[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

[<<] June 2005 blog (02) [>>]

Blog archive: here.

art - erotica - film - index - gallery - history - home - lifestyle - literature - links - music - search - theory

WWW jahsonic.com

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

2005, Jun 05; 11:45 ::: Gil Elvgren (1914 - 1980)

A pin-up illustration by Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren (1914-1980) born as Gilette Elvgren was an American painter of pin-up girls, advertising and illustration. Elvgren lived in various locations, and was active from the 1930s to 1970s. Today he is best known for his pin-up paintings for Brown and Bigelow.

Elvgren was one of the most important pin-up and glamour artists of the twentieth century. In addition, he was a classical American illustrator. He was a master of portraying the feminine, but he wasn't limited to the calendar pin-up industry. He was strongly influenced by the early "pretty girl" illustrators, such as Charles Dana Gibson, Andrew Loomis, and Howard Chandler Christy. Other influences included the Brandywine School founded by Howard Pyle.

Elvgren was a commercial success. His clients ranged from Brown and Bigelow and Coca-Cola to General Electric and Sealy Mattress. In addition, during the 1940s and 1950s he illustrated stories for a host of magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping.

Although best known for his pin-ups, his work for Coca-Cola and others depicted typical Americans — ordinary people doing everyday things. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Elvgren [Jun 2005]

2005, Jun 05; 11:04 ::: Audrey Munson (1891 - 1996)

Audrey Munson in Heedless Moths 1921

Audrey Munson (June 8, 1891 – February 20, 1996) was an American model and actress, known variously as "Miss Manhattan," "the Exposition Girl," and "American Venus."

She was born in Rochester, New York. Her parents divorced when she was young and she and her mother moved to New York City. In 1906, when Audrey was fifteen years old, she was spotted in the street by photographer Ralph Draper, who in turn introduced her to his friend, sculptor Isador Konti. Konti persuaded the young woman to model for him and her career was off, along with all of her clothes. For the next decade Munson became the model of choice for a host of sculptors and painters in New York City. By 1915 she was so well established that she was chosen by Alexander Stirling Calder as the model of choice for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition [PPIE]. She posed for three quarters of the sculpture at that event as well as for numerous paintings and murals.

In 1916, probably as a result of her exposure in California at the PPIE, Munson moved to California and entered the movies. In all Munson starred in four silent films. The first of these, Inspiration, the story of a sculptor’s model, featured the first time that a woman took off all her clothes on film. Recreating scenes from classic paintings, the censors were reluctant to ban the film fearing they would also have to ban Renaissance art. The films were a box office success, with audiences eager to expand their new found interest in art. The reviews, however, were very polarized. Unfortunately, no prints of any of her movies have survived.

1919 found Munson back in NYC, living with her mother in a boarding house owned by Dr. Walter Wilkins. Wilkins fell in love with Audrey and in an attempt to make himself eligible for her, murdered his wife, Julia. Although Audrey and her mother had left NYC prior to the murder the police still wished to question them and this resulted in a nationwide personhunt for them. They finally were questioned in Toronto, Canada, where they testified that they had moved out because Mrs. Wilkins had requested it. This satisfied the police, but the negative publicity generated by the case effectively ended Munson’s career as a model and actress. Dr. Wilkins was tried and found guilty. Although sentenced to the electric chair he hanged himself in his prison cell before the sentenced could be carried out.

By 1920 Munson, unable to find work anywhere, returned with her mother to Syracuse, New York. Thereafter Munson began showing signs of possible mental unbalance and paranoia and in 1931 a judge ordered the 39-year-old Munson into a psychiatric facility for treatment. She was to remain there for the next 65 years, until her death in 1996 at the age of 105. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Munson [Jun 2005]

2005, Jun 05; 10:54 ::: Stolen Kiss (1780s) - Jean-Honore Fragonard

Stolen Kiss (1780s) - Jean-Honore Fragonard, (1732-1806), French painter

Fragonard first painted in a style suitable to his religious and historical subjects. After 1765, however, he worked in the rococo style then fashionable in France. These later paintings, the works for which he is best known, reflect the gaiety, frivolity, and voluptuousness of the period. They are characterized by fluid lines, frothy flowers amid loose foliage, and gracefully posed figures, usually of ladies and their lovers or peasant mothers with children.

