November 19, 2017

"I mean, have you ever really looked at a woman naked? Really objectively looked at a woman’s body?"

"What do you see? A fat boy with overdeveloped breasts, that’s what you see. Basically, a badly made youth. A child who’s somehow managed to shoot up to adult height without growing any muscle – a chronic anaemic who haemorrhages regularly thirteen times a year. What do you expect to come out of them? Wit?"/"If what you say is true, then how can it be that I so easily came to think of her as my intellectual equal?"/"Hallucination. The mesmerising power of a skirt. Or perhaps the two of you really have become equals. Perhaps the capillary power of her vacuity has actually sucked your brains out and brought her up and you down to the same moronic level."

That's August Strindberg, as delightfully translated by David Greig, in the play "Creditors," a production of which we saw this afternoon. A snapshot of the set:

IMG_1643

The last performance is less than 2 hours from now, so if you're nearby, consider snapping up one of the few tickets left and running out to Spring Green.

90 comments:

Jupiter said...

I think he could have put it more tactfully.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Yeah that sounds fabulous, Althouse.

Glad you had a good time but if I want to hear some snide asshole criticizing my body I'll just stay home and read me some Dan Savage.

Otto said...

August Strindberg was gay, no wonder that "wonderful" description.

tcrosse said...

It must be that crazy Taliesin gang.

Fabi said...

I tried to objectively look at a woman's naked body one time and ended up getting kicked out of the Y.

David Begley said...

Now that’s misogyny.

The Godfather said...

In my college and post-college days I read a lot of Strindberg and saw his plays performed whenever I could. I always wondered if they suffered from clumsy translations; the language seemed stilted. The same was true of Ibsen. Judging by the portion you quoted, this translation seems to have avoided that problem.

Otto said...

Ann just loved that description because her 65 yr old body has seen better days( i know having an 80 yr old body) and for someone to give a demeaning description like that for all women young and old made Ann feel good. But Ann reality is cruel , there is a difference between our old bodies vs that of young people. Forget about it and play golf, but only with seniors.

Francisco D said...

Every woman's body is different and wonderful in its own ways.

Unknown said...

So were there any naked women in the play?


(asking for a friend)

Unknown said...

Misogyny is boring and only very stupid men seem to embrace it.

Ann Althouse said...

“So were there any naked women in the play?“

Thee was a sculpture of a torso.

There was a joke about beeping completely naked under one’s clothes.

Ann Althouse said...

“In my college and post-college days I read a lot of Strindberg and saw his plays performed whenever I could. I always wondered if they suffered from clumsy translations; the language seemed stilted. The same was true of Ibsen. Judging by the portion you quoted, this translation seems to have avoided that problem.”

I figured it would be characters arguing at each other the whole time, with lots of misogyny, and it pretty much was, but so brilliantly.

3 characters, but except for a few seconds, only 2 on stage at a time. They just talk talk talk the whole time. But I loved it.

Ann Althouse said...

Not beeping.

Being.

Sebastian said...

"They just talk talk talk the whole time. But I loved it."

"But"?

Stephen said...

"the capillary power of her vacuity has actually sucked your brains out" . Astonishing turn of phrase, no, not for the misogyny that would cause the modern academy to dismiss it out of hand, but the use of a science metaphor (capillary action) that once would have been widely understood by an educated audience. If it's not about climate change, fuhgeddaboudit.

Unknown said...

The other Scott

Unknown said...

“Shaw described Ibsen and Strindberg as "the giants of the theatre of our time". Even today we are haunted by their presence, as this year's theatre schedules prove. The two men were not exactly best buddies and still arouse fierce, partisan passions. Henrik Ibsen actually kept a portrait of his arch enemy, August Strindberg, in his study after 1895; he dubbed it "Madness incipient". For his part, Strindberg attacked the "swinery" of A Doll's House and claimed in 1892 that his 10-year war against Ibsen "cost me my wife, children, fortune and career".

It is tempting to see the two men as inherently antithetical. On the one hand, Ibsen: sane, progressive, rational, formal. On the other, Strindberg: neurotic, reactionary, religious, fragmented. Michael Meyer, translator and biographer of both,wrote: "Ibsen's characters think and speak logically and consecutively: Strindberg's dart backwards and forwards. They do not think, or speak, ABCDE but AQBZC.”

