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What Is A Beautiful Woman?

“A beautiful young woman is a true voltaic cell,…in which the captive fluid is retained by the form of surfaces and the isolating virtue of the hair; so that when this fluid would escape from its sweet prison, it must make incredible efforts, which produce in turn, by influence on bodies differently animated, fearful ravages of attraction…The history of the human race swarms with examples of intelligent and learned men, intrepid heroes,…transfixed merely by a woman’s eye. … The holy King David proved that he perfectly understood the condensing properties of polished elliptical surfaces when he took unto himself the young Abigail.” — From Alphonse Toussenel’s L’Esprit des Betes (1853) as quoted in Walter Benjamin‘s Arcades Project,  (Convolute G. 12. 4)

 

A cool image I stumbled upon at The Womanhouse Zine. Can’t say why I paired the image and the quotation from Toussenel’s L’Esprit des Betes. What I do know is that I find both quite baffling. Feel free to make of the two whatever you will. You might also want to know that Toussenel was a French “”utopian socialist, a “disciple of Charles Fourier,” “anglophobic and anti-semitic.” He freely used “his studies of natural history as a vehicle for his political ideas.” 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

One Response to “What Is A Beautiful Woman?” Subscribe

  1. Corn Eater 2012/10/01 at 22:53 #

    I know a beautiful woman when i see one. I like the image you used. While not exactly beautiful, the image is very profound. I think the door says a thousand words. I know many people who would like to see the relationship between that door and beautify as revolving.

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