Thursday, April 12, 2018

To leap and fall around
Soft and protected from this world of stone

When Max Ernst painted St. Cecilia (1923),* did he have Diderot's illustrations for "How to cast your own Equestrian Statue" (1771) in the back of his mind? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

I am further prepared to argue that the "Cast of A-Mount-illado" was also an influence on Doré's 1857 illustrations for the Divine Comedy.**

I can't believe that I forgot the Safeword

Assiduous readers will be familiar with the drill, and will have prepared themselves for another manifestation of the non-casual workings of the Morphogenic Field. Every invocation of an artistic trope or motif weakens a seam in the fabric of reality and makes it more likely that similar invocations will occur to future artists (much as every blog that talks about the Morphogenic Field sends out emanations and lowers the threshold for other bloggers to spontaneously mention the Morphogenic Field). When Man Ray came to portray Sade in 1936, due to financial exigencies he couldn't acquire great blocks of stone or plaster to use in the drawing, yet the morphogenic flux was so strong that the portrait of Sade turned into its own masonry.

* Not many people know that the Ernst painting has "Invisible Piano" as alternative title, pre-empting the "Invisible X" style of LOLcat by 80 years or so.

** 1857 was a good year for titanic chains, unyielding as anything from the anvil of Aforgomon. I cannot exclude the possibility that Victorian photographer Robert Howlett used the same prop links as Doré's etcher, or even shared a studio.
[H/t Rosewind]


Li'l Innocent said...

Although such a trans-Channel artistic speculation is charming in the extreme, especially given the Norman French connections of Isembard K. Brunel, I'm pretty confident that if anyone had tried ringing in PROP chains in a photo of the great engineer, Brunel would have whupped him upside the head.

Smut Clyde said...

I agree, Brunel had a good supply of REAL ginormous chains to be photographed with. Build a bridge over the Bristol? OH GREAT, FECKIN BIG CHAINS!!! Build the Great Eastern steamship? THE LAUNCHING CHAINS ARE GONNA BE SOO BIG!!!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

1857 was a good year for titanic chains, unyielding as anything from the anvil of Aforgomon.

There's a Gleipnir joke in here somewhere, can any of those LOLcats spare the sound of a footfall?

Smut Clyde said...

BBBB is steeped in the classics.
The spittle of birds is an especially hard-to-obtain ingredient for chain-forging.

Smut Clyde said...

Which reminds me: the absence of salivary glands in birds is what stops them spreading rabies; they can only contract it. Feel free to use this in your next movie about GMO experiments in poultry going horribly wrong.

rhwombat said...

Unlike bats - though the Hopi version was more...interesting.

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

speaking of st cecilia, she's mentioned in james tate's poem it happens like this

a recitation with music accompaniment is available at

I was outside St. Cecelia's Rectory
smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me.
It was mostly black and white, with a little reddish
brown here and there. When I started to walk away,
it followed. I was amused and delighted, but wondered
what the laws were on this kind of thing. There's
a leash law for dogs, but what about goats? People
smiled at me and admired the goat. "It's not my goat,"
I explained. "It's the town's goat. I'm just taking
my turn caring for it." "I didn't know we had a goat,"
one of them said. "I wonder when my turn is." "Soon,"
I said. "Be patient. Your time is coming." The goat
stayed by my side. It stopped when I stopped. It looked
up at me and I stared into its eyes. I felt he knew
everything essential about me. We walked on. A police-
man on his beat looked us over. "That's a mighty
fine goat you got there," he said, stopping to admire.
"It's the town's goat," I said. "His family goes back
three-hundred years with us," I said, "from the beginning."
The officer leaned forward to touch him, then stopped
and looked up at me. "Mind if I pat him?" he asked.
"Touching this goat will change your life," I said.
"It's your decision." He thought real hard for a minute,
and then stood up and said, "What's his name?" "He's
called the Prince of Peace," I said. "God! This town
is like a fairy tale. Everywhere you turn there's mystery
and wonder. And I'm just a child playing cops and robbers
forever. Please forgive me if I cry." "We forgive you,
Officer," I said. "And we understand why you, more than
anybody, should never touch the Prince." The goat and
I walked on. It was getting dark and we were beginning
to wonder where we would spend the night.

M. Bouffant said...

The Shrine of St. Cecilia.