The Ongoing Conflict of a Voyeur

Le Viol (The Rape), René Magritte, 1934

 
 

The Rape, one of Surrealism’s most powerful images — Georges Bataille could never suppress a nervous laugh whenever he was confronted by this painting — likewise works with a subversive idea. The selection of the work’s title indicates the ongoing conflict of a voyeur; René Magritte comes very close here to Hans Bellmer’s erotic perversion, albeit without the latter’s sadness.

In 1935, Andre Breton published his speech Qu’est-ce que le Surrealisme? with Magritte’s drawing, Le Viol on its cover. The image, a view of a woman’s head in which her facial features have been replaced by her torso, was meant to shock the viewer out of complacent acceptance of present reality into “surreality,” that liberated state of being which would foster revolutionary social change. Because Le Viol is such a violently charged image and because of the claims made for it by Magritte for its revolutionary potential, the drawing has been the subject of many arguments, both for and against its effectiveness. The feminist community has had a particular interest in this image (and in Magritte’s work as a whole) not only because of the controversial treatment of the female subject in Le Viol, but also because of the ways in which our culture has been so easily able to strip surrealist images of their political content and subsume them back into mainstream culture for use in those very categories of social practice which Surrealism wanted to eradicate.

 
 

Single sleeve

 
 

Angie is a song by the rock band The Rolling Stones, featured on their 1973 album Goats Head Soup.

Contrary to popular belief, the song was not about David Bowie‘s first wife Angela or Angie Dickinson; nor was it about Keith Richards‘ first daughter, Dandelion Angela. The song was written before the sex of his upcoming baby was known. He says in his memoir, Life: “I just went, ‘Angie, Angie.’ It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like ‘ohhh, Diana.’ I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote Angie. In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out. In fact, Anita named her Dandelion. She was only given the added name Angela because she was born in a Catholic hospital where they insisted that a ‘proper’ name be added.”
(Life, p. 323, Ch. 8.)

 
 

To listen to this song, please, take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

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The Married Priest

Le Prêtre Marié (The Married Priest), René Magritte, 1951

 
 

La Valse Hésitation (1950)

 
 

Souvenir de voyage (1961)

The apple with a mask became a series of paintings later titled, The Married Priest (around from 1950 to 1961). Eroticism, understood both in light of the Marquis de Sade and Sigmund Freud, was fundamentally important to the Surrealists.

 
 

Jules Amédée Barbey D’Aurevilly (1808-1889), an autor forgotten by many, was a French novelisy and a short story writer known by Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils). As a young man, he was a liberal and an atheist, and his early writings present religion as something that meddles in human affairs only to complicate and pervert matters. In the early 1840s, however, he began to frequent the Catholic and legitimist salon of Baroness Amaury de Maistre, niece of Joseph de Maistre. In 1846 he converted to Roman Catholicism.

A Married Priest had first appeared in 1864. He was revered by the decadents of the late nineteenth century and had a decisive influence on writers like Henry James and Marcel Proust.

While seemingly opposed themes from Catholicism, Marquis de Sade and dandyism appear interwoven in his texts, like many of his free thinking contemporaries he takes a stance against the usefulness of his age (or the utilitarianism of the bourgeois world-order) and sees Christian inspiration in one of the leading principles of modernity, laicism.

A Married Priest, D’Aurevilly’s “most forgotten work”, is the story of a rebellious priest, Sombreval, who reneges on his priesthood and gets married because he ceases to believe (marriage becomes, for him, a way of protestation). D’Aurevilly does not present the interior life of his main character; instead the reader is faced with a strong, sovereign, Promethean man who in many aspects symbolizes an ideal of the positivist century and its revolt against God. From his marriage Sombreval has a daughter, Calixte, a sublime beauty afflicted with maladies. The father-daughter bond is very strong, and a rumor of incest spreads, reinforced by Calixte’s refusal of the young Nöel, To protect his daughter from slander, Sombreval decides to separate from her and goes back to the Church. Calixte comes back to life and marries Nöel. Sombreval is now an impostor priest who does not believe in his own truth. Finally Calixte dies in a cataleptic crisis of vision, dragging her father along.