Love’s Lost Kingdom


The bronze-edged sun’s amber fires screamed twilight
as skyfall traced the beauty of day’s end;

and you, who lured me to the ocean’s edge,
stood there on the bridge of light,

golden hair streaming in the western breeze:
shadows falling silently over this belated scene,

where we like mythic voyagers portrayed
this natural postcard; our minds

taking in the worlds of sun and shade,
the fevered motion of this painted desert

of the sky: heart’s dark thought, subtending;
where time like some forgotten museum director,

his passion spent, his intellect forging hermetic mysteries
brought us to this present choice: an infinite sea

of moments: past, present, and future – glances
in-between the rupture and its allocation;

events in movement: a happening so dire
and eloquent, lover’s crossing the ocean’s depths

could appear amiss; yet, as this history of love’s sorrows
shows, we’ve come this far, and in walking the path

from birth to death as lover’s do;
all our desperate choices chosen for us

as lover’s know and will; bringing us
to such bitter resolutions of the heart’s mind

in jest and arrogance, that leaping now
below the scimitar of nightfall wakes us,

just before the wicked stars who gaze on all
imprison us, and we who knew the consequences

of our actions, enter this ancient tryst – ending
in strife and wonder, fallen into his secret maze,

where the erotic lord bids us bide our sentence
among these earthly ruins in Love’s lost kingdom.


– Steven Craig Hickman ©2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


Alain Badiou on Pasolini


Alain Badiou will situate his discourse on Pier Paolo Pasolini between destruction and subtraction, never forgetting that it is negation that works within them both. Speaking of that Poet, Marxist and full of the innocence of the sacred, saying,

His question was: is the revolutionary becoming of History, the political negativity, a destruction of the tragic beauty of the Greek myths and of the peaceful promise of Christianity? Or do we have to speak of a subtraction, whereby an affirmative reconciliation of beauty and peace becomes possible in a new egalitarian world?1

Isn’t this our question as well? When many would bury this ancient past as dead and to be forgotten in a world where the drift of things has shifted from the monocular vision of Western Civilization to a complex and international realm of late capitalism and the lost and poverty stricken Third World what should be done? Ours is a time when the post-colonial and multicultural identity politics has brought more divisiveness than recognition, more war and strife, racial tensions, and embittered battalions of the disaffected into a world where such things as beauty and peace seem a dream of ancient utopian failures rather than the real of our political moment. Is an egalitarian vision still viable, or is it an impossible dream at our late hour?

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Graffiti Love


She read the graffiti across my world
the red
…………………….and yellow whirls
…..tracings of a cartoon life
illegible to desire
…………..expanded in bubble time
……where fool
…..and… yes
absorb the colours of her mind
…………..a gathering of love
……..instilling kisses on the wind
………..bargaining all
past loss
….bringing us to this conclusive
a truce soon mended
…………’s dunce commissioned
left winsome
……….longing for the latest tryst
…..incipient of
….…………..erotic mirth
……..and bliss

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

On First Seeing Courbet’s ‘L’Origine Du Monde Blonde’


Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine Du Monde Blonde
…………….(Oil on canvas 1866)

Serpent-fuzzed Medusa’s smile,
a twisting irony of wry love’s 

languid testament,
a last adagio
slowed to sapphire isle; pulse
emphatic to undulating seas:
silk skimming curvature, starkly
leveled among white sheets;
her lipped integrity, caverned
by hollow folds slipping round
the bend of love’s insistent charm;
hovering amber marshaling
a labile moon: all bound 

to Courbet’s eyes, glazed risible;
a sublimity
brought low, induced
below extremity’s bright plumage,
revealing abjectness: a final clearing,
abstracted matheme – reality’s
mark and line,  toad-
curved wonders 
of flesh and cure;
torso cropped and splayed, anesthetized;
her human form bared distinctly, stripped
of that anxious allure: the entrapment,
horror vacui – this ‘Esthétique du Mal’;
tracked excrement in excess
of male desire,
harbinger’s dark weaving ‘night of the world’.

– S.C. Hickman ©2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


I must admit I am not trying to purposively offend anyone, not at all. My poetry tries to push aesthetic limits in various directions. This one being toward realism and disgust which have been used at various times throughout the long history of artistic endeavors from Aristophanes to Mapplethorpe and others. If it offends just pass on by… other poetry in other modes will soon reappear along with my usual philosophical musings.

I happened to be reading Slavoj Zizek’s The Fragile Absolute when I came upon a passage on Gustave Courbet and the end of naïve realism, where he says “with Courbet, we learn that there is no Thing behind the sublime appearance – that if we force our way through the sublime appearance to the Thing itself, all we get is a suffocating nausea of the abject..”. This sense that with Courbet something ended, that realism had pushed its aesthetic to a climax in revealing the sublime object of the woman’s vagina, the Lacanian ‘lost object of desire’ – the object petit a. After Courbet the Modernism of the abstract anti-realist would enter the staging of the Void as the missing Thing. Of which the two extremes were Malevich’s ‘Black Square’ as the staged void, and Duchamp’s bicycle or toilet as the ordinary object revealed in the missing Void or (Sacred) Place where Truth, Art, God, etc. once revealed itself. Both place and object would from then own become the aesthetic of the Ugly rather than the Sublime. We would now live in a world bereft of Plato’s, Aristotle’s, and the Longinian-Burke Sublime: the subterfuge of religious longing and its belief in an Outside – and archetypal realm beyond; its Transcendence. That is until Andy Warhol whose Coca-Cola bottles revealed the limit and litmus test of Void and Thing as Commoditized Absence; or, the End of Art as Art. After Warhol all innocence is lost, as well as the illusive ‘object petit a’. Now we are left in the kenoma – the vastation of late capitalism; i.e., ‘night of the world’ – Hegel’s image from his lectures:

