Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Postby obnoxion » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:16 pm

Wyrmfang wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:02 pm
It is my turn now, and I recognized I had somehow skipped September in the schedule and marked myself to October. If it doesn´t bother anyone, we could go with that, I am very busy at the moment (noticed afterwards I had completely missed my turn in the Jung reading circle).
I think it's ok to skip a month if your busy.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Postby Kenazis » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:55 pm

obnoxion wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:16 pm
Wyrmfang wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:02 pm
It is my turn now, and I recognized I had somehow skipped September in the schedule and marked myself to October. If it doesn´t bother anyone, we could go with that, I am very busy at the moment (noticed afterwards I had completely missed my turn in the Jung reading circle).
I think it's ok to skip a month if your busy.
Ok, for me. Let's skip the month. Wyrmfang october, me november.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Postby Polyhymnia » Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:25 pm

Happy to have the catch up month. These chapters are dense.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Postby Wyrmfang » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:35 pm

6. Witches as Rebels Against Patriarchy

In chapter 6 Faxneld provides several examples against Maureen Moran´s argument that during the 19th century the figure of the witch served conservative purposes almost without exception. The first counter-example can be found in the historian Jules Michelet´s work La Sorcière, a highly unconventional work which serves more political and aesthetic purposes than scientific ones. Michelet presents Satan in an openly positive fashion and the witch as someone who mediates his inspiration. Michelet´s work evoked immediate condemnation and adoration alike, as it was not only anti-clerical but had socialist and feminist tendencies as well.
On the other hand, the character of the witch was obviously also used for conservative purposes. Both medical and anti-feminist authorities saw a close connection between witches and their demonic possession in the earlier centuries and the contemporary popular medical diagnosis of ”hysteria”. That is, possession was retrospectively interpreted as hysteria, and feminist claims were also associated with this condition. In general, the figure of the witch pertains the same ambivalence between Satanic Feminism and Demonic Feminism, which has come up many times before in the book.

Strictly anti-clerical theosophist Matilda Joslyn Gage was highly influenced by Michelet´s celebration of witches but added her own esoteric viewpoint to the issue. For Gage, the witch was not only a protagonist of individuality against church´s oppression but also an upholder of esoteric wisdom. In contrast to authors discussed above, amateur folklorist Charles Leland claimed that there is a continuous tradition of witchcraft up to his day, at least in Italy where he allegedly gained information including hymns and rituals from a local witch. George Egerton (Mary Chavalita Dunne) published two relatively popular short story compilations which have been recognized as feminist celebration of the figure of the witch. Though herself critical to feminism as a political movement Egerton was thoroughly feministic in mocking the double standards of sexual behavior of men and women. Another author inspired by Michelet is Oliver Madox Hueffer, except that like Gage, he didn´t share Michelet´s enthusiansm of witches as proto-scientists.

When it comes to pictorial art, male artists had traditionally depicted witches as old and ugly with occasional exceptions of semi-pornographic approaches. In the 19th century, however, painters became inspired by witches in mythologies both ancient and later. In these paintings the witch often steals power (for example, a spellbook) that belongs to a man. Some authors have seen feministic intention here, but, according to Faxneld, it is more likely that these themes were intended as warning. Female artists of the period had the witch quite rarely as their subject. According to Faxneld, only Teresa Ries´ sculpture Witch Making Her Toilette for Walpurgisnacht was intended as a subversive piece of art.

Apart from pictorial art, Mary Wigman present several famous dances which were based on the idea of the witch. These dances could be seen as corroborating the ”hysteric-feminist-witch” – narrative, but at the same time they could be interpreted as empowering. The same applies to the witch figures Dane Benjamin Christensen´s movie Häxan. In general the representations of the witch during the 19th century strongly resemble the logic of the ”counter-myth” Faxneld discussed at the beginning of the book. When applied this way to art and literature, I think I begin to understand why Derrida has been conceived as such an influential thinker especially in literature studies.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Postby Kenazis » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:36 pm


`I took it up as a war cry’: The trajectory of decadence from attribution to identificaction

Decadence an adjective describing a form of literature appeared in the preface to Charles Nodier’s Contes Fantastiques (Fantastic Tales, 1850). Baudelaire also uses it in 1857 in essay to describe the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Scholars date this word even earlier, to Désiré Nisard’s 1834 book Etudes de mauers et de critique sur les poétes latins de la decadence (Moral and Critical Studies of the Latin Poets of Decadence). As with many other terms first used as an insult, also the term decadent where taken into use by the “decadents themselves”.

