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This month's blogs: 2005 April (8) | 2005 April (7) | 2005 April (6) | 2005 April (5) | 2005 April (4) | 2005 April (3) | 2005 April (2) | 2005 April (1)

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"Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show."
(Passagenwerk (1927 - 1940) - Walter Benjamin)

2005, Apr 28; 14:24 ::: Ingrid Pitt

Ingrid Pitt seduces Madeline Smith in the Vampire Lovers
image sourced here.

Vampire Lovers (1970) - Roy Ward Baker [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Ingrid Pitt
image sourced here.

Ingrid Pitt (born November 21, 1937 in Poland), is an actress.

Born Ingoushka Petrov, during World War II she and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp. She survived and in Berlin, Germany in the 1950s she met and married an American soldier and ended up living in California. After her marriage failed, she returned to Europe but after a small role in a film, she headed to Hollywood where she worked as a waitress while trying to make a career in the movies.

In the 1960s, as "Ingrid Pitt" she appeared in minor roles in a number of mainstream films such as Doctor Zhivago, but in 1968 she co-starred in the low budget science fiction film, "The Omegans." She next had a small, although significant role in the box office success Where Eagles Dare. Pitt next appeared in "The House That Dripped Blood," a gothic horror film that marked the first of a string of early 1970s successes for her in that genre with Hammer Films that elevated her to cult figure status.

During the 1980s, Ingrid Pitt returned to roles in mainstream films and on television but her popularity with horror film buffs saw her in demand for guest appearances at horror conventions and film festivals. She has also contributed a column to Shivers magazine and authored several books of fiction in the horror genre, a spy thriller, a drama about life in a concentration camp, as well as children's stories. In 1999, she told her own story in "The Autobiography of Ingrid Pitt : Life's A Scream." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingrid_Pitt [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 28; 13:37 ::: Florence's Boboli Gardens

Florence's Boboli Gardens (L'Isolotto)
image sourced here.

Florence's Boboli Gardens
image sourced here.

Florence's Boboli Gardens

Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens is a famous park in Florence, Italy that is home to a small but distinguished collection of sculptures.

The Gardens, behind the Pitti Palace, the main seat of the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany at Florence, is one of the most familiar formal 16th century Italian gardens. The mid-16th century garden style incorporated longer axial developments, wide gravel avenues, a considerable "built" element of stone, the lavish employment of statuary and fountains, a proliferation of detail in semi-private and public spaces that were informed by classical accents: grottos, nympheums, garden temples and the like. The openness of the garden, with an expansive view of the city, was unconventional for its time. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boboli_Gardens [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 28; 12:52 ::: Angela Carter

The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History (1979) - Angela Carter [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Still from
The Company of Wolves (1984) - Neil Jordan [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Company of Wolves (1984) - Neil Jordan [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Theories of the grotesque are always problematic because theorists, who strive to create systems of ideas which attempt to explain and define phenomena, are inevitably placed in the paradoxical position of trying to categorize something which ultimately subverts the conventional logic which underlies that process. As Geoffrey Harpham points out, it is usually not difficult to identify the grotesque in a work of art, but it is very challenging to define the term itself (Harpham, xiii). Though the term was first used to describe an ornamental style discovered in Nero's Dominus Aurea (Golden Palace) in the late 15th century, its applications have proliferated with time. What all applications share is a sense of ambiguity and paradox. The grotesque object or situation may contain recognisable elements, yet in its entirety, it conflicts with preconceived notions of what is reasonable or possible. The uncertain and contrary nature of the grotesque threatens Aristotelian or Western logic which conceives the world "as static, harmonious and whole" (Henning, 108). There are hard and well-established lines drawn between phenomena, "each seen as finished, completed, strictly limited and finding its place in an unchanging hierarchy" (108). The grotesque violates the principle of identity and difference on which this world-view rests. Identity depends on the definition and difference of the other. However, in the grotesque, "there are no longer finished forms in a finished and stable world" (109). Flowers are animals, humans are beasts, men are women. The traditional categories are "de-formed" (109) and this deformation disrupts conventional logic and reveals its accepted categories to be insufficient. --Maura O' Gara, The Grotesque in the Works of Frederico Fellini and Angela Carter via http://www.uwc.ac.za/arts/english/interaction/96mog.htm [Apr 2005]

see also: Angela Carter - Federico Fellini

2005, Apr 28; 11:47 ::: Avatar

Cover of Superman #14
image sourced here.

