JessicaRulestheUniverse.com

Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
Subscribe

Archive for the ‘History’

How to understand the French Revolution

November 09, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Design, History, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

IMG-20141107-03424

Visit Versailles, the former royal palace, 30 minutes from Paris on the train.

IMG-20141107-03439
Noel, it makes you look like a minimalist.

Seeing how the absolute monarchs of France lived while their people starved is more effective and visceral than any history book. Sheesh, we’d cut off their heads ourselves.

IMG-20141107-03444

The ridiculously wealthy (and those who wish to be identified, however mistakenly, as such) ought to think hard about flaunting their possessions in society magazines and other media. The people might get ideas.

The Marquis de Sade and the Borgias: now sexing up the museums of Paris

October 31, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, History, Places 5 Comments →

borgia_site-bronx_1389x877_BD_0-1400x879_c

The Borgia exhibit at the Musee Maillol doesn’t have an English text, but everything is familiar because we’d seen the TV show The Borgias. The museum exhibition is the prestigious historical tie-in to the TV show, except that the real Borgias and their associates, as painted by artists from the Renaissance, were not as beautiful as the actors. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are mentioned in the title, but they are barely represented; however, there’s a display of costumes from the series. Tsk, tsk, how commercial. It’s almost American.

Affiche-Sade

The same could be said of Sade: Attacking the Sun at the Musee d’Orsay which, judging from the crowd waiting to get in, is a blockbuster. The show is massive, and the pieces impressive on their own—the Rodins are especially awesome—but their connection to the writings of the mad Marquis are tenuous at best. (Have you tried reading Justine or 120 Days of Sodom? We recommend them for insomniacs. Take two pages every night and you will sleep like the dead. However, our friend recommends his Philosophy in the Boudoir as “charming”.)

The curators imply that every major artist from the 19th century onwards was secretly influenced by Sade. The influence must’ve been so secret, the artists weren’t aware of it. Fine, the Surrealists championed Sade, so they should be there, but anything sexual or violent in the work of Goya, Gericault, Ingres, Rodin, Picasso, Munch is presented as proof of this influence: “It’s obvious!”

What is most obvious is that museum curators, like filmmakers, appreciate the uses of shock value. If you promise the audience decadence and depravity, they will come. The innermost room of the Sade show is called The Chamber of Perversions, and the fact that the viewer can come away unshocked is perhaps the most shocking thing of all.

See their NSFW exhibition trailer.

In the cemetery where Truffaut lies buried

October 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Cats, History, Movies, Places, Traveling 3 Comments →

19522

There’s a Francois Truffaut exposition and retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise. Like the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Patrick Modiano (whose books are in every bookshop window, taunting us), it exists to make people who don’t speak French feel bad. “But we’ve seen The 400 Blows lots of times, we already know the plot, so we can watch it anyway,” we consoled ourself. But The 400 Blows and the Antoine Doinel movies aren’t showing this week. Noooo!

In the meantime we visited Truffaut’s grave at the Montmartre Cemetery. We’re staying at our friend’s apartment, which is within spitting distance of Sacre Coeur, but only if you’re on the hill or if you’re an Olympic-level projectile spitter.

van gogh

On the way to the cemetery, we stopped at the house where Vincent Van Gogh lived with his brother, Theo. (There’s a plaque on the side of the building.) Sad story. In your lifetime your devoted brother, an art dealer, can’t sell any of your work, and then after your death your paintings go for zillions.

Still, the letters the brothers wrote to each other are wonderful. Read them. Vincent not only had the eye, he had the ear as well. One of them.

map

The map at the cemetery entrance lists the famous dead on the premises: Theophile Gautier, Edgar Degas, Hector Berlioz, Edmond Goncourt and so on. Even if we have no sense of direction, we couldn’t miss Truffaut’s grave.

truffaut

Visitors leave their metro tickets on it. The Last Metro, get it? Granted, it is easier than leaving 400 Blows or a piano player with a bullet through him.

cemetery

We like cemeteries, they’re quiet. A fat stray cat walked in front of us, but refused to be photographed.

* * * * *

prince
Cat of the Day: Prince, of the Del Fierro-Bouyers.Tried to eat our cake because it had lots of butter.

What did the rest of the outfit look like?

September 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Antiquities, Cats, History, Places No Comments →

mlpdjjpntieour39mnhk

1,500-Year-Old Claws Intrigue Archaeologists in Peru
By Alan Boyle

Archaeologists in Peru say they have unearthed the previously unknown tomb of a nobleman from a pre-Inca civilization known as the Moche. The tomb contained the remains of an adult male, plus artifacts indicating the man’s elite status, according to the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio.

