Camille Paglia's take on the current infatuation with Marie Antoinette: "After 9/11 — when great towers fell, like the Bastille, in a day —
coping for the professional class has required cognitive dissonance.
Life's routine goes on amid a surreal bombardment of bulletins about
mutilations and massacres. When since the Reign of Terror has ritual
decapitation become such a constant? The fury and cruelty of the French
mob were strangely mixed with laughter — as when the severed head of
Marie Antoinette's friend, the Princesse de Lamballe, was spruced up by
a hairdresser and waved on a pike outside the royal family's window.
These are the grisly surprises that now greet us every day through our
own windows — the glass monitors of TV's and PC's. The return of Marie
Antoinette suggests that there are political forces at work in the
world that Western humanism does not fully understand and that it may
not be able to control." (from "In Our Hall of Mirrors, a Queen Looms Large," The Chronicle)
A PBS documentary on the queen will air on September 25th. Sofia Coppola's film premieres on the 20th of October.
Cecil is hosting an "old-fashioned mic-less open mic" at Wilmot's book store in Alameda this coming Saturday night. It's sure to be fun, so please join me, Nicki, and Linda there. Sign-up starts at 7pm. Details here.
"Shakespeare's Cleopatra may have been darkened by 'Phoebus's amorous
pinches', but in Tiepolo's magnificent frescoes in the Palazzo Labia in
Venice she is as pearly-pale as the earring she is about to drop into
her gilded cup, with albino eyelashes and opalescent breasts. It wasn't
until the very end of the 18th century, the period when Napoleon sent
his troops and his scholars to Egypt, that Cleopatra's exoticism became
once more (as it had been in her lifetime) the most important thing
about her. Delacroix painted her as a kind of Gypsy fortune-teller,
dark-eyed and tousle-haired." ("The Most Wicked Woman In History," The Guardian)
In case you hadn't heard, Lux Lotus is back from her summer holiday idle in a big way. Today she interviews Hazel Rowley, author of Tête-à-Tête, a biography of the affair between Simon de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.