martes, 31 de enero de 2012

Batman and Robin



Several years ago a California psychiatrist pointed out that the Batman stories are psychologically homosexual. Our researches confirm this entirely. Only someone ignorant of the fundamentals of psychiatry and of the psychopathology of sex can fail to realize a subtle atmosphere of homoerotism which pervades the adventures of the mature "Batman" and his young friend "Robin." Male and female homoerotic overtones are present also in some science-fiction, jungle and other comic books.

Just as ordinary crime comic books contribute to the fixation of violent and hostile patterns by suggesting definite forms for their expression, so the Batman type of story helps to fixate homoerotic tendencies by suggesting the form of an adolescent-with-adult or Ganymede-Zeus type of love-relationship.

In the Batman type of comic book such a relationship is depicted to children before they can even read. Batman and Robin, the "dynamic duo," also known as the "daring duo," go into action in their special uniforms. They constantly rescue each other from violent attacks by an unending number of enemies. The feeling is conveyed that we men must stick together because there are so many villainous creatures who have to be exterminated. They lurk not only under every bed but also behind every star in the sky. Either Batman or his young boy friend or both are captured, threatened with every imaginable weapon, almost blown to bits, almost crushed to death, almost annihilated. Sometimes Batman ends up in bed injured and young Robin is shown sitting next to him. At home they lead an idyllic life. They are Bruce Wayne and "Dick" Gray- son. Bruce Wayne is described as a "socialite" and the official relationship is that Dick is Bruce's ward. They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler, Alfred. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown. As they sit by the fireplace the young boy sometimes worries about his partner: "Something's wrong with Bruce. He hasn't been himself these past few days." It is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together. Sometimes they are shown on a couch, Bruce reclining and Dick sitting next to him, jacket off, collar open, and his hand on his friend's arm. Like the girls in other stories, Robin is sometimes held captive by the villains and Batman has to give in or "Robin gets killed."

Robin is a handsome ephebic boy, usually shown in his uniform with bare legs. He is buoyant with energy and devoted to nothing on earth or in interplanetary space as much as to Bruce Wayne. He often stands with his legs spread, the genital region discreetly evident.
Batman and Robin

In these stories there are practically no decent, attractive, successful women. A typical female character is the Catwoman, who is vicious and uses a whip. The atmosphere is homosexual and anti-feminine. If the girl is good-looking she is undoubtedly the villainess. If she is after Bruce Wayne, she will have no chance against Dick. For instance, Bruce and Dick go out one evening in dinner clothes, dressed exactly alike. The attractive girl makes up to Bruce while in successive pictures young Dick looks on smiling, sure of Bruce. Violence is not lacking in these stories. You are shown Batman and Robin standing in a room with a whole row of corpses on the floor.

In a study of over a thousand homosexual cases at the Quaker Emergency Service Readjustment Center we found that the arousal of homosexual fantasies, the translation of fantasies into fact and the transition from episodic homosexual experiences to a confirmed fixation of the pattern may be due to all sorts of accidental factors. The Batman type of story may stimulate children to homosexual fantasies, of the nature of which they may be unconscious. In adolescents who realize it they may give added stimulation and reinforcement.

In many adolescents the homoerotic, anti-feminist trend unconsciously aroused or fostered by these stories is demonstrable. We have inquired about Batman from overt homosexuals treated at the Readjustment Center, to find out what they thought the influence of these Batman stories was on children and adolescents. A number of them knew these stories very well and spoke of them as their favorite reading. The reply of one intelligent, educated young homosexual was typical: "I don't think that they would do any harm sexually. But they probably would ruin their morals."

One young homosexual during psychotherapy brought us a copy of Detective Comics, with a Batman story. He pointed out a picture of "The Home of Bruce and Dick" a house beautifully landscaped, warmly lighted and showing the devoted pair side by side, looking out a picture window. When he was eight this boy had realized from fantasies about comic book pictures that he was aroused by men. At the age of ten or eleven, "I found my liking, my sexual desires, in comic books. I think I put myself in the position of Robin. I did want to have relations with Batman. The only suggestion of homosexuality may be that they seem to be so close to each other. I remember the first time I came across the page mentioning the 'secret bat cave.' The thought of Batman and Robin living together and possibly having sex relations came to my mind. You can almost connect yourself with the people. I was put in the position of the rescued rather than the rescuer. I felt I'd like to be loved by someone like Batman or Superman."

A boy of thirteen was treated by me in the Clinic while he was on several years' probation. He and a companion had forced a boy of eight, threatening him with a knife, to undress and carry out sexual practices with them. Like many other homo-erotically inclined children, he was a special devotee of Batman: "Sometimes I read them over and over again. They show off a lot. I don't remember Batman's name, but the boy's name is Robin. They live together. It could be that Batman did something with Robin like I did with the younger boy. . . . Batman could have saved this boy's life. Robin looks something like a girl. He has only trunks on."