Among people working on virtual reality and cyberspace interfaces, an avatar (sometimes AV or av) is an icon or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality. The term is sometimes used on MUDs, in computer role-playing games, and shared non-gaming universes.

This definition has recently been applied to online virtual communities and Internet forums in particular, as a picture that a member/user of such a community/forum has elected to display alongside his or her contributions in order to represent him or herself. Avatars have also become popular in Instant Messaging, and are sometimes referred to as Buddy Icons by Instant Messenger users. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_(virtual_reality) [Apr 2005]

In computer gaming, a MUD (multi-user dungeon, dimension, or sometimes domain) is a multi-player computer role-playing game typically running on a bulletin board system or Internet server. Players assume the role of a character, and see textual descriptions of rooms, objects, other characters, and computer-controlled creatures or non-player characters (NPCs) in a virtual world. They may interact with each other and the surroundings by typing commands that resemble a natural language, usually English.

Traditional MUDs implement a fantasy world populated by elves, goblins, and other mythical beings with players being knights, sorcerers, and the like. The object of the game is to slay monsters, explore a rich world and complete quests. Other MUDs have a science fiction setting. Still others, especially those which are based on MOOs, are used in distance education or to allow for virtual conferences. MUDs have also attracted the interest of academic scholars from many fields, including communications, sociology, law, and synthetic economies.

Most MUDs are run as hobbies and are free to players; some may accept donations or allow players to "purchase" in-game items. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MUD [Apr 2005]

Role-playing game (RPG) A role-playing game (RPG) is a type of game where players assume the roles of fictional characters via role-playing. In fact, many non-athletic games involve some aspect of role-playing; however, role-playing games tend to focus on this aspect of behaviour.

At their core, these games are a form of interactive and collaborative storytelling. Whereas cinema, novels and television shows are passive, role-playing games engage the participants actively, allowing them to simultaneously be audience, actor, and author. An example of this difference could be the classic scene in a horror film when a doomed character ventures alone into the basement to fix a broken fuse. The audience experiences dramatic irony and says, "Don't go down there!" because they know the monster is lying in wait. In a role-playing game, the player may choose what to do about the broken fuse. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_game [Apr 2005]

see also: interactive fiction

2005, Apr 28; 11:25 ::: Robert Fludd

Ars Memoriae (1619) - Robert Fludd

Robert Fludd, also known as Robertus de Fluctibus (1574, Bearsted, Kent - September 8, 1637, London) was a prominent English Rosicrucian and Paracelsian physicist, astrologer, and mystic. He was the son of Sir Thomas Fludd, a high-ranking governmental official.

Between 1598 and 1604, Fludd studied medicine, chemistry and the occult on the European mainland, but he is best known for his research in occult philosophy. He had a celebrated exchange of views with Johannes Kepler concerning the scientific and hermetic approaches to knowledge.

In 1630, Fludd proposed many perpetual motion machines. People were trying to patent variations of Fludd's machine in the 1870s. Fludd's machine worked by recirculation by means of a water wheel and Archimedean screw. The device pumps the water back into its own supply tank.

He is a descendant of Cunedda Wledig ap Edern, King of Gwynedd, which in now part of Wales. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Fludd [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 28; 10:14 ::: Classic Nasty: More Naughty Bits (2003) - Jack Murnighan

Classic Nasty: More Naughty Bits : A Rollicking Guide to Hot Sex in Great Books, from the Iliad to the Corrections (2003) - Jack Murnighan [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Jack Murnighan, former editor in chief of the erotica website Nerve.com, is back with a new collection of the steamiest sex scenes from the greatest books of all time. Here is the literary sex-education readers have always lusted for, with over 80 excerpts by authors ranging from Homer to James Baldwin, Kierkegaard to Judy Blume, Scheherazade to Franzen. Who knew there was so much bumping and grinding in Goethe? How about Dali’s fascination with masturbation? Ever curious about what made James Joyce purr? Murnighan supplements each bite-sized excerpt with a lively, insightful introduction that will help readers see the world’s great books as they’ve never seen them before. --via Amazon.com

2005, Apr 28; 10:14 ::: Nobuyoshi Araki

From "Akt Tokyo", 1971-91 - © Nobuyoshi Araki
sourced here.

