Sunday, August 19, 2012

Too Many Salome's

Picasso:  Les Demoiselles d'Avignon


Where are our John the Baptists?

FreeThinke’s post, On Love, Death, Smut, Sex, Violence, Exploitation, Exaltation And Cheap Sensationalism In Western Culture and Politics really got me thinking.

 He began by talking about experiencing the graphic violence and unseemly sex scenes in the movie Bonnie and Clyde over 40 years ago…

“I remember too being genuinely shocked, and hurt at what I saw on the screen. I felt like throwing up –– I was literally stunned.”
We are bombarded with multimedia images and memes that ricochet around our pop culture.  They leech into our consciousness, cauterizing our souls, searing our imaginations and rotting our souls. Sex, violence and stupid, brutish behavior that diminishes our humanity. But unlike the young FreeThinke, we are no longer self-aware, or perhaps all of this has coarsened us and fundamentally changed our society and changed each one of us as well, to the point that we are desensitized.

... Porn Nation, Under God...

Our culture has pornified everything, even the non-sexual. The mystery is gone, the pleasure drained. We are a gray, dessicated husk. I don’t know what kind of adult I would have become had I grown up in this generation my children are growing up in. Everything has been stripped of its mystery. A boy, or girl, can now see anything in the world on the internet. That’s got to take the wonder out of life.

In his post, FreeThinke describes scenes from Strauss’s opera, Salome:
“Richard Strauss's Salome portrays a young pagan princess in the court of King Herod who becomes obsessed with lust for John the Baptist –– a prisoner at Herod's palace. Her behavior in attempting to seduce John the Baptist, who is locked up and therefore helpless to escape her unwanted attentions, starts out as that of a young girl who is experiencing her first crush, but soon becomes openly lewd as the captive male shows more and more resistance to her attempts to woo him. Towards the climax Salome moves beyond lewd, sheds every semblance of self-control, and in a frankly obscene, frenzied display of desire and fury at his rejection removes all her garments (during the famous Dance of the Seven Veils) and stands before him naked.
His horror and loathing at this spectacle causes her to demand his head to be brought to her on a platter. When finally this grisly deed is accomplished, she kisses his dead lips and sings one of the most oddly moving passages of vocal and orchestral music ever written. Gruesome and depraved as this scene may be it is also heartbreaking for she realizes that her victory is bitter, and that she has lost herself forever.”
I couldn’t help but recall the teaser I saw over at Mediaite about the trailer for Octomom Nadya Suleman’s sex video.

I remember when she first posed nude, and I also remember sadly wondering aloud how soon it would be before she entered the porn business. It always has to come to this nowadays, doesn’t it? The celebrity without a sex tape is the exception. What’s wrong with us? 

I say this not as a prude, but as a sinful, lustful man who enjoyed a long, wild bachelorhood before marriage. A few years after getting married, a found shoebox of old pictures coupled with gossipy encounters with women who knew me back in my single days sparked my wife to tell me that if she had known all those details about my past, she never would have married me. That hit me hard, and I thanked God that she believed in the sanctity of marriage.

We all need redemption, and we also need forgiveness, not just from God, but from those around us. It takes fellow human beings raising one another up, and also doing the right thing and standing up for all that is good. For ourselves and just as importantly, for one another. We are monkey-see, monkey-do; not just in a negative way, but in a positive way as well.

Reductio ad Nauseum

Nadya Suleman is channeling Salome, only following today’s trend, her dance doesn’t have seven veils. That takes too long. Alas for her and for us all, there are a scant number of John the Baptists, men who forcefully reject such grotesque derogations of femininity and sexuality. No one is there to break her fall; our society is a burgeoning market for stomach-turning human degradation. Not too many years ago, I would have eagerly sought out the pictures and the video, but now, even as it does titillate a part of me (I’m a man after all), things like this turn my stomach and sadden me.

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes was right, “There is nothing new under the sun.” 

The difference is that acts formerly done in private dens of iniquity are now brazenly conducted in the broad light of day, and we cheer them on.

