I’m rereading Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant, a book which is brilliant in its lateral connections, arguing amongst other things that the Industrial Revolution in England goes hand in hand with the legal use of opium as recreational drug.
Speaking of opium, I’ve published a photo of an oozing, exuding, secreting and leaking poppy seed head.
But that’s not what I wanted to show you.
Flaubert on ‘a book about nothing,’ cited in ‘Writing On Drugs’
On page 47 in Writing on Drugs is Flaubert and he is cited stating his desire to write ‘a book about nothing‘ (‘un livre sur rien’), in other words a plotless novel, an antinovel as it were.
“What strikes me as beautiful, what I would like to do, is a book about nothing, a book with no external tie, which would support itself by its internal force of style, a book which would have hardly any subject or at least where the subject would be almost invisible, if that can be so.” (Flaubert, Letters 170).
Did Flaubert fulfil his ambition?
Maybe he did. The closest he came to writing about nothing was in his Bouvard et Pécuchet and Dictionary of Received Ideas.
RIP Simon Vinkenoog, 80, Dutch poet and writer.
Vinkenoog with Spinvis in a totally Fela Kuti-esque track
Simon Vinkenoog (1928 – 2009) was a Dutch poet and writer. He was instrumental in launching the Dutch “Fifties Movement“.
In the Anglosphere Vinkenoog’s name is associated with the Albert Hall poetry event (and the film Wholly Communion) and his connection with IT magazine.
He was one of the Néerlandophone beat writers. The same cultural climate that begot the beat writers in the United States engendered European counterparts.
These countercultures must be looked for in two spheres, the sphere of European counterculture and the sphere of European avant-garde.
In France this was the Letterist International, in Germany perhaps Gruppe 47; visually and on a European scale there was COBRA.
Vinkenoog was born in the same year as Andy Warhol, Serge Gainsbourg, Jeanne Moreau, Nicolas Roeg, Guy Bourdin, Luigi Colani, Stanley Kubrick, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, William Klein, Roger Vadim, Yves Klein, Jacques Rivette, Alvin Toffler, Ennio Morricone and Oswalt Kolle.
I’ve mentioned Vinkenoog , , , , ,  and here.
Posted in avant-garde, counterculture, cult fiction, death, Dutch language, European culture, experimental, fiction, literature, poetry, Simon Vinkenoog, subversion, underground
Never mind the bollocks, here’s Rabelais
As I noted in a previous post on satirical pornography or pornographic satire, Rabelais‘s masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel is more emetic than erotic.
There is however a strain of eroticism to be found in Rabelais, a strain of the bawdy, ribald and burlesque variety, which dates back at its earliest to the Ancient Greek Milesian tale.
The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced Apuleius‘ The Golden Ass, Petronius‘ Satyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.
Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit (1535) by Clément Marot.
Rabelais‘s blason and contreblason du couillon (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock(s)) respectively sing the praise and disparagement of the male testicles. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.
These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and content-wise liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.
The c. is short for couillons (bollocks).
Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives):
- Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
- Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
- Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
- Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
- Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
- Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
- Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
- Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
- Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
- Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
- Manual C. Partitional C.
- Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
- Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
- Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
- Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
- Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
- Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
- Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
- Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
- Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
- Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
- Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
- Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
- Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
- Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
- full blason here
Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):
- Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
- Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
- Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
- Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
- Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
- Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
- Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
- Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
- Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
- Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
- Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
- Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
- Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
- Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
- Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
- Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
- Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
- Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
- Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
- Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
- Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
- Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
- Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
- Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
- Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
- full counterblason here
Posted in 1001 things to do before you die, absurd, comedy, cult fiction, European culture, experimental, fantastique, fiction, French culture, genre, grotesque, humor, irrationalism, juxtapoetry, literature, poetry, subversion, surrealism, theory, transgression
Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis
Sourced via pierrepainblanc
I’ve just spent a good deal of hours researching Comte de Gabalis, a quest prompted by a new release on Creation Books‘ Creation Oneiros imprint and the reference I found there to occult fiction. Wikipedia has no entry on occult fiction but Googling them did bring up Gabalis.
I am not that a big a fan of occultism except when I find it represented in fiction, such as supernatural horror or le fantastique.
A recap of what I found:
The Comte De Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars, first published anonymously in 1670. The book is dedicated to Rosicrucianis and Cabalism and based on Paracelsus‘s four elementals: Gnomes, earth elementals; Undines; water elementals, Sylphs, air elementals and Salamanders, fire elementals. It is composed of five discourses given by a Count or spiritual master to the student or aspirant. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology by the Gale Group notes that the work may be a satire of the writings of la Calprenède, a popular French writer of the 17th century.
