capitalism?
Nevertheless, looking at old interviews on Charlie Rose, bell hooks comes across as a gentle, well-read and smart woman.
Anne Rice was an American writer known for her gothic fiction and erotic literature.
Vampirism as a metaphor for sex
I only read one of her books, her debut Interview with a Vampire (1976), probably when I traveled Indonesia or when I lived in China, I cannot remember.
It was the first vampire story that I read. Later I became interested in lesbian vampires. When I researched exploitation films I came to realize that female vampires preying on other vampires is a metaphor for lesbianism. Five minutes later I came to realize that that vampirism is a metaphor for sex tout court.
The road to sadomasochism …
And then obviously, the road from vampirism and sex to sadomasochism is short.
And by googling Anne Rice + sadomasochism, I stumbled upon the book Anne Rice Reader in which the interviewer asks:
In your novel Exit to Eden you talk about there being a racial memory of …
And her answer is:
“If we look for a cause, we would have to think about something like racial memory – something encoded in the genes, some way in which after thousands of years, we’ve turned experiences of violence and violation into something erotic.”
And then, googling again for Anne Rice and “racial memory” I land on my own site where I’ve started to wikify the book The Biology of Horror.
Racial memory is a sort of vestigial memory a cell memory that contains all of the experiences of our species.
In that same book The Biology of Horror there are (and I will not pursue the racial memory strain) some beautiful quotations by Rice:
A person unwilling to die is described as “the vampire of time which has sucked on it for years on end”.
And the book also mentions Anne Rice’s appreciation for a line of poetry by Yeats. She cites “I must lie down where all ladders start, / In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart” from “The Circus Animals Desertion”.
She seemed very intelligent and reminds me in some ways of Stephen King.
Lina Wertmüller was an Italian film director best known as the auteur of The Seduction of Mimi (1972), Love and Anarchy (1973), Swept Away (1974), and Seven Beauties (1975).
Since I had not seen any of Lina Wertmüller’s movies yet, I watched all four of these over the weekend. One dubbed in English with Spanish subtitles, two in Italian with Portuguese subtitles, one in Italian with no subtitles.
A Belgian film critic
There was a Belgian film critic on Facebook who said that he’d never liked Wertmüller’s films, Patrick Duynslaegher is his name. He called the performances in her films exaggerated and he wondered how she could have merited the success she had once had.
One person commented on the good man’s post that his disapproval probably meant that these films were good films. Ever since the days, she said, when he still wrote for Knack, when he panned a film, she had gathered it was probably a masterpiece, and it usually was. He replied graciously to her comment that he was glad that he had been able to guide her through the film landscape in this special way.
Four of her films
I watched the four films and as could be expected I felt different about these films than Duynslaegher. I was amused, I laughed, I thought they were very witty films, I didn’t find them pretentious anywhere.
The scene in Seven Beauties where the picaro in a concentration camp seduces the ugly, obese camp commander is masterful.
The flirtation scene in The Seduction of Mim‘ is, if anything, even more masterful.
The f***ing scene in Mimi with the obese ‘mama’ is hilarious.
Giancarlo Giannini is excellent in each of those films, he reminds me very much of Patrick Dewaere.
I don’t really understand your problem with her films, I said to Patrick. Surely Fellini is just as grotesque and unrealistic?
I found the rape scene in Swept Away hot and it reminded me of the extended scene in Irréversible, which was repulsive.
The sadomasochism in the seduction of the female prison guard in Seven Beauties is not the only bout of sadomasochism, because before the rape scene he had forced her to kiss his hand and after the rape scene the woman becomes as docile as ever and even kisses his feet.
Opening montage of Seven Beauties
And then there is the opening montage of Seven Beauties, where we see historical footage from WWII, with a song by Enzo Jannacci superimposed. In that song, titled “Quelli che” (English “those who”), Enzo sings cynical commentary phrases in parlando style. And after every sentence he says “oh yeah”, in a crooner-like way.
Robbie Shakespeare was a bass player who, with his partner Sly Dunbar, formed the most influential reggae rhythm section between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s.
I found out about Robbie’s death in De Standaard in which Karel Michiels wrote a knowledgeable obituary. Michiels had struck me before when writing about the death of Bunny Wailer. When I came home I googled him. I found out he is a reggae musician in his own right and performs under the name Jah Shakespeare.
What is my history with Sly and Robbie?
I think a friend of mine had a tape of Taxi Gang (a Sly and Robbie moniker) with her when I traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in the early 1990s.
When I collected records during the late 1990s and early 2000s, I found a copy of “Don’t Stop the Music”, a track which they recorded under the moniker Bits & Pieces, a cover of the disco song.
And then there is “Boops (Here To Go)” (1987) produced by Bill Laswell. This I first heard in Tom Tom Club in Antwerp. When I tried to find it in the internet era, it took me some time, thinking the lyrics were, “civil check, arms open wide” in stead of “Si boops deh. With arms open wide”.
Compass Point houseband
Besides all this, the duo are central to what is perhaps my favorite recording studio. I am referring to Compass Point, where Sly and Robbie were central to the house band Compass Point All Stars. Everybody played there, perhaps most central to my universe, Serge Gainsbourg.
The Padlock EP
And, to conclude: Robbie also did the bass line on that unforgettable record Padlock EP (1983) by Gwen Guthrie, produced by Larry Levan.