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2003/feb/15/theatre.artsfeatures

I always preferred Ibsen.

Otto said...

I think Ann loves weak "men" e.g. Dylan & Strindberg

Daniel Richwine said...

Gross. Not a woman's body but the description of it. Great if you want to prevent yourself from being tempted to it, but not great if you aspire to appreciate human life as it is.

Howard said...

I cannot imagine the purpose of objectively looking at a woman's body unless you were a practicing homosexual skewed towards the hetero end of the spectrum and did not want to be seduced into pinch hitting for the other team.

tim in vermont said...

If you are a man and can look at a woman's body objectively, you are missing some key part of your mind necessary for the reproduction of the human race.

Unknown said...

Misandry is boring and only very stupid women seem to embrace it.

But enough about progs...

buwaya said...

Shaw was better than either. More fun.
Despite his faults.

tim in vermont said...

Sounds more like he is hopefully looking for what could pass as a boy.

rhhardin said...

It's only half the equation. It's an objective description, which can happen after ejaculation and a hormone flood makes man's brains objective again.

The other half of the time the man is really interested and doesn't know why.

He's been through it before though and knows he's being a sap.

The knowing of those two extremes is what gives men a sense of humor that women lack.

Levinas The Phenomenology of Eros captures the not-making-sense in the male's former state. Women inform me that his description makes no sense, but guys will follow it fine.

tim in vermont said...

There is a line about the war between the sexes in Mary Poppins, could go either way:

Although we adore them, individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid.

rhhardin said...

You can get the omitted second page of Levinas here

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I mean, have you ever really looked at a woman naked? Really objectively looked at a woman’s body? What do you see? A fat boy with overdeveloped breasts, that’s what you see. Basically, a badly made youth. A child who’s somehow managed to shoot up to adult height without growing any muscle...

I have really looked, although I can't claim objectivity. However, I can't make the comparison the speaker makes, because I haven't really looked at a child naked, at least not recently enough to remember it.

But I'm pretty sure that children do not have hips and butts that look like adult women, at least not any of the adult women that I've ever seen.

SGT Ted said...

Sounds like a description made by a homosexual man who needs glasses.

rhhardin said...

In attempting to google for a complete Levinas chapter, I find the cited piece denounced by academic feminists for being male acting on female rather than general.

As I was saying..

I Callahan said...

August Strindberg was gay, no wonder that "wonderful" description.

I figured that. I still have no idea who this guy is.

rhhardin said...

The idea that men objectify women is the opposite of Levinas. Men can't objectify it because the interesting stuff comes from their brains.

At best they can explore. But never meet an object.

rhhardin said...

The Levinas is from Totality and Infinity, an excellent book. The idea is that ethics precedes ontology, rather than the reverse.

Levinas get a lot of mileage out of stuff being the opposite of what common knowledge supposes, in various books.

rhhardin said...

Levinas's translator, Alphonso Lingis, beautifully setting forth was Levinas wrote, for some reason himself is an awful philosopher. He had one nice title, something like

What is owed to people with whom we have nothing in common

which ought to have been a continuation of Levinas but was preachy and trite.

Fritz said...

I'm a straight man. I cannot objectively look at a woman's body

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jupiter said...

rhhardin said...
"You can get the omitted second page of Levinas here"

I actually found the first page to be more than sufficient.


Jose_K said...

Shaw? Not really. Chekhov ,he was well above them all

exiledonmainstreet said...

Stupid women (and men) think that quoting the lines spoken by a misogynist character in a play means one must be a misogynist also.

By that token, anybody who quotes lines from "Macbeth" must be a murderer and anybody who quotes lines from "A Streetcar Named Desire" is pro-rape.

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

“Stupid women (and men) think that quoting the lines spoken by a misogynist character in a play means one must be a misogynist also.”

Speak for yourself.

Laslo Spatula said...

The only time a man can truly look at a woman objectively is before she first speaks.

Yeah, I'll go with that.

I am Laslo.

John Smith Smith said...

Jose K - Chekhov was a good playwright, of course. Had no clue about women, though. Or men, really. You know how there are idiot savants who really understand numbers and how numbers relate to each other, but if said idiot savants were, in reality, numbers themselves,in a world where numbers were people, all the other numbers would not want to date them more than once? That is Chekhov, substitute 'numbers' for 'men and women'. (From an introduction to the letters of Chekhov " Chekhov, like the cougar (cheetah?) had great difficulty -or could not - mate with the same female more than once").

