Wednesday, November 14, 2012


In matters of artistic creation, you tend to see even originals as standing on the shoulders of giants. Harold Bloom wrote a book called The Anxiety of Influence to attend to this phenomenon. In life, the behavior of human beings can similarly be explained as having historical and culture roots in the behavior of others. Thus in trying to explain Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s “ties to a prostitution ring in northern France” which has gotten him into some trouble with authorities, the Times introduced “Libertinage,” “a clandestine practice in certain powerful circles of French society: secret soirees with lawyers, judges, police officials, journalists and musicians that start with a fine meal and end with naked guests and public sex with multiple partners." (“Sex Life was 'Out of Step,’ Strauss-Kahn Says, but Not Illegal," NYT, 10/13/12). According to the Times, “Libertinage has a long history in the culture, dating from a 16th century religious sect of libertines.” There are all kinds of ins and outs in the Times story as it were. Apparently DSK and the incident at Manhattan’s Sofitel  are the subject of a play Suite 2806 and “a movie directed by Abel Ferrara with Gerard Depardieu.”In addition, the Times story points out  “Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers argue that he was unaware that some of the women were prostitutes because they were all naked by the time he arrived late” and also points out, “a Belgian prostitute recanted her earlier accusation, saying the encounter was just rough sex play.” Rabelais lived in the era of the libertines, but one wonders if DSK's behavior is not accounted by the enormous influence of another French pornosopher who was like Strauss-Kahn was also interested in sexuality and power, the Marquis de Sade.

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