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Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 12:58 am
It's a slippery slope

France continues to suffer aftershocks from the Polanski case, as culture minister Frédéric Mitterand clings, in a climate of "ethical turbulence", to his job. After Mitterand (the gay nephew of the former socialist president, better known as a presenter of cultural TV before Sarkozy catapulted him into his current post) protested the Polanski arrest particularly vehemently, right-wingers including Le Pen's daughter Marine pointed out that in a memoir published in 2005 Mitterand had volunteered the information that he'd paid for sex with "kids" in Thailand. This wasn't confessed happily; Mitterand presents it as part of his "bad life", and has since clarified that the "kids" were all over the age of consent.



Now the spotlight is being shone on Mitterand's appearance -- reading a passage from Camus' Noces -- at the beginning of a short film about underage gay (and multi-cultural) sex, La Bite de Rachid (click the second picture from the left to watch it). "There are words which I never understood," says Camus, as read by Mitterand, "like the word 'sin'. I believe I know, however, that these men have not sinned against life, because if there is such a thing as 'sin against life' it consists in trying to turn one's back on life's implacable grandeur."

Bernard Henri-Levy, supporting Mitterand as he supported Polanski a couple of weeks ago (this time against an unholy alliance of the Front National and the French Socialists), published a piece in yesterday's Libération which pointed out that many of France's most-cherished cultural figures would fail by the standards of this "new moral brigade": André Malraux, Leon Blum, André Gide, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, they'd all be out of a job in the current climate. As for Jean Genet's Thief's Journal, says Levy, it wouldn't find a publisher.



One writer who went far, far further beyond the pale than any of the names on Levy's list -- further even than Bataille in his Story of the Eye -- is Blaise Cendrars, the one-armed half-Scottish, half-French poet who wrote the fabulously transgressive, terrifying novel Moravagine, described on the cover of the 1970 Doubleday translation as "a raw, stinking, crawling hunk of fantasy" (just in case we thought it was clean, and just in case we thought it was real).

Moravagine, like Apollinaire's Les Onze Mille Verges, Diderot's Les Bijoux Indiscrets, and the works of the divine Marquis, falls into a particularly french tradition of aristocratic, libertine disdain for bourgeois morality, with its insistence on the normality of normality and the lawfulness of law. The book was certainly an influence on my own Book of Jokes, in which little girls are snuffed out as often as Kenny in South Park: "On our way back to the harbour we passed the flattened corpse of the little girl, lying on the roadway. A car must have passed over her in some kind of roadkill episode. Wolves had then, said my father, probably licked dry the juiciest parts of her remains."



Writing about my novel, one french blogger mentioned a painter I hadn't heard of before, but whose work catches this element of the novel well. He's called Stu Mead, and he's a disabled American, born in 1955, currently living in Berlin. His paintings take up where Balthus left off, and as such they're either deeply unfashionable in the current climate, or totally relevant. Take your pick.

Here a few of the images (not at all safe for work) a Google image search threw up when I typed Mead's name in. A penetrating devil assisted by three handmaidens. Some little girls at a party shooting a clown. A devil being fellated by two girls.

Something here reminds me of Tomomi Adachi's perverse "edible girls" images. This pissing girl has something of Yoshitomo Nara's grumpy, demonic girls in it, too. Happy Meal sees Ronald McDonald about to enjoy a different kind of lunchbox. Here's an interview with Mead in which he says "I do think I am a pervert".



This Mead image of a dog sniffing a girl's skirt up reminds me of PUFF!, a new iPhone app which allows users to blow women's skirts up, eliciting a series of delightful squeals. Okay, it's not quite Blaise Cendrars. It's not even the french culture minister on holiday. But no doubt someone out there will find -- or make -- these girls' thighs a slippery slope.

48CommentReplyFlag


(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)

No-one young has come out in support of Polanski. I wonder why..

