The Pornogram

“Sade makes pornograms. The pornogram is not merely the written trace of erotic practice, nor even the product of a cutting up of that practice, treated as a grammar of sites and operations; through a new chemistry of the text, it is the fusion (as under high temperature) of discourse and body. (“You will see me completely naked,” Eugénie says to her professor: “dissertate on me as much as you want”), so that, that point having been reached, the writing will be what regulates the exchange of Logos and Eros, and that it will be possible to speak of the erotic as a grammarian and of language as a pornographer.”

—Roland Barthes, from Sade, Fourier, Loyola, trans. R. Miller, 1971.

We’re a little wiped out by Christmas. Hope you had a good one too. The Bookkake blog will be back in the New Year with more Monday poems and dirty posts. See you in 2009…

Illustration: detail from a Dutch printing of Juliette from 1789, courtesy of AMEA.

Posted December 29, 2008 | Comments Off on The Pornogram.

“On Reading Poorly Transcribed Erotica” by Jill Alexander Essbaum

We thought we’d take it easy in Christmas week and serve you up something a little more funny that filthy – this time only. After wading through any amount of bad ebook editions, and no small number of reader submissions (thanks for the free porn!), we thought the below was particularly apposite. Enjoy.

On Reading Poorly Transcribed Erotica

She stood before him wearing only pantries
and he groped for her Volvo under the gauze.
She had saved her public hair, and his cook
went hard as a fist. They fell to the bad.
He shoveled his duck into her posse
and all her worm juices spilled out.
Still, his enormous election raged on.
Her beasts heaved as he sacked them,
and his own nibbles went stuff as well.
She put her tong in his rear and talked ditty.
Oh, it was all that he could do not to comb.

Jill Alexander Essbaum lives and writes in Austin, Texas, and is published by No Tell Books, whose volumes of bedside poetry are definitely worth checking out…

If you’ve got a suggestion for Monday’s dirty poem, don’t hesitate to get in touch

Posted December 22, 2008 | Comments Off on “On Reading Poorly Transcribed Erotica” by Jill Alexander Essbaum.

Flickr photographers: Rose & Olive

I really love Flickr, and all the amazing photographers you stumble across there, among the cat portraits and overused HDR. Someone somewhere – and I’m sorry I can’t remember where – pointed me towards Rose & Olive, two female photographers from Texas who take wonderful photos. Check out their Flickr stream.

They also have a great little blog, The Ingoing, where they post taken, borrowed and found dirty photos, with minimal commentary (as opposed to the poetic codas to their Flickr collection, part of what makes it great – and shows Flickr as its best as a photoblog, rather than a mere portfolio).

Read the rest of this post →

Posted December 19, 2008 | Comments Off on Flickr photographers: Rose & Olive.

Girls Aloud and the Obscene Publications Act

Not words you really expect to find in the same sentence. Girls Aloud, Britain’s best girl-pop combo in absolutely yonks, are definitely flirty and really a little bit dirty, but obscene? No. But they have been dragged into the debate in a most unpleasant fashion.

Britain’s 1959 and 1964 Obscene Publications Acts are still very much in force, and still based on the 1st Baron Coleridge’s 1868 definition of that which “tends to deprave and corrupt,” although they are, thankfully, rarely enforced. The last time the Act was used in anger was in the banning of David Britton’s Lord Horror in 1991 – still rather recent, although this was later, finally, overturned. (The full story can be found here, and our good friend Supervert recently published an excellent introduction to Britton’s fascinating oeuvre.)

Darryn Walker, 35, a civil servant, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on 22 October, charged with offences under the OPA. He was charged and a trial date was set for March 16th 2009. According to the papers, a story written by Walker, Girls (Scream) Aloud, was found online by the Internet Watch Foundation and reported to the police. Yes, the same IWF that last week unilaterally banned (and then un-banned) a large number of Britons from Wikipedia.

The work in question, posted on an international site, is apparently still available online – indeed, it’s even on Digg – although we definitely don’t recommend it. It’s difficult to know where it first appeared – that link goes to a repository of, registered in New Jersey, and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the British Police, but “prosecution has been able to go ahead because the alleged author was identified as a UK citizen living in Britain“.

