THE FEMALE SHOE

 

The male hat seems to be primarily a male affair. Shoe fetishism is quite another thing: the widespread insatiability of women as far as shoes are concerned and the male fantasy in this respect, seem to be complementary.

No feminist can argue a case for male shoe fetishism: the triggering of shoe voraciousness which is obliging many women to continuously buy new shoes. And no man will deny that nymphomania may have to do with men having done something to the women concerned. Curiously enough, many women buy precisely those kinds of shoes which feminism, in its by now wild variety of versions, has been severely criticising, claiming for instance that precisely this kind of shoes has expressly been invented by men, to deny women their escape from the male species hunting her: high-heeled shoes.

That many men do indeed have these shoe-fantasies seems to have become an accepted fact amongst psychiatrists. Not so much those abhorred fantasies of women being caged by their high-heeled shoes, as the ever-returning image of the female calf which, thanks to those high heels, will show a stunning tension in its muscles, a curving, perspectival pointer indicating higher heavens of the female body – thus sexually exciting.

What surely must be called a fetish, this fantasy of steep, high-heeled shoes may acquire far-reaching forms and proportions. Consider, for instance, Hans Bellmer’s obscene drawing of the contours of a shoe with a stiletto heel, which coincides with the generous contours of a woman, bending over, thus showing the observer her arse. Or another Bellmer picture, once more showing the artist fascinated by the connection between the female body and the shoe:

Woman plus Shoe, an intriguing combination. Balancing on her high heels, she goes through life with her hips swinging, thus more especially Woman. Instinctively, her now seemingly broader hips refer the male mind to her unique capacity of child bearing and giving birth.

That in the very same movement this also gives her an extra dose of sex appeal is what feminists do not like, the ass becoming a fetish considered to be the orphaned reduction of all that she also is to that ass, in fact separating her true self from her ass. This, even though women who like to wear high heels might tell you they might win the marathon on them. And the next day another one… Thus, Sarah Jessica Parker.

What I once coined as postmodern shoppism, the acquisition of things for the sheer reason of the buying, all utilitarian use value of the commodity disappearing in the act of its acquisition, quite often turns on shoes. The moment, Keira Knightley saw a pair of such stiletto shoes she simply felt the need to possess them, even though they did not fit. Subsequently she placed them on the mantel piece. Agreed – this might still be considered practicing a kind of utilitarianism aesthetics.

However, consider this: Research has uncovered the fact that many female shoppist addicts go out hunting especially for shoes, then – after having come home – not to op the bag with inside the shoe box, but to place the unopened bag in a special little room for this very purpose, in which are waiting the newcomer a series of other unopened bags with shoes.

Thus, not only is Woman a riddle to Man, she quite often is a mystery to Herself – insoluble. Was will das Weib? – Arthur Schopenhauer’s famous, if not infamous question. The answer is obvious: Shoes! Perhaps even shoes-as-such, disconnected from their use, as the male shoe fetish seems to be disengaged from the women he purports to love. Perhaps, it was even that German philosopher’s name which made me invent the neologism of shoppism.

Is the hypothesis too far-fetched when I suggest that – with in our mind’s eye Bellmer’s drawing of the shoe contours coinciding with those of a woman sitting on her heels – that the shoe-shopping woman is in fact collecting herself? An ellipsis it would be, with its two centres – Woman and Shoe.

My former wife has, as she herself has always been claiming, an ideal shoe size. Thus, on French brocantes she finds used pair after used pair of great shoes in perfect condition as, by the way, she finds new pair after new pair during Dutch bargain sales. Irresistible they obviously are – and she has only worn perhaps three pairs of them ever.

Sierksma La Roche, May 2021

FEMININE GAZE

An aquarelle of exquisite quality – because of the sheer beauty of its composition, colour and execution, as well as due to an aesthetic empiricism of detail.