It's been several centuries since this kind of transgression has been needed though. Unless an author genuinely advocates sex with children, who or what institutions is he hoping to undermine parading the same stuff again? In 19th France it was the censorious Catholic church - today's equivalent is censorious Islam, no?

Bernard Henri-Levy thinks there is some "new moral brigade" who would've okayed child abuse a few years ago, but suddenly changed their mind? Riight.



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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
at the bottom of the hill

Sex with an underaged girl?
I've got no problem with that.

But rape? No matter the age of the victim, that's a problem.
It's not an issue of puritanism. Rape is a crime in any civilized culture.


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spanghew.wordpress.com
spanghew.wordpress.com
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Re: at the bottom of the hill

Doesn't that rather depend how "under" the "underaged"? And isn't 13 quite a bit underage?

Regardless: the fact is, the girl in question did not want to have sex with Polanski, resisted, said no, etc. Which means Polanski raped her.

That's entirely different from artistic descriptions of the same (and I'm strongly against the conflation of art with real life in that way). That Polanski is an artist is, here, utterly irrelevant: he could be a scientist or a mechanic or an unemployed insurance claims adjuster: the fact is, he raped the girl.

This isn't about "puritanism" - unless the opposite of puritanism shrugs at rape.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 02:07 am (UTC)
Greetings from 55416

In Mpls for a week but back Friday - anyway Stu Mead is a v. good friend of George and Paul, thought you ought to know i case you want to contact him. Sx


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 06:58 am (UTC)
Re: Greetings from 55416

He's not much fond of John and Ringo, though.

Hurry back to WC1, Suzy, the namedropping opportunities are much better there, and the postcode so much swisher!


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
that's liberalism for you

can we cut the crap with all the so-called "intellectuals" and their obfuscating sophistry. Polanski DRUGGED AND RAPED A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL. i'm still waiting for a straight answer from these sleazy apologists as to why this is ok....????

really, it's a classic case of why hollywood liberalism is a laughing stock....


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spanghew.wordpress.com
spanghew.wordpress.com
Wed, Oct. 14th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
Re: that's liberalism for you

What does "liberalism" - or "Hollywood liberalism" - have to do with anything? I mean, I could cite cases where conservatives have defended outrageous behavior: in itself that doesn't indict all conservatives. (Not that conservatives need any help indicting themselves.)

Makes me think you - bold anonymous commenter - are more concerned with the alleged offenses of "Hollywood liberals" than the rape of a 13-year-old girl. At least, using the latter to score points against the former is pretty damned sleazy.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 05:49 am (UTC)
adorno

talks about such "art" (the gratuitous violence-porn of sade, tarantino, peckinpah, and others) devoid of any moral considerations; when left with only the aesthetic to consider, we are justifiably left hollow...


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milky_eyes
milky_eyes
milky_eyes
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 06:27 am (UTC)
please

you know... you guys are really preaching to the choir, as they say.
Go smoke a pole... you can"t argue when you paint a black and white picture like that. So why bother posting the obvious.

anyways... back to possibly more interesting discourse...
I tried to wiki "Blaise Cendrars" and his page is very bare... almost no description. Maybe just linking him to other more famous writers. Wonder why that is.

Story of the Eye... is one of my favorite books I always am looking for other books of the same caliber.... but ah, they seem to be very rare.
Something so poetic, sexy, other-worldly, etc.... so, if you recommend Moravagine I'll give it a try.
"Story of O" Is another I really enjoyed....

Anyone else... not wanting to ramble on and on and on about rape being wrong want to add books to the list?