2005, Apr 28; 10:13 ::: Soledad Miranda

photocredit unidentified
sourced here.

photocredit unidentified
sourced here.

photocredit unidentified
sourced here.

photocredit unidentified
sourced here.

photocredit unidentified
sourced here.

Scene from Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
sourced here.

2005, Apr 28; 10:07 ::: Grauman movie theatre

Grauman's Egyptian Theatre (openened in 1922)
image sourced here.

Simply going to the movies became a fantastic, romantic event. In 1922 Grauman's Egyptian Theatre opened in Los Angeles. Grauman's Chinese followed a few years later. Theatres in other cities adopted similarly fanciful and exotic themes. Some resembled French chateaux; others evoked the Ottoman Empire in its heyday. Whatever the architectural style, theatres in large cities became "palaces." --http://www.assumption.edu/ahc/Vanities/default.html [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 28; 10:05 ::: A beach censor arresting two women

A beach censor arresting two women
image sourced here.

A beach censor arresting two women in Chicago in 1922 for violating the laws concerning proper beach attire. The image comes from the collection at the University of California at Davis housing materials collected by the late Roland Marchand. The precise date and the original place of publication of the image are not available. --http://www.assumption.edu/ahc/Vanities/default.html [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 28; 09:59 ::: Revue

A production number from the Earl Carroll Vanities, date unknown
image sourced here.

Nudity was a common element in shows like the Vanities, George White's Scandals, Ziegfeld's Follies, and the other "revues." Usually, it was momentary and partial, a bared breast or buttock briefly glimpsed. Writing in The Survey, a weekly magazine normally devoted to social problems and issues, Leon Whipple described both the "Artists and Models" revue at the Winter Garden and the public's "acclimation" to "public nakedness" in the theatre:

. . . for a not excessive price, men, women, and adolescents can go into a lovely New York theatre on Broadway and see naked bodies, generally of women, under full lights with nothing on save what antique writers call a "zone" [belt or girdle]. The rest of the body is completely and absolutely nude, with scarce alleviation of a coat powder. The bodies are exposed as statues, figurines, and symbolic persons, with recurrent veilings and for brief flashes. The showmanship is deft and even discreet though the shadowy lighting of yesteryear has given way to the full flood. The exposure of the body lasts probably not five minutes out of the three hours, though there is a constant and cloying stream of lesser bareness — legs, backs, torsos, and anatomical odds and ends. To these latter we have already been acclimated for the unveiling has been going on in New York for several years, almost by fractions of inches as the producers tried out the public taste. Indeed, the student might find a thesis in social science in the scrutiny of this process of breaking down a convention by annual innovation. — "Not Art and Not Model," Survey, March 1, 1926

--http://www.assumption.edu/ahc/Vanities/default.html [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 27; 22:56 ::: Advertising

Camels cigarette ad published in the Delineator magazine in 1929
image sourced here.

Fantastic as the movies, the fan magazines, the beauty pageants, and the revues all were, all were also part and parcel of the "New Era" of capitalism. They all paid, particularly the movies. They all designed, packaged, and marketed one of the core products of the 1920s, escapism. Advertising offered the same temporary surcease. At left is an image cropped from a Camels cigarette ad published in the Delineator magazine in 1929. {For the full ad, click on the image.] Like many of the ads of the 1920s it emphasized what the text of this ad called "the art of gracious living." Fashionably dressed, relaxing over coffee after dinner in a luxurious restaurant, a beautiful woman and her unseen companion enjoy a cigarette. She is, we learn from the text, one of those "fortunate people who seem to be born with a flair for living." She has "an instinct for good clothes, good food, good books, and good friends." Naturally she smokes Camels. --http://www.assumption.edu/ahc/Vanities/default.html [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 27; 22:56 ::: Tarzan and Jane

Tarzan, photo unidentified

Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane, photo unidentified

Maureen O'Sullivan, photo unidentified

Tarzan, a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, first appeared in the 1914 novel Tarzan of the Apes, and then in twenty-three sequels. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarzan [Apr 2005]

