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 http://www.notbored.org/english.html
Posted in art, avant-garde, consumerism, counterculture, crime, economics, European culture, French culture, politics, subversion, theory, transgression, violence
Adolf Hitler @120
John Heartfield Hitler Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk, 1932. 
Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) 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 via 
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:
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:
Henri Désiré Landru (born April 12, 1869 in Paris, France – executed February 25, 1922 in Versailles, France) was a notorious French serial killer and real-life Bluebeard. Landru was the inspiration for Charlie Chaplin‘s film Monsieur Verdoux (1947).
Henri Désiré Landru (born April 12, 1869 in Paris, France – executed February 25, 1922 in Versailles, France) was a notorious French serial killer and real-life Bluebeard who was guillotined for at least 11 murdered women. Landru was the inspiration for Charlie Chaplin‘s film Monsieur Verdoux (1947). The method of lonely hearts killing was also used by the real-life couple portrayed in The Honeymoon Killers.
I was surprised to find in that film, Verdoux, references to Schopenhauer. When Verdoux is told that he appears to dislike women, he protests: “On the contrary, I love women, but I don’t admire them. He goes on with a chthonic trope and adds “Women are of the earth, realistic, dominated by physical facts.”
Last time I heard [an implied] Schopenhauer mentioned in a film was Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. Verdoux thus becomes World Cinema Classics #95.
P.S. There is a pretty good YouTumentary on the guillotine here with an incredible soundtrack, “Élégie” by Igor Stravinsky.
Clyde Barrow @100
Mug shot of Clyde
Bonnie Parker (October 1, 1910 – May 23, 1934) and Clyde Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) were notorious outlaws, robbers and criminals who travelled the Central United States during the Great Depression. Their exploits were known nationwide. They captivated the attention of the American press and its readership during what is sometimes referred to as the “public enemy era” between 1931 and 1935.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) is a film about their lives. It is regarded as the first film of the New Hollywood era, in that it broke many taboos and was popular with the younger generation.The film was controversial on its original release for its supposed glorificaton of murderers, and for its level of graphic violence and gore, which was unprecedented at the time. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times was so appalled that he began to campaign against the increasing brutality of American films, although one has to add to that Crowther was very puritan about sensationalization.
I am the Dying Gaul
This is my death scene, I was not given a deathbed. I do not represent the most famous death scene. I am outdeathed by Jesus Christ who died on the cross and Jean-Paul Marat , both after me.
I seem to have been born in a culture of death, yet I was not given any last words. This fascination with death in Western culture. Why? Why so pervasive?
Why did Jane write A Death-Scene?
- So I knew that he was dying-
- Stooped, and raised his languid head;
- Felt no breath, and heard no sighing,
- So I knew that he was dead.
Why this fasicnation with crime scenes?
Why did Andy Warhol produce The Death and Disaster paintings?
And why is every sensationalist corner of video-libraries around the world filled with copies of Faces of Death?
Bonnie and Clyde
Why do we enjoy the slow motion death of Bonnie and Clyde and countles other movie death scenes?
Aristotle, had I known him, would have answered me:
- Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies. –Aristotle via the Poetics.
Posted in aesthetics, Carnography, crime, culture, death, docufiction, exploitation, grotesque, horror, irrationalism, juxtapoetry, transgression, violence, visual culture, voyeurism
Of course there is such a thing as female perversion and female crime, but it is rare. Two easy entry-points into this realm are the Papin sisters and closer to the Anglophone world, the Parker-Hulme friends. These cases provide access to the world of the female murderer and the black widow, the relationship between gender and crime and the concept of the folie à deux.
One of the most astonishing facts about the Papin sisters is the defense of their actions by the French intellectuals of their time.
The Papin sisters brutally murdered their employer and her daughter in Le Mans, France, on February 2, 1933.
This incident had a significant influence on French intellectuals Genet, Sartre and Lacan, who sought to understand it and it was thought of as symbolic of class struggle.
“I’ve seen the photos of these two pretty girls, these servants who killed and battered their mistresses. I’ve seen the photos before and after. ‘Before’, their faces hovered like two docile flowers above their lace collars. They radiated clean living and appetizing honesty. A discreet curling iron had crimped their hair in a similar manner. And, even more reassuring than their waved hair, their collars and their air of being on a visit to the photographer, was their resemblance as sisters, the self-righteous resemblance that immediately brought blood ties and the natural roots of the family group to the fore. ‘After’, their faces glowed like a blaze. They had the bare necks of the future beheaded. Wrinkles everywhere, horrible wrinkles of fear and hatred, folds, holes in the flesh as if a clawed beast had roamed round and round on their faces. And those eyes, those same big, dark and bottomless eyes… And yet, they no longer looked alike. Each, in her own way, bore the memory of their common crime…” –”Le Mur” by Sartre
Motives of Paranoiac Crime: The Crime of the Papin Sisters, a paper by Jacques Lacan brought me to French intellectuals on the Papin sisters. Also to Nosubject.com, the Lacan wiki.
“Christine and Léa were genuine Siamese souls. Between them, the two sisters couldn’t even find the distance needed to wound each other…
“Christine must have gone through such torture before the desperate experience of crime tore her from her other self and allowed her, after the first hallucinatory fit in which she thought she saw her sister dead, to cry the words of blatant passion: ‘Yes, say yes!’” –Taken from “Motives of Paranoiac Crime: The Crime of the Papin Sisters“–Jacques Lacan
To conclude, from the diary of Pauline Parker:
“The day of the happy event” “I felt very excited last night and sort of night-before-Christmas but I did not have pleasant dreams…I feel very keyed up as though I were planning a surprise party. The happy event is to take place tomorrow afternoon. So the next time I write in this diary Mother will be dead.” –from Pauline Parker’s diary.
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-reply — Jonathan Rosenbaum and his own view here.
Posted in crime, culture, eroticism, female sexuality, irrationalism, juxtapoetry, life, love, psychology, theory, transgression, voyeurism
Miami Blues (1990) – George Armitage
“With only bottles of spaghetti sauce…”
The main character, Fred Frenger, played by Alec Baldwin, fits the profile of a psychopath. His girlfriend is Jennifer Jason Leigh. Very violent and terribly funny. Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Willeford.
The song in the background is “Spirit in the Sky.” Listen to it here.
Previous “World Cinema Classics” and in the Wiki format here.
Blood Simple (1985) Joel and Ethan Coen
Today is Ethan Coen’s fiftieth birthday.
Look out for the scene where the detective opens the window; the woman slams it on top of his wrist and drives a knife through his hand into the windowsill. The original soundtrack is by Carter Burwell, who has done the soundtracks to all of the Coens’ films.
Previous “World Cinema Classics“