The artist, J. H. Plokker, sought to convey the impression of urban architecture in a street in the middle of France, highlighting its mediaeval-like organicism of construction and the play of sunlight and shadow – yet, true to the facts, also giving us the rather ugly bit of modernist building, constructed at the back of all this and visible at the end of the ally of steps. Thiers it is, in 1963.

The artist’s gaze has taken it all in – with a warm, loving gaze, giving us the pleasure of retracing the slow steps made by his eyes. Such delicacy of detail is almost feminine, if not simply – feminine.

We know of the experiment re: human perception of our immediate surroundings, showing us the difference between women and men. A group of students from various faculties, not knowing what it was all about, were asked to come to a psychological lab for ‘some’ experiments. They were paid a fee in advance. Gathered in a large sitting room with furniture and various decorative elements, they waited and expected to be informed as to what it was all about, convivially enjoying titbits and refreshments served on a table.

It turned out that the whole experiment had already been in their gathering. After a certain period of time, each one was asked to step outside, to be interviewed about what they had noticed in the room: its size, place of doors and windows, pictures hanging on the wall, kinds of food and drink on the table and the various objects placed in the room. In a rather precise manner, the men were able to reproduce a map of the room, on it the place and size of windows and doors, pieces of furniture et cetera. Their recollection of smaller details, though, was miserable, all those little things here and there. With the women, the results were a contrast.

Whatever explanation one may give – I prefer an evolutionary one, in a faraway past the loving care for her children directing the gaze of a woman at details that were, perhaps, threatening them – it seems more generally the case that women are apt to observe details as well as care for them; they are less interested in the topographical lay out and order of things. If this were indeed the case, an artist like Plokker might be said to have a strong feminine bent; all good artists are marvels in their details, in which – according to one great architect – even God may be residing…

A male artist, then, may be said to have a split personality; why not call it a schizophrenic? I am well aware that the concept of schizophrenia must be used carefully, specifically in postmodern times when it is abused – galore, thus meaningless. However, as I started this little essay from the observation of a Plokker aquarelle, the term might be apt. The man was also a doctor, a psychiatrist, chief of the great hospital for schizophrenics in The Netherlands. He wrote an impressive dissertation on art and schizophrenia: Art from the Mentally Disturbed. Curiously enough, in this study he doubts whether the concept of art really applies to the work of his schizophrenic patients, whom he tried to treat by allowing them to paint, draw et cetera.

Now, what a doctor as a doctor should apply to his patients is a clinical gaze: the doctor must be a cool customer, a distanced observer of certain facts, not involved in the persons, but aloof – then to place these facts, considered as symptoms, in a more general perspective of known diseases, irrespective of his own prejudice or partis pris. In short: a doctor must be ‘masculine’ par excellence. This, by the way, raises certain interesting problems re: female doctors, which I will leave untouched here.

If what has been analysed above is somehow right, it implies that Plokker must have managed the feminine/masculine extremes of his personality rather well. As a scientist-doctor, not only did he succeed to falsify in a Popperian manner his original idea of ‘schizophrenic art’; he was also capable of producing the most wonderfully detailed as well as wonderful aquarelles – a man in love with both the details of the object depicted as well as with his own child: this aquarelle.

Sierksma, Montmorillon 20.2/2021

HANDICRAFT

Miniatures for my maîtresse 8

in his Periodic System Levi is asking himself: “What could we do with our hands?” ‘In the Jewish community’, he writes, ‘only women can really use their hands. The men use their hands merely to write, after having used them to play, in their youth’. What can I ‘do with my hands’? Practice love, I hope – let the fingers stroke and roam, find all the orifices, make them move. Can there be a more satisfying, a more splendid handicraft than this one?

Sierksma, Haarlem 9.11/1989

PORTICO

Miniatures for My Maitresse 3

Phantasy – portico of all experiment. Not only the entrance into the space of scientific experiments, when phantasy turns into hypothesis, but also in matters erotic. Someone remaining in this entryway will all too easily become guided by the ‘crazy vector’, searching in all directions for opportunities of transgression while seeking advice from the De Sade’s, the Bataille’s, perhaps even the Millers of this world. A vague suspicion steals upon me, that a permanent stay in this portico must, in the end, erode one’s capacity to as yet practice the deeds of love. Like a scholar in the sciences, an erotic erudite is well advised to practically test phantasies with his better half. A purely idealistic philosophy tends to disappear ins blauen hinein, into shining cosmic nothingness. After all, for a man that is, the idea of a beloved one is to disappear into other, duskier places.