Robert Cook said...

Howard said: "I cannot imagine the purpose of objectively looking at a woman's body unless you were a practicing homosexual skewed towards the hetero end of the spectrum and did not want to be seduced into pinch hitting for the other team."

tim in vermont said: "If you are a man and can look at a woman's body objectively, you are missing some key part of your mind necessary for the reproduction of the human race."

Actually, it is entirely possible to fancy women and yet to be able to look at their bodies objectively. I would hope doctors are capable of doing so, and are not overtaken with passion every time they examine a female patient. As one who took life drawing classes for many years, I can say, first, that one must observe a female's body objectively to draw it accurately, and, second, there is nothing erotic in observing even a beautiful woman when she is standing, sitting, or reclining frankly nude before you and a room full of others, all engaged in the task of observing and gauging shape, height, width, weight, angles, direction, proportion, values, etc.

(It is more difficult to observe a female's body objectively when she is posing for you privately, with no other artists present.)

John Smith Smith said...

Please substitute for "had no clue", with regard to Chekhov, "had a clue, but not at any level above that of a talented amateur". Better writer than Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, of course, but he (Chekhov) got to read them before he started writing serious fiction, they did not get to read him before they started their own versions of serious fiction. Well, as one of Jane Austen's characters said, when it comes to affairs of the heart, we are all "illiterate".

Laslo Spatula said...

"(It is more difficult to observe a female's body objectively when she is posing for you privately, with no other artists present.)"

Indeed.

Especially when you are drawing her asshole.

I am Laslo.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Speak for yourself"

Once again, the point sails 50 feet over your head.

William Chadwick said...

Never read Strindberg, nor seen one of his plays performed. But now I know why in MANHATTAN, the Woody Allen character says, "When it comes to women, I'm the winner of the August Strindberg Award." Got one of the biggest laughs in the movie when I saw it in a theater.

Unknown said...

“Once again, the point sails 50 feet over your head.”

No, it didn’t. I knew exactly what you were insinuating.

rhhardin said...

I actually found the first page to be more than sufficient.

My experience is that women don't recognize it.

rhhardin said...

I think the reason that women are not visual about sex is that they're objective where the guy's brain is supplying logical fuzz.

Unknown said...

“I think the reason that women are not visual about sex is that they're objective where the guy's brain is supplying logical fuzz.”

Women aren’t visual about sex?

“Myth 2: Women aren’t as visual as men when it comes to sex No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “Men are visual creatures” more often than you can count. But new research suggests that women may be just as visually driven when it comes to sex as men are, says Bergner. One study described in Bergner’s book found that women’s eyes linger on erotic imagery just as much as men’s do, and a recent Neilson report found that one in three porn users was female. “Every one of Chivers’ experiments shows an immediate physical response to erotic imagery, and that in itself is an indication that we’ve been missing something,” says Bergner.”

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-love/5-myths-about-female-desire

exiledonmainstreet said...

Speaking of misogyny, it's tough to beat Tolstoy's "The Kreutzer Sonata" about a man who ends up murdering his unfaithful wife. The whole thing is an argument for sexual abstinence, written by Tolstoy in his old age, after he had grown to hate the wife who was the mother of his 13 legitimate children. (In his younger days, Tolstoy, a aristocrat, fucked every female serf on his estate, and he wasn't at all nice about it, so it stands to reason he had illegitimate offspring as well.) He ran away from her toward the end of his life.

You will not find even a mention of "The Kreutzer Sonata " or all those peasant girls in the Wiki entry on Tolstoy. Nobody can call the author of "War and Peace" stupid but he was quite progressive for his day, and pretty wooly-minded on the subject of politics.

Etienne said...

Vacuité is a feminine gender noun according to the male dominated Académie française...

roesch/voltaire said...

Gauguin wrote a letter to Strindberg suggesting that if he knew the strong and beautiful natural women of Fiji he would change his attitude towards women expressed in this play,which I also liked, although this play like so much of his work contains his ambivalent attitude of admiration and fear even repulsion involved in his recognition of their strong sexual attraction that can turn in many directions.

Unknown said...

“Gauguin wrote a letter to Strindberg suggesting that if he knew the strong and beautiful natural women of Fiji he would change his attitude towards women expressed in this play...”