Fragonard was a prolific painter, but he rarely dated his works and it is not easy to chart his stylistic development. This particular painting is a detail from a larger painting which is in the Hermitage in Petersburg. Fragonard may have executed this copy himself, for it shows his delicate coloring and spontaneous brushwork which gives the picture an irresistible verve and joyfulness. As always with Fragonard, more important than the subject matter are the soft tones and colors of the palate.

What do these aspects say about the self-conscious image of French aristocrats on the eve of the revolution? Can this picture be analyzed in terms of the mores of contemporary French society? --http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/anc_frag_stol.html [Jun 2004]

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (April 5, 1732 – August 22, 1806) was a French painter. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Honor%E9_Fragonard [Jun 2005]

2005, Jun 05; 00:14 ::: Vicomtesse d’Haussonville (1845) - Ingres

Vicomtesse d’Haussonville (1845) - Ingres

see also: gaze - Ingres - 1840s

2005, Jun 04; 22:58 ::: Interbreeding

Interbreeding, or inter-breeding is breeding between different, albeit closely-related species. The term is related to hybrid. Sometimes it is erroneously used in the meaning of inbreeding.

The possibility of natural interbreeding is an indicator of genetical closeness of the species.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interbreeding [Jun 2004]

The term crossbreed or crossbred refers to a domestic animal where the breed status of only one parent or grandparent is known. Crossbreed may also refer to a hybrid animal of two purebred parents.

A dog of unknown parentage is called a mongrel; a mongrel cat is often referred to as a moggie. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossbreed [Jun 2005]

see also: cross-fertilization - hybrid - pure

2005, Jun 04; 22:58 ::: Michelangelo

The Fall from Grace (1508-12), from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - Michelangelo

The fall refers to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, as recorded in the biblical book of Genesis, and the consequences of that expulsion. Interpretations of the account vary a great deal within Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

Although the "Fall" is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament, the expulsion from Eden is recorded in Genesis 3, and served as the foundation of the Christian teachings of St. Paul in Romans 5:12–19 and 1 Corinthians 21–22, and, in particular, the Christian doctrine of original sin. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_%28religion%29 [Jun 2005]

According to Genesis, God created a garden in the land of Eden, and placed Adam and Eve in the garden. He placed a number of trees in the garden, which were good to eat. He also placed two trees which are named specially in the text: the Tree of life and the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were told that they were free to eat of any tree in the garden, but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because if they did, they would die.

For an unspecified period of time, Adam and Eve obeyed the rule. However, one day, a serpent came to Eve and told her that God had lied, that the fruit would not kill her, and that he only told her not to eat the fruit because if she did, she would become like God, knowing the difference between good and evil.

According to the account, Eve was convinced. She ate the fruit, and went to Adam and convinced him to try it, too. After eating the fruit, both Adam and Eve realized for the first time that they were naked, became ashamed, and made clothes to cover themselves.

Later, God came walking through the Garden looking for Adam and Eve, but could not find them, because they were hiding. God called out to Adam, "Where are you?"

Adam responded, "I heard your voice, and I was afraid, because I was naked."

God questioned him further, "How did you know you were naked? Did you eat of the fruit of the tree I told you not to eat of?"

Adam admitted that he did, and blamed it on Eve. Eve subsequently blamed it on the serpent.

As a result of these events, God cursed all three. He decided that because mankind knew the difference between good and evil, it would not do for him to live forever. Therefore, he required them to leave the garden, and sent Cherubim to guard the garden and prevent mankind from entering it again to eat from the tree of life.

He cursed the serpent by requiring it to move on its belly. He cursed Eve by giving her pain in childbirth. He cursed Adam by requiring him to work and "eat by the sweat of his brow," and required man to die: "From dust you came, and to dust you will return." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_%28religion%29#Genesis [Jun 2005]

2005, Jun 04; 22:20 ::: Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale (1997) - Pam Keesey

Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale (1997) - Pam Keesey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Books about goddesses, books about vampires, and books about film stars are common, but Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale is a rare treat: it combines all those topics and more within a historical context for understanding our long-time fascination with the dangerous, alluring female. The story starts in prehistory with the worship of a mother goddess who was also the Lady of the Beasts, and spans the centuries from ancient Greek and medieval views of harmful women through the hysterics of the romantic period. The history of film vamps goes from Theda Bara in A Fool There Was (1915) to Natasha Henstridge in the Species movies (1990s), and includes beautiful photographs of all the usual suspects--Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Tallulah Bankhead, Louise Brooks, Maila Nurmi (a.k.a. Vampira), the two Morticias, and many others.