Sierksma Haarlem 16.11/1989

BIRTH OF WRITING

The vicissitudes of being… Pure chance made the woman I am living with here in France dig up a bundle of old-fashioned typewriter carbon copies from an as yet unopened mover’s box containing a variety of things. After weeks of depression and not a tittle or even one iota written, this has finally triggered my writing once again

Somewhere in the hidden recesses of my biography there arose an urge to write miniatures. The first series had only one reader, my then maîtresse, an Amsterdam woman encountered in The Concertgebouw, decades ago.

In three of those miniatures, I endeavoured to construct an alibi for such short pieces. With Roland Barthes, I contrasted writing, more specifically the writing of letters, with spoken language; words, shot straight from the tongue, contain dangerous language; they cannot, direct as they are, be taken back. Then again, words spoken come from a tongue that may also kiss… How then, to write and as yet be a lover on the level? However, written language as such runs the risk of transforming what might have been two equal partners into a hierarchy, the writer as it were ‘hooking’ the receiver reading. The faked love of the hooker comes to mind.

Interestingly enough, after a long stay in a sanatorium, the great Brazilian writer Machado de Assis radically changed his Romantic style and began writing his novels in small paragraphs – a bit like Nietzsche, who also tried to manipulate written language out of the grasp of the system-building philosophers. Both were artists of the minimal. In Machado’s case, it helped that after his stay in the hospital he was bedridden and started to dictate his texts to his wife – writing by mouth and tongue that is.

Instead of love letters, which will always repeat the obvious and thus kill love, a small piece about just something for someone, though written with love, thus time spent on language with care, may be a better expression of caring for the other.

Decades later this urge to write miniatures resulted in, first a long series of Sores – not physical sores, but the Yiddish word for troubles; they were written in Dutch. Much later, again, I began my English Sequences, one of which my reader has just opened, published on the world wide web.

That Amsterdam maîtresse, by the way, very much looked like the picture I bought in those days, for what was then, at least for me, a huge amount of money. It was also the first time I participated in an auction.

The bill received after this acquisition contains a funny mistake. Instead of Sierksma I had become ‘Zielsma’, which in Dutch means a Soul’s Son. To be quite honest, at the time both the body of the woman depicted and the one of the woman it referred to were of greater interest to me than the state of my precious soul. Then again, much later, I would write a Sequence in which the same picture figures, purely for her aesthetic and conceptual qualities. One grows older, if not simply old…

So, I commenced to write miniatures for the Lady – my only reader. If these turn out to be palatable – I now just read only the one published below – others may follow, perhaps forming a sequence of Sequences. This early miniature, in translation, reads like this:

Only One Reader

Miniatures for My Maitresse 1

Quite conscious am I of my own intellectual mediocrity. Yet, I must confess that it pleased me to encounter someone, on of all places the campsite of far-out Saintes, a Dutchman who told me that, only a few weeks before our meeting, he had been reading my Foucault book. After all, each writer needs only one reader to exist. In fact, most of the time I fear that the volumes bearing my name are merely to be found on my own shelves. Haarlem 8.9/1989

Sierksma, Montmorillon 7.1/2021

LEVITATION

It must have been the magic effect of that airy, silvery light, covering the town of Argenton, that made a latter-day lead-glass artist create this silly image in one of the new windows of its church.

 

Usually, in an image like this – a Pietà representing the Virgin with the dead body of her Son – He is either supported on Her lap, or He is carried in Her arms. Compassion, or rather sadness is always the subject – a Pietà is about a mother grieving.