Fredric Wertham
Seduction of the Innocent

sábado, 28 de enero de 2012

Le Cul, selon Voltaire


CUL

On répétera ici ce qu’on a déjà dit ailleurs, et ce qu’il faut répéter toujours, jusqu’au temps où les Français se seront corrigés; c’est qu’il est indigne d’une langue aussi polie et aussi universelle que la leur d’employer si souvent un mot déshonnête et ridicule, pour signifier des choses communes qu’on pourrait exprimer autrement sans le moindre embarras.

Pourquoi nommer cul-d’âne et cul-de-cheval des orties de mer? pourquoi donc donner le nom de cul-blanc à l’oenante et de cul-rouge à l’épeiche? Cette épeiche est une espece de pivert et l’oenante une espèce de moineau cendré. Il y a un oiseau qu’on nomme fétu-en-cul ou paille-en-cul; on avait cent manières de le désigner d’une expression beaucoup plus précise. N’est-il pas impertinent d’appeler cul-de-vaisseau le fond de la poupe?

Plusieurs auteurs nomment encore à-cul un petit mouillage, un ancrage, une grève, un sable, une anse, où les barques se mettent à l’abri des corsaires. Il y a un petit à-cul à Palo comme à Sainte-Marinthée(39).

On se sert continuellement du mot cul-de-lampe pour exprimer un fleuron, un petit cartouche, un pendentif, un encorbellement, une base de pyramide, un placard, une vignette.

Un graveur se sera imaginé que cet ornement ressemble à la base d’une lampe; il l’aura nommé cul-de-lampe pour avoir plus tôt fait; et les acheteurs auront répété ce mot après lui. C’est ainsi que les langues se forment. Ce sont les artisans qui ont nommé leurs ouvrages et leurs instruments.

Certainement il n’y avait nulle nécessité de donner le nom de cul-de-four aux voûtes sphériques, d’autant plus que ces voûtes n’ont rien de celles d’un four, qui est toujours surbaissée.

Le fond d’un artichaut est formé et creusé en ligne courbe, et le nom de cul ne lui convient en aucune manière. Les chevaux ont quelquefois une tache verdâtre dans les yeux, on l’appelle cul-de-verre. Une autre maladie des chevaux, qui est une espèce d’érysipèle, est appelée le cul-de-poule. Le haut d’un chapeau est un cul-de-chapeau. Il y a des boutons à compartiments, qu’on appelle boutons à cul-de-dé.

Comment a-t-on pu donner le nom de cul-de-sac à l’angiportus des Romains? Les Italiens ont pris le nom d’angiporto pour signifier strada senza uscita. On lui donnait autrefois chez nous le nom d’impasse qui est expressif et sonore. C’est une grossièreté énorme que le mot de cul-de-sac ait prévalu.

Le terme de culage a été aboli. Pourquoi tous ceux que nous venons d’indiquer ne le sont-ils pas? Ce terme infâme de culage signifiait le droit que s’étaient donné plusieurs seigneurs, dans les temps de la tyrannie féodale, d’avoir à leur choix les prémices de tous les mariages dans l’étendue de leurs terres. On substitua ensuite le mot de cuissage à celui de culage. Le temps seul peut corriger toutes les façons vicieuses de parler.

Il est triste qu’en fait de langue, comme en d’autres usages plus importants, ce soit la populace qui dirige les premiers d’une nation.

Dictionnaire philosophique

Elogio sentimental de la Go-go Girl



ELOGIO SENTIMENTAL DE LA “GO-GO GIRL”

(...)
Nuestros medios de comunicación de masas se dirigen más a nuestro amigo supermán, protagonista de este último capitulo de la crónica sentimental. Es el que dala cara de la España actual, no lo olvidemos, tras el parabrisas de su coche. Los medios de comunicación de masas tienden a uniformar esa cultura de masas, y lo hacen,perfectamente conscientes, al nivel del supermán pequeño burgués, especie evolucionadade la prehistórica “sufrida clase media”. Por encima quedan los supermanes de la economia y del riesgo, y por debajo la base de la pirámide social.Ese supermán no quiere perder el tren biológico. Recurrirá a toda clase de maquillajes,asimilará todos los anticuerpos posibles, para que ninguna epidemia le sorprenda. Resulta curioso su comportamiento ante la música de consumo, cómo fuerza su sentimentalidad para no verse desbordado por los acontecimientos. Y es que la revolución iniciada por el rock no se ha detenido.El rock estaba identificado con los rebeldes sin causa, con James Dean y el propio Elvis Presley y todas las mitificaciones seriadas de los personajes de Kerouac o Nelson Algren.

