Saturday, November 1, 2008


Henry Fuseli
The Nightmare
1781

21 comments:

  1. Or is it a nightmare?
    She looks like she's having a fine time with her little incubus friend.

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  2. Oh, is that why she looks like she's either passed out or dead? What a way to go - I guess. ;-)

    I love the self-satisfied little smirk on the troll's face.

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  3. Oh, Priest. I'm glad you made it over finally. :-)

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  4. It's not a troll, it's an incubus. They have a lot more fun than trolls.

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  5. Oh, yes. They're quite the seducers from what I understand.

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  6. This painting featured in one of the best episodes of X-files, I must admit it was *slightly* difficult to not let the light on at night after learning the story behind it... Fascinating painting.

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  7. Well, then, Pia, I must find out the story behind it! I'm also wondering about the significance of the black horse.

    Thanks for coming by, Pia!

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  8. "Nightmare" comes from the word "mara" meaning "imp" e.g. the incubus. But in English "mare" is a female horse e.g. "night-mare." I think it's a clever joke.

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  9. Anthropologist Charles Stewart, in his study of erotic dreams and nightmares, characterizes the sleeping woman as "voluptuous,"[4] and one scholar of the Gothic describes her as lying in a "sexually receptive position."[10] In Woman as Sex Object (1972), Marcia Allentuck similarly argues that the painting's intent is to show female orgasm. This is supported by Fuseli's sexually overt and even pornographic private drawings (e.g., Symplegma of Man with Two Women, 1770–78).[3] Fuseli's painting has been considered representative of sublimated sexual instincts.[2] Related interpretations of the painting view the incubus as a dream symbol of male libido, with the sexual act represented by the horse's intrusion through the curtain.[11] Fuseli himself provided no commentary on his painting.

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  10. Clever...cute, even; but I know how you must be cringing, Priest, to be referred to as "cute".

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  11. So was this Swiss dude just a good pornographer or what?

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  12. These commentators are really fixated with men getting it off. I think the thing that shocked the public when the painting was first shown was the fact that the woman is well satisfied. The incubus is a creature that pleasures women and is seen as a challenge to men. The woman is unable to obtain satisfaction from her husband and dreams up this mythical creature that does deliver. The man is relegated to the position of looker on. Maybe the horse is the husband who sees himself as a stallion but who falls at the final hurdle as far as the woman is concerned.

    By the way, I'm making all this up as I go along, but you have to admit it sounds convincing.

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  13. The Priest goes all Freudian on us!
    :-)

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  14. Oh yeah. I really hadn't thought of it that way. But you're right. And I've always thought that Freud was one big charlatan.

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  15. But why would the women, as you put it, "dream up" such a hideous little man, instead of, say, a satyr, which is a more more virile fantasy creature. And handsomer.

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  16. The incubus is usually an invisible demon. The artist is probably saying something about the dark side of human sexuality by allowing us to see its true, ugly appearance. The woman does not see it. Bear in mind that Fuseli flirted with the dark side, himself. Perhaps, the incubus is the artist.

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  17. No, I think the incubus is actually the DREAM, so you're right, she can't see him. Yes. I believe we agree on that. But I CAN see him and I wouldn't want him on my chest!

    And yes, she must be in some sort of ecstacy or her head wouldn't be hanging off of the bed, or whatever it is.

    And the incubus, if it is the artist, is a Swiss. Which makes perfect sense that he drew his own pornography because he couldn't realize his sexual fantasies. I've spent some time with Swiss people and no slight intended, but they tend to be rather on the uptight side. Just sayin'.

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  18. Even more so than the English. ;-)

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  19. The incubus is the WEIGHT of the dream. She can feel him but not see him.

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  20. Swiss or not - he liked his porn. That is a known fact.

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