The Son of Man in Popular Culture

The Holy Mountain (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1973) movie poster

 
 

René Magritte‘s The Son of Man appears in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film The Holy Mountain, on a wall in the house of Jupiter. The film was produced by Beatles manager Allen Klein of ABKCO Music and Records, after Jodorowsky scored an underground phenomenon with El Topo (The Mole) and the acclaim of both John Lennon and George Harrison (Lennon and Yoko Ono put up production money).

 
 

Robin Williams in Toys (Barry Levinson, 1992).

The set design, costumes, and promotional poster reflect the painting’s style.

 
 

A parody of the painting, with Bart behind the floating apple, can be seen briefly at the start of The Simpsons episode No. 86  Treehouse of Horror IV (1993)

 
 

The painting appears briefly on the video for Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s song Scream , on the “Gallery” section:

 
 

Still from Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s Scream music video (Mark Romanek, 1995)

 
 

The Thomas Crown Affair (John McTiernan, 1999)

 
 

The Son of Man appears several times in the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair, especially in the final robbery scenes when men wearing bowler hats and trench coats carry briefcases throughout the museum to cover Crown’s movements and confuse the security team.

 
 

Stranger Than Fiction (Marc Forster, 2006)

 
 

This is not an Apple, illustration by John Cox, 2007

 
 

In the film Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (Zach Helm, 2007), the painting is seen hanging on the wall half finished; at the end of the film Mr Magorium is seen to be painting the rest of it.

 
 

This painting also shows up at the end of the film Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2008). British prisoner Charlie Bronson takes a hostage and turns him into this particular portrait

 
 

 In the movie 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009), the bowler hat and green apple can be seen in Summer’s apartment

 
 

The cover of the book Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business (2009) has a version of the painting, with a pomegranate

 
 

In Jimmy Liao’s illustrated book Starry Starry Night (2011), the protagonist girl, with the painting illustrated behind her, imitates the painting to express her protest against her parents’ long term fighting.

 
 

In Gary Braunbeck’s novel Keepers (2005), the antagonist figures (the “Keepers” of the title) resemble the nattily-dressed, bowler-hatted figures of Magritte’s painting. Also, in the opening scene of the book, the reference is directly made and explained to this resemblance because of an apple-scented car air freshener printed with the image of the painting hanging in the protagonist’s car.

In Lev Grossman’s 2009 novel The Magicians the antagonist is a man wearing a suit, with his face obscured by a leafed branch suspended in midair.

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Ring of Grass

“Here on this ring of grass we have sat together, bound by the tremendous power of some inner compulsion. The trees wave, the clouds pass. The time approaches when these soliloquies shall be shared.”

Virginia Woolf

The Waves

 
 

A group at Garsington Manor, country home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, near Oxford. Left to right: Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mrs. Aldous Huxley, Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell.

 
 

Picnic party at Sussex. F. Birrell, Clive Bell,  Julian Bell, Duncan Grant, Angelica Bell, Angus Davidson, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, Quentin Bell and others Bloomsbury members. 

 
 

Lesser known members: Ralph Partridge, Noel Carrington, Catherine Carrington and Frances Partridge

 
 

The Bloomsbury Group—or Bloomsbury Set—was an influential group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists,the best known members of which included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. This loose collective of friends and relatives lived, worked or studied together near Bloomsbury, London, during the first half of the 20th century. According to Ian Ousby, “although its members denied being a group in any formal sense, they were united by an abiding belief in the importance of the arts”. Their works and outlook deeply influenced literature, aesthetics, criticism, and economics as well as modern attitudes towards feminism, pacifism, and sexuality.

Beautiful Dreamers (Dead or Alive)

Beautiful Dreamers (John Kent Harrison, 1990)

 
 

When the superintendent of the Canadian insane asylum, Dr. Maurice Bucke, meets poet Walt Whitman, his life and that of his wife and patients is radically changed. Like Dr. Bucke, Whitman has avant-garde ideas on the subject of mental illness. This movie  is based on true events. Dr. Bucke became an important biographer of Walt Whitman.