Subversive or conservative? The ambiguous counter-discourse of decadence & Delineating decadence

What approach and attitude the decadents took for the culture? There are many ways to describe this. For example: seeing the decadent literature as works of celebrating the fall, discourse inverting the hegemonic cultural values, loose ideology where that which is decayed, aberrant, sinful, and lustful is elevated, and commonplace, wholesome, virtuous, and decent is mocked & counter-discourse to bourgeois morality and aesthetics.
Faxneld himself defines decadence as:
1) Regarding art for art’s sake (“evil” can be “good” if it is beautiful),
2) Elitism (contemporary age was morally too stiff or lacking & lacking in aesthetic taste),
3) Intertwining sexuality and death in art (& using the motif of Femme Fatale)
4) Employing some sort of semantic inversion in decadent discourse

`A class of poetry to the devil`? Decadence and religion

Faxneld sees the only unifying factor with Decadent religiosity and non-religiosity being the fascination for ritualism and opulent trappings of religion. While Catholicism seems to be favoured within Decadent authors, there where atheists, esotericists, devout believers and sceptics among the Decadent.
There were also people who were “satanic” in way or another. For example, German painter Franz von Stuck erected an altar to sin, and Belgian painter had an altar dedicated to god Hypnos. Also some Decadents saw/used Satan/Devil as symbol of freedom from opposition etc. But these “satanic” traits are seen only some of the Decadent authors and artists. Maybe more often than symbol of rebellion against church, the Devil was used for its shock-value.
Even most French Decadents only produced isolated Satanic pieces, this was enough to associate the genre with Satanism. But, in Berlin at the time was figure named Stanislaw Przybyszewski for whom the title Satanist suits very well. Przybyszewski might well be the first who attempted to formulate systemic Satanism.

Decadent misogyny, androgyny, and demonic women

This part is about the misogynistic attitude among Decadents, but also mentions few female decadent writers. And there were of course exceptions among the men, not all of them were misogynists nor see the women demonic. (This SUBVERSIVE SATANIC WOMEN IN DECADENT LITERATURE AND ART-Chapter is so long and full of information as the whole book, so I must concentrate my writing effort with these parts/sub-chapters unequally. This wasn’t nothing special or new in my opinion, so I didn’t write so much about it).

`If you cannot be a good, faithful wife, then be a devil!`: Lilith, whips, and demonic dames

In Decadent literature the connection of wicked woman and Satan can be both explicit and present on the level of language and metaphor. Leopold von Sacher-Masoc (1836-1895) is an example of the latter with his book Venus im Pelz (Venus in Furs, 1870).

`The shrine where a sin is a prayer`: Sacralizing the eternal demonic female

At the turn of the century femmes fatales where often given cosmic scope, using demonic imagery. They were goddesses of evil, instead of petty criminals. Decadents wanted to show this image of negative eternal feminine in more positive light. Theodore Wratislaw (in his poem L’Éternel féminin, from Caprices, 1893) is one of those who shows the Satanic femme fatale in desirable form. Poet Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909) – who we can label as proto-decadent – borrows heavily from religious imaginary and style but uses them to praise wicked woman instead of Mary, Christ and God.

`The true father of the infernal church`: The art of Félicien Rops
Apples and phalluses: some examples of the demonic feminine in Rops’s Oeuvre
Woman as`Theabsolute slave of the devil`: Contemporary appraisals of Rops
`Ad Majorem Diaboli Gloriam`: Rop’s own intentions with the pictures

All of the above sub chapters tell about artist Félicien Rops (1833-1898) that made many engravings for Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Verlaine, and others).

