ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE S3E4: PREPOSTAPOCALYPTIC
Ce sont des hypocrites
“Saudi Arabia condemns the terrorist attack on freedom of expression in Paris …”
While millions of ordinary people marched the streets of Paris (and throughout France and the rest of Europe) to show solidarity with each other and with the victims of the necromaniac terrorist attacks there last week, they were joined by some extremely rum, opportunistic and unconvincing Charlies like Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (who has presided over a dragnet approach to arresting independent or critical journalists in Turkey), Sergey Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister (cf. Pussy Riot imprisoned for offending the church, “promotion” of homosexuality banned, opposition politicians convicted of trumped-up charges in a climate of repression against the very idea of a free press) and Ali Bongo, the president of Gabon who has journalists threatened and arrested for exposing his own corruption and that of his family. Not to mention the usual chickenhawks, particularly in the…
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ROMANCING THE STONERS
I’ve been reading Postmodernist patriarch Jean Baudrillard’s book about the USA, called America (Verso 1988, new edition 2010). Although it’s occasionally mired in the kind of obscurantist, elliptical wittering that he’s rightly condemned for by some people– the gobbledygook blindly imitated to devastatingly stupid effect by many academics, critics and artists since the 1990s– it also has some incredibly sharp observations about a country and a populace that at heart he obviously enjoys a great deal. He often unfavourably compares his native France to the USA, although this is not as funny as his bullseye hits on US culture; these are not very far from what (postmodernist) native writers like Chuck Palahniuk and David Foster Wallace would be doing ten years or so later.
Writing in the mid 1980s, Baudrillard also makes some incredibly prescient and accurate observations about where Reaganism, Thatcherism and the whole greed-is-good yuppie privatisation…
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2,000,000 dots and 325 animals
Poster for a sideshow type act at the Folies-Bergère, circa 1880s.
Recently I was at the ethnographic Musée du quai Branly in Paris. A post about some of the museum’s permanent collection of lovely, demented and/or terrifying masks will follow shortly, but the museum also currently have an exhibition on (until the middle of October 2014) called Tatoueurs, Tatoués (Tattooers, Tattooed) which is worth seeing if only to be reminded that there can be more to tattoos than spelling error tramp stamps, nonsense kanji, the ubiquitous badly drawn pseudo-tribal sleeve, and permanent disfigurements that are just plain wrong.
The exhibition has modern examples and historical images from all over Asia, Europe and Oceania, but for some reason the image that stuck with me was the one shown above, of ‘Captain Costentenus’. Maybe it’s just my general prediliction for Victoriana. He was an attraction at the Folies-Bergère, the…
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As research for something I’m writing, I recently re-read Aldous Huxley’s book The Devils of Loudun (1952), which is a very thorough, sardonic account of the 1630s outbreak of mass nymphomaniac diabolical hysteria instigated by a bunch of “possessed” nuns to get back at an unpopular local clergyman. I hate it when that happens. Nowadays the book is primarily known as the source material for Ken Russell’s salacious 1970s nunsploitation version with Oliver Reed, The Devils. Why this pertains to what I’m writing is not important to relate right now, but among the excellent background material about France in the 17th century is the following section about the general filthiness of things:
“The most grotesque of avoidable mishaps would mar the most solemn occasions. Consider, for example, the case of La Grande Mademoiselle*, that pathetic figure of fun who was Louis XIV’s first cousin. After death, according to…
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Flaubert… where you from and what you on?
“Paris will become a winter garden; espaliered fruit trees on the boulevard. The Seine filtered and warm – an abundance of fake gemstones – a profusion of gilding – the houses lit up – the light will be stored, for there are bodies that have this property, such as sugar, the flesh of certain molluscs and Bologna phosphorus. The fronts of the houses will be made to be daubed with this phosphorescent substance, and their radiance will light the streets.”
Visions of a lovely biotech future Paris from Gustave Flaubert’s unfinished draft of Bouvard and Pécuchet, the novel he was working on when he died in 1880. I suspect he may have had more than one sip of the laudanum on the night he wrote this. If it was the 1980s instead of the 1880s I’d say Ecstasy. It has that kind of E’d up I LOVE YOU SO…
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