 
 

Still from Love and Death on Long Island (Richard Kwietniowski, 1997). Canadian-American actor Jason Priestley as Ronnie Bostock preparing to quote Whitman at his mother’s grave site:

 
 

289. The Untold Want

The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted, Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.

Sail Forth!

10

“…Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!”

Walt Whitman

Fragment from 183. Passage to India

(Note: E.M. Forster borrowed the book’s title A Passage to India from this Whitman’s poem)

 
 

Model Kim Nye wearing Ralph Lauren 1992 Spring Summer collection. Ad campaign photographed by Bruce Weber

To Love and To Part

“It isn’t possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.”

E.M. Forster

 
 

Tenor Peter Pears (Britten’s most frequent muse, personal and professional partner), E.M. Forster, Robin Long, Benjamin Britten and Billy Burrell on a boat, 1949

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)

 
 

Naked We Came…

“Naked I came in to the world naked I shall go out and a very good thing too for it reminds me that I’m naked under my shirt whatever its color.”
E.M. Forster

 
 

E. M. Forster with Lady Ottoline Morell’s pug Soie. Photo by Lady Ottoline Morrell, 1922

 
 

“Mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes.”
E.M. Forster
A Room with a View

 
 

Stills from A Room with a View (James Ivory, 1985)

A Room with a View and No Walls

“My father says that there is only one perfect view— the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it.”

A Room With a View

Chapter 15

E.M. Forster

 
 

This is spoken by George when Cecil asks him if he enjoys the view at Windy Corner. It shows Mr. Emerson’s influence on his son, and illuminates their shared philosophy. If a “view” can be seen to have a second meaning as “worldview,” then George’s comment means that there are all kinds of ideas on earth, and people may argue over whose is best, but there is only one perfect view, and that is the view of the Creator, or God, or the Eternal. The quote shows that George is not bound by the superficial prejudices and snobberies that govern Cecil. Like Lucy, he is above all that; he has a sense of something higher.

 
 

Stills from A Room with a View (James Ivory, 1985)

From Love to Marriage

Stills from Maurice (1987),  directed by James Ivory and starring James Wilby  and Hugh Grant

 
 

“All history, all our experience, teaches us that no human relationship is constant, it is as unstable as the living beings who compose it, and they must balance like jugglers if it is to remain; if it is constant it is no longer a human relationship but a social habit, the emphasis in it has passed from love to marriage.”
E.M. Forster
Aspects of the Novel

The Cow is Where You Stand

Where You Stand is the upcoming, seventh studio album from Scottish rock band Travis, set to be released in August 19, 2013, on their own record label, Red Telephone Box via Kobalt Label Services. Speaking about the band’s departure from the spotlight, bassist Dougie Payne said of the release:

“You stay away as long as it takes, so you feel that hunger and desire to get back to it same as you did at the start.”

Where You Stand (2013)

 
 

The Longest Journey.
PART 1 — CAMBRIDGE
By E.M. Forster

 
 

