Foxy Beach Club
“I am looking for a man. What ancient philosopher said that? Where is the man, the body of the man, in literature? I am looking for it, and I hardly find it.
Literature tends to repeat the same tunes, as if it was a barrel organ that broadcasts pretty legends on street corners. The woman's body is described and this for so many centuries in abundance. In novels, theaterplay, poems, mystical verses to gracesongs, poetic prose, all forms of writing and for all parts of this body. Feet, knees, buttocks, sex, belly, breasts, shoulders, cheeks, eyes, hair, all this is sung, blazoned, versified, dramatized, told, lyicized Sulamite, "there are women whose eyes are like sugar cubes", "her ears pink and delicate”,"my wife has the size of an otter between the teeth of a tiger", "your breasts are two churches", Irene's con (Louis Aragon), and that's all great; but the other half of the world? ...
It is not due to the gender of the writer. There is no lack of women writers, and the body of the man, which is their otherness and often their attraction, could be described by them as their body by men, but no, almost not. Not the smallest blazon of male body in the western poetry until the contemporary times, not the smallest paragraph of novel. A strange absence affects the male body in literature.
The poetry of ancient Greece spoke without too much complication of naked male bodies. Athletes competed naked, and there are representations of them on vases. Let us not idealize too much; it was forbidden to the women to look at them, precisely because they competed naked. Pausanias who recalls it is offended that this freedom had been allowed to the Etruscans. Alas there remains nothing of the Etruscan literature.
It was the epoch when Diogenes was not imprisoned, ah yes, it is Diogenes who sought a man. He had no problem with the nude, and I think that his real enemy was prudery.
Rome chased away the male bodies from its literature, as it forbade the teaching of sports, probably because of bad thoughts.
Prudes, perhaps I should have said prudish. The Romans invented prudery. We kept this word they loved to use.”
Quoted from an extract of Charles Dantzig, Le grand absent, Musée d’Orsay, Masculin-Masculin
Foxy Beach Club – RPG-Portraits from - but not only - Mt. Olymp