Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guilty Conscience?

Lo! 'tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly;
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Wo!

That motley drama!—oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased forever more,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness and more of Sin
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout,
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out—out are the lights—out all!
And over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
And the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
- EA Poe

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Forging the Borromean Rings of Power

In mathematics, the Borromean rings consist of three topological circles which are linked and form a Brunnian link, i.e., removing any ring results in two unlinked rings. In other words, no two of the three rings are linked with each other, but nonetheless all three are linked.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Doisneau, "Un Regard Oblique" (1948)

“The photograph appears to give a certain prominence to a woman’s look. Both the title of the photograph and its organization of space indicate that the real site of scopophilic power is on the margins of the frame. The man is not centered; in fact, he occupies a very narrow space on the extreme right of the picture. Nevertheless, it is his gaze which defines the problematic of the photograph; it is his gaze which effectively erases that of the woman. Indeed, as subject of the gaze, the woman looks intently. But not only is the object of her look concealed from the spectator, her gaze is encased by the two poles defining masculine axis of vision. Fascinated by nothing visible — a blankness or void for the spectator — unanchored by a ‘sight’ (there is nothing ‘proper’ to her vision — save, perhaps, the mirror), the female gaze is left free-floating, vulnerable to subjection. The faint reflection in the shop window of only the frame of the picture at which she is looking serves merely to rearticulate, en abyme, the emptiness of her gaze, the absence of her desire in representation.

“On the other hand, the object of the male gaze is fully present, there for the spectator. The fetishistic representation of the nude female body, fully in view, insures a masculinization of the spectorial position.”
- Mary Ann Doane (1982)

Monday, September 3, 2012



WHEN head and heart are busy, say,

What better can be found?
Who neither loves nor goes astray,

Were better under ground.
- Goethe (1815)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back, to the Future!

Jean Paul Sartre, "The Flies" from Wikipedia
The Flies is also a modern take on Aeschylus’ trilogy, the Oresteia. While Sartre keeps many aspects of the original story by Aeschylus, he adjusts the play to fit his views, with strong themes of freedom from psychological slavery. He focuses most on the second play in the Oresteia trilogy, only referencing the first play, Agamemnon, with the mention of Agamemnon’s death by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The plot of the third play, The Eumenides is also excluded because in that play, the Council of Elders absolves Orestes of his sins, but since Sartre depicts Orestes as remorseless, he cannot include that storyline in his play without having to change his storyline. Unlike in Aeschylus’ The Libation Bearers, where revenge is one of the main themes throughout the play, Sartre’s Orestes does not kill Aegisthus and Clytemnestra for vengeance or because it was his destiny, instead it is for the sake of the people of Argos, so that they may be freed from their enslavement. Sartre wants to stress the fact that Orestes comes to that decision by himself, without the aid or direction of any outside forces, which contrasts with the Orestes in The Libation Bearers, who relies heavily on the direction of the gods. Sartre even diminishes the character of Clytemnestra so that there is much less emphasis on matricide than there is in the version by Aeschylus. While Electra is guilt-stricken after the death of Clytemnestra, Orestes feels no remorse for killing his mother, so his relationship with her is not very important. Sartre’s representation of the Furies differs from that of Aeschylus in that, instead of attempting to avenge the crimes committed, they try to evoke guilt from those who committed them. Sartre does this to reiterate the importance of amenability; he wants to prove that remorse should only be felt if one believes the act committed is wrong. By acting in what he believes to be a righteous way and killing the king and queen, Orestes takes responsibility for his actions without feeling any remorse for them.