La revolución melódica de la juventud ha tenido en todo el mundo un falso sabor de revolución mantenida por el presupuesto de un papá liberal, con su camisa blanca, su traje gris, su prestigio de eficaz ejecutivo. El pase a primer término del escenario de la juventud marginada que venia de la noche del “niño, eso no se dice”, creó todas las formas de pederastia con que los adultos vienen huyendo del túnel del tiempo. Ser joven se convierte de repente en una necesaria moda, en un frenético chupar el trozo de colilla que les queda.No estar con los jóvenes es envejecer y estar con los jóvenes quiere decir replantear todas las convenciones vitales, aunque sea dos horas al dia. Es como la buena obra diaria del escultismo, pero dirigida hacia uno mismo.Si el dinero adulto creó el mercado de la sentimentalidad juvenil, también creó el mercado de la sentimentalidad nocturna juvenil del adulto.

El hombre treintañero, acuarentado, necesita la complicidad de la noche para aplazar la norma hasta el día siguiente. Entonces se va furtivamente a las catacumbas del soul, a dejarse abofetear por el electrosonido, a dejarse romper la propia figura por la muerte plana de las iluminaciones sincopadas. Sale a la pista con los músculos de la responsabilidad entumecidos. Suele salir a la pista con los brazos encorvados, a base de fingir soltura, con los hombros puntiagudos, a base de disimular un cuerpo adulto, y entonces se agita como el espantapájaros del tiempo, y, al rato, el olvido de si mismo es el mejor sintoma de que existe como un ser agitado por una música que le abastece de libertad, de una libertad de las junturas de los huesos y la piel, de una libertad esclavizada al cordón umbilical del sonido.

Es entonces cuando sobre la irreal irrealidad de los adultos exiliados al underground, un chorro de luz delimita la presencia de la “go-go girl”. Son muchachas filiformes, de pierna larga, ojos enguantados por las coloraciones. Tienen un pequeño universo geométrico bajo los pies. Mientras bailan, miran una y otra vez el borde del universo, el borde de su pódium. Ponen los pies con ligereza, pero con cuidado; tantean el aire próximo con la punta de un pie, con una cadera, con el brazo ligeramente contenido. A veces envían a investigar a la propia melena. Pero la melena vuelve, como vuelve el pie, el brazo; no, no es posible caer de este universo que fascina sus ojos enguantados por las coloraciones. Y, además, ¿a dónde ir? ¿Qué lugar hay en el mundo del que ya no se quiera regresar? ¿Qué ciudad nos promete con sus luces la libertad y la respuesta? El pódium es seguro. Desde la estatura enana se distinguen claramente sus horizontes, y no hay que caer. Porque si la go-go girl cae del pódium, se detendrá el movimiento epiléptico colectivo, las luces normalizarán la realidad, el electrosonido girará roto en una vergonzante retirada y los rostros, al mirarse, descubrirán la huella del dia siguiente, lleno de agendas, dietarios; lleno de las mismas palabras, de las mismas traiciones; lleno de derrotas, convertidas en victorias gracias al soliloquio.

No, la go-go girl sabe que no debe caer. Que su equilibrio es el equilibrio de la noche escogida por todos los que comparten con ella la renuncia. Lo sabe incluso esa go-go girl de Betanzos, que siguió algunos cursos de secretariado, que estuvo a punto de casarse con un representante de fábricas de bonito en aceite y que un día se marchó en auto-stop ala Costa Brava, donde agita sus pocas, largas, blancas carnes de animal nocturno. Esta go-go girl tiene una cartilla de ahorros abierta en Gerona. Se muere cada día a las cuatro de la madrugada y resucita a las cuatro de la tarde. Pasea sus párpados desnudos del postizaje, semicerrados por la educación del sueño. Pellizca los objetos con los ojos. No sabe qué quiere, ni con quién, ni paraqué.Y esa muchacha, esa go-go girl es la España actual, un poco su símbolo.

Conserva todos los tics de la supervivencia a que ha acostumbrado un país que siempre será proporcionalmente pobre, por los siglos de los siglos. Se ha puesto el disfraz del erotismo consumista. Usa píldoras anticonceptivas. Lee revistas de “disc-jockeys”, pero también ¡Hola!, siempre ¡Hola! Camina como cree que camina Sandie Shaw. Se propone aprender inglés este próximo invierno. Después, al llegar la primavera, tal vez vaya al Nepal, donde dicen que la gente es hospitalaria, porque es subdesarrollada; donde la peseta puede ser una moneda fuerte.

La go-go girl tiene un rostro lleno de blanca palidez. Resalta sobre el fondo histórico de la carrera espacial, de los batiscafos en busca del sexto continente. Es un rostro hierático. Un rostro que lo sugiere todo y no sugiere nada.Caminos en el cielo, misterios en el mar, y su rostro tan sereno con su blanca palidez. Se llama Carmen, como su madre. Tal vez su madre fuera mejor llamada Carmela. Tal vez fuera la Carmela del... ejército del Ebro, una noche el río cruzó... ay Carmela, ay Carmela.