A coffee-table-size paperback, Vamps is also an eye-catching blend of well-researched (but lighthearted) writing and dramatic black-and-white illustrations on every page. Author Pam Keesey is already known for her knowledge of dark female characters, having edited other Cleis publications such as Women Who Run with the Werewolves: Tales of Blood, Lust and Metamorphosis and Dark Angels: Lesbian Vampire Stories. She draws on an impressive range of sources, including The Malleus Maleficarum, Robert Graves's The White Goddess, 1950s fetish magazines, and even Pat Robertson on the subject of feminism. The artwork samples ancient stone carvings, medieval engravings, and portraits of dangerous women by John Singer Sargeant and Edvard Munch, among others. Included are a bibliography, a filmography of stars, a videography of titles, and an index.

The only thing that seems off-base about this book is that a whole chapter is devoted to Sharon Stone. Maybe Keesey is a big fan. --Fiona Webster, Amazon.com

see also: vamp - vampire - femme fatale

2005, Jun 04; 21:35 ::: Lady Lilith (1868) - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Lady Lilith (1868) - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
images sourced here.

2005, Jun 04; 21:11 ::: Salammbô (1862) - Gustave Flaubert

"The Moloch Idol, with 7 chambers or chapels" (Lund 1704: Figure 564)
image sourced here.

Salammbo, a sensationalist semi-historical novel about Carthage by Gustave Flaubert published in 1888 was extraordinarily successful. Flaubert imaginatively and not without reasonable scholarship, created his own version of the Carthaginian religion, including known Carthaginian gods such as Ba‘al Hammon, Khamon, Melkarth and Tanith. But he also included the god Moloch, and made Moloch rather than Khamon to be the god to whom the Carthaginians offered children. Flaubert described this Moloch mostly according to the Rabbinic descriptions but with his own additions. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch#Flaubert.27s_conception [Jun 2005]

Salammbô mingling with the serpent, Hadyn Mackey, illustrator (Flaubert 1930 [1862]:179)
image sourced here.

Salammbo is a fantasy 1862 novel by Gustave Flaubert. Flaubert's novel is set immediately before and during the revolt of its mercenary allies against Carthage in the third century BC.

The title character, a priestess and the daughter of Hamilcar, an aristocratic Carthaginian general, is the object of the obsessive lust of Matho, leader of the mercenaries.

Matho steals a sacred veil, the Zaimph, prompting Salammbo to enter the mercenaries' camp in an attempt to steal it back. The book is largely an exercise in sensual exoticism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salammb%F4_%28novel%29 [Jun 2005]

Salammbô (1896) - Alphonse Mucha
image sourced here.


SOURCE: Dijkstra, Bram., Idols of Perversity. Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture, New York, 1986, pp 306-313 {BN 4ov 45820}

[p 306] Being a true daughter of Eve, the animal woman of the turn of the century thus had a special appreciation for the erotic abilities of the snake. She liked to be with serpents, use them in strange rituals, and generally become involved with them in the most dubious ways. As in so many instances, it was Flaubert who brought into focus this element of late nineteenth century lore. In Salammbô (1862) he described what is clearly an erotic encounter between Salammbô and her serpent, her partner in rituals she performs as a priestess of Baal, a god representing the male exterminating principal.

Salammbô undid her ear pendants, her necklace, her bracelets, her long white gown; she unfastened the band round her hair, and for a few minutes shook it over her shoulders, gently to refresh herself by loosening it. The music outside continued; there were three notes, always the same; headlong, frenzied; the strings grated, the flute boomed; Taanach kept time by clapping her hands; Salammbô, her whole body swaying, chanted her prayers, and her clothes,one after another, fell around her.

The heavy tapestry shook, and above the cord holding it up the python's head appeared. It came down slowly, like a drop of water running along a wall, crawled up among the scattered garments, then, its tail stuck against the ground, reared up straight; and its eyes, more brilliant than carbuncles, fixed on Salammbô.

