Dearest Pet: On Bestiality

Midas Dekkers

“A stroke here, a pat there, a quick nuzzle in that gorgeous fur… though: that one spot, somewhere down below, generally remains untouched… “ But what about Beauty and the Beast? Leda and the Swan? King Kong and Fay Wray? Didn’t they do the wild thing? A Dutch biologist traces our “interspecies love affair” with animals in art and popular culture, and shows how social taboos are slighted when it comes to our furry friends. “So we see that love takes ever new and unexpected forms. Those who are surprised by this are surprised about themselves. And rightly so, since no one will ever be able to explain the source of that feeling that comes from deep inside when you look a woman or a man or a cat or a rabbit in the eyes and say, ‘I love you.’” GR

Publisher: Verso
Hardback: 276 pages

Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions, 1928-1932

Edited by José Pierre

The transcript of a round-table discussion between all the big-name Surrealists when the given topic is sex sounds like the hoot to end all hoots, doesn’t it? Well, uh, it isn’t. Goes to show that even the avant le avant couldn’t really shake their… stick… at the great libertines of yore, be it the second earl of Rochester (read Graham Greene’s jaw-dropping bio) or de Sade himself. Especially fun to learn what a prude Breton himself was. It is a great read, though. And the (mildly) edited debates, if not especially revealing or revelationesque, are an interesting fly-on-the-wall experience, even though far too similar conversations can be overheard on a daily basis at any given latte joint in the galaxy. JK

Publisher: Verso
Paperback: 215 pages

Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman

Michele Wallace

Wallace blasts the sexist politics of the black nationalist movements of the ‘60s, showing how black women had been systematically demeaned by the nationalists’ patriarachal culture. This revised edition includes a new introduction surveying the controvery spawned by the book on its first publication in 1979. AK

Publisher: Verso
Paperback: 228 pages

Circus Americanus

Ralph Rugoff

When Roland Barthes wrote his groundbreaking Mythologies in the mid-’50s, the idea of turning loose the tools and techniques of philosophy on such things as wrestling matches and Citroën cars was still quite novel. Since then, not only has the once-dark continent of consumer culture been thoroughly illuminated by the searchlights of theory, it has internalized their glare, becoming itself a kind of self-consciously semiotic construction. In this collection of updated mythologies originally penned for the LA Weekly’s art column, Ralph Rugoff trains his sharp and incisive gaze upon those areas of everyday life where symbolism, design and aestheticization have completely displaced utility, and representation has come to precede the so-called real. A kind of dialectic is ventured between articles detailing the incursions of the new, and those more concerned with the disappearance of the old. For instance, the opening section on the West Coast proliferation of such postmodern hallucination engines as Sea World, Alpine Village and the Universal CityWalk, is followed by an appreciation of the few remaining signs of precisely the industrial culture these theme parks are busy supplanting. Above all, Rugoff appears to be fascinated with the increasingly pervasive cultural tendency or drive to somehow frame, remove and reproduce whatever might be considered significant experience. Appropriately, the subject of museology figures prominently in Circus Americanus, and it is explored through a series of highly pointed collections, assembled around such men as Richard Nixon, Liberace, Gene Autry and L. Ron Hubbard. Other topics of interest are nudist magazines, cosmetic surgery and forensic photography. An article on the Mexican art/sport of lucha libre declares the abiding influence of Barthes’ pop semiotic, but from there on in, Rugoff is alone in his Brave New World of mini-golf courses and thematic funeral homes. JT

Publisher: Verso
Paperback: 204 pages

The Absence of Myth: Writings on Surrealism

Georges Bataille

Collection of newly translated writings from the period of 1945-1951 when Bataille rose to the defense of Surrealism’s place in history at the point where it seemed the most trivial and passé, eclipsed by Existentialism and Communism in the chic circles of the French intelligentsia. Despite being previously denounced as an “excremental philosopher” by the impulsive and tyrannical Breton, Bataille prophetically writes of Surrealism as a potentiality yet to be realized. He discusses Surrealism in religious terms as a “spiritual authority” and a “moral imperative” and compares the advent of Surrealism to the Renaissance in its importance. “No one, then, can fail to know that the clearest certainty of surrealism is to manage to rediscover the attitudes of mind that allowed primitive man to combine in ritual and, more precisely, to find in ritual the most incisive and tangible forms of poetic life.” Also contains the memorable quote, “…the absolute authority of the instant is the amok…” SS

Publisher: Verso
Hardback: 224 pages