Halcyon Days

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Halcyon days indeed;
The dragged down moments
The spaced out seconds
Our inert bodies
On the unmade
Mussed up bed
A grimy idyll in a rented flat;
Love without bounds
You bruise so easily
I like that about you,
I’ll smoke and drink incessantly
Nurse you into illness
I prefer you that way
With a haunted look
Around your grey eyes
Fever suffusing your sallow skin
Your breath sweet with distemper
Just for once you will have need of me
Of course I am going
To catch your sickness
Be rendered immobile
By this delirium
We know what is coming next
Once I recover you are gone
Out into the cold
Harsh light of day
Never to return, never to experience
Premonitions of indivisible diversity
Again never no never again
Manners forbade you leave just yet
You have to return
All my favours
Like for like
Wound for wound
I also bruise easily;
You shave me so gently
Watching you watching yourself
In the mirror
I would ask you
To murder me the whole while
Slit me from ear to ear
Give me a second grin
Just like a Cheshire Cat
To die at your hands
Release indeed
What other alternative exists
When you no longer need my love
Whatever hurt I had ever caused
Could never equal the pain
You inflict on me so lovingly
As you walk away forever,
With a smile on your lips
And a kiss on your fingertips.

My Evil Is Stronger

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That look on your face:
Take it off, wipe it away.
I know you,
You and your kind
Always taking advantage
Of every situation
With a dubious charm,
An uncertain smile
A cheeky grin
But when nobody’s watching
The smile instantly fades
From your too full
Sensual lips licking,
Cat-like in anticipation
Of a kill tonight,
Fresh meat indeed;
Your eyes glazing over
Thousand yard lasered
Hypnotic death stare
Causing electro-magnetic
Disturbances in the immediate
Field of vision and effect;
In the unnerving darkness
Echoes your stoned
Satanic laughter
Yes your evil is strong
You know a thing or two
Read between the lines
Of Faust,
Hold Prometheus
As the burning example,
A dollar store De Sade
With a stable of
Justines and Juliettes
But my evil is stronger
You could never begin
To comprehend the ways
Of me and my kind:
Contractors for the Apocalypse,
Annihilating Angels.
Our ways are
Elemental and pan-universal.
Your evil is strong
No love lost
Within your small black heart
But I am darkness incarnate
The isolate of terror,
My evil is stronger
As you will find out
Right quick,
Unless you take
That damnable look
Off your face.

Olympia Press: A Brief History of DBs

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Olympia-Edouard Manet 1863
On James Joyce’s 40th birthday, February 2nd 1922, the Paris based American owner of Shakespeare and Company Sylvia Beach published Joyce’s controversial novel Ulysses, excerpts of which had already been the subject of obscenity trials in the United States. It was immediately banned in both the US and the UK, a ban that was to remain in force for over a decade. However in France, where the book was printed and published, Ulysses was freely available as the French authorities had decided that they couldn’t possibly rule on the possible obscenity and artistic merits of a book in a foreign language.

Jack Kahane, born into a wealthy industrialist family of Jewish origin in Manchester, England and living in Paris with his French wife saw a business opportunity. Kahane was himself a novelist of mildly racy lightweight novels, however he had bigger ambitions and so he founded the Obelisk Press (with a suitably phallic logo).The business model was simple; he would buy out the rights of a novel that was encountering legal difficulties at a bargain basement price and then issue his own edition, with half the cover emblazoned with a BANNED IN…thus ensuring healthy sales from the prurient and/or curious travellers passing through Paris. Mixed in with the heavyweight avant-garde novels that included works by Cyril Connolly, Lawrence Durrell, Anais Nin and re-issues of the D.H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Radclyffe Hall’s early lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness were novels of a much more dubious literary pedigree, in other words pornography. Kahane’s greatest succes de scandale however was undoubtedly the publication in 1934 of Henry Miller’s  Tropic of Cancer, with its bold language and sexually explicit descriptions.

Kahane whose health was ruined by his experiences in WWI died on the day that WWII was declared. His son Maurice stayed in Paris and changed his name from the Jewish Kahane to his mother’s maiden name Girodias and took over the family business of publishing DBs (dirty books). It is not sure how he survived the war in occupied Paris, though it was probably a combination of his wily charm and his instincts as a born survivor, instincts that there were to serve him well in his eventful and strife-filled life.

After the war Girodias expanded operations of the Obelisk Press, however the publication of Henry Miller’s Sexus set off a storm of outrage in France that resulted in obscenity trials and imprisonment. Although he managed to get out of jail Girodias was bankrupt and he had to surrender control of Obelisk. This setback, however, only spurred Girodias on and soon he was launching a new venture entitled Olympia Press, so-called because of its similarity to the name of his father’s Obelisk Press and the famous Manet painting of 1863 (see above) of a courtesan whose bold stare confronts the viewer that caused such a sensation on its first showing.

After a particularly cold and difficult winter Girodias came across a group of hungry British and American expatriates writers for the literary review Merlin. He suggested that the best way for them to earn a crust was to write DBs (under preposterous pseudoymns) for his new series the Traveller’s Companion. The group included the brilliant Scottish writer and later Situationist Alexander Trocchi, John Stevenson, Iris Owens and Christopher Logue. Girodias would pay $500 upfront and a further $300 if the title was reprinted. There was no question of the author getting royalties.

Following in the tradition established by his father Girodias also published avant-garde fiction. As well as works by Henry Miller he published Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, William Burrough’s The Naked Lunch, Pauline Reage’s (pseudonym of Sadean scholar Jean Paulhan’s lover Anne Desclos) The Story of O which is undoubtedly the classic text of sado-masochism, Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s erotic romp Candy, Jean De Berg’s (a pseudoymn of Catherine Robbe-Grillet, wife of the founder of the nouvelle roman Alain Robbe-Grillet) The Image. The Olympia Press also commissioned the first English  translations of De Sade’ s 120 Days in Sodom and Philosophy in the Boudoir ( see my post Philosophy in the Boudoir).

Unsurprisingly, given the incendiary, explicit and subversive nature of the work published and Girodias’s unfortunate habit of failing to pay his authors resulted in numerous, ruinous legal difficulties. He was involved in protracted disputes with Nabokov, Terry Southern and the author of The Ginger Man, J.P Donleavy who eventually brought the Olympia Press after a twenty year legal battle in a supposedly closed auction. The collusion of the French, British and American authorities led to his prosecution in 1964 for publishing The Story of O that led to a year in prison, a $20,000 fine and a ban from publishing for twenty years, the most severe penalty ever imposed in France.

After a brief spell as a nightclub owner he moved operations to New York where he holed up in the Chelsea Hotel (where else) and published Valerie Solanas radical feminist pamphlet the  S.C.U.M Manifesto. Solanas became convinced that Girodias and Warhol were in a plot together to screw her out of money and on the day she shot Warhol she first appeared at the Chelsea Hotel intending to shot Girodias, but as he was out she then went in search of Warhol (this is at least Girodias’s account, however as a natural self-promoter and consummate con-man  it is not necessarily to be believed).

Girodias was 71 when he was given an interview on Jewish Community Radio in Paris when he suffered a heart attack and died on air. Although Girodias undoubtedly was a deeply flawed individual, he published books no other publisher would even look at and he dared to take on the courts and the censors. Girodias, carrying on the work of his father changed the cultural landscape of the mid-twentieth century inexorably.

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Maurice Girodias (Trouble-maker, womanizer and undoubted bon vivant)

Cotton

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Picasso-The Girl Before the Mirror 1923
Why were boys so oblivious? She watched and waited, wet and oh so ready, just inches away from their blatant erections. How ridiculous —a hard-on with nowhere to go. Would any of them even know what to do if they managed to get a willing partner to fuck? Had all their primal instincts been so dulled that a layer of cotton was enough to obstruct what their senses should have detected? What was it going to take? Her guiding a pair of shaking hands to her overheated, soaking flesh? Shoving him flat on his back to sit on his face and drown him in the flood from the delta between her thighs? She bit her lip in frustration.

She liked one boy in particular. Gloomy, androgynous and so very pretty —she had been immediately attracted to him. He was just her type. And although he was initially curt and surly, she could tell that he liked her too. They inevitably found each other at the same parties. And though his attitude remained inarticulately hesitant, his eyes told a different story. He wanted her. The question was how to transform this unstated desire into a demonstrated reality. Surely she wouldn’t have to make all the moves?

Back in her room, she slowly undressed in front of the full length mirror. She studied her body with clinical detachment. What would he see when he looked at her? Would he find the shape of her breasts pleasing? Would he stare at them, unable to resist touching them with his long, clever fingers, caressing them with his palms, running his tongue over the stiffening nipples and across the bruise-colored aureoles? And then would he suck them? Pull each tightened peak into his mouth, simultaneously gaining comfort and driving his lust? Maybe he would French fuck them, thrust his cock between them, rub the tip against her nipples until, at last, the moment arrived and every drop of come had been squeezed out, adorning her elegant neck with a glistening pearl necklace. The girl in the mirror touched those taut peaks, feeling them pucker in anticipation of something more. Would the boy know what to do? Would he know how? Would he be shocked and offended at her lust, the desires that she needed so desperately and immediately to fulfill?

She ran a hand over her heated skin to her navel. Maybe he would flood her belly button with his semen. Maybe he would trace a finger through it and write his name on her stomach or across her rib cage. Her own fingers swirled the four letters of his name. She was soaking now, heart beating rapidly, breathing quickened. What else would he do to her? Would he stroke the peeled wands that were her slender arms, the serpentine smoothness of the skin in the hollows of her thighs? Would he find arousal at the overripe strawberry of her anus? Or would he be satisfied with her breasts, her eager and willing mouth, her slick cunt? Her fingers trailed lower. The girl in the mirror sighed.

Absorption in such questions while you are alone and naked in a room in front of a mirror can only lead to one thing. Her body flushed with the heat of arousal, her depths drenched and aching to be filled with his length, she took one last look in the mirror and moved to the bed. She imagined him coming to her as she lay back and spread her legs wide. With both hands she lightly caressed the inside of her thighs, her need now urgent, the delay a sweet torture. When finally parted her labial lips, she was so wet she could easily insert three fingers. With a soft moan, she pushed in deep.

(This wouldn’t have seen the light of day without the invaluable editorial advice of Megan from Murmer and Sigh. Please visit her wonderful site.)

Super-Imposed Love

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I was seeking a greater resolution
Wishing to bring life into focus
Love, I thought,
Would throw into sharp relief
The chiaroscuro background,
The shadowed contours
Of my hidden existence.
Yes love would lend clarity
To the inane hours
Expose the precious beauty
Of everything that happens,
Just because it happens.

Compare, for instance,
The blunt contrast
Between the monochromatic
Intercityscape
With it glistening rot;
Everything is hard here
Oh so fucking hard
Surfaces bodies smiles
All so unyielding
So potentially damaging
If you happen to
Fuck it up,
The concrete is unforgiving
Of accidental missteps
If you happen to fall
You will find
That plenty
Take advantage
Of weakness
They are unforgiving
Towards failure;
So different are
My fever dreams
That I dream of you
I envision you
Bedecked with jewels
Dripping with pearls
Surrounded by
Blank-eyes studs
And pretty doll-
Like girls that smell faintly
Of honey and vanilla,
Throughout the night,
They anoint you with oils
As they fondle
Your heavy breasts,
Tender lips bruise
Your neck
Loving finger caress
And part your sex
Many hands glide over
Your contours
Travelling to the places
Where your pleasure
Resorts:
The whole world feasts
On the banquet of your body,
Beloved slut,
Divine whore of my heart
You reside in a region
A timeless azure realm
Beyond good and evil
How I envy you
For reasons you can never know.
If I unlock the cage
And set you free
Would you one day
Return to me?

A Curious Quaint Appeal

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Courbet-The Origin of the World 1866

You possessed certain attributes
(And still possess I so dearly hope)
Namely an uncertain smile,
A naive, gauche charm
But most of all a unique,
Curious, quaint appeal.

Do you remember that morning
(I definitely remember
But how I ever possibly forget)
It was summer, humidity was high
The stifling atmosphere
Was almost unbreathable
You called, I came
I rang the doorbell
Anxiously waited on the step
Until you open the door
Undressed but for a duvet
That you let slide to the floor
Revealing a naked miracle
I stood there rooted
Torn between illicit desire
And the better angels of a nature
I had never thought existed.
I had a hundred and one perfectly
Valid reasons for leaving
Right there and then:
But maybe there
Is salvation in sin
Maybe the glamour
Of evil and betrayal
Will outweigh the guilt;
Maybe the heavy load
Of a troubled conscience
Is lighter than the
Billion dying spermatozoa
Seeking their only destination
That is within reach
As my fingers testify
As they glance and skirt
In a preliminary skirmish
Through the thickets
And lush undergrowth
Towards the entrance
Of your flooding hollow
You reach down and by
Interlacing our hands
Lead me towards
The bedroom where
Beneath a portrait
By your sister whom
I would never get to meet
I traverse the territory
Of your exposed body;
The sleek Modigliani neck,
The scallops of your ears,
The peaks of your aureoles,
The curvature of your belly,
And deeper still my tongue
After gliding over every
Pore and inch of skin
Penetrates your lips
Into the cavern of
Your mouth with its
Stalactites and stalagmites;
Again you hands lead me
To where I always wanted to go:
Ever since the first moment
That I saw you and I was stunned
As the blood left my brain;
You guide my head down below
And I practice my cunning stunts
To taste your essence
Unusual in its scent
Of honey and vanilla
With biscuit-y undertones
And I dive for oysters
While hunting for pearls
Hidden in this marine realm
Your long legs wrapped
Around my head so tight
That I don’t hear the phone
Ringing out over and over
But you do to infinite regret
And eternal sadness.
To amuse myself I fondle your breasts
And whisper sweet nothings
As you try to cut the call short
But already my work is messaging
To ascertain my whereabouts.

Time, alas, wasn’t on our side
And the circumstances never presented
Themselves to be repeated:
But still to this day I wonder
About your curious, quaint appeal.

Unmade Again

arnimhugoill21Murky, very, very murky, definitely, decidedly so—how else could I describe my motives for not fucking Margot? Before getting in the car I stared up at the window where I had just left Margot lying unclothed and spread-eagled on the mussed up bed. That thought made me hesitate for a moment but I got in the car anyway and started the ignition.

As I drove at speed through the somnolent streets of her neighbourhood, I was in considerable physical discomfort. Pressing my crotch against the steering wheel afforded some relief, but what I really needed was the release that can only be obtained though the agency of the other, the rapture of bodies mingling and dissolving in unison until the mutual, desired annihilation of orgasm. Continue reading

An Unsentimental Education

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I refuse to be
Just another sentence
In your story.

Loitering around
Like a skiving schoolboy
Hands deep in shapeless pockets
Vainly searching for loose coins
Or bent cigarettes
Restlessly looking out
For amusement
To keep me occupied
Until the instant
When you remember
The mystique of arousal
Yes those fires of summer
Will rage again
I will not let you
Deny your desires
To yourself again
Persuade you to admit
The depths of attraction
Stage manage the occasion
For your surrender
And listen with delight
As you whisper into my ear
Long contained obscenities
Teach you with a truly
Sadistic patience
My philosophy in the bedroom
Nice and slow
Whoa now
Sleazy does it
Until the moment comes
When you’re good
And willing
To go out into
That great beyond
And divide others
And conquer accordingly.