Horror of the cold or perhaps a certain modesty at first made her hesitate. But she remembered Schahabarim's [sic] orders, came forward; the python fell back and putting the middle of its body round her neck, let its head and tail dangle, like a broken necklace with its two ends trailing on the ground. Salammbô wound it round her waist, under her arms, between her knees: then taking it by the jaw she brought its little triangular mouth to the edge of her teeth, and half closing her eyes, bent back under the moon's rays. The white light seemed to envelop her like a silver mint, her wet footprints glistened on the floor, stars shimmered in the depths of the water; it tightened round her its black coils striped with golden patches. Salammbô gasped beneath this weight, too heavy for her, her back bent, she felt she was dying; and with the tip of its tail it gently flicked her thigh; then as the music ceased, it dropped down again. {pp 174-5}(1)

Predictably the painters and scuptors rushed in to illustrate Salammbô's lascivious encounter. Gaston Bussière's "Scene of the Serpent" emphasized the python's approach, while Gabriel Ferrier concentrated on the lady's pleasure . The American Charles Allen Winter's "Fantaisie Egyptiènne", exhibited at the salon in 1898, was a free adaptation of Salammbô's passionate communion with her appreciative lover. In general structure it was much like the sculptor Jean-Antoine-Marie Idrac's version of Flaubert's heroine, which found a place of honor at the World's Columbian Exhibition of 1893 in Chicago . Idrac's sculpture was, in turn, closely related to Collier's painting of Lilith, thus demonstrating how easily the literally hundreds of painted versions of Lilith, Salammbô, Lamia, and assorted other snake charmers came to blend as generic descriptions of woman, the eternal eve.

SOURCE: Dijkstra, Bram., Idols of Perversity. Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture, New York, 1986, pp 306-313 {BN 4ov 45820}

--http://www.lafayette.150m.com/salammbo.html [Jun 2005]

2005, Jun 04; 18:07 ::: Sword and sandal films

Cabiria (1914) - Giovanni Pastrone
image sourced here.

Cabiria is a classic silent movie from the early years of Italy's movie industry, directed by Giovanni Pastrone. It was released in 1914.

The movie is based very loosely on Gustave Flaubert's exotic novel Salammbo. Set in ancient Carthage during the period of the Second Punic War, it treats the conflict between Rome and Carthage through the eyes of Cabiria, the title character, who is kidnapped by pirates, sold as a slave in Carthage, and rescued from being sacrificed to the god Moloch by a Roman nobleman and his muscular slave Maciste. Hannibal and his elephants fit into the convoluted plot of this epic film.

Italian author Gabriele d'Annunzio contributed to the screenplay and wrote all of the placards. The movie was quite inventive and innovating in its cinematography for the time, and was a major influence on Birth of a Nation by D. W. Griffith. The film also marked the debut of the Maciste character, who went on to have a long career in Italian sword and sandal films. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabiria [Jun 2005]

Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863 - 1938)
Gabriele D'Annunzio (12 March 1863 - 1 March 1938) was an Italian poet, writer, dramatist, daredevil and war hero, who went on to have a controversial role in politics as a precursor of the fascist movement. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriele_d%27Annunzio [Jun 2005]

Sword and sandal
Sword and sandal films are a cinematic genre of adventure or fantasy films that have subjects set in Biblical or classical antiquity, often with contrived plots based very loosely on mythology or history. Most movies based on Greco-Roman history and mythology, or the surrounding cultures of the same era (Egyptians, Assyrians, Etruscans, Minoans), etc. are sword and sandal epic films. The greatest productions of this film genre were made during the 1950s, but it has experienced a recent renaissance. Broadly considered, this could compass such diverse films as Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, Titus, or The Ten Commandments. In this sense, it is one of the oldest movie genres; the original Ben-Hur was made by Sidney Olcott in 1907; the 1914 silent film Cabiria was important in the development of the art of cinematography. Another name for the genre is peplum, from a Latin word for a sort of tunic, easy to make, and favoured by the costume departments for these films.

Maciste all'inferno (1962) - Riccardo Freda
image sourced here.

More specifically, however, the "sword and sandal" film genre usually refers to a low-budget Italian movie on a gladiatorial or mythological subject; for the genre occupied much of the less pretentious segment of Italy's movie industry before the invention of the spaghetti western. Gladiators were perennial favourite subjects, as were the adventures of Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, or the more recent legendary strongman Machiste. The fad began with the 1959 release of Hercules, starring American bodybuilder Steve Reeves. This spawned the 1960 sequel Hercules Unchained, among literally dozens of low-budget imitations starring other bodybuilder stars such as Reg Park or Alan Steele.

