Thursday, October 25, 2007
sex and art
the first is Beyond Lust a very good review of a current art exhibition which i wish i could visit ( Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to the Present at the Barbican, London EC2, until January 27. ) and the second is an even more intriguing show . Barefoot (and more!) in the park - another good review of an even more challenging art exhibition of photography by one japanese artist who haunted public parks at night and photographing people having sex in the 1970s. It's probably criminal in most places but here's another thing. any other person caught doing this kind of thing in most places will likely be beaten up and hauled to the police station. but in this particular case he got away with it and his photographs are now considered high 'art'.
when i was young , we don't have too many activities at night. many houses in our village were really crappy with wooden or zinc walls full of cracks and holes and naturally some of us adapted to the situation and evolved to become expert peeping toms. one of my close friends during those good old days were well known for two things. one, he was blessed by god to have what some of you would call 'a whopper' between his legs, and another; he was our village peeping tom champion. i'm a coward by nature and never attempted anything remotely close to what my friend did. He was splashed with hot water, pissed on the face while peeping upon unsuspecting young lady urinating in between cracks of the floorings in her bedroom, chased by irate fathers on a few occasions.
when he had a particularly good night hunting he would regale us all the details and in time i got to know most of our village girls private life and their private parts. who had the bald pussy , who was the hairiest, who the biggest...and as he related all these, he would get excited and his pecker would become alive and turned into...a whopper...and he would challenge us all to compare ours with his and we naturally declined. it is a pity in those days we don't have digital cameras...other wise he too would probably become an artist...
very much later, this voyeuristic interest never left me but evolved into a more refined and one can say a civilized manner. art, particularly paintings and books on erotic art become surrogate voyeurism. of course this days you don't have to be king farouk (who, in case you don't know was the last king of egypt and had a vast collection of pornography) to satiate yourself with erotic art (and porn). a click on your computer keyboard will start you on a journey into one of the most interesting sexual world that you may never recover from. so beware. ah...and just a reminder . if any of you ladies have a husband who always work up to three o'clock in the morning 'balancing the account' you know that he's up to no good.
but as i was saying, paintings and books are my thing. a long time ago i came across a book which i already mentioned in previous post sometimes back. this is the intimate sex lives of famous people. the book is divided into sections with titles such as 'men who enjoyed girls 16 years old or younger'- Goethe, Pepys, mark twain..., 'outsize organs' , -jimi hendrix, guy de maupassant etc, and yes, 'peeping toms' too...hitler, tolouse-lautrec....and quite recently added another two similar books to my collection - the sex lives series by nigel cawthorne. One is sex lives of the popes and another sex lives of the great artists.
all very interesting stuff. but there are three books that first started me to get interested in erotic art and really influenced and make me look at art(paintings) in a certain light. i bought these many many years ago during my university days. First is Erotic art of india by phillip rawson, a small book of 40 beautiful color plates of indian miniature paintings of hindu god krishna having sex with cow girls, and beautiful mogul paintings of copulating couples in various positions among others. secondly, 'the erotic art of the masters' (with an introduction by henri miller) which introduced me to the world of japanese 'shungas' among other things. and the complete book of erotic art vol 1 & 2 which is a result of the first international exhibition of erotic art held in museums in sweden, and denmark in 1968! which gave a good survey of erotic art of the eastern and western world with beautiful and sometimes funny pictures of copulating couples by the like of picasso, chagall, grosz, rodin among the more famous names -very much like the current exhibition at the barbican mentioned above- and more japanese shungas, and indian miniatures and also chinese erotica.
and now, i have a dilemma. last week, when i was in beijing i saw this beautiful oil painting at a place known as 'the flower market' which is actually a three storey building selling all kinds of things including flowers of course (on the ground floor) and mostly crappy paintings on the second floor. Several years back i was lucky to find in panjayuan weekend market a book "works of the chinese nude oils exhibition" which is an exhibition catalogue of the first chinese nude oil exhibition! and the cover was " girl with still life" depicting a beautiful young girl in nude by the now famous artist yang feiyun . and the painting that i saw in the flower market was obviously after this painting or a copy of another similar painting by this artist. " girl with still life" was a girl standing with hands clasped to hide her private part and with a bowl of peach on the table on the right and a rubber (ficus) tree in a pot behind. the painting that i bought was the same standing girl but with plaited hair brought to the front, same rubber tree (not very well done) but this time with a bowl of lemons and placed on the left instead. it was a huge painting of around five feet by five and i bought it for a song (cheap, as it was obviously a student copy). i had to take off the stretcher frame and rolled it up to bring it back. and now i've reframed it but the question is where to put it? i'm thinking to hang it in my office but i'm not sure if office people will take it positively. in fact i'm very sure i'll get into trouble with sexual harrasement . that goes to show one man's art is another man (or woman)'s porn.
here is the painting anyway. what do you think?
Saturday, October 20, 2007
paedophiles and prostitutes
i was reading the guardian story about that canadian paedophile caught in thailand last night and that most probably was the reason why i had this dream. the story was very disturbing and doubly unpleasant as the victims were young boys. Not that it makes matter any better if they were young girls but to my heterosexsual perspective it would be somewhat less nauseating. my first thought when i hear that this guy was caught was not of happiness that some monster has been apprehended but merely thinking 'poor sod' for there are thousands or probably millions more out there preying on little boys and girls. there are many VCDs and DVDs showing sexual abuse of young girls by usually old white men and you can get them easily enough. very2 disturbing stuff. how do they get these young boys and girls to do these stuff? it certainly can't be totally voluntary. but who 'sold' these young ones to these monsters? this is the worst form of prostitution.
