Der kleine Narr (The Little Fool) is an engraving by Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550)
“Kings and philosophers shit – and so do ladies” (Montaigne (1533-1592) in his Essays)
Der kleine Narr (above) illustrates the first draft of the translation of my “Satirical pornography and pornographic satire, the caveman is agitated” chapter in The History of Erotica.
Mind the turd.
Susanna and the Elders (1555) by Tintoretto in the collection of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Austria.
Via peeking into Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (mentioned in previous post) come Diderot’s thoughts on the difference between decency and indecency, or, by extension, the difference between erotica and pornography. According to Diderot, “it is the difference between a woman who is seen and a woman who exhibits herself.”
Here are Diderot’s thoughts in full from an unidentified translation:
“A nude woman isn’t indecent. It’s the lavishly decked out woman who is. Imagine the Medici Venus is standing in front of you, and tell me if her nudity offends you. But shoe this Venus’ feet with two little embroidered slippers. Dress her in tight white stockings secured at the knee with rose-colored garters. Place a chic little hat on her head, and you’ll feel the difference between decent and indecent quite vividly. It’s the difference between a woman seen and a woman displaying herself. (translator unidentified, probably John Goodman)
“Une femme nue n’est point indécente. C’est une femme troussée qui l’est. Supposez devant vous la Vénus de Médicis, et dites-moi si sa nudité vous offensera. Mais chaussez les pieds de cette Vénus de deux petites mules brodées. Attachez sur son genou avec des jarretières couleur de rose un bas blanc bien tiré. Ajustez sur sa tête un bout de cornette, et vous sentirez fortement la différence du décent et de l’indécent. C’est la différence d’une femme qu’on voit et d’une femme qui se montre.”
Please do not take Diderot too seriously when it comes to eroticism, I’ve previously written on Diderot’s hypocrisy. In my view, if it isn’t indecent, it isn’t erotic. That is why I do not consider many pieces of erotic art, erotic at all since they do not provoke erotic arousal. Shame is the most powerful aphrodisiac.
Posted in aesthetics, eroticism, European culture, French culture, gratuitous nudity, visual culture, voyeurism
Tagged aesthetics, Diderot, pornosophy, Susanna and the Elders, visual art
Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (2009) – [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
I want to read Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching(2009) by Kelly Dennis.
Besides that pornosophy is my area of expertise, the book looks rather more clever than many porn studies that have recently flooded the American market and finding smart sentences such as the following has whetted my appetite:
“We can now see that the “sister arts,” the paragone, the hierarchy of genres, and even ekphrasis are all rooted in an opposition between word and image, between an acceptable literary pictorialism and a less acceptable pictorial literacy.”
I found this book while googling paragone and ekphrasis mentioned in my previous post on Baudelaire.
On the cover of Art/Porn is one panel from the Every Playboy centerfold, by decade series by Jason Salavon.
Zázrak Lásky (Czech translation of Wunder der Liebe by Oswalt Kolle).
Oswalt Kolle played a significant role in the sexual revolution in Germany.
Of all sexual revolutions (see here), the one that occurred in the 1960s was the most pervasive, due to mass media, the pill and general economic prosperity.
It was a funny revolution. A friend once told me that it was just an excuse for all alpha males to bang as many women as they could get their hands on. This is an exaggeration, of course, but contains some truth.
It was the start of sex education in state schools, like the Sexualkundeatlas of 1969, but also of state-funded sexual education films Helga – Vom Werden des menschlichen Lebens.
Illustration Zázrak Lásky (Czech translation of Wunder der Liebe by Oswalt Kolle). For more visuals of Oswalt Kolle’s products, see my old page here.
Courtship in the edible snail, Helix pomatia (Photo by Jangle1969)
Having recently seen the documentary film Microcosmos (to be viewed in its entirety on Vimeo here), I’d like to share these two pictures of snails mating.
These images are instances of zoological horror or the zoological fantastique, depending on your view.
Mating garden snails (Photo by Carla Isabel Ribeiro)
Both horror and the fantastique are just as much rooted in fascination as in revulsion, ergo in ambiguity of emotions. And what could be more ambivalent and cause more ‘mixed feelings’ than slimy slugs and snails ‘getting it on’, an act which may involve hermaphroditism, firing love darts (a source of the Cupid myth, state some sources), apophallation (gnawing at stuck penises) and even sexual cannibalism?
Of course, the attentive reader will have noticed that in the photo of ‘Courtship in the edible snail, Helix pomatia’ the soft bodies of the snails look exactly like the labia majora of an adult female human mammal.
It needs not to be said that the whole field of animal sexuality is highly fascinating and has been represented in art not often enough. Apart from Microcosmos, there has been Green Porno and the magnificent films of Jean Painlevé (Acera, or the Witches’ Dance comes to mind).
Posted in aesthetics, eroticism, fantastique, grotesque, horror, life, nature, visual culture
Tagged fantastique, gastropoda, grotesque, sex life
RIP Nagisa Oshima (1932-2013) , Japanese film director, best-known for his penis-severing film Empire of Passion. The film (based on the true story of Sada Abe) was produced by French producer Anatole Dauman.
Illustration: Roland Topor film poster for Oshima’s Empire of Passion.
La Grande épidémie de pornographie (1882) is a caricature by Albert Robida first published in the May 6 issue of La Caricature.
La Grande épidémie de pornographie (1882, image left) is a caricature by Albert Robida first published in La Caricature. It is reminiscent in form and content of Pornokrates by Félicien Rops, which appeared three years earlier.
The litho fits squarely in the late 19th century debate on naturalist literature and the writings of Emile Zola, which were equated at the time with pornography. There is a fine caricature titled Naturalisme by Louis Legrand which illustrates the ‘warts and all‘ naturalism which was criticized in numerous anti-Zoalist tracts. This anti-Zoalism is an important episode in the development of the etymologies of pornography and erotica, since the first traceable instance of the use of the term pornography as an expletive is in the essay “La littérature putride” (1868), directed against the French writer, although Zola never wrote anything even remotely pornographic.
This anti-Zoalist diatribe helped the notoriety of Zola’s “putrid” novel Thérèse Raquin. Zola capitalized on it for publicity and referred to it in his preface to the second edition. Then there was Albert Millaud who in 1876 denounced Zola’s novel L’Assommoir even before its publication was complete: ‘It is not realism, it is smut; it is not crudity, it is pornography.’ (“Ce n’est plus du réalisme, c’est de la malpropreté ; ce n’est plus de la crudité, c’est de la pornographie”).
Towards the end of the century, three complete anti-Zola works appeared: La Flore pornographique (1883), Le naturalisme ou l’immoralité littéraire (1894) and Zola contre Zola (1896). They were all written by the same author, a French bookseller by the name of Antoine Laporte. His pamphlets are most enlightening. Negative criticism is often the best guide to a work. Where else would we find out about the emasculation scene in Germinal?
French censorship largely left Zola in peace. No major trials are recorded. In England, the powers that were reacted differently. English censorship was led by the National Vigilance Association who targeted Vizetelly’s unabridged mass-market translations of Zola’s work. A personal disaster for old man Vizetelly.
See also: Criticism of Zola by Max Nordau in his book Degeneration