-¿La batalla del Ebro? -pregunta como respuesta a mi pregunta-. ¿La batalla del Ebro? ¿La guerra de la Independencia? ¿No? No, no, si me equivoco, dimelo. Me gusta aprender. Ahora me voy al Nepal. A observar. A ver cosas. Esto es una murga, como decís los catalanes. Me voy al Nepal con mi novio. Es extranjero. Me gustan los extranjeros. ¿Sabes por qué? Porque no les entiendo.



Manuel Vazquez Montalbán
Crónica sentimental de España

martes, 24 de enero de 2012

We Met The Space People


We Met The Space People

Helen's Story
It all began when my sister, Betty, and I were in a downtown St. Louis coffee shop. We had been shopping and had stopped off to get a coke and refresh ourselves. While in the coffee shop we were approached in a very mannerly way by two gentlemen dressed in grey suits, who managed to interrupt into our private conversation. As they spoke to us we found that they were from a huge mother-craft orbiting the planet Earth, and that their names were Elen and Zelas. They told us that we had been very closely watched by the Space People for the last eight years, and that our progress had been noted off and on from the time of our birth.

Betty and I were both inclined to think that someone was playing a silly joke on us and we laughed when they told us this, but they were not laughing and were serious and stern. We were strangely shocked, however, when they told us of a few incidents in our childhood that no one could have possibly known except the family. They told us that we had been selected as contacts by the people of space to serve as channels through which they could give certain information to Earth, and that we had been carefully watched, as I stated before.

They told us of the reasons why the space people were coming to Earth and that they were here to guide Earth along the lines of Brotherhood and Science.

We were very much amazed at their words, and we noted particularly the kindness and warmth that shone in their eyes. With a single glance from them we seemed to sense the vast wisdom and brotherhood which they must have lived among. After talking with us for a little over two hours they left and told us they would contact us again, but it was not until a week later that we were impelled to again return to the same coffee shop.

When we entered the door we again saw one of the Space Brothers, and he gave us instructions at that time for building a device whereby we could contact the Space People. His instructions were explicit and precise, for he warned us that unless we placed every piece of the device in the proper place we would not be able to contact them with it. We were not allowed to take the drawn diagram of the device with us, But we had to remember it as it was explained to us. When we obtained the proper pieces for the device we constructed it when we returned home, and were happy to find the results were satisfactory. We were amazed when we tuned in on the mother craft and spoke with the same person we had earlier seen. We were also allowed to
speak with the commander of the craft, who at that time was known as Alna. In the following six months we spoke many times with the space people through the device, and received much information about their homes, sciences and craft.

In November of '57 I was alone in downtown St. Louis on business when I was again contacted by the space people and at their request went with them by automobile into Illinois where we drove to a heavily wooded area. There, I was told, was where they landed when they had business or contacts to make in St. Louis.

Settled back behind an old barn was a circular craft that I judged to be approximately nine feet in height, and about 38 feet in diameter. It had a domed top, but no portholes. The sliding door was open and there was a uniformed operator sitting at the controls.

I was nervous although I knew no harm would come for me, and I was visibly shaking, but Zelas only smiled as though to reassure me. The flight to the mother craft took approximately 15 minutes, and I was told the magnetism of the small craft would not affect my watch since it would be balanced by the magnetism of my own body. However, while in the mother craft the magnetism of it caused my watch for stop, and it was
de-magnetized in a small machine before I left.

Inside the mother craft we entered the huge receiving room for the smaller craft. There were many huge machines in this room, and there were also many other uniformed men standing around obviously working upon the machines or moving them about. They glanced at us when we entered, but then returned to their work as before. The hall that we entered was softly lit and was curved both at the ceiling and comers. We
entered the first room to the right which appeared to be a room for relaxing. There were divans and contoured chairs with white upholstering that had a thread or design of a golden hue woven in it. The room was meticulous and vast, and as I stood observing the beauty of it three uniformed men approached us. Their uniforms were of a blue-gray color with a slight metallic look, and I learned the jodphur type boots they wore were actually attached to the uniforms, and were not a separate piece of apparel. The uniforms were soft to the touch and the texture of velvet. I was then introduced to three men and learned that one was Alna, the commander of all craft operation upon Earth. Alna spoke with a very heavy accent, and was much darker than
any of the others. His skin had a high bronze tint to it, as compared with the lighter complexions of the others.

From this room I was shown the control section where I was told our calls were received when we operated our device. Here they placed a call through to our telephone in St. Louis by adjusting a series of dials, and I was allowed to speak with Betty and tell her that I was with the Brothers. I was also shown a scope similar to a television screen, the only difference being this was at a slight elevation on the control counter, instead of standing up at eye level or in a box type cabinet which our television sets consist of. This scope could obviously reflect any particular building or house that the space people desired to observe, and when I looked at the scope when Alna requested me to do so, I could see the inside areas of my home and could see my sister, mother and the children moving about. It was as though the entire roof had been removed and only the walls remained of the house. When I asked them how this was done, they explained that the first set of vibrations that left the roof were erased and the vibrations of the furniture and people inside were received on the scope, and therefore it appeared as though the instruments in the control section were actually looking through the building.

From this section we entered another much larger control section and I watched other uniformed men going about their work with much deftness and swiftness. I was told then that we were going to dine, and when we entered the dining area it appeared as a vast empty room. However, tables and chairs rose from the floor section, and I dined with them after humbly and respectfully listening to a prayer Alna said in the Universal Tongue.

The food consisted of three different types, and a drink similar to apricot nectar was enjoyed. There was little conversation during the meal, and when all had almost finished Alna told me I could witness a dance performed by two of the Space Brothers. This dance was most unusual and fast, during which the two men passed a small object from one to the other, sometimes throwing it in the air and catching if before it fell upon the floor. I expressed my thanks to Alna for allowing me to see this, and when we left the dining area we moved down the hall to what obviously was an entertainment room where the Brothers spent many relaxing hours. Many men were in the room, some sitting at tables and others playing a game similar to our Shuffleboard. I was asked if I would like to try the game, and after watching Alna I understood simply how it was done.

A round colored disc about four inches in diameter was placed on the floor in a particular square, and by mind power alone the disc was to move across the floor to another particular square. This section of the floor was electrically charged and receptive to the thought waves leaving a person's mind. Alna took a blue disc that was handed to him and placed it on the floor causing it to move a considerable distance. Then I was handed a red disc and asked to try. I was doubtful if it would work for me, and the only thing I could think of was to silently command the disc to "Go." I was amazed when the disc moved slowly up the floor, but quite some
distance from that of Alna's. When I glanced at my watch and noticed it had stopped, it brought Alna's attention and he said for this time he felt I should not be held up longer from my other activities, and that a second trip would be longer. It was then that he took my watch and placed it in a small machine in the first control section and then set it for me, obtaining the proper time from a scope that contained many symbols and crossed lines on it.



The Story of the Mitchell Sisters
By Helen & Betty Mitchell
Clarksburg, West Virginia
Saucerian Books, 1959

martes, 17 de enero de 2012

Genius and Degeneration



The purpose of this paper is to show that wherever genius is observed,
we find it accompanied by degeneration, which is evinced by physical
abnormalties or mental eccentricities. It is a strange fact, however,
and one not noticed by Lombroso, or any other writer, as far as I know,
that mechanical geniuses, or those who, for the most part, deal with
material facts, do not, as a rule, show any signs of degeneration. I
have only to instance Darwin, Galileo, Edison, Watts, Rumsey, Howe, and
Morse to prove the truth of this assertion. It is only the genius of
aestheticism, the genius of the emotion, that is generally accompanied
by unmistakable signs of degeneration.

Saul, the first king of Israel, was a man of genius and, at times, a
madman. We read that, before his coronation, he was seized with an
attack of madness and joined a company of kindred eccentrics. His
friends and acquaintances were naturally surprised and exclaimed: "Is
Saul among the prophets?" _i. e._, "Has Saul become insane?" Again, we
are told that he was suddenly seized with an attack of homicidal
impulse, and tried to kill David. Before this time he had had repeated
attacks of madness, which only the harp of David could control and
subdue. David himself was a man whose mental equilibrium was not well
established, as his history clearly indicates. He forsook his God,
indulged in licentious practices, and was, withal, a very, immoral man
at times. At his time, the Hebrews had reached a high degree of
civilization. Abstract ethics had become very much developed, and any
example of great immorality occurring during this epoch is proof
positive of atavism or degeneration.

As I have intimated before, many of the ancient Hebrew prophets, who
were unquestionably men of genius, gave evidences of insanity; notably
Jeremiah, who made a long journey to the River Euphrates, where he hid a
linen girdle. He returned home, and in a few days made the same journey
and found the girdle rotten and good for nothing; Ezekiel, who dug a
hole in the wall of his house, through which he removed his household
goods, instead of through the door; Hosea, who married a prostitute,
because God, so he declared, had told him so to do; and Isaiah, who
stripped himself naked and paraded up and down in sight of all the
people. King Solomon, a man of pre-eminent genius, was mentally
unbalanced. The "Song of Solomon" shows very clearly that he was a
victim of some psychical disorder, sexual in its character and origin.
The poems of Anacreon are lascivious, lustful, and essentially carnal,
and history informs us that he was a sexual pervert.

Swinburne's poems show clearly the mental bias of their author, who is
described as being peculiar and eccentric. Many of the men of genius who
have assisted in making the history of the world have been the victims
of epilepsy. Julius Caesar, military leader, statesman, politician, and
author, was an epileptic. Twice on the field of battle he was stricken
down by this disorder. On one occasion, while seated at the tribune, he
was unable to rise when the senators, consuls, and praetors paid him a
visit of ceremony and honor. They were offended at his seeming lack of
respect, and retired, showing signs of anger. Caesar returned home,
stripped off his clothes, and offered his throat to be cut by anyone. He
then explained his conduct to the senate, saying that he was the victim
of a malady which, at times, rendered him incapable of standing. During
the attacks of this disorder "he felt shocks in his limbs, became giddy,
and at last lost consciousness." Moliere was the victim of epilepsy; so
also was Petrarch, Flaubert, Charles V., Handel, St. Paul, Peter the
Great, and Dostoieffsky; Paganini, Mozart, Schiller, Alfieri, Pascal,
Richelieu, Newton, and Swift were the victims of diseases epileptoid in
character.