Among the most intriguing artifacts are ornamental metal pieces fashioned to look like feline paws with claws. The paws may have been part of a ritual costume used in ceremonial combat, El Comercio reported. The loser would be sacrificed, while the winner would get the costume.

* * * * *

We need those gloves in order to level the playing field in our household. Maybe our cats will take us seriously and stop treating us like their serf. Not likely.

Binge-watching: Vikings

August 19, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History, Television 3 Comments →

battle
All photos from the History Channel site.

We like swords, carnage, and medieval history, so we’re watching Vikings. It’s the first drama series from the History Channel, created by Michael Hirst who was behind The Tudors, The Borgias, and Camelot.

The Vikings were a race of seafaring Nordic badasses who went on marauding expeditions to Europe, Russia, all the way to North America. They were large, terrifying warriors who not only did not fear death, they went looking for it. To die a glorious death in battle meant that they would be taken by Valkyrie maidens to Valhalla, where they would feast in the great hall of Odin.

Vikings follows the adventures of the Ragnar Lothbrok, legendary hero of Norse sagas. Here he is with an unfortunate haircut and a stare that makes him look like an inbred redneck (We hear banjoes! Flee!).

Ragnar

When we meet him in the first season, he is a young farmer with a wife and two small kids, but what he really wants to do is sail west to loot and pillage. That was the common job description at the time: Farmer/Marauder. His earl has grown over-cautious and doesn’t believe there’s anything in the west. So Ragnar asks his best friend Floki to secretly build a ship that can sail great distances using primitive GPS technology.

Floki

Floki is played by Gustaf Skarsgard, son of Stellan, brother of the hot vampire on True Blood. (Yup, that’s the genetic lottery for you.) We don’t watch True Blood but our sister has Alexander Skarsgard on her Google alerts and of course we’ve seen his naked GIFs. The eccentric Floki is said to be descended from the trickster god Loki (Hoy, cute si Loki ha).

Rollo

Ragnar has a good-looking brother named Rollo who is a great fighter but is deeply jealous of Ragnar. Bad enough that everyone considers him the spare, but Rollo is also in love with Ragnar’s wife, the shieldmaiden Lagertha.

Lagertha

Some scholars believe that in Viking culture, the women could fight along with the men. Lagertha cooks and raises the children, but she also gets ticked off when Ragnar goes off marauding without her.

On one raid Ragnar captures an Anglo-Saxon monk named Athelstan, who becomes his slave and later his friend. The Athelstan character lets us see the differences between the Viking and Christian cultures. The Vikings have a very open and healthy attitude towards sex (Rollo: Where are your parents? Bjorn: They’re having sex). The Christians are stuck up and fearful, and Athelstan nervously declines when he gets invited to a threesome.

On the show the Vikings look filthy, but they were definitely cleaner than the monks, who never bathed. They live in what is now Denmark, so they should look like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones). And if axe-wielding Nikolaj Coster-Waldaus are coming at you, surrender and ask for their autograph.

Rating: Highly recommended.

In one Comp Lit course we had to read Scandinavian sagas. Along with the Volsunga, we read the Njala, which is also called Burnt Njal. We don’t remember any of it, except that part where the hero Njal is besieged in his house and he valiantly fights off the invaders with bow and arrow. Unfortunately his bowstrings snap, so he turns to his wife and asks her to braid her hair into a bowstring. And she says something like, “Remember two months ago when you hit me?” and refuses to give her hair to his defense. She leaves, and Njal’s enemies surround his house and burn it down with him in it. That’s why it’s called Burnt Njal.

We know nothing about Apolinario Mabini, whose 150th birthday it is today

July 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: History No Comments →

Leo Abaya 3
Rigodon, an art installation by Leo Abaya showing the presidents of the Philippines as players on a chessboard. Now on view at the exhibition Triumph of Philippine Art on the third floor of Ayala Museum. Photo courtesy of the Ayala Museum.

I wonder how Mabini feels about going down in history as “The Sublime Paralytic”, as if he were defined by his disability. In the first place, how does one become a sublime paralytic, by levitating?

This is like calling Kris Aquino “The Massacre Queen” or Gretchen Barretto the “ST Queen”. They probably would not like it. It reduces everything they have ever done to the movies they made in the 1990s.

And we know way, way, way more about Aquino and Barretto than we do about Mabini, and he was “The Brains of the Revolution”. I don’t know if he had a wheelchair—according to history books, he was carried by soldiers on a hammock—but in comic book terms, he would be the Professor Charles Xavier of the Philippines.

Read our column at InterAksyon.com.