Amor Vincit Omnia

I am a postcard behind again.  I should be on Day 10, but yesterday I could not get a poem to work to save my life, and I just wasn’t being inspired by Caravaggio’s Victoriuos Amor (which is clearly a typo for “victorious”–well, Hidden Love is a German publication), which has a cherub standing beside some musical instruments, holding some arrows, and smirking at the viewer.  It’s basically a stupid little, smug looking Cupid.  And, wouldn’t you know?  I just found it on Wikipedia–so feast your eyes on Caravaggio’s Cupid and read a little about the painting.   As for myself, I’m setting it aside for the time being.

This evening I worked on the painting I should have written about yesterday when Caravaggio’s dippy Cupid was annoying me.  And truthfully, it’s not exactly a painting, and it’s not exactly a photograph.   Anyway, the work is St. Sebastian by Pierre et Gilles.  According to Wikipedia (and hey, this is a blog, not an essay, so I can quote Wikipedia with impunity):

Pierre et Gilles, Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard, are gay French artistic and romantic partners. They produce highly stylized photographs, building their own sets and costumes as well as retouching the photographs. Their work often features images from popular culture, gay culture including porn (especially James Bidgood), and religion.

I couldn’t find the 1987 St. Sebastian, which is kind of a lovely picture.  The Sebastian here is fit and a little bit muscular, but he’s also beautiful, with a sweet-must-be-kissed look on his face, and a gentle innocence the picture compells you to want to corrupt, but nicely.

In my poem, which I’ve creatively called ” St. Sebastian II” (to distinguish it from my poem “St. Sebastian” from the other day), I suggest that his face is really a woman’s face “with a mouth like a Revlon ad”–but of course, after reading about Pierre et Gilles’ collaboration as well as their love affair, the face is just a youthful, pretty-boy face.  

I did find their 2009 St. Sebastian  if you want to look at it, which I don’t like at all.  But then I’m not generally attracted to beefy men and “beefcake” as a genre.  It might be the codpiece throwing me off–it looks so stupid.  I think I would have preferred a Speedo.  (Still, if you’re going to go for the porn look, really go all the way, and let his bits hang out.  I’m just sayin’.)  

I realize I am definitely not the intended audience for this work.  I think I liked the gender ambiguity of the 1987 picture–it’s just softer and sweeter, and it must be said, somewhat holy.   Even my poem, which does comment about how the figure looks, isn’t as lascivious as the  poem I wrote the other day.  In some ways, it seems sacrilegious to lust too much after this St. Sebastian, though clearly the speaker of the poem is physically attracted to him.

The 2009 Sebastian counterpart is just too in-your-face–too much f***, too little art.

Tomorrow I’ve got to throw 2 poems together.  I’d like to be caught up.   Love may conquer all, but it doesn’t get the poems written for me.

Sexy St. Sebastian

As difficult as it was to write yesterday’s APPF poem, today’s was just that easy.

The postcard was St. Sebastian by Nicolas Régnier (1590-1667), and naturally, I was curious why this picture was included in the Hidden Love book.  So I checked him out, and found a very interesting article in The Independent that details St. Sebastian’s long-standing position as a Gay Icon.

From its inclusion in the book, I thought it just had to do with his being young and beautiful and practically naked (and pierced by phallic arrows no less), but the real way his image became homoeroticized was a bit more involved.  Because the Romans prayed to St. Sebastian during the Black Plague since he was known to have survived the arrow attack, and the epidemic miraculously ended, he became ultra popular as a saint, favorited by everyone.

Even though the historical St. Sebastian was in his 40s, wrinkled and grizzly, before he was actually clubbed to death, even in Middle Ages, peopled idolized beauty.  They wanted their saints to be gorgeous and blooming even as they’re dying, and artists couldn’t agree more.  So, he got a Cosmo makeover,  and he became an ever youthful pin-up boy of martyrdom.

So the poem I wrote, simply titled “St. Sebastian,” is basically a lecherous sonnet about ogling him.  I really like it.  Is it a great poem?  Probably not.  But there’s something titillating about eroticizing a saint and lusting after him (even if I’m not the first to do it).

Of course, not everyone would have been a fan of sexualizing the sacred.  The Church recognized the problem of the lone nude figure in art during the as Shiela Barker discusses in her essay “The Making of a Plague Saint” in Piety and Plague:  from Byzantium to the Baroque, which explains why St. Irene begins to appear in paintings with St. Sebastian.  The Church was afraid young women would experience lustful urges–which Irene’s appearance would theoretically quell.

Of course, if you have a perverse mind like I sometimes do, what’s to prevent you from thinking about corrupting both of them?  But I digress.  The point is, the poem is written and dropped in the mail, and I am extremely happy about it.