Many men of genius have suffered from spasmodic and choreic movements,
notably Lenau, Montesquieu, Buffon, Dr. Johnson, Santeuil, Crebillon,
Lombardini, Thomas Campbell, Carducci, Napoleon, and Socrates.

Suicide, essentially a symptom of mental disorder, has hurried many a
man of genius out into the unknown. The list begins with such eminent
men as Zeno, Cleanthes, Dionysius, Lucan, and Stilpo, and contains the
names of such immortals as Chatterton, Blount, Haydon, Clive, and David.

Alcoholism and morphinism, or an uncontrollable desire for alcohol or
opium in some form or other, are now recognized as evidences of
degeneration. Men of genius, both in the Old World and in the New, have
shown this form of degeneration. Says Lombroso: "Alexander died after
having emptied ten times the goblet of Hercules, and it was, without
doubt, in an alcoholic attack, while pursuing naked the infamous Thais,
that he killed his dearest friend. Caesar was often carried home
intoxicated on the shoulders of his soldiers. Neither Socrates, nor
Seneca, nor Alcibiades, nor Cato, nor Peter the Great (nor his wife
Catherine, nor his daughter Elizabeth) were remarkable for their
abstinence. One recalls Horace's line, '_Narratur et prisci Cantonis
saepe mero caluisse virtus._' Tiberius Nero was called by the Romans
Biberius Mero. Septimius Severus and Mahomet II. succumbed to
drunkenness or _delirium tremens_."

Among the men and women of genius of the Old World who abused the use of
alcohol and opium, were Coleridge, James Thomson, Carew, Sheridan,
Steele, Addison, Hoffman, Charles Lamb, Madame de Stael, Burns, Savage,
Alfred de Musset, Kleist, Caracci, Jan Steen, Morland Turner (the
painter), Gerard de Nerval, Hartley Coleridge, Dussek, Handel, Glueck,
Praga, Rovani, and the poet Somerville. This list is by no means
complete, as the well-informed reader may see at a glance; it serves to
show, however, how very often this form of degeneration makes its
appearance in men of genius.

In men of genius the moral sense is sometimes obtunded, if not
altogether absent. Sallust, Seneca, and Bacon were suspected felons.
Rousseau, Byron, Foscolo, and Caresa were grossly immoral, while
Casanova, the gifted mathematician, was a common swindler. Murat,
Rousseau, Clement, Diderot, Praga, and Oscar Wilde were sexual perverts.

Genius, like insanity, lives in a world of its own, hence we find few,
if any, evidences of human affection in men of genius. Says Lombroso: "I
have been able to observe men of genius when they had scarce reached the
age of puberty; they did not manifest the deep aversions of moral
insanity, but I have noticed among all a strange apathy for everything
which does not concern them; as though, plunged in the hypnotic
condition, they did not perceive the troubles of others, or even the
most pressing needs of those who were dearest to them; if they observed
them, they grew tender, at once hastening to attend them; but it was a
fire of straw, soon extinguished, and it gave place to indifference and
weariness."

This emotional anaesthesia is indicative of psychical atavism, and is an
unmistakable evidence of degeneration. Lombroso gives a long list of the
men of genius who were celibates. I will mention a few of those with
whom the English-speaking world is most familiar: Kant, Newton, Pitt,
Fox, Beethoven, Galileo, Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Gray,
Dalton, Hume, Gibbon, Macaulay, Lamb, Bentham, Leonardo da Vinci,
Copernicus, Reynolds, Handel, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Schopenhauer,
Camoens, and Voltaire. La Bruyere says of men of genius: "These men have
neither ancestors nor descendants; they themselves form their entire
posterity."

There is a form of mental obliquity which the French term _folie du
doute_. It is characterized by an incertitude in thought cooerdination,
and often leads its victims into the perpetration of nonsensical and
useless acts. Men of genius are very frequently afflicted with this form
of mental disorder. Dr. Johnson, who was a sufferer from _folie du
doute_, had to touch every post he passed. If he missed one he had to
retrace his steps and touch it. Again, if he started out of a door on
the wrong foot he would return and make another attempt, starting out on
the foot which he considered the correct one to use. Napoleon counted
and added up the rows of windows in every street through which he
passed. A celebrated statesman, who is a personal friend of the writer,
can never bear to place his feet on a crack in the pavement or floor.
When walking he will carefully step over and beyond all cracks or
crevices. This idiosyncracy annoys him greatly, but the impulse is
imperative, and he can not resist it.

Those who have been intimately associated with men of genius have
noticed that they are very frequently amnesic or "absent-minded." Newton
once tried to stuff his niece's finger into the bowl of his lighted
pipe, and Rovelle would lecture on some subject for hours at a time and
then conclude by saying: "But this is one of my arcana, which I tell to
no one." One of his students would then whisper what he had just said
into his ear, and Rovelle would believe that his pupil "had discovered
the arcanum by his own sagacity, and would beg him not to divulge what
he himself had just told to two hundred persons."

Lombroso has combed history, as it were, with a fine-tooth comb, and
very few geniuses have escaped his notice. This paper, so far, is hardly
more than a review of his extraordinarily comprehensive work; therefore,
I will conclude this portion of it with a list of men of genius, their
professions, and their evidences of degeneration, as gathered from his
book:

Carlo Dolce, painter, _religious monomania_.

Bacon, philosopher, _megalomania_, _moral anaesthesia_.

Balzac, writer, _masked epilepsy_, _megalomania_.

Caesar, soldier, writer, _epilepsy_.

Beethoven, musician, _amnesia_, _melancholia_.

Cowper, writer, _melancholia_.

Chateaubriand, writer, _chorea_.

Alexander the Great, soldier, _alcoholism_.

Moliere, dramatist, _epilepsy_, _phthisis pulmonalis_.

Lamb, writer, _alcoholism_, _melancholia_, _acute mania_.

Mozart, musician, _epilepsy_, _hallucinations_.

Heine, writer, _melancholia_, _spinal disease_.

Dr. Johnson, writer, _chorea_, _folie du doute_.

Malibran, _epilepsy_.

Newton, philosopher, _amnesia_.

Cavour, statesman, philosopher, _suicidal impulse_.

Ampere, mathematician, _amnesia_.

Thomas Campbell, writer, _chorea_.

Blake, painter, _hallucinations_.

Chopin, musician, _melancholia_.

Coleridge, writer, _alcoholism_, _morphinism_.

Donizetti, musician, _moral anaesthesia_.

Lenau, writer, _melancholia_.

Mahomet, theologian, _epilepsy_.

Manzoni, statesman, _folie du doute_.

Haller, writer, _hallucinations_.

Dupuytren, surgeon, _suicidal impulse_.

Paganini, musician, _epilepsy_.

Handel, musician, _epilepsy_.

Schiller, writer, _epilepsy_.

Richelieu, statesman, _epilepsy_.

Praga, writer, _alcoholism_, _sexual perversion_.

Tasso, writer, _alcoholism_, _melancholia_.

Savonarola, theologian, _hallucinations_.

Luther, theologian, _hallucinations_.

Schopenhauer, philosopher, _melancholia_, _omniphobia_.

Gogol, writer, _melancholia_, _tabes dorsalis_.

Lazaretti, theologian, _hallucinations_.

Mallarme, writer, _suicidal impulse_.

Dostoieffsky, writer, _epilepsy_.

Napoleon, soldier, statesman, _folie du doute_, _epilepsy_.

Comte, philosopher, _hallucinations_.

Pascal, philosopher, _epilepsy_.

Poushkin, writer, _megalomania_.

Renan, philosopher, _folie du doute_.

Swift, writer, _paresis_.

Socrates, philosopher, _chorea_.

Schumann, musician, _paresis_.

Shelley, writer, _hallucinations_.

Bunyan, writer, _hallucinations_.

Swedenborg, theologian, _hallucinations_.

Loyola, theologian, _hallucinations_.

J. S. Mill, writer, _suicidal impulse_.

Linnaeus, botanist, _paresis_.

The reader will observe that I have made use of the comprehensive word,
writer, to designate all kinds of literary work except theology and
philosophy. The above list is by no means complete, and only contains
the names of those geniuses with whom the world is well acquainted.

sábado, 14 de enero de 2012

viernes, 13 de enero de 2012

A Defence Of Ugly Things


A DEFENCE OF UGLY THINGS


There are some people who state that the exterior, sex, or physique of another person is indifferent to them, that they care only for the communion of mind with mind; but these people need not detain us. There are some statements that no one ever thinks of believing, however often they are made.

But while nothing in this world would persuade us that a great friend of Mr. Forbes Robertson, let us say, would experience no surprise or discomfort at seeing him enter the room in the bodily form of Mr. Chaplin, there is a confusion constantly made between being attracted by exterior, which is natural and universal, and being attracted by what is called physical beauty, which is not entirely natural and not in the least universal. Or rather, to speak more strictly, the conception of physical beauty has been narrowed to mean a certain kind of physical beauty which no more exhausts the possibilities of external attractiveness than the respectability of a Clapham builder exhausts the possibilities of moral attractiveness.

