A Form of Aversion Therapy

David Bowie and William S. Burroughs. Photo by Terry O’Neill, 1974


The Ludovico technique is a fictional aversion therapy from the Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange administered by a “Dr. Brodsky” at the Ludovico medical facility, with the approval of the UK Minister of the Interior. It involved forcing a patient to watch, through the use of specula to hold the eyes open, violent images for long periods, while under the effect of a nausea-, paralysis-, and fear-inducing drug. The aim of the therapy was to condition the patient to experience severe nausea when experiencing or even thinking about violence, thus creating an aversion to violent behavior.

The therapy renders the protagonist of the novel, Alex, incapable of violence even in self-defense, and unable to touch a naked woman or think about having sexual intercourse. In the original novel, Alex is accidentally conditioned against all classical music due to the background score of the films. In the 1971 film, he is conditioned only against Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. “Ludovico” is the Italian equivalent of the German name “Ludwig”; it is possible the name was selected for this reason.


A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)


The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)


Welcome to the Jungle (Nigel Dick, 1987)


Geffen Records was having a hard time selling the video to MTV. David Geffen made a deal with the network, and the video was aired only one time around 5:00AM on a Sunday morning. As soon as the video was aired, the networks received numerous calls from people wanting to see the video again.

In spite of the early morning airtime, the song’s music video caught viewers’ attention and quickly became MTV’s most requested video. The video in question begins with a shot of Axl Rose disembarking a bus in Los Angeles and a drug dealer (portrayed by Izzy Stradlin) is seen trying to sell his merchandise while Rose rejects it. As Rose stops to watch a television through a store window, clips of the band playing live can be seen and Slash can also be seen briefly, sitting against the store’s wall and drinking from a clear glass bottle in a brown paper bag. By the end of the video Rose has transformed into a city punk, wearing the appropriate clothing, after going through a process similar to the Ludovico technique.

During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine about the music video, Guns N’ Roses‘ manager at the time, Alan Niven, said that he “came up with the idea of stealing from three movies: Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969), The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976) and A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971).”

To watch Guns N’Roses music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Genealogy-of-Style-597542157001228/?ref=hl

Getting In and Out Of The Pool

A visit to California, where David Hockney subsequently lived for many years, inspired him to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium rendered in a highly realistic style using vibrant colours. The artist moved to Los Angeles in 1964, returned to London in 1968, and from 1973 to 1975 lived in Paris. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978, at first renting the canyon house he lived in and later bought the property and expanded it to include his studio.


Study for 1972 Munich Olympics Poster, David Hockney, 1970


David Hockney’s poster is great example of his graphic design work. Showing an athletic figure diving into a shimmering pool of crayon abstract shapes, the artwork is reminiscent of his painting, Peter Getting Out Of Nick’s Pool


Peter Getting Out Of Nick’s Pool, 1967

Hockney’s masterpiece of audacious desire, won the John Moores prize in the year homosexuality was decriminalized in The United Kingdom.


Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1971

The Biggest Splash

A Bigger Splash, David Hockney


A Bigger Splash depicts a swimming pool beside a modern house, disturbed by a large splash of water created by an unseen figure who has apparently just jumped in from a diving board. It was painted in California between April and June 1967, when David Hockney was teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, United States. Jack Hazan‘s 1974 film A Bigger Splash, a fictionalized biopic concentrating on the breakup of Hockney’s relationship with Peter Schlesinger, was named after the painting.


Photograph by Richard Kolker, 2011


Hockney’s composition is based on a photograph of a swimming pool in a book and an earlier drawing by Hockney of Californian buildings. It was created with meticulous care, simplified, but enlarging his earlier paintings entitled A Little Splash (1966) and The Splash (1966). Both are held in private collections; the latter was sold at Sotheby’s for £2.6 million in 2006.

The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava bought the finished work from John Kasmin‘s gallery in 1968, and sold it to the Tate in 1981.

In a March 2009 interview for the Tate, to the question “Who jumped into the pool?” Hockney answers : “I don’t know actually. It was done from a photograph of a splash. That I haven’t taken, but that’s what it’s commenting on. The stillness of an image. (…) Most of the painting was spent on the splash and the splash lasts two seconds and the building is permanent there. That’s what it’s about actually. You have to look in at the details.”


Peter Schlesinger in Beverly Hills, date and photographer unknown


To watch the Jack Hazan’s A Bigger Splash movie trailer, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2sEkXKxQs8

Complementing Each Other

David Hockney and Cecil Beaton at Reddish House. Photo by Peter Schlesinger


“I met David Hockney in 1966, at a University of California summer school where he was my drawing professor. I was 18 and he was a decade my senior. We fell in love and moved to London when I was 20. Before we left California, my father, who was into photography, gave me my first camera.

In this shot, taken in 1970, Cecil Beaton was having a break after taking pictures of David and me in the conservatory of his house in Wiltshire. He and David were telling jokes and bantering as I took their photo. David had become friends with Cecil when Cecil bought one of his very early paintings, but I got to know him as well. He was gossipy, bitchy and very witty – fun to be around but also a huge snob. As a little boy from California, I didn’t get a lot of his attention: as far as Cecil was concerned, if you were working class, you had to be famous.

We went to stay at Cecil’s quite regularly. People would come for dinner, or we would just read and walk in the garden. Cecil and I never discussed photography, but he did let me look through his albums, which dated back to the 1930s. He didn’t like being interrogated about them though; if I asked him about Greta Garbo [with whom he is said to have had an affair], he went completely silent.

There were a lot of parties back in those days. We were always having a good time. We used to dress up as dandies. Now, people talk of the huge significance of that era, but at the time it’s just your life. You don’t think of it in historical terms. Anyway, we thought the 1930s were much more glamorous; we loved old movies and art deco. Cecil’s generation, meanwhile, preferred the Edwardian period, so he dressed that way.

I like the way their poses contrast – they’re doing different things yet they somehow complement each other. It was accidental: I just happened to click at that millisecond and catch a fleeting rather joyous moment. Looking back today, I feel lucky to have known such wonderful people.”

Peter Schlesinger

The Day the Music Died


Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single by American folk rock singer-songwriter Don McLean was a number-one U.S. hit for four weeks in 1972. The song is a recounting of “The Day the Music Died” — the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.)—and the aftermath. Don McLean wrote the song in Cold Spring, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The song is well known for its cryptic lyrics that have long been the subject of curiosity and speculation. Although McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Buddy Holly, none of the musicians in the plane crash are identified by name in the song itself. When asked what “American Pie” meant, McLean replied, “It means I never have to work again.” Later, he more seriously stated, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me…. Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.” McLean has generally avoided responding to direct questions about the song lyrics, such as saying, “They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry.”, except to acknowledge that he did first learn about Buddy Holly’s death while folding newspapers for his paper route on the morning of February 3, 1959, (the line “February made me shiver/with every paper I’d deliver”).



American pop star Madonna released a cover version of the song in March 2000 to promote the soundtrack to her film The Next Best Thing (John Schlesinger, 2000). Her cover is much shorter than the original (it contains only the beginning of the first verse and all of the second and sixth verses) and was recorded as a dance-pop song. It was co-produced by Madonna and William Orbit, after Rupert Everett (Madonna’s co-star in The Next Best Thing) had convinced her to cover the song for the film’s soundtrack.