Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Recently I have been reading some of the writings of the Marquis de Sade (that's him on the left) - all in the name of education you understand. Apart from the erotica for which he is famous (actually it's pornography* but the 'e' word makes it sound more classy), he wrote quite a lot of articles about Life, some of which have made it on to my current Open University course. That got me to thinking about sadism - as it would - and it was only a short step from that to begin thinking about masochism. So then of course I had to investigate from whence the word had sprung.
It comes from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch who, amongst many other things, made his mistress Fanny Pistor sign a contract making him her slave for the period of six months, with the stipulation that she wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood. He actually wrote a short book Venus in Furs based on his love affair with her. Now if that book title sounds familiar to some of you it's probably because of this song, made famous of course by the Velvet Underground, (the band John Cale** used to be in and his is the best ever version of Lenny's song 'Hallelujah' that the whole world now seems to know due to Simon Cowell. I know lots of people prefer Buckley's version but Cale's is the best - fact).
Why is the picture of Marianne Faithfull at the top of this post? She was very lovely then, but that's not the reason. She is Baroness Sacher-Masoch, having inherited the title through the maternal line. I'd vaguely remembered that she had some connection with Hungo-Austrian nobility but of course didn't know that her line stemmed from good old kinky Leopold.
*Now that would make an interesting essay - Discuss the difference between erotica and pornography using examples from words and images of the last 250 years
**Lou Reed was the most famous of the band and Mr Warhol played a big part in their success. I suppose he was the cool version of Simon Cowell.