Man is this Night, this empty nothing that, in its simplicity, contains everything: an unending wealth of illusions and images which he remains unaware of—or which no longer exist. It is this Night, Nature’s interior, that exists here—pure self—in phantasmagorical imagery, where it is night everywhere… where, here, shoots a bloody head and, there, suddenly, another white shape—only to disappear all the same. We see this Night whenever we look into another’s eye—into a night that becomes utterly terrifying—wherein, truly, we find the Night of the World suspended.

Further note: interestingly I lost four  five followers after posting this poem and picture (of Courbet’s painting). Obviously I’ve hit a nerve and mark, brought forth certain inevitable reactions to this art form as should be expected. Is such realist art still shocking to certain minds? Is realist art so disgusting that people deem it still should be hidden or forgotten? Maybe, it is seen as politically incorrect, a derogation to feminist, a stain upon the era of Victorian Irony? Strange, one wonders what might be going on in their minds. Of course Courbet along with his era was flowing between an ultra-realism and the late symbolist and decadent moment of artistic invention; a time when Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola, Huysmans, Henry James and many others worked the extremes of realism and naturalism. The time of Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarme just to name a few of the poets of that interesting era. In poetry one allows the dead to reinhabit their homes allusively by way of echo and embellishment. Ours is an age of transition, seeking ways out of the anti-realist vision of the postmodern era and turning toward new speculative forms of materialism and realism. I seek to allow these many threads into my poetry, indifferent to the moral consequences of such strange sublimes; allowing both the upper and lower limits of desire to take hold and channel the ghosts that seek voicing in my utterance.

As Wiki reports it:

During the 19th century, the display of the nude body underwent a revolution whose main activists were Courbet and Manet. Courbet rejected academic painting and its smooth, idealized nudes, but he also directly recriminated the hypocritical social conventions of the Second Empire, where eroticism and even pornography were acceptable in mythological or oneiric paintings.

Courbet later insisted he never lied in his paintings, and his realism pushed the limits of what was considered presentable. With L’Origine du monde, he has made even more explicit the eroticism of Manet’s Olympia. Maxime Du Camp, in a harsh tirade, reported his visit to the work’s purchaser, and his sight of a painting “giving realism’s last word”.

By the very nature of its realistic, graphic nudity, the painting still has the power to shock and triggers censorship:

In February 2011, Facebook censored L’Origine du monde after it was posted by Copenhagen-based artist Frode Steinicke, to illustrate his comments about a television program aired on DR2. Following the incident, many other Facebook users defiantly changed their profile pictures to the Courbet painting in an act of solidarity with Steinicke. Facebook which originally disabled Steinicke’s profile finally re-enabled it without the L’Origine du monde picture. As the case won media attention, Facebook deleted other pages about the painting.

One forgets there is a complete tradition of the ‘Aesthetic of Disgust’, which is the central mode of the various forms of naturalism and realism from the Victorian Age till now. Even Umberto Eco’s History of Beauty and History of Ugliness inhabit that space:

  1. Savoring Disgust: The Foul and the Fair in Aesthetics by Carolyn Korsmeyer
  2. Disgust: The Theory and History of a Strong Sensation by Winfried Menninghaus
  3. Representing Repulsion: The Aesthetics of Disgust in Contemporary Women’s Writing in French and German by Katie Jones
  4. On Disgust by Aurel Kolnai
  5. Anatomy of Disgust by William Ian Miller
  6. The Hydra’s Tale: Imagining Disgust by Robert Rawdon Wilson

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


Nothing Is Ever Really Lost


Nothing is every really lost,
only what we try to hold
……shakes itself loose;
mooring unbinding,
……sliding away, drifting
………….into the interminable blue:
………………the slow hue,
……thoughtful and expansive
as the shade of your eyes in May.

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Ars Erotica: The Lost Art of the Love


The most important elements of an erotic art linked to our knowledge about sexuality are not to be sought in the ideal, promised to us by medicine, of a healthy sexuality, nor in the humanist dream of a complete and flourishing sexuality, and certainly not in the lyricism of orgasm and the good feelings of bio-energy (these are but aspects of its normalizing utilization), but in this multiplication and intensification of pleasures connected to the production of the truth about sex. The learned volumes, written and read; the consultations and examinations; the anguish of answering questions and the delights of having one’s words interpreted; all the stories told oneself and to others, so much curiosity, so many confidences offered in the face of scandal, sustained – but not without trembling a little – by the obligation of truth; the profusion of secret fantasies and the dearly paid right to whisper them to whoever is able to hear them; in short, the formidable ‘pleasure of analysis’ (in the widest sense of the latter term) which the West has been cleverly fostering for several centuries: all this constitutes something like the errant fragments of an erotic art that is secretly transmitted by confession and the science of sex. Must we conclude that our scientia sexualis is but an extraordinarily subtle form of ars erotica, and that it is the Western, sublimated version of that seemingly lost tradition?

—Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality