Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts - Mea Culpa

Music by Brian Eno and David Byrne.
Photo montage by Durga Drummond.

A Secret Life (Robjn Abstraction) (Brian Eno & David Byrne)

Remix and Film by Robjn

Love, sex, politics and revolution

The power of seduction to manipulate history. The allure of the temptress. Ageless themes that have faded little since the time Salome performed her dance of the seven veils.

From G41.2802 Seduction and Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1776-1809 (pdf)

"... “Democracy is Lovelace and the people are Clarissa,” wrote John Adams in 1804, looking back on the American Revolution. “The artful villain will pursue the innocent lovely girl to her ruin and her death.” This seminar aims to contextualize such a comment, examining the uses of seduction tropes and narratives in literature and culture of the Atlantic world in what has been called “The Age of Democratic Revolutions.” The late-eighteenth-century Atlantic world was awash in seduction narratives. Often imposed on actual events—from local sex scandals to the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions—seduction plots, though invariably reductive and clichéd, carried extraordinary explanatory and interpretive force. Libertines and coquettes—staple figures of traditional seduction novels, plays, and poetry—took on new political significance in revolutionary contexts, written and rewritten with many variations in many genres..."

The power of seduction was never lost on the military...

Love, Sex and War - John Costello

From Chapter 12: Black Propaganda and Sexpionage

"...The Salon Kitty

Ever since Rahab the Harlot harboured Joshua's spies before the capture of Jericho, sex has often played a part in clandestine intelligence operations as a means of extracting, concealing, or disseminating intelligence. World War I produced the legendary femme fatale Mata Hari, whose H-21 German code-designation was to expose her in 1917 after French counter-intelligence deciphered a cable to Berlin. Less notorious – because she was never caught – was 'Fraulein Doktor'. Dr Annamarie Lesser exploited her powerful sensuality to ensnare high-ranking French officers and stay one jump ahead of discovery while she spun a web of German espionage in wartime Paris that cost France one of her key fortresses.

It was not only spies who used sex in the cause of military and political advantage in World War I. British and French propaganda posters and cartoons luridly dramatized the so-called German rape of Belgium in a way that helped inflame American opinion against the Kaiser's soldiers, who were represented as raping murderers.

Twenty-one years later, the Nazi's regime had transformed propaganda into a sinister art. Dr Joseph Goebbels was able to exploit sexual and racial themes in broadcasts, films, and posters. For an outwardly puritanical regime which banned prostitution, abortion, and contraceptives and banished homosexuals to concentration camps, the German leaders had no private reservations about employing sexual themes in propaganda or using sex as both a weapon and bait in clandestine intelligence-gathering operations.

Although brothels were officially outlawed by the Third Reich, the elite Nazi SS security police had been authorized by Himmler before the war to engage prostitutes in intelligence gathering. The infamous Salon Kitty in Berlin's Giebachstrasse was the brainchild of the Deputy Reichsfuhrer SS, Reinhard Heydrich. The high-class brothel was set up to increase surveillance of foreign diplomats and visitors as well as to gather dossiers on the sexual indiscretions of Nazi party big-wigs and government guests.

Hand-picked girls were specially schooled in the arts of seduction to pry confidential information – as well as high fees – from their clients. Cameras were concealed in hollow walls and the luxuriously ornate bedheads were bugged with microphones that were cunningly placed to convey the most intimate of amorous whispers to the battery of listening posts and recording machines set up in the basement. But Salon Kitty proved an expensive investment whose 'sexpionage' value never lived up to Heydrich's expectations. Its recordings provided a great deal of bawdy entertainment for the SS listeners in the cellar but few significant political or diplomatic indiscretions were picked up by the time the outbreak of war reduced its usefulness. (pp. 241-242)..."

From Chapter 17: The Seeds of Sexual Revolution

"...American Propaganda

By making jobs like wartime welding seem glamorous, American propaganda fostered the impression that such work increased the chances of finding a husband and becoming a better home-keeper in peacetime. The trend was particularly apparent in the American wartime media. Women's magazines, newspaper features on female war workers, and advertising for wartime housewives all stressed the feminine attributes. 'She does a man's work in the ground crew servicing airplanes, but she hasn't lost any of her glamour, sweetness, and charm,' ran a McCalls headline. A cosmetic company advertised that the war could not be won by lipstick, 'But it symbolizes one of the reasons why we are fighting... the precious right of women to be feminine and lovely.' (pp. 368-369)

Their Ageless Mission

That so many women responded to the post-war call to their ageless mission was to result in a larger than expected generation of post-war children who were to make a significant contribution to furthering the 'sexual revolution' when they matured. The 'baby boom' children, raised to adolescence according to the permissive 'Spock doctrine', were to become participants in the sexual liberation movements which emerged in the late 1960s in the United States and had spread by the early 1970s throughout the Western world. (p. 370)..."

From Seductress spy jailed

"...A South Korean court today convicted a North Korean woman defector charged with extracting state secrets from military officers in return for sexual favours and sentenced her to five years in jail, media said.

Won Jeong-hwa, 34, was arrested in August on suspicion of posing as a defector and sleeping with South Korean military officers in exchange for classified information on weapons systems and the locations of key military installations.

Won, who had faced up to life in prison, had admitted in court to her guilt and asked for leniency..."

Or the politicians...

From Gasmasks & Pantyhose

"...The 'Back to basics' propaganda campaign has been undermined because the Tories failed to meet their own moral standards. In condemning the Tory party we must be careful not to take on their morality. There's nothing wrong with shagging. No one should expect human sexual behaviour to be expressed in only one way. It's strange that while we accept diversity in tastes in food, music, book, films when it comes to sex we talk of rights, wrongs and norms.

