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Tony Grist

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Open University Stuff [Nov. 5th, 2005|02:22 pm]
Tony Grist
I'm between two fires. There's death metal pounding out of Joe's bedroom and Mozart wafting up from downstairs, where Ailz is watching a DVD of Don Giovanni.

Don Giovanni is the first text in the first unit of her Open University course. The other texts are short pieces by Hume, Rousseau and de Sade.

I read the Rousseau and de Sade yesterday. Rousseau is a soppy date. Sade is much more bracing. Amusing too.

The de Sade isn't one of his sexual marathons but a cute little piece in which a dying man persuades his confessor to embrace the libertine life-style. At the end, after he has won the priest round to his way of thinking, the dying man announces, "Six women more beautiful than sunlight are in the room adjoining. I was keeping them all for this moment. Take your share of them and, pillowed on their bosoms, try to forget, as I do, the vain sophisms of superstition and the stupid errors of hypocrisy."

(Don't you just love that idea of saving up women for a special occasion? I wonder what they were doing out there in the ante-room- reading lifestyle magazines?)

The death metal has stopped and Joe has left the building. Donna Anna has the field to herself.

I took my new found knowledge to the tutorial this morning, but found I didn't need it. Instead of looking at the texts, our tutor decided we'd have fun with syllogisms. "All dogs have four legs. This table has four legs. Therefore this table is a dog." That kind of thing. I guess the idea was to get us thinking like philosophes.

Then, when we'd finished with syllogisms, we looked at pictures of Napoleon. He's unit 2. Apparently Napoleon crossed the Alps on a mule- which the painter David turned into an Arab stallion. If it had really been a stallion and it had really reared up on its hindlegs as David has it doing, Napoleon (who was a poor rider) would have fallen off into a crevasse.

[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-05 07:11 am (UTC)
Don't you just love that idea of saving up women for a special occasion?

Erh... No, actually... My only main issue with de Sade is the way he often portrays people as disposable consumer goods, and especially women. Of course, there are also some fantastic female characters, like Mme de Saint-Ange in La Philosophie dans le boudoir. And except for the fact that the sex does go on a bit in La philosophie, I actually quite like the book; it can be seen as a long tirade against accepting conventions for conventions's sake, which I find rather sympathetic.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-05 11:47 am (UTC)
Apart from the occasional dip into However Many Days It Is Of Sodom, this is the only piece of de Sade that I've read. I like the outrageousness- that this is a person who seems totally unafraid, who will happily say whatever comes into his head, even if it's hideously obscene, even if it's absurd....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-05 11:50 am (UTC)

Ailz waves back.

After I'd written this I went and watched the rest of Don G with her. It's a production from 1953, with Furtwangler conducting and really rather splendid. The guy playing Don G seems to have modelled his performance on Errol Flynn.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-11-05 10:47 am (UTC)
And would we have been the better for it?

Still, I like the idea of Napoleon's men struggling to get the little guy out... Now if only that would happend to The Shrublet! And no one was around!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-05 11:55 am (UTC)
Would we have been better?

I've never been able to make up my mind about Napoleon. We Britons have always been torn between regarding him as a foreign tyrant and secretly (or not so secretly) admiring his style and daring.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-06 01:28 pm (UTC)

The women were doing their nails and talking about how men rule the world.

I assume they were being paid by the man on his deathbed? Surely they weren't hanging around to tease the confessor. Or maybe they were.

"We'll drive him crazy!"

"Oh, yes! How?"

"Here's how:"
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 04:19 am (UTC)
I imagine the dying man was incredibly wealthy.

This is the problem with de Sade's philosophy. The lifestyle he advocates is really only available to rich males.

(Though one has to remember that poor old Sade was having these fantasies while banged up in a lunatic asylum.)
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