 

Though not too much grieving. The whole idea of His dying on the cross is supposed to fulfil God’s, that is his Father’s deep desire. For this reason, methinks, in contrast with her tender, even joyous expression in paintings where she is still caring for her child, the face of Mary in a Pietà is often depicted as quite placid. She knows her place, she knows how to act…

 

Yet, the idea is that – like her son is bearing the load of humanity’s sins on his frail shoulders – she must also be carrying that load. However, in this case the lead-glass artist has given her the paranormal gift of levitation: in the Window Christ is actually floating in mid-air, without Mary having to exert herself whatsoever. The paranormal, or the realm of phony trickery…

 

Most likely, the one given this commission was a very bad artist – and a curious commission it was.

 

As an atheist, yet one having spent quite a bit of time studying religions, I was flabbergasted when confronted with this particular image, part of the very same window in which we observe Mary’s magical powers.

 

Now, who might be the poor woman so viciously beaten? It can’t be the Virgin, punished for having performed her magician’s foul trick; that would amount to utter blasphemy. Surely, an image like this won’t seduce our postmodern power-feminists to join the Holy Church.

 

Could she be a witch, caught in the act? Or is this merely a case of male chauvinism, with a touch of Marquise de Sade? How miraculous the ways of the Lord are, how he leads his artists in temptation to produce images like this in His church.

 

Then again, the victim may also be a man, once again the artist failing, if not flailing his creation. Or was he perhaps a genius, anticipating the postmodern identity confusion of male and female by way of its cherished notion of gender?

 

Sierksma, Montmorillon 13.9/2020

JUST A FLESH WOUND…

 

Could it be that John Cleese went on pilgrimage to the great Cathedral of Laon in the North of France, to get his inspiration for the famous scene in the Holy Grail movie, the Black Night being slaughtered? After all, that movie is about Mediaeval manly and religious valour. Those guys went all the way to so-called Holy Lands…

 

When King Arthur – in the movie, that is – chops off the Black Night’s arm, right from the shoulder, blood spurting out like the Niagara Falls, the Knight, a good sport, tells him that it is just a flesh wound… The knight in Laon, shown in the picture – or could it be one of the Wise Men from the East? – obviously, is missing that arm of his.

 

The Laon Cathedral is a bit of a blasphemous object. Dangerously balancing itself on one of its huge towers, one perceives a magnificent goat espying the world down below – surely, an attribute of the Devil, the Unrepentant Sinner of all unrepentant sinners, an Angel at that, though a fallen one. Perhaps, it is the Bad Guy himself…

 

Inside, if I am not mistaken, between pillars of a feminine bleach-white quality, we find actual boudoirs, little cubicles fenced off with dainty curtains, behind which all kinds of obscenity may well have been performed and, perhaps, are still performed till this day.

 

This, then, is what happens to a visitor with a dirty mind. He begins to imagine things. Thank God – yes Him – for the fact that, as good old Jeremy Bentham put it, not other men, but only Higher Beings, if they exist, have access to the inner recesses of the mind. Pokerfaced, I could walk through that splendid church and dirtily love it.

 

Sierksma Montmorillon 28.7/2020

ANCIENT PORN

 

It was Agatha Christie, who was nicknamed The Woman with the Dirty Mind.

 

That epithet, however, did not refer to the sexually obscene, but rather to the murderous offensive. Christie invented filthy manslaughter, to be devoured by her readers as if they had become anthropophagi. Some of her books are quite entertaining, though. Most of them are not; they contain improbable plots and are improbably dull.

 

Sade might be called The Man with the Dirty Mind, now of course referring to bland and blunt sex of all variety. Then again, he shares with Christie’s long list of bad detective novels their intensely dull boredom. Reading for instance his The 120 Days of Sodom, will serve you as a good medicine against insomnia, written as it is by that Bookkeeper of Sexual Behaviour.