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petit_paradis
petit_paradis
erik
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 09:02 am (UTC)
Re: please

tony duvert "bon sexe illustre" as published by semiotext (see comment beneath)

http://www.semiotexte.com/authors/tonyDuvert.html

hogg by sci-fi writer samuel delany, about a serial rapist on the road with his young boy accomplice. a lot of pissing involved too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogg_%28novel%29


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Re: please - (Anonymous) Expand
rogerlodge
rogerlodge
I'm A Vocoder
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC)

While the West's (esp. the conservative US) puritanical and often irrational beliefs concerning the sexuality of people under 18 can get tiring, some cultures have a completely different attitude and it's not very appealing either: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=617_1252006591


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 09:59 am (UTC)

They certainly don't teach that in the Boy Scouts.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand


(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand

(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 08:57 am (UTC)
all the little friends of henry darger

the french author tony duvert sexual manual for children Good Sex Illustrated comes to mind:

"Written in the wake of May ’68 and Deleuze/Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus,
Duvert’s Bon sexe illustre partakes in this miraculous moment when
sexuality could turn the world upside down, revealing social hypocrisy
for what it is. Bitterly funny and unabashedly anarchistic, Duvert
openly declares war on mothers, family, psychoanalysis, morality, the
entire social construct through a close reading of sex manuals for children.
Published in 1973, one year after Duvert won the prestigious Prix Medicis,
it proved that accolades had not tempered his scathing wit or his approach
to such taboo topics as pedophilia."

and of course stu meads 'partner in crime' henry darger



erik
the netherlands


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
Re: all the little friends of henry darger

in other words, written by a homosexual with no children...


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
Stu Mead

I think those pictures by Stu Mead will be illegal in England soon. And Henry Darger?

Stephen Parkin


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
Re: Stu Mead

In the US in 2000, "unable to find a printer willing to risk prosecution (under the Child Pornography Prevention Act), ... the obscene parts of artwork by ... Stu Mead ... were blacked out": http://www.fact-archive.com/encyclopedia/Apocalypse_Culture_II


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)

I'll ask her what color does she like for her wedding.


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thomascott
thomascott
Thomas Scott
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)

The act of raping a thirteen year old girl is so subject to moral ambiguity; have a delightful bedfellow:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/sep/29/roman-polanski-whoopi-goldberg


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)

more ridiculous half-baked hollywood tripe; it adds tons to the image of it being a laughingstock around the world.


ReplyThread Parent
thomascott
thomascott
Thomas Scott
Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)

Perhaps the most engaging overview I have read on the Polanski affair thus far:
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7464/


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Oct. 14th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)
Polanski finishing latest film from jail cell

his fortitude is so inspiring

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article6873582.ece


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ushi69
ushi69
karl
Wed, Oct. 14th, 2009 10:17 am (UTC)
From imagination to acts

The big difference with the work of arts, showed here, and the case of Polanski is the transgression of some of society norms (not entering in the debate of if it is bad or not).

Art can go often very far, be censored very often in the past and will still in the future, and will be rediscovered later on. But, except for performances, art usually do not touch the physical integrity of a person in a way which is forbidden by the norms of the society at that time.

Roman Polanski is not arrested because of his movies, but because of his acts. He might be innocent or guilty, but that is the work of the court. French intellectuals have been a tad too quick in their support I believe.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Oct. 14th, 2009 11:02 am (UTC)
Re: From imagination to acts

You can say that French intellectuals have been too quick in their support, but surely also the normal world (of people, newspapers and populist politicians) has been at least 30 years too slow in its vehement condemnations. If the 1977 rape was wrong this week, it should have been just as wrong three weeks ago, and three years ago. And yet none of these strident voices, three weeks ago, were condemning the rape, or demanding Polanski's arrest.

Something else happened to whip up the moral frenzy, and by all accounts that "something" involved a recent documentary about Polanski, an ambitious judge in the US, and a Swiss banking scandal. Without those three elements coming together, this case would not have been re-ignited. It's always worth remembering that moral panics, frenzies and witch hunts can be orchestrated. When we react strongly and suddenly to an emotive and clear-cut issue, we are often being politically manipulated, no matter how righteous the cause.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
x factor rival

you should re release "the guitar lesson" as a x mass pop single and get stu mead to paint the art work.that would set the metaphorical cat amongst the metaphorical pigeons so to speak.
great britian would be galvanized in its opinion on momus. momus in turn would achieve his long overdue notoriety .
ehmm only a thought.


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