Là-bas: A `documentary` novel and its misogynist theological inspiration

J.-K. Huysmans’s novel Là-bas (1891) presented a strongly gendered portrayal of Devil-worshipper. This book was immediately banned from being sold at railway bookstalls (and this of course just made it more wanted and popular). Là-bas includes a description of Black mass. This however was not the thing that was unique or “scandalous” in the book, but the authors claim that the description of Black Mass was authentic and he himself was witnessing it. Was this the case is uncertain. It is pretty certain that at least some of it is fictious. Huysman was influenced by Malleus Maleficarum and this is seen his portrayal of Satanism as predominantly feminine and negative phenomenon.

The flower of evil called Hyacinthe, and other hysterical Satanist women &
Satanism as (sexual) neurosis and anti-capitalism

These sub-chapters are mainly about the Huysmans’s book and who the Satanism is described there feminine and negative phenomenon. For example, the black mass is held in nunnery (not in monastery), most of the Satanist there is female (the homosexual men are described as feminine). Connection of hysteria (mental illness) and Satanism is pondered. Satan is described to be the god of homosexuals and “other pathological sexual problems”.

Fact or fiction? The real-life inspirations for Mme Chantelouve &
´His heroine, that’s me!`: Wanting to be the emancipated Mme Chantelouve

Huyasman was the main character of making Satanism a major issue of debate in France (and also abroad). Arthur E. Waite mentions Huysman in his book Devil-worship in France (1896). mentioning his book Là-bas being the influence for raising the question of Lucifer from obscurity to prominence.
One primary model (there were others) of Mme Chantelouve (one of the main characters of Là-bas) was Berthe Courrière (1852-1916). Courrière was interested in occult, symbols and black magic. It is possible that Courrière was theosophist and influenced by Blavatsky’s writings of Lucifer. Courrière was also mentally unstable and been twice on mental asylum. This could explain the connection of Satanism and pathology, the Huyasman saw was the case. The character of Hyacinthe Chantelouve was fascinating to female readers and many were influenced by this figure.

Satanist superman with a heart as weak as wax: Stanislaw Przybyszewski

Polish Decadent was a self-identified Satanist and spoke behalf of Satan. Przybyszewski was the most consistent practitioners of Decadent tactic of semantic inversion. He wrote text Die Synagoge des Satan (1897) that propagated Satanism. Satanic content of German esoteric order Fraternitas Saturni was influenced by Przybyszewski. For Przybyszewski Satan was the ultimate freethinker, the first philosopher, the first anarchist, and the father of all progression. God and Christianity was the opposite.

Przybyszewski’s witches, the feminization of Satan, and `good evil´ &
Evil women then and now: Przybyszewski’s modern wiches

These sub chapters are about Przybyszewski’s description of witches. He uses semantic inversion and speaking of Satan and witches being evil, the evil here means something good. And the Christian good is something evil.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Postby Nefastos » Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:51 pm

Chapter 8. Lucifer and the Lesbians: Sapphic Satanism

Most of this chapter (p.327-385) consists of presenting of two "Satanic lesbians" at the turn of the 19th & 20th century. The first one is a fictitious one – a heroine in Catulle Mendès' novel Méphistophéla – and the second an actual person: Pauline Mary Tarn aka. Renée Vivien. Faxneld also gives us a bit of literary context of fin-de-siècle in the beginning, and in the end of the chapter more briefly presents to us another gynocentric artist of the time, Marie Madeleine.

Faxneld tells us that female homosexuality was often seen as a "cult" (cf. Lesbian Sappho), and this idea was embraced as an empowering idea also by some pro-lesbian authors. But since in literary decadent movement aesthetical side meant (and still means: compare to black metal movement, and nowadays also more & more occult practice) so much, it is not always easy to see how serious someone's actual convictions concerning some religious aspect are. I.e. is one's Satanism (or "cultic" ideas) more rhetorical or devotional in nature. These, however, are more important questions to me personally than to Faxneld, who is more interested in political and societal impact.

