In the series The Dialectics of the Sexes: no. 3


Examine these and similar actions as we will, we shall find them resulting solely from the spirit of the Perverse. We perpetrate them merely because we feel we should not.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Imp of the Perverse

Got a little lady on the streets,
Tell the boys she can’t be beat…

Zappa/Beefheart, Willy the Pimp



The loud, cheeky voice of Willy the Pimp is singing the praise of his venal women, together with the drugs he wants to sell you – addict and product need meet, the dealer is their go-between. Zappa accompanies the jagged voice of Captain Beefheart. Suddenly an awesome fine guitar solo springs from the speakers. It’s the third time in a row that I listen to this incredibly loud and grand music.

Then the innocent eye – the Dutch writer Bordewijk in mind: always the eye singular, always sort of anonymous – the eye is caught, for perhaps the 1001st time, by an indescribable Beauty whose inimitable cheeks gaze at me from a mirror in the picture card on a little side table. This, all these years long. A fairy tale in view – whether I am reading, playing chess, drinking wine or am simply lost in reverie.


Looked at more closely to be observed is one of her attractions – a strange, perhaps even creepy cognac colored blot at the precise junction of arm and body. Why not – her armpit, only to be seen in that mirror.


Somewhere between 1851 en 1852, the Frenchman Auguste Belloc took her – more than once, I presume, and in more than one way. The photographer’s name is known, his lady remains anonymous. What a shame – yet, the way of all flesh… Nu/Akt is written on the card’s backside, in French (Olala!) and German.

Or is it a shame? It may depend on the epoch. Nowadays names of women are mentioned at the beginning of a skin-flick, often introduce as ‘actresses’. Though indeed, only their rather crudely chosen pseudonyms.

What privilege it would have been to find, written on the back this card, both name and address of Belloc’s lady. Posthumously she would receive a love letter, here published instead of this little essay – an epistle, making all other missives simply superfluous.

The mind speculates. Is this woman actually reading, or is it a pose? Her gorgeous, attentive face suggests reading, but it must also be a pose – after all, in those days the camera’s shutter had to remain open for quite some time. Perhaps she loves reading and is taking her time for it. The shading in the picture makes it impossible to ascertain the novel’s title. Then again, it might be the photographer’s cash-book.

Lo and behold – what does the eye now see! Does it perceive extra blemishes, solemn stains on her exquisite ass, spots of an almost chiaroscuro blue? Or is this sheer imagination, did I not look properly all those other 1001 times?

Photo from 2012
Photo from 2012

No, they’re there – comparison of this photo of a photo with a photo taken earlier proves my surprise to be apt.

Photo from 210
Photo from 210

The proof, after all, is in eating her.

There is also a stain at the very edge of the card, which does not belong to Belloc’s original image used for its production. Proof, then, that these stains have nothing to do with the old photograph. After having taken her from my side table and bringing her fine ass close up, not only do I see the new stains better, suddenly I also hear – after 1001 times of listening – that Zappa’s rhythm playing Willy is faster in the end than at its beginning.

Then I suddenly remember my own sin – not the one suggested in Belloc’s rusty mirror, all the more exciting because of the illusory effect of a rosy armpit. Some days ago, in a fit of untamed enthusiasm, did I overthrow a well filled glass of fine wine. And – hoopla – from the little table it dropped onto the floor. Gathering nasty slivers and cleaning up the mess demanded all attention – at that moment I did not notice the spots on the card, neither did I observe traces of wine on the white wall, raped by mauve stains.

However – observe, Mine Eye! Without intent, the feeble ink of the Rioja has drawn a bird so delicate, that it rivals any Chinese master’s endeavor.

My Rioja's Chinese Bird
My Rioja’s Chinese Bird

My littler feathered friend will be left there – for a while. The stains on those gorgeous cheeks will linger there forever.

Sierksma La Roche, september 2012


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats. The reader, interested in my writings on aesthetics, literature, and sociology, may want to open, where various pieces are published.

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