The absurd plots, out-of-synch dialogue, wooden acting of the muscleman heroes, and pitifully primitive special effects that were utterly inadequate to depict the legendary creatures on-screen, all conspired to give these films a certain camp appeal. This, and the beefcake factor, made the films' unintended humour notorious in the gay community. Several have been subjects of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. A movie series and syndicated television show called The Sons of Hercules was made from a number of different films; this ran in the 1970s. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_and_sandal [Jun 2005]

see also: film - 1914

2005, Jun 04; 17:57 ::: World history

Intolerance (1916) - D.W. Griffith
image sourced here.

Map of early human migrations according to mitochondrial population genetics (numbers are millennia before present).
image sourced here.

History of the World -- Part I (1981) - Mel Brooks [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

History of the World, Part I is a 1981 film directed by Mel Brooks. Brooks wrote the screenplay and stars in the film, playing five roles: Moses, Comicus the stand-up philosopher, Tomás de Torquemada, King Louis XVI, and Jacques le garçon de pisse. The large ensemble cast also features Sid Caesar, Shecky Greene, Gregory Hines, and Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman among many others, including cameo appearances by Bea Arthur, Hugh Hefner, John Hurt, Jackie Mason, Paul Mazursky and Henny Youngman, and narration by Orson Welles.

The film's story, such as it is, is a parody of "historical spectacular" cinematic genre, including the "sword and sandal epic" and the "period costume drama" subgenres. The four main segments of the film consist of stories set during the Dawn of Man, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition (as a Busby Berkeley-esque song-and-dance number) and the French Revolution. Between the Dawn of Man and the Roman Empire sequences there is also a very short clip called "The Old Testament," which shows Moses receiving fifteen commandments from God, then dropping a tablet and declaring them to be only Ten Commandments.

At the very end of the film there is a teaser-trailer for History of the World: Part II, which promises to feature a Viking funeral, Hitler on Ice, and Jews in Space. As of 2005, no release date has been set for this proposed sequel. It was most likely a joke, since most of the "trailer" featured visual gags. The melody for the "Jews in Space" song was later recycled by Brooks for the "Men in Tights" musical number in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

On several occasions in the film, a character exclaims that "only a miracle can save us now!" At which point a white stallion gallops in (apparently named "miracle") and carries off the characters to safety.

"It's good to be the King."
This popular catchphrase comes from its repeated use in the French Revolution segment. Brooks, as Louis XVI, says it bluntly direct to the camera on several occasions as if to justify the King's wanton behavior. Brooks also portrays "Le Garçon de Piss" ("The Lowly Pissboy"), who carries a bucket for the royals to urinate into and later impersonates the King. Brooks as Le Garçon delivers the same line with a sense of surprise when he gets to sample the King's luxurious lifestyle for the first time. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_World%2C_Part_I [May 2005]

see also: world - history

2005, Jun 04; 14:43 ::: European imperialism

A cartoon portraying the British Empire as an octopus, reaching into foreign lands
image sourced here.

Imperialism is a policy of extending the control or authority over foreign entities as a means of acquisition and/or maintenance of empires, either through direct territorial or through indirect methods of exerting control on the politics and/or economy of other countries. The term is used by some to describe the policy of a country in maintaining colonies and dominance over distant lands, regardless of whether the country calls itself an empire.

Insofar as 'imperialism' might be used to refer to an intellectual position, it would imply the belief that the acquisition and maintenance of empires is a positive good, probably combined with an assumption of cultural or other such superiority inherent to imperial power. See The White Man's Burden.