Serena Williams comes to mind. Very muscular.

tim in vermont said...

Serena Williams comes to mind. Very muscular.

Robert Crumb, is that you?

Fernandistien said...

Female neoteny, though they usually talk about the face, to elicit attention and care-taking from men.

Fernandistien said...

In women

Ashley Montagu said that the following neotenous traits are in women when compared to men: more delicate skeleton, smoother ligament attachments, smaller mastoid processes, reduced brow ridges, more forward tilt of the head, narrower joints, less hairy, retention of fetal body hair, smaller body size, more backward tilt of pelvis, greater longevity, lower basal metabolism, faster heartbeat, greater extension of development periods, higher pitched voice and larger tear ducts.

In a cross-cultural study, more neotenized female faces were the most attractive to men while less neotenized female faces were the least attractive to men, regardless of the females' actual age.

exiledonmainstreet said...

No, it didn’t. I knew exactly what you were insinuating.

11/19/17, 6:44 PM

If I misread your comment, I apologize.

Unknown said...

I think there are sexually repressed homosexual men who would like their females to look like their homoerotic fantasies. Strindberg seems like he was such a man. He seemed to resent the female in every way. Too bad homosexuality was such a taboo in open society in those days. He probably made any unfortunate woman who had the bad luck to cross paths with him miserable.

Joanne Jacobs said...

Strindberg married three times and fathered five children. He lost custody of all his kids to their mothers.

He wrote many "vampirish" female characters. The "Creditor" character quoted is a "vampirish" man.

John Smith Smith said...

exiled on mainstream - I think Tolstoy was stupid. I am fluent in Russian, and his Russian is very good - very very good - but he did not understand women, he did not understand, as a rich person, poor people, he lied about Christian beliefs, while claiming to be Christian, he was born rich but, when he had the opportunity, he made his wife miserable (that is bad if you are poor but it is inexcusable if you are rich). Also, he disliked his fellow men (his fellow males, to be clear) because they were competitors. Well either he was a bad person or a stupid person. I have a generous heart, I hope, and I can say - in spite of the Tolstoy-like nasty people who have made my life on earth so unpleasant in so many ways - I can say, as a person with a generous heart, that I hope to God that Tolstoy was only stupid.

exiledonmainstreet said...

John Smith Smith, I am not a member of the Tolstoy fan club. Great writer - terrible person.

Etienne said...

I was trying to visualize Aline Renoir as a boy, but I can't do it. She is so pleasantly plump.

Unknown said...

Leonardo da Vinci’s women were quite muscular. Or maybe they were men in female garb.

Unknown said...

Or was it Michelangelo?

exiledonmainstreet said...

In David Epstein's fascinating book "The Sports Gene," he notes that a fairly high percentage of women athletes, particularly runners, are actually XY females, which is a very rare condition among the general population. XY females have a vagina, but no uterus and internal testes rather than ovaries. They tend to be quite tall and narrow-hipped with long legs. Paradoxically, they are often quite attractive, and many have become models as well (the "ideal" woman to gay men in the fashion world is best exemplified by a sterile woman with the body of a lanky 15 year old boy.)

Epstein relates the story of a Spanish runner who had no idea she was an XY woman until she underwent a routine test at an international competition back in the '80s. The results of the test were leaked to the press and her life became a misery, as she was stripped of her titles and widely ridiculed. Her fiance dumped her. After a few years, her titles were reinstated but by that time her career had been derailed.

At first I wondered how on earth a woman could grow to adulthood without ever suspecting something was wrong when she didn't have periods. But from what I understand, lots of women athletes do not menstruate or get them very rarely.

cf said...

"What do you expect to come out of them? Wit?"

This is like a water balloon bursting you on a hot Texas afternoon.

Let us sit in reality a moment. This is so refreshing, because it is so true, i wager, in true hearts of many Good men. Men like Google's fired truth-talker, for instance.

Just look around the pussy-hatted gaggle of supremacist women. All the self importance
What a ruin of a women's movement.

Thanks for sharing.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Etienne said...
I was trying to visualize Aline Renoir as a boy, but I can't do it. She is so pleasantly plump.

11/19/17, 7:44 PM

Goodness, she looks like the "before" picture on the Jenny Craig commercials. She clearly liked her croissants and creme brulee. Pretty, though, and not at all boy-like.