“The cow is there,” said Ansell, lighting a match and holding it out over the carpet. No one spoke. He waited till the end of the match fell off. Then he said again, “She is there, the cow. There, now.”
“You have not proved it,” said a voice.
“I have proved it to myself.”
“I have proved to myself that she isn’t,” said the voice. “The cow is not there.” Ansell frowned and lit another match.
“She’s there for me,” he declared. “I don’t care whether she’s there for you or not. Whether I’m in Cambridge or Iceland or dead, the cow will be there.”
It was philosophy. They were discussing the existence of objects. Do they exist only when there is some one to look at them? Or have they a real existence of their own? It is all very interesting, but at the same time it is difficult. Hence the cow. She seemed to make things easier. She was so familiar, so solid, that surely the truths that she illustrated would in time become familiar and solid also. Is the cow there or not? This was better than deciding between objectivity and subjectivity. So at Oxford, just at the same time, one was asking, “What do our rooms look like in the vac.?”
“Look here, Ansell. I’m there—in the meadow—the cow’s there. You’re there—the cow’s there. Do you agree so far?” “Well?”
“Well, if you go, the cow stops; but if I go, the cow goes. Then what will happen if you stop and I go?”
Several voices cried out that this was quibbling.
“I know it is,” said the speaker brightly, and silence descended again, while they tried honestly to think the matter out.
Rickie, on whose carpet the matches were being dropped, did not like to join in the discussion. It was too difficult for him. He could not even quibble. If he spoke, he should simply make himself a fool. He preferred to listen, and to watch the tobacco-smoke stealing out past the window-seat into the tranquil October air. He could see the court too, and the college cat teasing the college tortoise, and the kitchen-men with supper-trays upon their heads. Hot food for one—that must be for the geographical don, who never came in for Hall; cold food for three, apparently at half-a-crown a head, for some one he did not know; hot food, a la carte—obviously for the ladies haunting the next staircase; cold food for two, at two shillings—going to Ansell’s rooms for himself and Ansell, and as it passed under the lamp he saw that it was meringues again. Then the bedmakers began to arrive, chatting to each other pleasantly, and he could hear Ansell’s bedmaker say, “Oh dang!” when she found she had to lay Ansell’s tablecloth; for there was not a breath stirring. The great elms were motionless, and seemed still in the glory of midsummer, for the darkness hid the yellow blotches on their leaves, and their outlines were still rounded against the tender sky. Those elms were Dryads—so Rickie believed or pretended, and the line between the two is subtler than we admit. At all events they were lady trees, and had for generations fooled the college statutes by their residence in the haunts of youth.
But what about the cow? He returned to her with a start, for this would never do. He also would try to think the matter out. Was she there or not? The cow. There or not. He strained his eyes into the night.
Either way it was attractive. If she was there, other cows were there too. The darkness of Europe was dotted with them, and in the far East their flanks were shining in the rising sun. Great herds of them stood browsing in pastures where no man came nor need ever come, or plashed knee-deep by the brink of impassable rivers. And this, moreover, was the view of Ansell. Yet Tilliard’s view had a good deal in it. One might do worse than follow Tilliard, and suppose the cow not to be there unless oneself was there to see her. A cowless world, then, stretched round him on every side. Yet he had only to peep into a field, and, click! it would at once become radiant with bovine life.
Suddenly he realized that this, again, would never do. As usual, he had missed the whole point, and was overlaying philosophy with gross and senseless details. For if the cow was not there, the world and the fields were not there either. And what would Ansell care about sunlit flanks or impassable streams? Rickie rebuked his own groveling soul, and turned his eyes away from the night, which had led him to such absurd conclusions…”

 
 

Arkansas (titles aren’t David Leavitt‘s strong suit; this one alludes to a quotation from Oscar Wilde that doesn’t have much to do with anything) is dotted with references to E. M. Forster, who is clearly one of the author’s cynosures.

 
 

The Wooden Anniversary continues the story of two recurrent Leavitt characters, fat, hopeless Celia and handsome Nathan, the gay cad she’s always been in love with. Celia has now moved to Italy, married well, dropped 75 pounds and opened a cooking school in a glorious Tuscan farmhouse; Nathan is a widow and a mess. But the changes are only superficial: Celia, remembering the insults she once had to endure — ”Oh, men used to call me a cow all the time” — maintains that a formerly fat person, ”in her mind at least, will always be fat,” and Mr. Leavitt goes out of his way to second her. By the end of the story, Nathan has stolen her handsome Italian lover, and Celia has run away and been reincarnated as a cow. (Seriously.) The nakedness of the gay wish-fulfillment fantasy, even the extravagant misogyny, might carry a malicious charge if Mr. Leavitt were having some fun with his characters — if he had the nerve to mock them as coldly and tranquilly as, in the first story, he mocks himself. The impulse is certainly there (a cow?), but instead, for the most part, we have to suffer with them.