It should be pointed out that while the case has been widely reported, none of the newspapers involved has checked out the story itself (being neither 12 pages long, nor on a blog, as reported) and all prefixing their statements about the content with “allegedly”. The original even includes a disclaimer:

Author’s note: the named celebrities in this piece are fictionalised representations of themselves. I do not condone in the real world any of the acts described in this work.

The media is calling the case “one of the most significant since the Lady Chatterly case”, although they’re also taking quotes from people who say “As far as I’m aware there hasn’t been an obscenity prosecution concerning the written word since the 1970s, so this is very unusual,” ignoring both the Britton Case and the 1984 prosecution of Gay’s The Word. Suffice to say, there seems little interest in the British media in investigating a case with deeply serious consequences for literature, free speech and the internet.

If you do read the story, you’ll find it’s pretty gross and distasteful, but contains significantly less sex than most fan porn, and no more violence than de Sade or even our own The Torture Garden – if rather less literary merit. But surely that’s not enough to warrant prosecution.

The case reminds us of a less celebrated and certainly less prosecuted episode from one of our favourite novelists: Dennis Cooper (above). An extended passage in his 1997 novel Guide featured the drugging and rape of a thinly-fictionalised Alex James from Blur (‘Alex’ from ‘Smear’ in the book). Those who’ve read Cooper’s work will know that it too contains scenes far more sexual and violent than anything in Girls (Scream) Aloud – and Cooper has been published by Grove Press, Canongate, Carroll & Graf, Serpent’s Tail and been nominated for and awarded numerous literary prizes.

By all accounts, James was actually quite flattered by the homage, going so far as to set up an interview with Cooper, although he pulled out at the last minute. Somehow, it seems unlikely that Darryn Walker will meet with the same reception.

It will be very interesting to see the result of this case, which, if the prosecution is to be successful, will have to show that the material is not only “likely to deprave and corrupt” but also widely available. In the age of the internet, the latter is perhaps more significant: anything published electronically is now available to everyone, and there is much worse than Mr Walker’s story out there. Like all these cases, the decision will have more to do with the sensibilities of judge and jury than any sound legal or moral basis, but the real questions are why 50 year-old legislation is still the basis of Britain’s naive attempts to censor the internet, and why an unaccountable British charity is deciding what literature is acceptable.

‘The Young Sycamore’ by William Carlos Williams

The work of American poet William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) is best known for its sharp and clear imagery, and this poem gives a good account of it. It is often claimed that it is based on Alfred Steiglitz‘s 1902 photograph, Spring Showers (below right), although the poem goes much deeper to explore the Sycamore as, as the critics put it, ‘the tree of life’ and thus continuing the theme of our last Monday poem. Enjoy.

The Young Sycamore

I must tell you
this young tree
whose round and firm trunk
between the wet

pavement and the gutter
(where water
is trickling) rises

into the air with
one undulant
thrust half its height-
and then

dividing and waning
sending out
young branches on
all sides-

hung with cocoons
it thins
till nothing is left of it
but two

eccentric knotted
bending forward
hornlike at the top

William Carlos Williams

If you’ve got a suggestion for Monday’s dirty poem, don’t hesitate to get in touch

Posted December 15, 2008 | Comments Off on ‘The Young Sycamore’ by William Carlos Williams.

Kafka Las Vegas

Hat tip to Mike for pointing out these awesome and slightly disturbing ads for for Filigranes, a Belgian booksellers (more after the jump).

The series reimagines Kafka’s Metamorphosis as a series of movies in different genres – Kafka in Vegas, in black and white, in Manga, in Bollywood. They’re fantastic images, but they also highlight how little good advertising is done of books.

In the UK, book advertising is considered by publishers to be a bit dirty, and mostly amounts to a packshot on a tube poster. Maybe they’ll do something nice with the cover. If you’re lucky. There’s rarely any attempt to engage with and explore the theme and story as there is in much other advertising. There should be more like this.