Related:

55 comments:

Constitutional Insurgent said...

I think the pornification of violence in our popular culture is far more of a threat to society than sex.

I don't buy into the theory that sex is bad, or that it should be locked away behind curtains - lest someone get the vapors. Sex is consensual and caring and pleasurable. I don't fear this in our social mediums.

Ducky's here said...

I agree, it's the selling of violence that is the greater problem.
The sadistic quality that is becoming ubiquitous, even in the The Passion of Christ where the right celebrated the homoerotic sadomasochism.

Hell, take a look at football. Fans love watching a game intent on causing serious injury and drastically reducing he lifespan of the participants. "Are you ready for some football".

Can't put my finger on where it all went wrong but it has something to do with the technology and money.

Z said...

This is something I've been thinking about, too....particularly when I heard Olympic Committees have been passing condoms to the Olympians ....150,000 this year. AND when I heard Olympians this year saying other Olympians in the Village were having sex in the daylight between buildings...outside.
Or when I hear of HOOKING UP ROOMS in college dormitories where, if kids are studying and just can't control a sudden desire to have anonymous sex (how did we EVER get by in the 'old days'?!) they don't have to control it but can go down the hall and enter in.

I wonder what separates us, and the beautiful mystery that CAN be sex if it is treated as the very exciting treasure it is, and rabbits...?

conservativesonfire said...

Of course society has been desensitized to sex, violence, and brutality. There is no more mystery and wonderment for young people today. Lust, of course, hbeen with jumanity from the beginning. And, until the sixties there was always a double standard where men always had ways to satisfy their carnel desires but not women.

I in Nevada for some years. There, except for Las Vegas and Reno, whore houses were legal and licensed. The highschool pricipal was a friend of mine and two collwives were teachers. I remeber a discussion about pregnancy among highschool girls. They told me that they had a few cases but nothing like what we read about in other states or even in Las Vegas. They attthis to the fact that boys could satisfy themselves without having to seduce their girlfriends. I don't know if that is true; but I remember thinking at the time, what if the sixties had brought us "stud houses" instead of "free love" would things be any different today? There is no way to know. Once Pandora's box is open, there is no way to put the demons back.

Mustang said...

” … society has been desensitized to sex, violence, and brutality.” I agree with this statement, but wish to point out that it is not simply desensitizing acts of degeneracy, it is also deadening society to feelings of shame, regret, and guilt. I didn’t even know who Octomom was until I Googled her name; she apparently feels no shame about her behavior, but is sufficiently aware of her deviancy in that she doesn’t want her children to watch her masturbation video.

No one is immune to the temptation of lascivious behavior, but whenever a community refuses to establish behavioral standards or expectations, we must anticipate low social standards and significant increase in decadent behavior. I don’t think any of us need to concern ourselves about the behavior of consenting adults in the privacy of their homes; it is rather that whole “free speech” argument. In the absence of a universal definition of pornography, we subject society (including our children) to a constant stream of deviancy in photographs, films, music, and actual behavior on public conveyances. One advertiser even used partially nude 13-year old girls to sell their designer jeans. Bill Clinton told our children that oral sex wasn’t really sex.

Our outrage was faint.

FreeThinke said...

Thank you, Kurt, for showing so much respect for my observations.

If anyone is interested, here are links to the Final Scene, where Teresa Stratas in a special televsion production gave the best performance of Strauss' Opera I every expect to hear.

I've experienced Salome in various opera houses at least twenty times, but I think Teresa Stratas' interpretation of the role comes closest to evoking all the subtle nuances in Oscar Wilde's insightful, poetic text.

The public, even more than a century after it was first performed, may still want to think of Salome as a grotesque exhibition of depravity run amok, but that is not the case at all. Salome, the sixteen year old princess raised by barbarians, is a victim of the most intense passion human beings are capable of experiencing. Her story is a tragedy.

At one point as she sings with eerie but poignant intimacy to the severed head:

You wouldn't look at me, John.
You refused to look at me.
I begged you to look at me,
But you saw nothing but your distant God.
If only you had looked at me, John,
You would have loved me
.