LYNNDH said...

I would like to look at more women naked, but my wife won't let me. Of course, it would have to be with their written consent, notarized at least twice by women only notary's.

exiledonmainstreet said...

ttps://renresearch.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/men-with-breasts-or-why-are-michelangelos-women-so-muscular-part-1/

John Smith Smith said...

exiledonmainstreet - I apologize for not reading your comment carefully.

Etienne said...

exiledonmainstreet said...She clearly liked her croissants...

She died early from diabetes. The hazards of being filthy rich.

rcocean said...

Its amazing how much of current "intellectual" discussion devolves into using stupid insult labels like misogyny or misandry. What the fuck does it even mean?

Here's my idea lets just replace "racist" "Sexist" "bigot" "homophobe" with the all purpose "Bad think".

Oso Negro said...

Just a couple days ago, I thoroughly examined the naked body of a two time pole-dancing champion in Ukraine. Not a square centimeter of wasted flesh on her. Strindberg, one might say, was turned different.

Krumhorn said...

Clearly, a seriously fucked up leftie. Of course, I repeat myself.

When you consider that Sweden is ground zero as the source of some of the most stunning women on the planet (not discounting Italy, France, and Ireland), it’s difficult to imagine what he was thinking when that was written. While he had many psychotic breakdowns, and his higher level brain functions were often mush (Nietzsche will do that to the most stable and well-adjusted of us), he was missing the best part of being in the company of a woman with no clothes. No objectivity is required. It’s a key feature of the reproduction project, not a bug.

- Krumhorn

Laslo Spatula said...

When I was in a college a female friend convinced me to take a Ballroom Dance class with her. I figured, yeah, it would probably be good to know how to dance like a gentlemen...

The glass was predominately female, and the women were a little bit of everything: some thin, some fat, some pretty, some plain...

The thing is, when dancing with the ones that smiled, they all had an attractiveness to them. The prescribed movement, the music: it was like everyone got sprinkled with a little pixie dust...

It was an evening schedule, and as the semester wore on people started dressing neater and better for the class. We might have even looked a little bit like adults...

I am Laslo.

John Smith Smith said...

One key to happiness in life is to appreciate the fact that other people have been given different gifts. I have had several gay male friends and I never wanted to think too hard about how sad it was that they did not think women are beautiful and desirable. One asks oneself, for the love of God, how could they not realize how beautiful women are? Lesbians were less amenable to being friendly to me - I tried to be friendly, but most (not all, but most) of them seemed to enjoy being rude to me - (with that all-too-familiar expression on their face, 'I do not want to be your friend, you insignificant unattractive person' - sad!) - but i can easily imagine a world in which I had many lesbian friends, and in that world I would not want to think too hard about how sad it was that they decided that men were not attractive. It is all too sad. None of us get to mate with divinities of the opposite sex. We are all human. Right?

narciso said...

So his the 19th century version of Neil labute. It was schmitzler who inspired the farragp that was eyes wide shot.

Earnest Prole said...

Without knowing a thing about the author, that is a gay man's description of a woman's body.

Jon Ericson said...

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
from Through the Looking Glass

Jabberwocky

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought–
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

urbane legend said...

Etienne said...
I was trying to visualize Aline Renoir as a boy, but I can't do it. She is so pleasantly plump.

Yes, she is. Her breasts look like implants, though.

Saint Croix said...

What do you see? A fat boy with overdeveloped breasts, that’s what you see.

If you're gay, that's what you see.

What do you expect to come out of them?

Babies.

This is why gay people are often maligned as "queer," because their ideas are so strange.

mtrobertslaw said...

"ethics precedes ontology" Sounds like the old Natural Law theory and its offspring "conscience".

Kyzernick said...

When I look at my wife objectively, I see a female human who I wish to penetrate in various places using various appendages.

When I look at my wife passionately, I see a woman in heat that I wish to ravage for hours on end until her quivering body can take no more.

When I look at my wife simplistically, I see a girl I want to fuck.

Such are the wages of testosterone, I guess.

I am not Laslo.

n.n said...

You're beautiful just the way you are... is a lie. Everyone, male and female, needs to strive, to embellish within reason, as appropriate to context.

JackOfClubs said...

I prefer my Strindberg with Helium.