In recent years, there has been a trend to criticise imperialism not at an economic or political level, but at a simply cultural level, particularly the widespread global influence of American culture - see cultural imperialism. Some dispute this extension, however, on the grounds that it is highly subjective (to differentiate between mutual interaction and undue influence) and also applied selectively (Coca Cola being imperialist and black tea not). The debate continues. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperialism [Jun 2005]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_former_European_colonies [May 2005]

see also: world

2005, Jun 04; 14:23 ::: Orientalism (1978) - Edward Wadie Said

Orientalism (1978) - Edward Wadie Said [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Orientalism is the study of Near and Far Eastern societies and cultures by Westerners. It can also refer to the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists. In the former meaning the term is becoming obsolete, increasingly being used only to refer to the study of the East during the historical period of European imperialism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Because of this, the term "Orientalism" has come to acquire negative connotations in some quarters, implying old-fashioned and prejudiced interpretations of Eastern cultures and peoples. This viewpoint was most famously articulated by Edward Said in his book Orientalism (1978). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism [Jun 2005]

Edward Said and "Orientalism"
Despite this often mixed tradition, the word "Orientalism" carried no negative freight. Respected institutions like the Oriental Institute of Chicago carried the term without reproach. "Oriental" was simply understood as the opposite of "occidental" ('western'). The word began to develop negative connotations following the publication of the groundbreaking work Orientalism by the Palestinian scholar Edward Said. Following the ideas of Michel Foucault, Said emphasized the relationship between power and knowledge in scholarly and popular thinking, in particular regarding European views of the Islamic Arab world. Said argued that Orient and Occident worked as oppositional terms, so that the "Orient" was constructed as a negative inversion of Western culture.

Taking a comparative and historical literary review of European scholars and writers looking at, thinking about, talking about, and writing about the peoples of the Middle East, Said sought to lay bare the relations of power between the colonizer and the colonized in those texts. Said's writings have had far-reaching implications beyond area studies in Middle East, to studies of imperialist Western attitudes to India, China and elsewhere. It was one of the foundational texts of postcolonial studies. Said later developed and modified his ideas in his book Culture and Imperialism (1993).

Many scholars now use Said's work to overturn long-held, often taken-for-granted Western ideological biases regarding non-Westerners in scholarly thought. Some post-colonial scholars would even say that the West's idea of itself was constructed largely by saying what others were not. If "Europe" evolved out of "Christendom" as the "not-Byzantium," early modern Europe in the late 16th century (see Battle of Lepanto) certainly defined itself as the "not-Turkey." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism#Edward_Said_and_.22Orientalism.22 [Jun 2005] [edit]

Criticisms of Said
Critics of Said's theory, such as the historian Bernard Lewis, argue that Said's account ignores the many genuine contributions to the study of Eastern cultures made by Westerners during the Enlightenment and Victorian eras. While many distortions and fantasies certainly existed, the notion "the Orient" was a negative mirror image of the West cannot be wholly true because attitudes to distinct cultures diverged significantly. In any case it is a logical necessity that other cultures will be identified as "different", since otherwise their distinctive characteristics would be invisible, and that the most striking differences will hold up the mirror to the observing culture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism#Criticisms_of_Said [May 2005]

Edward Said
Edward Wadie Said (November 1, 1935 – September 24, 2003) was a well-known literary theorist, critic and outspoken Palestinian activist. According to Columbia News (Columbia University), he was "one of the most influential scholars in the world," and "was undoubtedly one of the greatest minds of the 20th century."

Said was born in Jerusalem (then in the British Mandate of Palestine) and raised in both Jerusalem and Cairo, Egypt. Until age 12, he lived between Cairo and West Jerusalem where he attended the Anglican St. Georges Academy in 1947.

His family became refugees in 1948 just prior to the capture of West Jerusalem by Israeli forces.

At age 14, Said entered Victoria College in Cairo, and then Mount Hermon School in the United States. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

He joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1963 and served as professor of English and Comparative Literature for several decades.

Said also taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Yale universities. He spoke English and French fluently, excellent colloquial and very good standard Arabic, and was literate in Spanish, German, Italian and Latin.

Said was bestowed numerous honorary doctorates from universities around the world and twice received Columbia's Trilling Award and the Wellek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association.

Edward Said died at the age of 67 in New York after a long battle with chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Said is best known for describing and critiquing "Orientalism"; what he perceived as a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East.

In Orientalism (1978), Said decried the "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture". [1] (http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/17/jan99/said.htm) He argued that a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia and the Middle East in Western culture had served as an implicit justification for Europe's and America's colonial and imperial ambitions.