in general i don't view prostitution negatively. done in a proper manner, as a consensual sexual transaction , prostitution to me is no worse that taking drug or drinking and certainly a lot more fun. i've tried to understand this fascinating trade and tried to read a few books on this subject but in many cases the stories are too depressing. I've read part of the natashas about the traffic of white women and sex slaves about asian women and couldn't bear to read them very far. too depressing. but that is not to say that the profession is full of sob stories. on the contrary one of the reasons why this profession is so hard to eradicate is because in many cases the workers are in fact willing partners. one book pat pong sisters by cleo odzer about a personal inquiry into this trade in pat pong, the notorious area of bangkok for this kind of stuff was nothing but an excuse by the beautiful and young white writer to tell about her taking up with and banging a thai pimp.
and on my many travels one of my favorite activities is to sit down in a hotel bar or some other such places and talk to these young women. and i've not met a single one who dropped on her knees and begged me to save them and take them away from the place. and a hundred percents of the time they are always cajoling you in all kind of ways to have sex with them...although when asked, they always tell the same sob stories how they end up doing what they do.
one story , this is in jakarta. a girl of about nineteen told me she first had sex about three months ago. with whom? your boyfrined? and she said no. an old chinese man 'bought' her for one week and he was the first man to do it. i asked how much? and she mentioned a figure in rupiah which translated to around may be three hundred US dollars. so i said. lucky bastard , i could've paid you double that and she laughed and said i was late by three months but if you want we can do it now, and she mentioned a minuscule figure ...around thirty dollars... but i said er...i'll think about it...may be later.
another snippet. this time in yangon discoteque (playing terrible techno music) full of young myanma girls looking for old men with money. i had a girl sat beside me. and i asked her how she come and work here. she said she used to be a salesgirl in a small shop in yangon. the money was very little but it was okay as she was staying with her family. but one day her mother and father was travelling on a lorry ( a normal public trasportation in myanma) and it went down a ravine. fifteen people died including both her parents. she went to live with her grand mother but life was very hard. one day her friend invited her to come to this joint. she came and here she is and asked me if i wanted to sleep with her...and i said er...i'll think about it... may be later. and i asked her when did she have her first sex? and she said about six months ago. with whom? your boyfried? no a japanese businessman. and i exclaimed how the hell you get a japanese man? and she said her friend introduced him. and how much did he give you for being the first person to have sex with you? she mentioned a paltry sum of USD two hundred dollars. and i said, wow, you are rich! but she said no! my friend took half the money....hmmmm.
i'm still reading the marvellous book dark star safari by paul theroux and here's an excerpt related to what i've been banging on above...he was talking about a town in uganda...
....Among the whirling grasshoppers and the grasshopper gatherers and the shoeshine boys and the strollers were multitude of prostitutes, and they were insectile too. They lingered in the street,they stood under trees, they sat on low walls, they leaned against cars. They were most of them very young and well dressed and looked demure, even sweet, and as I approached they hissed at me, and made kissing sounds, as you would call a cat. 'Want a date?' ' Want a massage' And some of the most innocent-looking pushed their glazed faces at me and wishpered softly, 'Want a fuck?'
makes me want to book a plane ticket and fly off to uganda.....
Sunday, October 07, 2007
dark star safari
and the book i was reading was dark star safari : overland from cairo to cape town , another very good travel book by paul theroux. and another very good read i must add. i was immediately hooked when in the first few pages he described his meeting with naquib mahfouz the great egyptian writer in one of his salons and about all those lonely white ladies taking the nile boat cruises looking for the "nubian bananas"
... and for the first time it gets me interested in egyptology and all those heiroglyphics, obelisks, mummies, pharoahs and their interesting gods and godesses. I've seen so many of these mummies and old egyptian art in the british museum, the louvre and the met over the years but i've never paid much attention to them . and talking about obelisks, to me it's quite ironic that right in the middle of st peter's square in the vetican the centre of christendom (at least a version of it) , there is a tall and majestic obelisk and these people think nothing of the fact that this majestic obelisk was carted away from egypt and in fact a stolen property. i wonder what writings were on that obelisk and won't be too surprised if they were about prayers to some old egyptian gods. another delicious irony. i imagine , much like the tibetan prayer flags, all these heiroglyphic prayers probably radiate away upward to heaven from the obelisk to the sky god horus or isis his mother or Ra the sun god and all these, come right from the middle of the seat of monotheism (of sort).
and it so happened that i also saw in the bargain area of borders the curve a pile of an excellent exhibition catalogue "eternal egypt: masterworks of an ancient art from the british museum" at the curve some months back . and at the spur of the moment as i wont to do, i just veered my car to the left and went straight to borders instead of going to my original destination (home) and bought the book. and who knows, it might start off another craze. i might start collecting books on egyptology. which may not be too unexpected. for a very long time i had a lump of sandstone taken from the great pyramid of giza. i er ...well, stole this when i went to visit cairo and the pyramid a very long time ago . people said you'll be cursed if you take anything from this place but so far i can't say that i've been cursed with anything very much unless if you think blogging doggedly knowing full well that hardly anybody is reading it is a curse.
Monday, October 01, 2007
a literary life
Last Updated: 12:01am
Mark Sanderson at large in a world of books
The shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize features both the longest – Nicola Barker's Darkmans (840 pp) – and the shortest – Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach (166 pp) – titles from the longlist.
The sales figures, before the announcement, according to Nielsen BookScan, were similarly extreme.
Up to 18 August the McEwan (published in April) had sold 99,660 copies whereas the Barker (May) had sold 499 copies.
As for the other four: Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist (March) had sold 1,519 copies, Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip (June) 880 copies, Anne Enright's The Gathering (May) 834 copies and Indra Sinha's Animal's People (March) a mere 231 copies.
Such totals beg the question why anyone should bother to write literary fiction....isn't this sad...