The tyrants and deceivers of mankind in this matter have been the Greeks. All their splendid work for civilization ought not to have wholly blinded us to the fact of their great and terrible sin against the variety of life. It is a remarkable fact that while the Jews have long ago been rebelled against and accused of blighting the world with a stringent and one-sided ethical standard, nobody has noticed that the Greeks have committed us to an infinitely more horrible asceticism—an asceticism of the fancy, a worship of one aesthetic type alone. Jewish severity had at least common-sense as its basis; it recognised that men lived in a world of fact, and that if a man married within the degrees of blood certain consequences might follow. But they did not starve their instinct for contrasts and combinations; their prophets gave two wings to the ox and any number of eyes to the cherubim with all the riotous ingenuity of Lewis Carroll. But the Greeks carried their police regulation into elfland; they vetoed not the actual adulteries of the earth but the wild weddings of ideas, and forbade the banns of thought.

It is extraordinary to watch the gradual emasculation of the monsters of Greek myth under the pestilent influence of the Apollo Belvedere. The chimaera was a creature of whom any healthy-minded people would have been proud; but when we see it in Greek pictures we feel inclined to tie a ribbon round its neck and give it a saucer of milk. Who ever feels that the giants in Greek art and poetry were really big—big as some folk-lore giants have been? In some Scandinavian story a hero walks for miles along a mountain ridge, which eventually turns out to be the bridge of the giant's nose. That is what we should call, with a calm conscience, a large giant. But this earthquake fancy terrified the Greeks, and their terror has terrified all mankind out of their natural love of size, vitality, variety, energy, ugliness. Nature intended every human face, so long as it was forcible, individual, and expressive, to be regarded as distinct from all others, as a poplar is distinct from an oak, and an apple-tree from a willow. But what the Dutch gardeners did for trees the Greeks did for the human form; they lopped away its living and sprawling features to give it a certain academic shape; they hacked off noses and pared down chins with a ghastly horticultural calm. And they have really succeeded so far as to make us call some of the most powerful and endearing faces ugly, and some of the most silly and repulsive faces beautiful. This disgraceful via media, this pitiful sense of dignity, has bitten far deeper into the soul of modern civilization than the external and practical Puritanism of Israel. The Jew at the worst told a man to dance in fetters; the Greek put an exquisite vase upon his head and told him not to move.

Scripture says that one star differeth from another in glory, and the same conception applies to noses. To insist that one type of face is ugly because it differs from that of the Venus of Milo is to look at it entirely in a misleading light. It is strange that we should resent people differing from ourselves; we should resent much more violently their resembling ourselves. This principle has made a sufficient hash of literary criticism, in which it is always the custom to complain of the lack of sound logic in a fairy tale, and the entire absence of true oratorical power in a three-act farce. But to call another man's face ugly because it powerfully expresses another man's soul is like complaining that a cabbage has not two legs. If we did so, the only course for the cabbage would be to point out with severity, but with some show of truth, that we were not a beautiful green all over.

But this frigid theory of the beautiful has not succeeded in conquering the art of the world, except in name. In some quarters, indeed, it has never held sway. A glance at Chinese dragons or Japanese gods will show how independent are Orientals of the conventional idea of facial and bodily regularity, and how keen and fiery is their enjoyment of real beauty, of goggle eyes, of sprawling claws, of gaping mouths and writhing coils. In the Middle Ages men broke away from the Greek standard of beauty, and lifted up in adoration to heaven great towers, which seemed alive with dancing apes and devils. In the full summer of technical artistic perfection the revolt was carried to its real consummation in the study of the faces of men. Rembrandt declared the sane and manly gospel that a man was dignified, not when he was like a Greek god, but when he had a strong, square nose like a cudgel, a boldly-blocked head like a helmet, and a jaw like a steel trap.

This branch of art is commonly dismissed as the grotesque. We have never been able to understand why it should be humiliating to be laughable, since it is giving an elevated artistic pleasure to others. If a gentleman who saw us in the street were suddenly to burst into tears at the mere thought of our existence, it might be considered disquieting and uncomplimentary; but laughter is not uncomplimentary. In truth, however, the phrase 'grotesque' is a misleading description of ugliness in art. It does not follow that either the Chinese dragons or the Gothic gargoyles or the goblinish old women of Rembrandt were in the least intended to be comic. Their extravagance was not the extravagance of satire, but simply the extravagance of vitality; and here lies the whole key of the place of ugliness in aesthetics. We like to see a crag jut out in shameless decision from the cliff, we like to see the red pines stand up hardily upon a high cliff, we like to see a chasm cloven from end to end of a mountain. With equally noble enthusiasm we like to see a nose jut out decisively, we like to see the red hair of a friend stand up hardily in bristles upon his head, we like to see his mouth broad and clean cut like the mountain crevasse. At least some of us like all this; it is not a question of humour. We do not burst with amusement at the first sight of the pines or the chasm; but we like them because they are expressive of the dramatic stillness of Nature, her bold experiments, her definite departures, her fearlessness and savage pride in her children. The moment we have snapped the spell of conventional beauty, there are a million beautiful faces waiting for us everywhere, just as there are a million beautiful spirits.

G. K. Chesterton