Posted December 11, 2008 | Comments (3).

Dirty Mondays: “Down, wanton, down” by Robert Graves

Apologies for the quiet around here – we’ve been a bit under the weather at Bookkake towers with the seasonal lurgy. However, nothing shall stop the Monday dirty poem, so here goes.

Well, first we should say that this was sent in by David Jones, who said we “should have shame at your paucity of vocabulary that you can label Neruda On Wine dirty, when it is erudite, fanciful, a feast of images and knowledge” and we should “avoid using that same shabby, inadequate and demeaning word for this fun poem by Graves”. I’m grateful to David for sending this one in, and agree that it indeed contains a wealth of startling and appropriate imagery from the battlefield and the mediaeval court, set to a lovely iambic tetrameter in a fine double couplet quatrain structure. It is also addressed to the poet’s johnson.

Down, wanton, down

Down, wanton, down have you no shame
That at the whisper of Love’s name,
Or Beauty’s, presto! up you raise
Your angry head and stand at gaze?

Poor Bombard-captain, sworn to reach
The ravelin and effect a breach—
Indifferent what you storm or why,
So be that in the breach you die!

Love may be blind, but Love at least
Knows what is man and what mere beast;
Or Beauty wayward, but requires
More delicacy from her squires.

Tell me, my witless, whose one boast
Could be your staunchness at the post,
When were you made a man of parts
To think fine and profess the arts?

Will many-gifted Beauty come
Bowing to your bald rule of thumb,
Or Love swear loyalty to your crown?
Be gone, have done! Down, wanton, down!

Robert Graves (1895-1985)

Posted December 8, 2008 | Comments Off on Dirty Mondays: “Down, wanton, down” by Robert Graves.

Give the gift of Bookkake this Christmas

At this time of year, we’re all worrying about what to give the ones we love. Do you have a hard-to-buy-for sister, boss, or maiden aunt? Or, less inappropriately, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, or friend with benefits?

Why not give the gift of Bookkake this Christmas?

At you can get all five of our first editions for just £40.

Yes, that’s William Hazlitt’s madly romantic Liber Amoris, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s incurably obsessive Venus in Furs, Octave Mirbeau’s supremely sensual The Torture Garden, Guillaume Apollinaire’s hilariously filthy Memoirs of a Young Rakehell and John Cleland’s enduringly endearing Fanny Hill – all for just £40! (They’re available individually, too.)

Order this week – by December 12th – to ensure delivery by Christmas. And delivery is free to the UK and US.

Posted December 7, 2008 | Comments Off on Give the gift of Bookkake this Christmas.

‘Daniel Craig: The Screensaver’ by Richard Goodson

Thanks very much to Katherine for bringing this gem to my attention for this week’s Dirty Monday Poem. It recently won the 2008 Poetry Society Stanza Poetry Competition. The theme of this year’s competition was ‘Sloth’ (the antithesis of the National Poetry Day theme of ‘Work’).

Daniel Craig: The Screensaver

…and when I fail to focus, when I tire,
he rises like a Christ newly baptised
in sky blue trunks, reminding me desire
will always lie in wait and be disguised
as men with healing hands and cute-cruel lips
and arms I’d die for should they ever press
too hard against my throat.

                                              When water drips
from him the fish swim to his feet, confess
how happily waylaid they are, congeal
in spasmic foil and, even then, mouth how
the breeding pools upstream are no big deal.

Before my eyes bake white like theirs I vow
I’ll hit a key. Before I go berserk
I’ll kill him with one finger. Wake up. Work.

Richard Goodson, ak.a. dirtyfilthypoet, lives in Nottingham, U.K., currently working towards a PhD, and his first collection. He performs his work, leads writing workshops – and teaches Literature and Writing seminars at Nottingham Trent University. In his day job he teaches English language to asylum-seekers and refugees. Here’s his blog and his myspace page.

If you’ve got a suggestion for Monday’s dirty poem, don’t hesitate to get in touch

Posted December 1, 2008 | Comments Off on ‘Daniel Craig: The Screensaver’ by Richard Goodson.

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