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 The image, a view of a woman’s head in which her facial features have been replaced by her torso, was meant to shock the viewer out of complacent acceptance of present reality into “surreality,” that liberated state of being which would foster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 Daisy Follows Soft the Sun

Viretta Park, Seattle, located directly next door to Kurt and Courtney’s house. Photo credit: Ryan Coleman.

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman states that “The greenhouse where Cobain swallowed a shotgun shell was torn down in 1996; now it’s just a garden. One specially tall sunflower appears to signify where the Nirvana frontman died, but that might be coincidence…”

 
 

106

The Daisy follows soft the Sun—
And when his golden walk is done—
Sits shyly at his feet—
He—waking—finds the flower there—
Wherefore—Marauder—art thou here?
Because, Sir, love is sweet!

We are the Flower—Thou the Sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline—
We nearer steal to Thee!
Enamored of the parting West—
The peace—the flight—the Amethyst—
Night’s possibility!

Emily Dickinson

Failed Communication Between Lovers

“This photograph is my proof There was that afternoon,
when things were still good between us, and she embraced me, and we were so happy. It did happen, she did love me, Look see for yourself!”

Photograph by Duane Michals

 
 

THE DANGLING CONVERSATION

It’s a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.

And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar

In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with book markers
That measure what we’ve lost.

Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time

And the dangled conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
“Can analysis be worthwhile?”
“Is the theater really dead?”

And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You’re a stranger now unto me

Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.

Paul Simon

 
 

The Dangling Conversation is a song written by Paul Simon, first released in September 1966 as a Simon and Garfunkel single The Dangling Conversation/The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine. The song only climbed to 25 on the US charts and never made it onto the UK charts. Simon was surprised that it was not a bigger hit and attributed the song’s lack of success to its heaviness. It was released a month later as a recording on the Simon and Garfunkel album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

The theme is failed communication between lovers. The song starts in a room washed by shadows from the sun slanting through the lace curtains and ends with the room “softly faded.” They are as different as the poets they read: Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.

Simon has compared this song to The Sound of Silence, but says The Dangling Conversation is more personal.

Joan Baez recorded a version of the song which is one of her greatest hits, originally released in 1967 on the Joan album. She changed one of the lines to “Is the church really dead?” and Simon insisted that a line be inserted on the album’s back cover that read: “Paul Simon asks Joan to note that the original line is, ‘Is the theater really dead?'”

Les Fradkin has a dramatic version on his 2006 album, Jangleholic.

 
 

To watch a scene of Frederick Wiseman‘s 1968 documentary High School related 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

Snacks of the Great Scribblers

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton

 
 

“When I sit down to work, I keep a small bowl of garlic croutons on my desk. These are little rewards for good ideas and strong lines, Pavlovian pellets to keep my spirits up. Recently, I began to wonder what fuel writers have relied on, and the answers turned out to be all over the culinary map. Walt Whitman began the day with oysters and meat, while Gustave Flaubert started off with what passed for a light breakfast in his day: eggs, vegetables, cheese or fruit, and a cup of cold chocolate. The novelist Vendela Vida told me she swears by pistachios, and Mark Kurlansky, the author of “Salt” and “Cod,” likes to write under the influence of espresso, “as black as possible.” For some writers, less is more. Lord Byron, a pioneer in fad diets as well as poetry, sipped vinegar to keep his weight down. Julia Scheeres, the author of the memoir “Jesus Land,” aims for more temporary deprivation. “When in the thick of writing I minimize food intake as much as possible,” she told me. “I find I work better when I’m a little starved.”

Wendy MacNaughton

The New York Times. Sunday Book Review, July 29, 2011

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Yoko 1, Archival pigment print on cotton rag paper, Emilie Halpern, 2010

 
 

Bianca Jagger

 
 

Isabella Rossellini

 
 

Anjelica Huston

 
 

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Emily Dickinson

Dum Vivimus Vivamus

Dum vivimus vivamus is a Latin phrase that means “While we live, let us live”. It is often taken to be an epicurean declaration.

Emily Dickinson once used it in a letter written to William Howland:

“Sic transit gloria mundi*
How doth the busy bee,
Dum vivimus vivamus,
I stay my enemy!”

 
 

Portrait of Salvador Dalí, Philippe Halsman

 
 

Brion Gysin

 
 

Alfred Hitchcock

 
 

One of the members of Jefferson Airplane by Jim Marshall

 
 

Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger

 
 

Still from Tommy (Ken Russell, 1975)

 
 

David Bowie

 
 

Tim Burton

 
 

Beck Hansen

 
 

Michael Stipe, Mario Sorrenti for Interview Magazine, March 2011

 
 

Lady Gaga and model Rick Genest, still from Born This Way music video (Nick Night, 2011)

 
 

*Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means “Thus passes the glory of the world.” It has been interpreted as “Worldly things are fleeting.” It is possibly an adaptation of a phrase in Thomas à Kempis‘s 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: “O quam cito transit gloria mundi” (“How quickly the glory of the world passes away”).

The Beauty of the Crest of a Wave

English novelist E.M. Forster takes a seat on the beach, oct 1949

 
 

“I wished you were with me at Montazah this morning. It is the country Palace of the ex-Khedive and has been turned into a Convalescent Hospital. Amongst its tamarisk groves and avenues of flowering oleander, on its reefs and fantastic promontories of rocks and sand, hundreds of young men are at play, fishing, riding donkeys, lying in hammocks, boating, dozing, swimming, listening to bands. They go about bare chested and bare legged, the blue of their linen shorts and the pale mauve of their shirts accenting the brown splendour of their bodies; and down by the sea many of them spend half their days naked and unrebuked. It is so beautiful that I cannot believe it has not been planned, but can’t think by whom nor for whom except me. It makes me very happy and very sad—they came from the unspeakable, all these young gods, and in a fortnight at the latest will return to it: the beauty of the crest of a wave.”

 
 

E.M. Forster
Letter to his friend and mentor G. L. Dickinson (28 July 1916)in which Forster described a scene near one of the hospitals he worked at, located to the east of Alexandria along the coast.
(Selected Letters 156)

 
 

I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed


Janis Joplin in Pearl ‘s album sleeve. Photo: Barry Feinstein, 1970

 
 

I taste a liquor never brewed —
From Tankards scooped in Pearl —
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!

 
 

Amy Winehouse

 
 

Inebriate of Air — am I —
And Debauchee of Dew —
Reeling — thro endless summer days —
From inns of Molten Blue —

When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door —
When Butterflies — renounce their “drams” —
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats —
And Saints — to windows run —
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the — Sun —

 
 

Poem #214

Emily Dickinson