Faxneld, p.339 wrote:[W]here male homosexuals who were too bold – like Oscar Wilde or Fersen – found themselves in the dock facing stern judges, lesbians did not really risk ending up in jail. The treatment of them in literature and art to some extent reflects this more tolerant attitude. The love life of lesbians had a voyeuristic appeal to straight male producers and consumers of art and literature, whereas sexual relations between men were a source of intense discomfort. This is not to say that being a lesbian at the turn of the century was at all an easy thing.

* * *

First case: a lesbian novel.

Faxneld, p.341 wrote:The first more developed treatment of lesbianism combined with Satanism was Catulle Mendès' 1890 novel Méphistophéla.

It is interesting to note that the novel came out the same time when Blavatsky reached the apex of her esoteric career (close to her death in 1891). Faxneld says nothing about the author using a pseudonyme (Catulle Mendès 1841-1909), so we really have a nomen est omen case here: Catulle's work is a black gothic novel of the cheaper end of thrill-seeking literature, depicting all kinds of things one might have called perversions when that word was still in use. Yet it should be rememered that "the goat of Mendes" was most often repeated by Lévi, and –

Faxneld, p. 344 wrote:Mendès was also enthusiastic about Éliphas Lévi, whom he knew in private, and introduced Victor Hugo to him.

Faxneld also says that Méphistophéla's "hairy" demoness of its climactic black mass most likely comes back to Lévi's Baphomet (p.348). (Which he sees as "a gynocentric and misandric vision", which might or might not be the case. See p.349.)

According to Jeanette H. Foster, Méphistophéla was printed several times in both French and English between 1890 and 1910, but Faxneld doubts whether an English translation ever existed (p.345). Méphistophéla seems to be interesting piece of work, much in a vein of the author not so high-reaching but altogether delicious gothic novels of the era, even though Faxneld does not make such a comparison, instead tracing back to Baudelaire & high style decadent authors.

Faxneld, p.350 wrote:Rather than trying to pin down a "final" meaning of the text, it appears more useful to emphasize its polyvocality and lack of consistency. Mendès – or at least the narrator – is obviously fascinated with lesbians as rebels (and as voyeuristic erotic spectacle)

* * *

Second case: a lesbian decadent poetess.

Faxneld, p.354 wrote:Renée Vivien, whose real name was Pauline Mary Tarn (1877-1909) was one of the first women to write openly lesbian poetry.

After discussing Méphistophéla (which Vivien also read and loved) in length, Faxneld turns his attention to this poetess. She wrote in French, and her poems have "been described as among the most technically perfect ever" in that language (p.356). Vivien first published her decadent, Satanic poetry without revealing her sex, but later used her own name. She was angry not gaining enough praise from the critics and stopped publishing.

Even though Faxneld tries to paint an interesting and alluring picture of Vivien, she seems to present the type I loath: an "extreme elitist" (p.356) alcoholic, using her inherited money to create herself a self-image of a misunderstood genius. On the top of everything, after using her life in Satanic debauchery, she naturally turned to Roman Catholic faith just before dying (p.357). Faxneld presents one of her poems, La Genèse profane (The Profane Genesis) in full (both English & French), and to me this great elite poetry seems to hold very little of anything except easy inversion. This is sad, since theoretically Vivien's misandrist philosophy might have been titillating. "Vivien actually did believe there were universal feminine traits" (p.385), and that these were worth praising and worshipping in the context of Satanic spirituality, which is much the way as I see it.

Faxneld, p.374-5 wrote:In the intensely gynocentric world view of Vivien and her lover Natalie Barney, that which was feminine was good, while all things masculine were bad. (...) They viewed fragility and softness as innate female characteristic, not socially produced, and they therefore felt it only natural to celebrate them.

* * *

Third case: a baroness writing dark poems.

Like I said, in the end of the chapter Faxneld introduces us another (possibly) lesbian poetess of the age, Marie Madeleine (1881-1944). This dark heroine similarly most accomplished things by marrying a baron, neglecting her son, and using the inherited money for her drug-use and writing bad poetry. (Here Faxneld does not even try to make it good, p.383.)

* * *

Thoughts of this chapter: Many fascinating things for people interested in literature and feminism (in the word's widest sense), but regarding actual spiritual Satanism and/or occultism we have very little that has any value, outside cautionary examples of how things should not be done.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"

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