Tarzan of the Apes'
Tarzan of the Apes' is a series of books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. His books were made into movies starring Johnny Weissmuller as the king of the apes. The series spawned other movies, like "Tarzan and Jane", "Tarzan Finds a Son" among others. Later, other actors would play the part of the ape man in more recent movies over the years like Christopher Lambert in "Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan" and an animated movie with Tony Goldwyn as the voice of Tarzan, which won an Oscar for best musical soundtrack for Phil Collins, with the song, You'll Be in My Heart. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarzan_of_the_Apes [Apr 2005]

The first major instance of censorship under the Production Code involved the 1934 film Tarzan and his Mate, in which brief nude scenes involving actress Maureen O'Sullivan (actually, a body double was used) were edited out of the master print of the film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Production_Code#1934_changes_to_the_Code [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 27; 22:32 ::: Theda Bara

Theda Bara, photo unidentified

2005, Apr 27; 21:55 ::: Priapus

Fresco, 1st century AD, at the Villa dei Vetii, Pompeii

In Greek mythology, Priapos was a fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. (Roman equivalent: Mutinus Mutunus) He was a son of Dionysos and Aphrodite. Sculptures of Priapus with large, ithyphallic genitalia were placed on gardens and fields to guarantee an abundant crop. He was much more popular in Roman mythology than in Greek.

He tried to rape Lotis, and she was changed into a lotus plant to protect her. In Ovid's Fasti, an imbibed Lotis is attempted by the aroused Priapus, at which time one of Silenus's donkeys (he was hosting the feast) with "raucous braying" revealed Priapus' intentions and the entire party had a good laugh at his expense. To repay the donkey for the embarrassment, the annual feast (sometime during May) of Priapus is begun by the sacrifice of a donkey to the diminutive and ironic garden-god.

The medical condition priapism gets its name from Priapus. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priapus [Apr 2005]

In Greek mythology, Lotis was a nymph, daughter of Poseidon or Nereus. Priapus tried to rape her and she was changed into a lotus tree to escape him. Later, Dryope picked a flower off the tree Lotis had become, and was transformed into a lotus herself. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotis [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 27; 20:50 ::: The Annunciation

The Annunciation (c. 1570-1575) - El Greco

The Annunciation (c. 1472-1475) - Leonardo da Vinci
image sourced here.

The Annunciation of Mary, the mother of Jesus is the pronouncement by the archangel Gabriel the she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annunciation [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 27; 17:10 ::: "It was a dark and stormy night"

Starry Night over the Rhone (1888) - Van Gogh

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is a tongue-in-cheek contest that takes place annually and is sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University. Entrants are invited "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels." The contest was initiated in 1982 by Scott Rice and is named "in honor" of English novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, source of the much quoted first line "It was a dark and stormy night"; in full, Bulwer-Lytton's sentence runs:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. -Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulwer-Lytton_Fiction_Contest [Apr 2005]

The Lyttle Litton Contest
The Lyttle Litton Contest (run by Adam Cadre) varies from the Bulwer-Lytton in favouring extremely short first sentences, of 25 words or less.

Winners for each of the past four years are:

  • 2004 - "This is the story of your mom's life." (R. Lambert)
  • 2003 - "For centuries, man had watched the clouds; now, they were watching him." (S. Sachs)
  • 2002 - "The pain wouldn't stop, and Vern still had three cats left." (A. Davis)
  • 2001 - "Turning, I mentally digested all of what you, the reader, are about to find out heartbreakingly." (T. Changwatchai)
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyttle_Lytton_Contest [Apr 2005]

see also: cliché

2005, Apr 27; 16:28 ::: Subculture and noise

Subcultures as noise: a metaphor that possesses a deep, romantic and poetic resonance for many scholars.  The heroic rhetoric of resistance, the valorization of the underdog and outsider, and the reemergence of a potentially political working-class consciousness are all embedded in discourses that have shaped the theorization of subcultures in the past twenty years.

The work of Dick Hebdige, Stuart Hall and others connected with the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham, through which these conceits evolved, remain a backdrop for many contemporary theories of subcultures.  Studies such as Subcultures: The Meaning of Style and Resistance Through Rituals drew their theory from such diverse sources as Gramsci's theories of hegemony, Levi-Strauss's notion of bricolage and homology, Eco's semiotics and Marx's theories of class, ideology and commodity fetishism.