The pathos in those words is gut-wrenching and heart-breaking.

And then she sings, as if in a trance, totally enraptured, looking upward -- transfixed -- for all the world as though her life was now fulfilled:

They say the taste of love is bitter,
But what of that? But what of that?
I have kissed your mouth, John.
I have kissed your mouth!


And then King Herod, who had really wanted her for himself all along, orders his soldiers to kill her, and she is brutally thrust through with their spears and crushed beneath their shields.

I'll post these links at FreeThinke's blog so they'll be more accessible -- just in case you're interested.

The opera is a very powerful cocktail written in a style foreign and exotic to most Americans, but it's well worth your time, if you can get into it. If nothing else, try to look at the third link.


SALOME


Final Scene: sung by Teresa Stratas


Part One


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI02Rj5xhFM


Part Two

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJiFHv70WPo&feature=relmfu


Part Three

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op1VoQXXARs&feature=relmfu

~ FreeThinke

Ed Bonderenka said...

There is a line drawn whereat good violence (John Wayne or Batman socking the bad guy) becomes bad violence (Sam Peckinpah? or Saw).
There's a similar line for depictions of sex or nudity (Michelangelo's David or Botticelli's Venus vs. Ron Jeremy).
But defining that line is subjective.
Sorta like how many glasses of wine is acceptable (or none?).
Having a head cut off because he didn't react the way you want is over the line.
Being upset at someone because he looked at a picture of a cute girl he'll never see in real life (and doesn't want to have relations with) because of feeling threatened probably crosses the line also.
Then again, doing something that threatens the emotional well-being of someone crosses another line.
Well I've said too much. Time to either delete or hit "publish".

Silverfiddle said...

Ed: I'm glad you hit "Publish." Good comments.

Constitutional and Ducky: I agree that violent images can do as much or more damage, and I have written before that obsession with "War Porn" will also rot us as a nation.

We're talking powerful stuff here, and I would not dismiss the deleterious affects of pornography so blithely. I'm not dictating to anyone, but what does it say about a culture that allows the worst stuff to be displayed in our public commons?

Constitutional Insurgent said...

SF - I would disagree with the statement that we've allowed the 'worse stuff in our public commons'.

Advertisement has been sexualized to be sure, along with TV comedies and dramas...but it's far from what I would consider the 'worse stuff'. And pop culture is notoriously two faced when it comes to sexualization....re: the Janet Jackson 'wardrobe malfunction'.

Shaw Kenawe said...

IMO, it's the violence, sexual and non-sexual, that coarsens us all.

If you've ever been to Europe and been on any of their beaches--especially France and Italy, the ones I've visited anyway--you'll see plenty of partial nudity, bare breasted women of all ages, and as far as I've been able to determine, no one there becomes depraved from looking at female breasts.

Whereas here they're fetishized to the point where perfectly healthy young women voluntarily undergo surgery to change the size of them so that they look humungously fake and painful.

European teevee also allows more nudity than is allowed here on the public airwaves. I've found that, for the most part in the families I've been close to in France and Italy, they are not prudish or skittish about our human sexuality.

I do remember how appalled parents were at what we Americans allowed our children to see in the moves--the rampaging violence.

The difference between us and European parents couldn't be more stark: We Americans fear and censor our human sexuality, but are comfortable with all manner of grotesque violence.

This is the message our children internalize year after year after year.

Thersites said...

One can "perform" one's life for the sake of a benevolent "other", a "malevolent" other, or a "neutral" other. Only one way turns out "good".

Which, I believe, explains my "Deism".

Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


For "whom" do YOU perform?

Z said...

Shaw, having lived in Europe myself, I know you're right. Even in parks, in Munich for example, young secretaries will sun themselves at the lunch hour with no blouse or bra on.
Believe me, it's not like men walk by and don't notice. It's not quite that loose over there.

American society was formed on puritanism and modesty and traditional values of marriage before children, etc. (Actually, that wasn't even an issue till lately...who'd have had children before marriage? It just wasn't good for the kids and they knew it..)

Suddenly changing now into a world of TV shows glorifying unwed pregnancy, Films where girls are bringing boys to orgasm with their foot under a dining table with family all around them, TV and films where young kids go to bed on first dates and the perfectly okay message that sends...(etc etc etc) HAS created a horrible situation of confusion and a kind of sickness like we see on Jerry Springer.
There are DNA Trucks now in, I believe, NYC, where babies can get tested to see who their daddy is.
Is this better than when America WAS more careful and more traditional and orderly?
Watch Jerry Springer some time..."oh, NOW that kid's MINE?!" (and it comes on in Paris just when high schoolers are out and we wonder why they hate us?)

Must be all those Republicans and religious types who produce these shows causing the confusion and I'm sure none of this lends itself to kids getting STDs, children bearing children, having zero respect for themselves in regard to their sexuality, or experimenting because of gender confusion, either, right? (Yes, I am being sarcastic)

Constitutional Insurgent said...

Did I miss where the topic turned to racism?

Or does somebody have an irate bee in their bonnet?

Always On Watch said...

Slut dressing has invaded church and school -- has migrated from Hollywood and the mall rats.

Parents -- PARENTS! -- are dressing their daughters in slutty outfits.

It's disheartening to see as these young people are being programmed to attract the very kind of man that will break their hearts if not infect them with STD's.

Steve said...

Love the position of these prudes
I can have my free speech, but you cannot have yours.
Get professional help for your "puritan" troglodyte instincts.
It's a crime we should stop passing diseases by giving access to condoms, the pill, or any other product that promotes safe sex.
"The good old days"
That was a good laugh, thanks.
Lock them up
Beat them
shame them
Make them feel guilty about something that is natural
Again, you loonies cannot face reality, so you build your own fantasy world, and cannot understand why it does not work
Gee why doesn't just cutting taxes work
Gee if we just outlaw abortion, condoms, the pill, etc, we will have a sexual utopia-people won't have sex, women won't get pregnant, people won't get STD's
Pull your puritan heads out of your asses (oooooo sexual) and learn about human behavior

Shaw Kenawe said...

Mizz Anonymous is a troll who cut and pasted that comment from all over the internet.

Jack Camwell said...

Ducky,

You think technology and money is where it all went wrong? Perhaps you need to pay closer attention to history.

Human beings have always had a soft spot for blood and sex. American culture is much like Roman culture, except that we generally shun actually killing for the purpose of entertainment.

That darkness of the human spirit has always been there, and neither technology or modernity have spawned that.

A hundred years ago, people used to get their kicks from watching public hangings. Now, they get their kicks from watching fake death in movies and television.

I sincerely hope that 30 years from now I don't sit around being all wishy-washy for the "good old days," where everything was somehow better and human beings weren't complete shit heads. The "good old days," never existed. The world has always been, and always will be, a terrible place. Human beings will always carry that darkness inside them.

It's all a matter of perspective. If you ask a Polish Jew from 1940 about the "good old days," that person would think that today is pretty damn good in comparison.

Jersey McJones said...

Americans have always been a violent, hyper-sexual people. As well, we have been always hyper-religious. That's not some dualism. In fact, it makes perfect sense.

We are, for the most part, the ancestors of the poor and down-trodden, criminals and radicals, refugees and runaways, deadbeat fathers, etc.

I always love it when some schmuck says, "But my ancestors came here legally!," thinking to myself, "Yeah, I'm sure they were by-the-book all the way! LOL!"

Among our founding myths is that the Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution, as if Cromwell never happened. The Puritans left England because they weren't allowed to persecute there anymore.

And all this hypocrisy is not lost on the young. As we get older, we come to accept, even embrace it. But sometimes, when we're young, we see it for what it is, and that stays with us: the reality of America, as opposed to the silly myths and hypocritical morality. And when we see that, we can rise above it.

I don't watch violent movies. It's beneath me.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

I am no longer tolerating off-topic comments that have no redeeming value.

Thersites said...

So why did you leaves pShaw's 10:44 comment?