The Moment

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Along with a very sweet tooth I share with the Marquis De Sade a quasi-mystical obsession with numbers. Certain numbers that have cropped up recently suggested a piece on the 18th century libertine tradition in French which the Divine Marquis radically re-envisioned at its culmination.

Originally the term libertine was used to describe political opponents of Calvin in Geneva, and went on to develop connotations of atheism and dangerous free-thinking. However by the 18th century the definition had narrowed to describe someone who was a sexual adventurer and debauchee. In the narrow homogeneous confines of French aristocratic circles in the Ancien Regime there flourished a literature which was entirely dedicated to examining the erotic manoeuvres and cynical mores of a fashionable society that pursued pleasure at all costs yet had to hypocritically maintain face .

Several novels including Diderot’s Les bijoux indiscrets (The Indiscreet Jewels) and Crebillon fils La Sopha (The Sofa) transposed the setting to Oriental locations to disguise the political satire of the court of Louis XV. Others were less cautious and set their novels in a contemporary setting with thinly veiled portraits of famous influential figures; the resulting scandals ruined careers and damaged reputations. Laclos the author of the masterpiece of libertine fiction and to my mind the greatest novel ever written, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liasions) never escaped the notoriety that the book brought him; he unjustly became the byword for cynicism and Machiavellian scheming.

One of the central features of the libertine novel is the conflict between sense and sentiment that readers of Jane Austen will be familiar with. However unlike Austen they resolve themselves as an unsentimental education where the hero or heroine is taught the ways of the world and learns how to exploit others for their sensual gratification. As the prophet of the enlightenment Voltaire noted ‘Pleasure is the object, duty and the goal of all rational creatures’, and the aristocrats portrayed are above all rational creatures.

During their education, which always involves seduction and a subtle corruption the characters are taught about the moment. The moment is a key concept in libertine philosophy, it is when the object of desire is most susceptible to seduction. The newly minted libertines are made aware of when the moment is approaching, how to take full advantage of the moment and even how to manufacture the moment in someone who is inimical to seduction. The classic novels of sexual education are Crebillon fils  Les Égarements du cœur et de l’esprit ou Mémoires de M. de Meilcour (The Wayward Heart and Head or the Memoirs of M. de Meilcour) and the Marquis De Sade’s La Philosophie dans le boudoir ou Les instituteurs immoraux (Philosophy in the Boudoir or The Immoral Teachers). De Sade of course is notably more extreme than his predecessors and combines elements of the Gothic and Baroque while pointing forward to Romanticism and Decadence.

Dreamlife

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Toyen-A l’entree du silence 1954

Here’s another,
Here’s another chance…

I have never really been present
In the right here,
The right now.
I am never fully awake
Until I close my eyes
And live the dreamlife.

Haunted by the memory of the woman
Who was in turn possessed
By another love
Who bore a supernatural
Resemblance to the original
Girl I loved long ago who was
Haunted by the memory.

But here’s another,
Here’s another…

You remind me of someone,
Yes someone I once knew.
If only you were a little blonder
And would change the clothes you wear
That shade of lipstick is all wrong
Here, try this on
It’s not exact
But maybe it will do
In this half light yes
You could even be her.
And while drowning in your grey eyes
I see reflected
Back at me my own copper eyes
Then I see myself
In your body and in turn
Your body in mine
If only we could come
Together as one
Merging indivisible
After all it may not be impossible
Identities can have a tendency
To converge at a certain intensity
When the world outside this room
Recedes and is finally banished
When the only reality
Is that of pure sensation.

So here’s another,
Here’s another, here’s another:
Here’s another chance
For you to be with me,
Just come to me
And I’ll turn you on to the dreamlife.