 

In this Postmodern, oversexed age, if not the pornographic age as such, perhaps all of us become the victims of a dirty mind, of our everyday projections with some sexual overtone. While sitting in the waiting room of the notaire, accompanied by my very sexy immobilière, ready to listen to an almost Sadean long, dull recitation of all the defects of my new house-to-buy, I opened a book on the hospital history of my new hometown – Montmorillon. My eye fell on the picture shown above.

 

Ancient porn, is what I thought, not yet digitally brought up to date. My first impression was one of a rather oversized Sadean prick – in Chaucer’s apt words: man’s silly instrument – cruelly and anally raping a woman, the whole image done as a so-called postmodern installation, made of cloth, perhaps even a work made by a true feminist, out to shock you or do whatever. Art, in short.

 

Only in the second instance was the filthy gaze redirected, the object brought into context, a picture in a book on the history of end-of-18th-century French hospitals. The image concerned a quite revolutionary, visual kind of training, used to teach doctors, surgeons and midwifes, called sages-femmes, the complications of labour and childbirth. Suddenly, I saw the child, where before I had observed that phallus.

 

La Dame du Coudray made the rounds of hospitals, from Poitiers to Montmorillon, using this display. She even demanded that her show should be performed in public, that is “in front of the Intendant of Health, various persons of distinction and the whole municipal counsel.” So, a public performance of sorts, perhaps afraid that an exhibition of this kind for the true crowd might indeed cause pornographic uproar.

 

A bit like l’Enfer, that section of France’s greatest public library which was always closed to… the public, only opened to people of distinction such as professors who would bear in mind Dante’s wise instruction ‘to leave all hope behind’. That Hell, of course, contains the most delicious works of pornography, even the complete works of dull Sade. By now, there is no one left even willing to enter l’Enfer – all joyous sexual filth may be found on film or on the internet. Perhaps, there may is still a professor left willing to enter it, to perform his or her intellectual duties.

 

Sierksma, Montmorillon 16.7/2020

 

 

I AM A MAN!

Could it be that France is the country, or rather the nation, in which sex confusion is of prime, if not historical importance? Jeanne d’Arc – why not, prototypical!

 

Where else could one find a memorial statue like this one, commemorating those from Montmorillon, who died in the Great War or, for that matter, in the Algerian one?

 

Even her tits seem to be pantzered.

 

One hears the lady screaming: I’m a Man, I’m a Man! She is raising her symbolical prick straight up into the high heavens, no mistake about it.

 

The very moment this Bronze Woman, this French Brunhild, confronted me, she reminded me of Jack Lemon in Some Like it Hot. In that splendid movie he is impersonating a female base-player in an all-female orchestra who, together with his crony and saxophonist Tony Curtiss, also in disguise, is fleeing a mob of gangsters.

 

Each time he falls for the singer of the band, Marilyn – yes, Marilyn herself – or even for another music-playing beauty, Lemon is corrected by his transvestite pall Tony, who has to remind him of his girlhood. I’m a Girl, I’m a Girl! he is singing over and over again. Of course, Tony wants Marilyn all to him himself… When circumstances change, however by this time conditioned to his new sex role, Jack Lemon has to remind himself of what he really is: I’m a Boy, I’m a Boy… This sexual mix-up, then, is not exclusively French.

 

My one-time maîtresse accused me of being a misogynist. Reminding her of Timon of Athens, Shakespeare’s creature, I told her that not only do I hate women, I also hate men – I detest mankind.

 

I am Misanthropos, and hate mankind.
For thy part, I do wish thou wert a dog,
That I might love thee something.

 

That ugly, even ridiculous statue in Montmorillon eases my predicament. Then again, I do not like dogs either – I am a cat man.

 

Sierksma, June 2020 Montmorillon

SIAMESE LOVE

Two of a kind,

as if made for the other.

Too much of a kind,

joy fading, allowing no life,

dimming the light,

dying of raging.

 

Souls severed,

snails from their shell,

the child from its mother,

waters from their well,

two Siamese twins,

the one from the other –

perhaps, one survives…

 

Or, the head from its corpse,

with the Guillotine blade,

both gone forever.

 

Sierksma, 21.6/2020