Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson
From ancient Egypt through the nineteenth century, Sexual Personae explores the provocative connections between art and pagan ritual; between Emily Dickinson and the Marquis de Sade; between Lord Byron and Elvis Presley. It ultimately challenges the cultural assumptions of both conservatives and traditional liberals. 47 photographs.
Infant Oedipus was exposed), he stumbled upon two snakes mating, for which he was punished by being turned into a woman. Seven years later, he came upon the same sight and was turned back into a man. The tale confirms the terrible consequences of seeing something forbidden to mortals. Thus Actaeon was torn to pieces by his hunting dogs for finding Artemis at her bath. Callimachus claims Teiresias was blinded for accidentally seeing Athena bathing. Hesiod says: "This same Teiresias was chosen by.
Crowded theater, for as Harold Bloom remarks, "We can never embrace (sexually or otherwise) a single person, but embrace the whole of her or his family romance."1 We still know next to nothing of the mystery of cathexis, the investment of libido in certain people or things. The element of free will in sex and emotion is slight. As poets know, falling in love is irrational. Like art, sex is fraught with symbols. Family romance means that adult sex is always representation, ritualistic acting out.
Depart.' And she conducted herself during the entire reign in such manner as to incur no censure."35 With old Roman integrity, Plotina rejects random metamorphosis of personality. The moral man has one persona, firmly fixed in the great chain of being. Plato dismisses myths about the gods changing shape: "Is not the best always least liable to change or alteration by an external cause? . . . Every god is as perfect and as good as possible, and remains in his own form without variation for.
Their sharp edges and static frontality, from the Greek kouros. Botticelli resurrects the paganism in the Byzantine line. Inspired by Donatello 's free-standing David, he restores Apollonian iconicism to the painted figure. Botticelli's clarity of outline is the same armouring of western personality we first saw in the enthroned Pharaoh Chephren. The hardness of the Botticellian body is, I venture, a subliminally homosexual motif, like the closing off of female internality in Greek sculpture. It.
Ending Shakespeare's As You Like It; in the incestuous mirroring of characters and family names of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights; and in two surreal Rossetti paintings, Astarte Syriaca and The Bower Meadow, which contain ominously multiple versions of a single melancholy female face. Leonardo's suffocating doubling of figures in The Virgin with St. Anne is another version of Mona Lisa's stolid, self-contained hermaphroditism. We now know what a pregnant Mona Lisa carries within her: her fetal.