Thursday, 20 May 2010

Personal influences - random stuff

I've been neglecting this blog for a few days while I've been sorting out real-life stuff, mine and other people's. Some of it involves sorting out medical advice and attention for other people (getting them to appointments and such). Some of it involves the kinds of work I get to be able to invoice people for. And some of it is just following my own nose and thinking about types of fiction writing that don't involve, or at least only indirectly involve, erotica.

Be that as it may, I thought I'd round off the introspective theme about 'where has my intellectual interest in erotica come from' by just making some lists. And here they are.

Psychoanalysis - Freud's 'Totem and Taboo' and Jung's book on symbols. Different themes here, but some are to do with the idea of narrative - making sense of the world, in some ways actually creating our world, through the stories we tell ourselves and the ways in which certain mental images seem to operate as ways of understanding meanings that underlie and influence the everyday.

Allied to this, the deliberate playing with language and image in dada and surrealism. What was it about lobsters?

Anais Nin's writing - her diaries and short short stories. I remember vivid and erotic descriptions of the train from Paris to Louveciennes, the description of a woman having her public hair shaved, her descriptions of her own house and garden and how they were invested with meanings for her, the line about a woman who always looked like a fire engine... strange collection of images I know. Writing it down some of it doesn't sound remotely like it should be erotic at all, but that was the reaction I had when I read her work.

Films – 'Cat People' (the bondage scene of course). 'Maitresse' and 'Loulou' (both with Gerard Depardieu who always seemed to exude a kind of sexiness I always wanted to emulate but never did, and Bulle Ogier in Maitresse and Isabelle Huppert in Loulou...). The very mannered 'Diva' - not because of the plot or characters but somehow just the way it was shot. The weird and darkly violent 'Themroc' and 'Bof' - early 70s films, the former still around on VHS and the latter now only a trace in French film databases, with no VHS or DVD release I can find. What is it with French cinema where even someone walking to shops looks charged with sexuality? Then 'WR mysteries of the organism', wonderfully anarchic. Some of Warhol's films - one involved a bdsm scene taking place in a cheap hotel somewhere between about four women- might have been 'Chelsea Girls' but I can't be certain... at any rate most of that film is shot in split-screen and I don't remember the scene that way.

Thinking about it, many of the influences I've found 'erotic' over the years, or made me delve more in the psycho-social aspects of eroticism, weren't in themselves about erotic subjects as such. They were - like the Warhol films - about people on the fringes of society just trying to get by, people who in some respects were seen as freaks by others and identified as freaks themselves, and for whom certain kinds of deviance weren't even exciting or exotic but just 'came with the territory'. Or they were odd, random images that seemed to make some kind of unconscious connection I can't even begin to define. What, exactly, about Dali's lobster telephone or Duchamp's large glass ('The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Batchelors, Even' - which depicts components of a coffee grinder among other things) triggered an erotic response in me? Some influences are maybe more obvious - an old cover of an SF magazine, probably 'Analog', with a picture of an alien wild slave female in chains on the cover... but lobsters and coffee grinders?

Other stuff - Robert Shea/Robert Anton Wilson, the Illuminatus trilogy (which is every bit as random as Pynchon or some surrealist authors) had various scenes that were sexy in a strange way. Similarly, Michael Moorcock's Cornelius Quartet of novels, with their odd mix of 'Britishness' and offhand treatment of sexual themes, got to me.

And finally - Lenny Bruce. the comedian who worked strip joints for much of his career, used his words to battle for attention when all the punters really wanted to do was look at the strippers, and who wanted to know why it was ok to show people killing and maiming each other on film but not to show people enjoying sex.

As I said, it's a random list.

Have fun!

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