The sartorial splendor of Teds, Mods, Rockers and Punks became emblematic of a "semiotic guerrilla warfare" that took objects from the dominant culture and transformed their everyday naturalized meaning into something spectacular and alien.

Style became a form of resistance. -- Geoff Stahl, 1999, Still 'Winning Space?': Updating Subcultural Theory via http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/issue2/stahl.htm [Apr 2005]

The subcultural theory put forward by John Clarke, Phil Cohen, Hebdige and Hall found its theoretical antecedents in a century of sociological work on deviancy and delinquency. A somewhat uneven trajectory can be traced from the work of Emile Durkheim to his influence on the Chicago School, a connection that shaped a tradition uniting urban studies and sociology, one with a profound and prolonged effect on the ensuing studies of marginal(ized) social groups. That history needs little documentation here as it has been thoroughly explicated in a number of texts devoted to a survey of the field.

Briefly, the work of Hall, Clarke, Hebdige, Cohen et al., remains embedded in a tradition that includes functionalist anomie theory and the work of the Chicago School. Phil Cohen's work on neighborhoods, for instance, shares much with Robert Park's social ecology and Clarke and Hall's introductory essay in Resistance Through Rituals echoes Robert Merton's anomie theory. The new theory shares an intellectual affinity with the works its authors were initially trying to dispense with.

Working class adolescent males remain the central focus in both cases and delinquency still remains the collective solution to a structural problem. The new theories, however, offer a much more intricate analysis, as Stanley Cohen has suggested, with the addition of a structural analysis.

Class, race and gender, understood historically, economically and politically are the "problem" to which subcultures are the "solution." -- Geoff Stahl, 1999, Still 'Winning Space?': Updating Subcultural Theory via http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/issue2/stahl.htm [Apr 2005]

I was struck by the word conceit and looked it up in Roget's thesaurus.

1. A regarding of oneself with undue favor: amour-propre, ego, egoism, egotism, narcissism, pride, vainglory, vainness, vanity. Slang ego trip. See self-love/modesty.
2. An impulsive, often illogical turn of mind: bee, boutade, caprice, fancy, freak, humor, impulse, megrim, notion, vagary, whim, whimsy.
--Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition

Comment from Jeremy:

Hi, Jan. Thanks very much for yr website. I find it entertaining and educative. You

have lots of good stuff there.


The word has several meanings, including:

a)The result of intellectual activity; a thought or an opinion

b)An extravagant, fanciful, and elaborate construction or structure

(see more: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=conceit)

In the text in which the word "conceit" is used (not very elegantly, IMHO), I think it is here referring to the earlier paragraph and the [extravagant, fanciful, and elaborate] attitudes, discourses, and cutting and diceing developed by the scholars.

Hope that helps.

Again, thank you for doing what you do. Best wishes,


All in all, the word conceit does not indicate praise in this paragraph.

2005, Apr 27; 10:24 ::: Saint Anthony

La Tentation de St-Antoine (1878) - Félicien Rops

I was thinking the other day that wouldn’t it be good if there were an on-line art-history resource with a thematic or motivic index, such that one could find all of the famous paintings depicting the myth of Danaë, say, or those including scenes from Boccaccio’s Decameron. I was pleased to find that there is indeed such an index: which lists not only scenes inspired by classical mythology, but also those taking their cue from Biblical tradition, or depicting incidents from the lives of the saints. --http://www.spamula.net/blog/archives/000226.html [Apr 2005]

Saint Anthony the Great (251 - 356), Christian saint, also known as Saint Anthony of Egypt, Saint Anthony of the Desert, Saint Anthony the Anchorite, and The Father of All Monks was a leader among the Desert Fathers, who were Christian monks in the Egyptian desert in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. His feast day is celebrated on January 17th in some churches, but celebrated on Tobi 22 (January 31) in the Coptic Orthodox Church to which he belongs. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_the_Great [Apr 2005]

Representation in art and literature
Some of the stories included in Saint Anthony's biography are perpetuated now mostly in paintings, where they give an opportunity for artists to depict their more lurid or bizarre fantasies. Many pictorial artists, from Hieronymus Bosch to Salvador Dalí, have depicted these incidents from the life of Anthony; in prose, the tale was retold and embellished by Gustave Flaubert. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_the_Great [Apr 2005]

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