Critiquing Said, Christopher Hitchens, who writes for Vanity Fair, wrote that he denied any possibility "that direct Western engagement in the region is legitimate" and that Said's analysis cast "every instance of European curiosity about the East [as] part of a grand design to exploit and remake what Westerners saw as a passive, rich, but ultimately contemptible 'Oriental' sphere". [2] (http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2003/09/hitchens.htm)

The British historian Bernard Lewis was perhaps Said's bête noire. The two authors exchanged a famous polemic in the pages of the New York Review of Books following the publication of Orientalism. Lewis' article, "The question of orientalism" was followed in the next issue by "Orientalism: an exchange".

[...] --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Said [May 2005]

see also: culture

2005, Jun 04; 14:18 ::: Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) - Michael Moore

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) - Michael Moore [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Fahrenheit 9/11: Moore's latest movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, examines America in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, particularly the record of the Bush administration and alleged links between the families of George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. Ironically, President Bush's approval rating rose on the weekend that Fahrenheit 9/11 was released. Fahrenheit was awarded the Palme d'Or, the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival; it was the first documentary film to win the prize since 1956. Moore later announced that Fahrenheit 9/11 would not be in consideration for the 2005 Academy Award for Documentary Feature, but instead for the Academy Award for Best Picture. He stated he wanted the movie to be seen by a few million more people, preferably on television, by election day. Since Nov. 2 was less than nine months after the film's release, it would be disqualified the Documentary Oscar. Moore also said he wanted to be supportive of his 'teammates in non-fiction film'. However, Fahrenheit received no Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The title alludes to the classic book Fahrenheit 451 (about a future totalitarian state in which books are banned; books begin to burn at that Fahrenheit temperature) and the pre-release subtitle of the film confirms the allusion: "The temperature at which freedom burns" --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Moore [Jun 2005]

Moore's Fahrenheit 911
Mocking the Moral Crisis of Capitalism

By DOUGLAS VALENTINE via Counterpunch

"The question is not what goal is envisaged for the time being by this or that member of the proletariat, or even by the proletariat as a whole. The question is what is the proletariat and what course of action will it be forced historically to take in conformity with its own nature.

Karl Marx, "The Holy Family"

They wept! They roared with laughter! At inappropriate times they applauded, the politically correct, white middle class audience at the Academy Theatre in avante guard Northampton, MA, home of Smith College, and many fine restaurants.

But, then again, Michael Moore was preaching to the choir, wasn't he? And that's the first of two big problems with Fahrenheit 911.

The other big problem is this frivolous film's utter futility.

Let's be realistic. Moore says the purpose of his incoherent mockumentary is to get Bush out of office ­ which, in and of itself, "t'is a consummation devoutly to be wish'd." But the political passing of George W. Bush has no meaning, for even if the public shuffles him off, it's still left with Long John Kerry, and the strangling coil of oppressive laws, secret decrees, and eternal imperialistic war (with its attendant corruption) that Bush has wrapped so tightly around America's neck.

"Ay, there's the rub."

Kerry is just another "money-grubbing, ass-kissing, bromide-mouthing" politician, as Gail Sheehy might say, and he is as acceptable to the Establishment as Bush. With Kerry in office, the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq will continue apace, with perhaps a little more of the stolen loot going to our anxious allies waiting avariciously in the wings. In the larger scheme of things, Fahrenheit 911 changes nothing: Halliburton keeps its blood-soaked contracts, the Republicans control both houses of Congress, and no neo-conmen go to the gallows for stealing $20 billion in oil revenues from the Iraqi people (I'm curious to know how Christopher Hitchens rationalizes that?), or for the massive war crimes they have committed. Kerry's performance during the Iran-Contra investigation assures the rich political elite of a continuing cover-up.

While watching the movie, I couldn't stop thinking about how Moore had evidence of the torture at Abu Ghraib, and didn't tell anyone! I wanted to stand up and scream: What's it all about, Mickey? Is it just for the moment, or the money, we live? Or is it the thrill of being catapulted into the stratosphere of American celebrity?

I thought to myself: I should have seen it coming, when the nouveau riche glitterati gave the movie a twenty-minute standing ovation at Cannes. Anything that so pleases the perfect people in Porsches cannot, by definition, have any redeeming value.

A monumental letdown, Fahrenheit 911 is a sick exploitation film that tells us nothing new about ourselves, and changes nothing in the world. Yes, the farcical clips of Bush making a fool of himself add comic relief to the melodramatic footage of Bush and his venal clique visiting vengeful tragedy upon the world, and profiting from it. And, to his credit, Moore courageously goes where no man in the corporate media has dared to go before: he loosely chronicles how the tragedy unfolded, while being extra careful not to mention Israel. Here's how the story goes: Bush steals the election, lets the main Saudi suspects in the 911 mass murder case escape because his "daddy" is in business with them, and then goes on a worldwide killing spree with the blessings of Major Generals Rather, Brokaw, and Jennings.