Jersey McJones said...

Let me share this with you guys. I think you'd appreciate it. And it's certainly on topic.

This morning, I returned home from a meeting at work, pulled up to the garage, got out of the car, and there just a few feet from me was this big bird. And I mean BIG, like a foot and a half tall or more. I don't know much about birds, but it seemed to be of the terrestrial variety, was docile, and had beautiful brown/black/white/reddish plumage. I thought, perhaps, a pheasant. But some of you guys know more about that stuff than I.

Anyways, I immediately start calling for my wife, through the kitchen window, "honey, c'mere, honey, c'mere, you have to see this." As I was standing just a few feet from this bird, she (?) cautiously moved back, and then settled behind the little animal house I built next to my house.

She nestled in. My wife came out and thought it was just the coolest thing. We decided to let her be.

About an hour and a half later, my wife came home from her friends house after a short visit, very depressed. She was looking around the animal house, and I asked what was the matter. The bird was lying dead on a road near the house.

This slow-moving, cautious, beautiful bird was lying dead on a big open road where anyone could easily have gone around her.

I hope it was just an accident, but I wonder.

I can't imagine what kind of scum does things like that, but I do know there are many among us.

I know every one here on this blog is better than that. That's why I like you guys.

JMJ

Thersites said...

@sf

You remind me of the Hayes Code censors in Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo". After the chick takes a dip in San Francisco Bay, Scotty (Jimmy Stewart) puts her to bed. As she wakes up, the camera "pans" to what appears to be "underwear" drying in the kitchen (they are really simply random pieces of cloth). Had it been actual "underwear" the viewers could have correctly inferred that Scotty had "seen her naked". But since it WASN'T underwear hanging up to dry... just WHO were the Hayes Code censors FOR? Their "bosses"?

Ideology "censors". But WHO are YOU censoring FOR, sf? I saw pShaw's comments, he likely saw mine? Are you censoring FOR posterity? FOR the RNC? Or for your own SuperEgo, that can't tolerate criticism of the military?

It is a "puzzlement".

Shaw Kenawe said...

"The world has always been, and always will be, a terrible place. Human beings will always carry that darkness inside them."

But we have the ability to carry the light within us as well.

I have no idea how to encourage the light over the darkness. Does it have anything to do with education? And I don't necesssarily mean just institutional learning. When one has an interest in science, literature, art, music, for example, the baser aspect of humanity just isn't that interesting.

Pornography, as opposed to eroticism, is just plain boring and often inadvertently hilarious.

Watching pornographic videos played backwards is far, far more entertaining than they are when boringly played normally.

The people who produced them, IMO, obviously know nothing about eroticism.

I don't know if education and nurturing one's intellect is the answer to the subject of this post, but it sure wouldn't hurt.

Speaking of eroticism, this is probably one of the most erotic passages in poetry.

From the Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats:


Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline’s fair breast,
As down she knelt for heaven’s grace and boon;
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
She seem’d a splendid angel, newly drest,
Save wings, for heaven:—Porphyro grew faint:
She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.

Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed,
Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.

Jarhead said...

For the life of me,I just can't understand..why do these Republicans go on these dumb-ass Liberal shows for interviews expecting to them to be nice to them?

Inquiring minds want to know. The same goes for Conservatives posting on dumb-ass liberal - Progressive blogs.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

@Jarhead - I'll take a stab at this. I would presume it's because there are both Liberals and Conservatives who tire of the one sided echo chambers; people of all stripes who are cognizant that they aren't ever getting the whole truth from 'their side' and realize that they can also learn from their political opposition.

Some also like the challenge of debating their ideological foes, and enjoy the exercise of formulating worthy arguments.

Silverfiddle said...

Theresites: I don't appreciate people brings their little feuds and bugaboos from other blogs into this one.

It's rude to those who post here and it detracts from the conversation.

Ducky's here said...

Farmer,you forget that the scene may also have been a product of Hitch's strict Catholic upbringing which became a fear of women.

Steve said...

"No redeeming value"?
Might as well shut your blog down

Silverfiddle said...