Heterosexual penetrative sex in the missionary position is assumed to be the norm. Yet, who would ever assume that most normal people eat meat and two veg every day of their lives? Who would think it was peculiar to consume and enjoy curry or chilli or potato soup. While variety is accepted and unquestioned in every other one of our senses, our sexual behaviour is regulated by culturally (and sometimes legally) enforced rules. Rules so deeply embedded in society we often aren't even aware of their existence..."

I was reminded of a famous French woman revolutionary who, one contemporary had commented, had converted more men to the cause with her charms than any tract or manifesto.

It is an ancient archetypal tale.

From the review of Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love
by Betsy Prioleau

"... It is not enough to conquer; one must know how to seduce.

We are all seduced and seducing.
—St. Augustine

A woman with fair opportunities, and without an absolute hump, may marry whom she likes. Only let us be thankful that the darlings are like the beasts of the field, and don't know their own power. They would overcome us entirely if they did.
—William Makepeace Thackeray

This strength of the feminine is that of seduction.
—Jean Baudrillard

The seductress. She's a scarlet inkblot, a Rorschach of our deepest sexual fears and fantasies. She's the blond bimbette in a string bikini; the stacked vamp in Spandex; the Chanel-suited nymphobitch of Sullivan & Cromwell; the servile artist's muse and maidservant. But we've got it wrong. We've been gulled by chimeras-sleazy, bogus stereotypes that need to be dismantled and replaced by the genuine article.

Real seductresses, those incandescent unditchable sirens who spellbind and keep the men of their choice, belie every popular myth. Forget beauty, youth, vacuity, servility, and shark-hearted rapacity. Seductresses are in fact the liberated woman incarnate. Feminism's biggest mistake was kicking them out of the club. They're futuristic models of female entitlement: independent operators, pleasure claimers, terroristas of traditional femininity, and big, classy divas. They recover women's natural supremacy and achieve what most eludes us today-erotic control and a positive union of work and love.

[ ... ]

Far from sellouts to patriarchy, for instance, they subvert and sabotage it. They menace male domination. Since antiquity they've roiled the waters and upset the hierarchy, reclaiming women's natural position in love: on top, in command, with swarms of men at their feet. They're the stealth heroines of history. The first feminists.

[ ... ]

Great leaders, claim psychologists, want eager converts and team players who ratify, follow, and diffuse "nonhostile" karma. This tired cliché of the luscious camp follower and senate groupie went out with Monica Lewinsky, the seductress reduced to wipette.

Real seductresses, by contrast, were shakers and movers and often wore the pants politically. The Machtweiber (German for "vamp-politicas"), a fifth category of siren, led nations and political factions and exercised equal clout in the throne room and bedroom. Instead of downsexing themselves in office, they played up their erotic allure in order to brew charisma, win consensus, consolidate power, and bespell constituents.

Seduction and politics are natural bedfellows. They potentiate each other and work synergistically. Because men have always known and exploited this, they've tried to turf women out through intimidation and slander. With classic calumny, they branded the sixth-century Theodora a "new Delilah" and a "citizen of Hell stung by the devil's fly." In reality, she governed Byzantium with finesse while putting "forth irresistible powers of fascination." The Machtweiber demolish the satanic boss lady stereotypes, winning men and governing with equal proficiency..."

'The demolition derby will continue as long as we refuse to listen to Pericles'

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou writes in Demolition Derby versus Pericles :

A demolition derby is in place, in full swing while we, most ordinary citizens, watch stupefied, irritated, apathetic at times and at a loss to react at others. I keep telling myself that the time to rebuild is here yet is this just wishful thinking on my part? Am I blinded by the incompetence that prevails, unable or not wanting to accept the reality that is my country? And in my perpetual inner turmoil the idea of flight becomes all the more prescient. Yet the need to resist, to contribute to changing the reality, to convert the downswing into an upswing is just as great, if not a more profound call.

In his Funeral Oration delivered in 431 BC, Pericles says:

“Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors', but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private business we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes; we do not put on sour looks at him which, though harmless, are not pleasant. While we are thus unconstrained in our private business, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws, having a particular regard to those which are ordained for the protection of the injured as well as those unwritten laws which bring upon the transgressor of them the reprobation of the general sentiment.” (

Am I and my fellow citizens not deserving of a political and social system described by Pericles? Wasn't the return of Democracy in 1974 supposed to represent the return of Pericles' enlightened democracy? Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Stay, fight, contribute, I tell myself. “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” is probably the most apt, accurate description of what is wrong with Greece and what needs to be done.
Clientelism and corruption have brought us to a great extent to the brick wall we seem unable to pull down. We have become demandeurs instead of participants in the political life of the country, accepting mediocrity in the shape of lifelong public sector jobs instead of contributing to the creation of a vibrant meritocracy with world class education, regional leadership, and the like. We have forgotten not only our heritage (sic. the attempts to put fire to the National Archaeological Museum and the National Library, to deface the University of Athens among other public and historic buildings, and to use the Acropolis for political sloganeering) but the fact that its values transcend our sovereign and temporal borders.

~ more... ~

A Perfect Circle - Pet music video

Made as part of a multimedia production class.

Guitar Sitar Jugalbandi by Ancient Future

The Guitar-Sitar Jugalbandi version of Ancient Future featuring Matthew Montfort (scalloped fretboard guitar), Pandit Habib Khan (sitar) and Arshad Syed (tabla) performs Montfort's composition, Dawn of Love. Jugalbandi is a classical North Indian musical duet (literally "tied together"), in this case with the unusual configuration of sitar and guitar accompanied by tabla.


image from

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