David Teniers the Younger. The Alchemist
It was also very pleasant to find and wikify elements in fiction:
Shakespeare‘s plays abound in elemental beings including Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ariel in The Tempest. Alexander Pope was influenced by the Comte de Gabalis in his Rosicrucian poem “Rape of the Lock.” Sylphs have been the favorites of the bards. The “Mahābhārata” is full of stories about beings of the elements and their heroic offspring with their human partners. Similar themes and references are found in Homer‘s The Iliad and The Odyssey in which the elemental beings appear as gods and goddesses such as the mighty Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Achilles, son of a mortal man and the goddess Nymph Thetis (see The Iliad by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1990). German writer Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué wrote about a beautiful water-nymph, “Undine,” and Sir Walter Scott endowed the White Lady of Avenel with many of the attributes of the nymphs. Other works or characters influenced include Lord Lytton‘s Zanoni, James Barrie‘s Tinker Bell; and the bowlers Rip Van Winkle encountered in the Catskill Mountains. The story of Melusina is based on the historical marriage of a gentleman and a water nymph. Charles Mackay, father of Marie Corelli, wrote “Salamandrine,” a poem about a great love between a human and a female salamander. Cabalism, in general, influenced many Mediaeval poems as well as the writings of Dante.
The most interesting aspect of The Comte De Gabalis is the sexual union of gods and mortals. I like half creatures and I like the sexual part of it. It was the work of the minor British publisher of anthropologica Robert H. Fryar who most clearly brought this link to my attention by reprinting in the late 19th century the Comte de Gabalis with its tale of the immortalization of elementals through sexual intercourse with men and supplementing the work with long citations from the recently discovered Demoniality Or Incubi and Succubi, an eighteenth-century work by Father Sinistrari on the dangers of incubi and succubi.
Posted in cult fiction, eroticism, fantastique, fiction, French culture, irrationalism, life, literature, magic, philosophy, psychology, subculture
RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)
Posted in absurd, anarchism, architecture, avant-garde, cult fiction, culture, experimental, eye candy, French culture, humor, irrationalism, literature, philosophy, poetry, postmodernism, subculture, subversion, surrealism, taste, transgression, underground
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 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
- 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.
Erotic postcard by Julian Mandel (c. 1920), the model is Kiki de Montparnasse
I like the histories of strong and independent women. In France their have been Joan of Arc, George Sand, Colette and Kiki de Montparnasse, to name the most ringing names. The last two played a decisive role in 1920s Paris.
Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel Muller & José-Louis Bocquet
In 2007, Kiki’s life was celebrated in the biographical graphic novel, Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel Muller & José-Louis Bocquet. On its cover is Le violon d’Ingres, one of the works of art in the collective unconscious, which started its life in 1924 as gelatin silver print photograph by Man Ray portraying Alice Prin (aka Kiki de Montparnasse) in the pose of the Valpinçon Bather. Man Ray photographically superimposed sound holes, or f holes, onto the photograph of the back of a female nude, making the woman’s body resemble that of a violin.
The grahic novel remains untranslated into English as of April 2009.
Corgi edition of Nabokov‘s Lolita
(notice “complete and unabridged,” meaning previously censored)
Delving more and more into the art of commemoration I find it strange that people also commemorate people’s deaths. To me the birthday is what counts. I always want to go to the source, not to the end. Just like in horoscopes, where I find it strange that it takes as basis the date of birth, rather than the date of conception.
I offer you the Corgi edition of Nabokov‘s Lolita, the novel he will always be best remembered for.
Promotional page for Panurge Press, from Bookleggers and Smuthounds
In the history of American erotica there are two private press publishers of curiosa, Falstaff Press and Panurge Press. Both are well-documented in Bookleggers and Smuthounds, both were at the hight of their activity in the 1930s.
Interestingly, both of the presses’ names are derived from male fictional characters, in the case of Falstaff described as “fat, vainglorious, cowardly, jolly knight” and in the case of Panurge as “an exceedingly crafty knave, a libertine, and a coward.”
Both cowards, both anti-heros. Falstaff as much as Panurge, very much in tune with American modernist literature.
Today, following my binge of French erotica, I’ve been busy researching the “also avaible from this publisher” page from The Erotic History of France by by Henry L. Marchand, a Panurge book.
The Sotadic Zone by Sir Richard Burton, Panurge Press edition, image courtesy vintagesleaze, the site that lives up to its title.
Other publications of Panurge include The Sotadic Zone by Sir Richard Burton, here with an illustration courtesy of vintagesleaze.com.