RARA-AVIS: Re: Nihilism and Willeford

From: davezeltserman (Dave.Zeltserman@gmail.com)
Date: 09 Sep 2009

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    I don't want to get us too off topic--I brought up Sade originally because the philosophy that some have espoused to his writing is an interesting take on nihilism, but I'm not sure how much of a radical he was. From what I read his libertine excesses were really no more than many other French nobleman at the time, but had some bad luck as well as powerful and wealthy mother-in-law who wasn't happy with his conduct, especially with his carrying on with her other daughter. Early on at least he certainly wasn't a political prisoner, but was put away by his mother-in-law--and in her attempts to discredit him, ruined his chances of a prolonged military career. During the terror outwardly he acted as a loyal member of the new regime--although as a judge he did risk his life by sparing hundreds from the guillotine (including his father-in-law). He himself would have ended up as a victim of the guillotine except for a bureaucratic snafu. Sade tried to derive an income as a playwright, which he mostly failed at, and his writing was ostensibly out of desperation to make money, although given the extremes compared to other erotic writing at the time, there was obviously more to it than that.

    --Dave

    Sean--thanks, my agents sending it out Monday, although probably not with my name since its not crime.

    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Steve Gerlach <stezzariffic@...> wrote:
    >
    > I agree with Sean.
    >
    > De Sade is painted as the villain more often than not. We forget he was a political prisoner, a radical and his writings he used to serve his cause.
    >
    > Pasolini's "Salo" is a dire and relentless film... banned in many countries but worth the watch if you can stomach it.
    >
    > Cheers,
    >
    >
    > Steve
    > http://www.stevegerlach.com
    >
    >
    > Follow me on Twitter @stezza666
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > ________________________________
    > From: Sean Shapiro <ssshapir@...>
    > To: rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com
    > Sent: Wednesday, 9 September, 2009 7:21:07 PM
    > Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Nihilism and Willeford
    >
    >
    > De Sade is an interesting case. His philosophy and his writings are radical. But when it came to ‘real’ life, barring a great number of abuses, he did end up espousing what some might consider ‘worthy’ causes"democracy, an end to the death penalty, opposition to the Terror etc. Which goes to show, I suppose, that nihilism is a little like Sydney Morgenbesser’s definition of pragmatism: "It's all very well in theory but it doesn't work in practice." Or, I suppose, that the author is not to be, and should not be, confused with his fiction.
    >
    > Salo is a vile book. But like any monomania it can get boring to someone who doesn’t share it. I actually found the litany of horrors becoming increasingly boring and affectless the further I got into the book.
    >
    > I would recommend, if you haven’t already seen it, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘Salo 120 Days of Sodom’ which transposes De Sade’s story to fascist Italy. A visceral, ugly movie. But also a deep analysis of the philosophy and implications of nihilism and its offshoots.
    >
    > It also has an emotional core that De Sade’s Salo lacks"and is perhaps bleaker for it.
    >
    > (Good luck with the new book.)
    >
    > Sean Shapiro
    >



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