Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Should we burn de Sade?

The debate about sexual abuse and unculture in a predominantly male world is virus-like. Artists in particular are affected by the epidemic.


Movie stars are wiped out, exhibitions and concerts canceled, paintings removed: Art is on the dock. It's good that #metootheme expands and stays in the spotlight. It is just a matter of avoiding direct self-harm. Because if we want to send all celebrities with a shaved scroll into the valley of shadows, we have a lot to do. In the name of justice, we also had to erase a plethora of historical celebrities: the universal genius Pablo Picasso (a brutal, selfish cone trader), the artist Paul Gauguin (who seduced a 13-year-old into marriage), the Renaissance painter Caravaggio, (killer), Jean Genet (a simple thief, hailed as a poet), early music composer Carlo Gesualdo (killer). The list goes on and it's very long.

“My wife says my way of thinking cannot be accepted. Who cares? He is a poor idiot who undertakes to think for others. " (de Sade)

The view of the art genius follows the spirit of the times. The nasal admiration for the almost divine human greatness, today comes with conditions of ethical standards… and brings with it the suspicion of contaminated – dirty – art. The couple themes moral og moralism is brought to new life. It might help to clear our minds if we took a look at someone who made these themes their life project, and historically because of it, over 200 years ago. He was nicknamed "the father of sadism". Marki de Sade, with roots in Provencal nobility, thought, for example, that research on evil was flawed, and he would correct that, with the method learning by doing. It was this that gave him the historical nickname.

Two portraits of de Sade (th. Of Biberstein)

In France, of all places – where human sexual drive is truly praised – de Sade was accused of sodomy, after arranging a sex organ with a male servant and some young girls. He gave the girls sweets that contained Spanish fly extract, known for intensifying the sex drive and endurance. Marki de Sade was sentenced to death, as a satanic monster and pornographic savage, which sent the offender to flight. In the absence of de Sade's flesh and blood, a doll was burned in Paris.

Being of brutality

Many are the artists and poets who have been inspired Monsieur now. 6. He received the nickname from the prison cell he inhabited for over 30 years. He was an aristocrat, officer, writer and philosopher – himself enough to get a seat at the Bastille during the bloody French Revolution. He rejected the concept of God and widely accepted norms: "It's completely impossible to believe in something you don't understand. Nature does not ask for a higher power to explain its deeds. Nature is independent of morality. It is not immorality, but the idea of ​​evil that seems arousing. True happiness is experienced only through the senses, and virtue does not stimulate senses. Beauty and mystery – it belongs to the nature of brutality. What pleasure would it be if it were not paired with crime? "

"Nature has a balanced need for loads and virtues." (de Sade)

The beautiful arts and amoral have always sought together. Marquis, who was a great art lover, made the escape in 1775 a study trip in the eternal city, with the themes of evil, beauty, mystery. The impressions were later released:

"I think Sant'Angelo castel, a stone's throw from St. Peter's Basilica, must be the world's most beautiful prison. Here I found the room dedicated to the secret executions of cardinals. Here the beam is still standing, equipped with nails and taurus. In a wall cabinet, prohibited weapons are stored, including daggers intended for deadly wounds. I found a tiny weird bow, which belonged to a Spaniard. His only joy obviously consisted in using this to walk the streets where people were fluttering and unnoticed shooting poisoned pins right and left.

From the movie QIULLS (2000), about Marki de Sade

It all on a larger scale? Then we have to go to the Coliseum folk festivals, of course. Twelve thousand Jews, it is said, ended within a year. I admit that the barbarism characterized the bestial scenes that took place here, but at least they strengthened the character, as opposed to today, where the simplest pantomime of a death-defying actor makes us shed tears! ”

Saint Agnes

"Satanic monster" or not – Marquis was also a sensitive man. The fate of the virgins and the living conditions of modesty was a hot topic for de Sade. "Of course, as everyone does when they are in Rome, I had to visit Piazza Navona, where the brothels once were. It touched me deeply to come close to Saint Agnes, as she is portrayed in the church here, built in her honor. Here – while it is still a place of terror – Agnes is led by the men of the garden (see photo above). She is told to surrender without resistance. The district court judge's nephew throws her in behind a closed door and brutally demands services no one will deny him…

"It's not immorality, but the idea of ​​evil that seems arousing. True happiness is experienced only through the senses, and virtue does not stimulate senses. ” (de Sade)

… I stand at the altar (downstairs in Chiesa di Sant'Agnese in Agone) and looks at the bas-relief depicting the young saint accompanied by the soldiers. It is a girl of up to fourteen to fifteen years, with a small, delicate face. The bluffing skill that the artist (Aligardi) has been able to engrave into the material, makes her even more captivating… ()… pity only that one can only observe it all in the light of a torch. This divine work should have been exposed to daylight and the god it is meant for. "

Pablo PIcasso and Fracoise Gilot

Funny speech from an atheist – and from an "anal-focused pornographer". He spent two and a half months visiting Rome's sacred buildings. Marki de Sade's life and thoughts were characterized by extremes, as was the time he lived in, so too. Thanks to all his years in prison and mental hospitals (the asylums were often used as a gathering place for "difficult" prisoners) he was given time to write. His works – among other things Justine, Juliette, 120 days in Sodom, Philosophy in the Chamber, Aline og Valcour, Dialogue between a priest and a dying man - were labeled as obscene by the time and banned until well into the 20th century. Today, they hardly cause more than a raised eyebrow, in terms of obscenity. And the prison bird worked tirelessly through all suffering. He maintained: “Nature has a balanced need for vices and virtues. When it suited me to move me to evil, it did, and when it wanted a good deed from me, it aroused the longing in me to perform one, and so I acted as I was commanded. Look only to the works of Nature for the sole cause of our twisted human behavior, and to its laws that stir for will and actions. ”

The ability to interfere

"Should We Burn the Sade?" That was the title of the essay Simone de Beauvoir wrote in 1955, just before a Paris court ruled that four of de Sade's main works should be destroyed. She answered her rhetorical question with her defense of the count's "ability to disturb" us. The Count itself is crystal clear in its own creed. “My wife says my way of thinking cannot be accepted. Who cares? A poor idiot is he who undertakes to think for others. My way of thinking is my only comfort in life. It alleviates all my suffering in prison, it provides for all my joys in the outside world, it is dearer to me than life itself. ”

The nasal admiration for the almost divine human greatness today comes with conditions of ethical standards.

Today, most taboos are blown up; art and social behavior can no longer shock. But they manage to stimulate new revivals. We are looking for light and happiness. Should we consider striking the party in Beethoven's 9th symphony, the ode to pleasure, where a few words of Germany's nationalist Friedrich Schiller tend toward sexism: All People Become Brothers – all people become brothers…?

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

You may also like