questions for discussion from Charles A. Riley II’s Aristocracy & theatre as “museum”

– Olivier Zahm

Although we have often mentioned the plebeian bohème, a tough-guy tendency, a demagogic nature and nearly anarchistic leanings, here we can – and ought to – say, without fear of repetition or contradiction, that the avant-garde spirit is eminently aristocratic.

– Renato Poggioli quoted, Charles A. Riley II, Aristocracy and the Modern Imagination, University Pres of New England, Hanover and London, 2001, p. 8


Any opera or ballet created today struggles with the problem of the theatre’s having become a “museum” for archaic forms.

– Charles A. Riley II, ibid., p. 205

– Balthus á Chassy, the chateau he needed “like a worker needs a loaf of bread”

the case of the King of cats, Count Klossowski de Rola

Balthus’s eagerness to be seen as an aristocrat can be taken as a compelling indication of the way in which one prominent painter identifies the status of the artist with that of the nobleman, making a statement about what it means to be an artist by staking it on an embellished [sic] genealogy.

– Ibid., p. 207 [emph. added]

making a statement about what it means to be an artist‘ … Now. But does it, as the writer later avers, change everything in his appropriation of an aristocratic character and title, that Balthus denied his Jewish heritage, on his mother’s side, that he held antisemitic views?

– Pierre Klossowski, Tableaux Vivants

Foucault quoted on Pierre Klossowski:

Klossowski’s experience lies here, more or less: in a world where reigns an evil genius who has not found his god, or who might just as well pass himself off as God, or who might even be god himself. Such a world is neither Heaven nor Hell, nor limbo; it is, quite simply, our own world.

– in ibid., p. 211

compare this with the idea that the world has a wound which it requires us to become equal to AND the aspiration, if not the compulsion, to accede to a state of equality with one’s belief, to become oneself king, count, god

Robert Storr, curator of MOMA’s revisionist Modern Art Despite Modernism exhibition, 1999, quoted calling Balthus:

“one of the last surviving examples of the classic Baudelairean Dandy in whom the avidity of childhood is allied to adult perseverance, with both shielded from outside scrutiny by a feigned indifference to the everyday world.”

– in ibid., p. 211

– Balthus & Setsuko