You are so witty, Steve!

Ducky's here said...

@Jack Camwell - You think technology and money is where it all went wrong? Perhaps you need to pay closer attention to history.

---------
Not at all. I believe that the wide availability plus the profit motive has mad choreographed violence and explicit sex the key to maintaining a lucrative mass audience. Hell, sex has been with us since The Canterbury Tales and before.

Hollywood can't help itself. There was a Dutch film about 15 years ago, The Vanishing . It was about a serial killer and is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. But no sex, no violence not even a scream.
Well Hollywood remade and what did they do? Yup, here comes the sex and violence.

It's not uncommon. Take a violent but very spiritual film like Bergman's The Virgin Spring and let the American mass market get a Wes Craven remake and what do you have?

You can produce this crap cheaply and the distribution network i extensive. Result - the bad drives out the good.

viburnum said...

JMJ: "Among our founding myths is that the Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution, as if Cromwell never happened. "

FYI, They were indeed escaping persecution. Plymouth was founded in 1620, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629. The English Commonwealth in 1649, the year of Charles I execution. Cromwell became Lord Protector in 1653.

-FJ said...

I didn't start the p*ssing contest, sf. And your "inconsistency" is annoying (see 10:44 STILL).

...and duckman, I doubt it.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: I find my self largely agreeing with you.

I posted this at FreeThinke's and I post it again here:

“An orgy looks particularly alluring seen through the mists of righteous indignation.” -- H.L Mencken

Jersey McJones said...

viburnum, the Puritans were screwballs.

JMJ

viburnum said...

JMJ: "the Puritans were screwballs."

There's never any shortage of those. In any century.

FreeThinke said...

Ms. Shaw,

I very much appreciate your remarks on this thread, particularly the last. I've always loved The Eve of St. Agnes. The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes may not be as fine a work, but it too contains memorably seductive, stirring images of furtive sexual adoration this time thwarted by brutish officials callously performing their grim duty.

Prudishness that promotes feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, remorse -- even despair -- over the merest hint of any kind of sex not engaged in strictly as a duty within the confines of marriage for the purpose of procreation has every bit as deleterious effect on human interrelationship as does extreme licentiousness that celebrates and shamelessly exhibits coarseness, cruelty, and wanton lewdness devoid of any semblance of respect or affection for anyone involved.

I'm glad you mentioned the difference between pornography and eroticism. It is profound, although too subtle for many to appreciate.

I agree too that the exploitation and desensitization of violence is a far greater offense than taking human sexuality in stride.

Sex is like fire. It may help, warm, comfort, cheer, thrill, and nourish, but it also has the power to destroy if abused or used carelessly and stupidly.

Just about anything you could name -- except, of course, for murder, rape, mayhem, theft, vandalism, systematic harassment, and extortion -- is "values neutral" meaning, of course, that its worth is determined almost entirely by the attitude or intent with which it is observed or practiced.

Prudery is simple-minded in its blanket condemnation of all things sensual. In its own peculiar way "the deadly, all-consuming fear that someone, somewhere may be having a good time" has a harmful effect similar to the ritual female genital mutilation (i.e. excision of the clitoris) practiced in savage societies, or the less popular-but-once-widespread practice of castrating males to render them "safe" to guard a Middle Eastern potentate's harem.

In the best of all possible worlds one may -- and should -- enjoy sensuality to the fullest, as long as one doesn't abandon other worthy forms of endeavor and become a mere sensualist.

By the way, I'd love to have your views on Salome if, indeed, you have any. The opera has been a particular favorite of mine for at least forty years. I see it as one of the greatest of the great masterworks.

Best regards,

~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

By the way saying that Salome is about a guy getting his head chopped off, just because he didn't respond favorably to the lustful entreaties of a willful little bitch in heat, is about on a level with saying Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome is about a sledding accident or Moby Dick is about an old white whale.

Just hadda get that in before I signed off.

~ FT

Shaw Kenawe said...

FT,

How can I not love an opera based on Oscar Wilde's play?

I saw the opera presented on PBS, with Karita Mattila singing the title role. It was stunning. She was gloriously sensual in body and voice.

BTW, on of my favorite performances of "La Traviata" has Teresa Stratas as Violetta and Placido Domingo as Alfredo. She was beautifully lyrical in the first act; and as the opera requires, dramatic at the end.



FreeThinke said...

"I believe that the wide availability (of pornographic sex?) plus the profit motive has made choreographed violence and explicit sex the key to maintaining a lucrative mass audience."

No quite right, Canardo.

Someone had to storm the ramparts and batter down the doors that once protected us from the wide-distribution of out-and-out-filth and the attendant corruption it has had on society.

Who were the stormers and batter-downers? I give you three guesses:

HINT: It wasn't producers of motion picture film and the makers of movie cameras. It wasn't the bevy of randy young drug addicts demanding employment in the non-existent porn industry. It wasn't the gals with big tits or the guys with big dicks eager to show them off on screen either. And it wasn't a public so bored with the likes of Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Katharine Hepburn, Greer Garson, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Sidney Greenstreet, Humphrey Bogart, George Brent, and Ethel Barrymore either.

No no no! It was the CULTURAL MARXISTS with their determined agenda to "subvert and destroy White, Protestant Christian, Capitalist culture, that's who it was.

The profit motive was secondary. The PRIMARY motive was to undermine and undo America and all she stood for.

Capitalism too is like sex, fire, food and money -- entirely values neutral -- unless the wrong hands get a grip on the levers of power.

~ FreeThinke

Always On Watch said...

I'm no prude.

But I find the sexualization of children through inappropriate dress abhorrent.

I also find the promotion of promiscuity of adolescents through inappropriate dress abhorrent.

Moreover, I find the promotion of Puritanism through collars up to there and hem lines down to there abhorrent.

I'd no more wear my swim suit to a concert at the Kennedy Center than I'd wear an evening dress to an afternoon at the pool.

Slut dressing screams, "See me, see me, see me!" and "I'm meat on the table!"

Pfffft.

Dressing like a Puritan in the 21st Century screams, "See how righteous I am!"

Pfffft again.

The above said, what one chooses to do in the privacy of one's own home is one's own business.

For many years, one of our best neighbors happened to be a nudist. He so informed us so that we wouldn't open the gate of his privacy fence without calling advance or knocking on the gate.

FreeThinke said...

Yes, Ms. Shaw. I saw that production with Karita Mattila too, and agree it was stunning.

Teresa Stratas, however, was much more believable as a beautiful, but spoiled, highly vulnerable teenager raised without a moral compass who is overpowered and driven mad by sexual desire. [Apparently John the Baptist in Wilde's fertile and fervid imagination at least was one helluva hunk of man!] I suppose his apparent indifference to Salome's increasingly intense and finally grotesque attempts to seduce him made him all the more attractive to the poor girl.

Karita Mattila, of course, has the much more powerful dramatic soprano voice required to sing the role in a large opera house. Teresa Stratas, a lyric soprano, who said at the time (1974) she could never perform the role except under the special circumstances of a television production, brought subtlety and poignancy to the role none of the big, dramatic sopranos like Flagstad and Nilsson ever had.

Mattila, however, was nothing less than magnificent -- and became truly terrifying at the crucial juncture while persisting with her increasingly strident demands that Herod present her with the severed head.

Teresa Stratas was very great singer. I'd love to hear her Violetta. She sang opera with the acute interpretative sensibilities of a great lieder singer. And of course unlike many of the reigning divas she was both petite and beautiful -- certainly a help in portraying delicate, fragile women convincingly. Did you ever experience her performance as the mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors? I'm happy to say I did. It was all of thirty-five years ago, and I'll never forget it as long as I live.

Come visit FreeThinke's blog.

We often stray from throwing boilerplate partisan grenades over there, although a certain amount of that seems obligatory in an election year.

~ FreeThinke

Thersites said...

Please FT, we all know that in the name of complete "equality" (ha-HA) the leaders of the women's liberation movement DEMANDED that the veil of mystery surrounding female sexuality be ripped from Salome's body... else their "truths" could never be heard... that women were just as useful AND expendable to capitalist society as men were (nuclear families aren't "society" and so long as families exist, the "patriarchy" would continue to reproduce itself). Hence the urgent need to allow women in combat, today.

Thersites said...

Women can no longer disrobe in private, they must "share" their intimacy with ALL those in the "public" sphere, else "social intimacy" cannot be achieved.... and all things "formerly private", devalued.

Thersites said...

As Socrates once stated (Charmides), "Modesty is NOT a good for a needy (wo)man..."

Stanley Kowalski said...

Hey, any "official" taboo can be broken, just so long as the "unofficial" taboo's are maintained.

Porn is fine, just don't EVER try and cross the line and portray non-consexual sex w/o posting an actor's disclaimer at the end of a "violent" or SM film...

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: I share your disgust at the POS who carelessly or purposely ran over that bird. I am a hunter and I eat what I hunt. Killing animals for kicks is sick.

And it was probably a male, given its bright plumage you describe.

Stanley Kowalski said...

In other words, "conservatives" get to set the official rules, and "progressive" liberals the "unofficial" ones. THAT way, there's no guilt feelings at the end of a snuff film...

FreeThinke said...

I LOVE H. L. Mencken, Kurt.

BUt I must say his thread is a veritable patchwork quilt of non sequiturs, but then aren't most of these things? I am constantly reminded of little Gerda's earnest search for her friend Kay, who was abducted by the Snow Queen. In her journey she kept running into all sorts of situations. In one she found a garden of talking flowers, but whenever she asked them questions about her lost friend, all they could was talk about themselves -- what they knew, what they felt, what they cared about, what they hoped for.

How very astute Hans Christian Andersen was about human nature!

But then, Gerda found genuine help and true friendship in the most unlikely setting -- from a little Robber Girl amidst a den of cut throat highwaymen. Proving once again how truly and how beautifully Hans Christian Andersen understood humanity.

I shudder to think of the warped, twisted, cynical, demented interpretations that might be imposed on these tales in the post-Freudian era.

That is why I have made it my business never to read literary criticism -- or study reviews of films, plays, or music.

I think it's much healthier to let works of art speak directly for themselves.

I don't need anyone but Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Booth Tarkington, Henry James and J.D. Salinger to tell me what Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Booth Tarkington, Henry James and J.D. Salinger "mean."

~ FT

Ducky's here said...

Dickens means "be generous and try to act decently".

Realpolitik has rendered him obsolete.

FreeThinke said...

The Picasso by the way was a magnificent choice to illustrate this article, Kurt. I love it's kinetic quality and the beauty of the colors involved.

I don't know why, but I "got" Picasso right away the first time I saw Three Musicians, Woman Looking in a Mirror, Guernica and the Minotaurs at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. That would have been c. 1950-52.

I've always been crazy about Cezanne, Joan Miro, Juan Gris, Matisse, Renoir, Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Monet, Gaugin, Van Goch, et al. Less enthusiastic about Manet, Degas, Seurat, and Caillebotte for some reason.

Find the pre-Raphaelites ludicrous -- almost nauseating. Hate the morbidity, ugliness and sordidness of Expressionism.

Think of Pollock and Warhol as a sick jokes. There's no "there" there.

~ FreeThinke





Thersites said...

Perhaps you should elaborate. Just "what" about the pre-Raphaelites do you find "ludicrous"? Their disdain of the Grand Style of the Royal Academy?

FreeThinke said...

Mawkish overblown sentimentality, Thersites.

~ FT

-FJ said...

Celebrating the Adonia is hardly "mawkish overblown sentimentality". On the eigth day of the nineteenth century, it was time to throw the failed pots from the Royal Society's garden into the sea. The roots of their plants were far too shallow.

-FJ said...

Bad link above.

-FJ said...

It's time you sank your lady of Shalott's boat, FT. The tapestry's at the Grand Academy may have been pretty, but they could hardly warm any more than the occupants of Windsor castle.