You've heard it all before; any tenth grader from Freyburg, Maine could have told us that.

To sum it up, Moore's swipes at Bush are irrelevant during the current crisis-du-jour of capitalism. How much time must we waste laughing at Bush, tripping over his tongue, before we grab our pitchforks and storm, as family-values proponent Dick Cheney might put it, the fucking White House?

The answer, to judge from the reaction of the "progressive" and academically oriented audience I was sitting with, is over and over again. Which, again, is the saddest part of watching his film. I'm sure Moore didn't intend it, but his mockumentary is as much an indictment of his adoring, bourgeois fan club as it of the criminal Bush regime.

Even the film's unstated premise ­ that the government, on behalf of the rich, creates employment and a disposed, easily indoctrinated lower class that will happily fight and die in imperialistic adventures ­ was put forth about a hundred and fifty years ago.

Alas, to the earnest audience in Northampton, this subliminal message seemed like a revelation.

So there we sat. When the clapping was over, there was no place to go (save one of those fine restaurants). Like Bush in Iraq, Fahrenheit 911 has no exit strategy. Nor was one ever intended. F-911, like the psychological warfare campaign we are subjected to by the Bush regime, is a cataract of powerful, contrived words and images that generate raw, predetermined emotions that result in a disturbing, but aimless, class-consciousness.

Douglas Valentine is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His fourth book, The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968, is newly published by Verso. For information about Mr. Valentine, and his books and articles, please visit his web sites at www.DouglasValentine.com and http://members.authorsguild.net/valentine

--http://counterpunch.org/valentine07022004.html [Jun 2005]


Counterpunch is a biweekly newsletter published in the United States which covers politics from a radical left-wing point of view. It is also a popular website with more frequently added content.

The newsletter was established in 1994 by the Washington DC-based investigative reporter Ken Silverstein. He was soon joined by the journalists Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. In 1996 Silverstein left the publication and Cockburn and St Clair have since been co-editors.

Running six to eight pages in length, the Counterpunch newsletter publishes primarily commentaries of Cockburn and St Clair with a regular contributions by others. It is noted for its highly critical coverage of both Democratic and Republican politicians, its extensive reporting of environmental and trade union issues, and the use of junk science. Counterpunch carries on the tradition of muckraking journalism of earlier investigative journalists such as I.F. Stone and George Seldes.

Since coming online in 1998, the Counterpunch website has become one of the most frequently-visited radical sites on the Internet. It offers a large quantity of material not published in the newsletter; however, the newsletter continues to publish commentaries by St Clair and Cockburn which are not published on the web. The website is maintained on the basis of revenues generated by the newsletter.

Notable contributors to Counterpunch have included Robert Fisk, the late Edward Said, Tim Wise, Ralph Nader, M. Shahid Alam, Ward Churchill, and Alexander Cockburn's two brothers, Andrew and Patrick, both of whom write on the Middle East, Iraq in particular. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterpunch_%28newsletter%29 [Jun 2005]

see also: left-wing

2005, Jun 04; 14:18 ::: Voice of America Special English


VOA Special English is a simplified English language used by Voice of America in daily broadcast. The news is read slowly and using a limited wordlist of about 1500 words. Charles Kay Ogden recommended radio news be given in Basic English with the appropriate Basic special radio vocabulary add-on. VOA Special English, although intended for telling news around the world, has the additional benefit of allowing English to be learned and for pronunciation to be polished. --http://www.basic-english.org/learn/voa.html [May 2005]

Basic English
Basic English is a designed language written by Charles Kay Ogden. The idea of Basic English is to use the basic words we use in everyday talking to explain more complex thoughts.

Basic English ("British American Scientific International Commercial") includes 850 of these basic words. Of the 850 words, 600 are nouns, or names of things. Most of these can be learned by using a picture method. 150 are adjectives and descriptive words. The last 100 words are some verbs and conjunctions (words that help put sentences together) --http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_English [Jun 2005]

see also: english

blog archive - previous blog - other blogs and sites

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications