I’d buy this whiskey

We’ve certainly seen our share of orientalist or quasi-orientalist harem art here at Erotic Mad Science, so there’s some nostalgia in reblogging this image from a 19 January 2014 post at Infernal Wonders. This post was the subject of Bacchus’s research efforts:

According to Wikimedia Commons, which also has an ultra-high-resolution image of it, this advertising poster art dates from 1883. The image contains the text “Belle of Nelson Old Fashion Handmade Sour Mash Whiskey. Distilled by the Belle of Nelson Distillery Co., Louisville, KY. Copyright Secured. Wells & Hope Co. Phila. PA”. The poster was based quite closely on the orientalist painting Pool In A Harem by Jean-Léon Gérôme, which is on display in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

I feel thirsty already.

Commencement: Chapter One, Page Twenty-Six

And the recto page of same, which continues the discourse between Jackson and Madder.

Captain Jackson's imagined oriental slave market, recto page

And as an early New Year’s present, here is the whole thing. You can click on the smaller image to download the whole image in high resolution (4800×3000 pixels, about 19MB in size.)


(Click on the images for larger size. Creative Commons License
Commencement: Chapter One, Page Twenty-Six and Commencement: Chapter One, Slave Market written and commissioned by Dr. Faustus of EroticMadScience.com and drawn by Lon Ryden are published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licenses.)

Commencement: Chapter One, Page Twenty-Five

And perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Captain Jackson has some moral qualms about what he is being asked to do. What follows is the verso side of a two-page spread of what are perhaps his visual imaginings as Colonel Madder sets him straight.

Captain Jackson's imagined foreign sex-slave market, verso side.

(Click on the image for larger size. Creative Commons License
Commencement: Chapter One, Page Twenty-Five written and commissioned by Dr. Faustus of EroticMadScience.com and drawn by Lon Ryden is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.)

Death or victory

I’ve often wondered what might have lead to my writing something like this exchange in The Apsinthion Protocol.


It would be a one-way trip for whoever did it.


It would mean giving up everything in this world.


And possibly entering a far more wonderful one.


Or it might mean a few moments of ecstasy, and then annihilation.


And there is likely very little time to decide.

(In my bleak moments I often think that what Nanetta and Moira would eventually achieve — even if it was just blissful annihilation — would be superior to the alternative:  adulthood.)

One finds one’s erotic inspiration where one is.  Where I was for a lengthy stretch of young adulthood was Harvard’s Widener Library.  Had I had my druthers, the erotic inspiration would have taken the form of a studious-but-sultry meganekko but sadly there was a severe druthers shortage in Cambridge at the time and so I didn’t get mine.

There was, however, this mural executed by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

A doughboy embraces death and victory in the same moment.  (We know he’s victorious because there’s a defeated figure in a stahlhelm at his feet, presumably one of those nasty wicked Germans.)  At the time I would pass this mural daily (it’s on the library’s main entrance stairs) my conscious thoughts were that it was a singularly shameless bit of militaristic propaganda.

My subconscious thoughts, I conjecture, were on a different track entirely, thinking that maybe it’s cool — erotic even — to throw one’s life in like that.  It’s a natural interpretation — look at the soldier’s face, it’s expression and positioning under Victory’s bared breast.   It would explain a lot about the sort of things I’ve written.

Sargent didn’t do much in the more explicitly erotic line, although there is some, for example this study of a nude Egyptian girl.

Orientalist art — something I’ve found appealing before.

Oriental princess

I might have a real weakness for sorceresses, but not for princesses, even if they are designed like the fearsome but alluring Michiko Maeda.  If you’re a sorceress, you can keep all your clothes on and you’ll still have me at the word “abracadabra,” but princesses will have to work harder, even if Rob’s dream-self will fall hopelessly and fatally for you.

What constitutes working harder in the context of an oriental fantasy might be easy to specify but not that easy to find.  But I have a certain weakness for orientalist art (more evidence that I am a Bad Person) and it turns out that Flickr makes available a pool of fine orientalist art, from which the image to the right stood out for me.  This will do very nicely as the image of an oriental princess working harder for my attention.  I am especially pleased by the use of jewelry here, which seems to me spot-on.  I’m not sure that the image was originally intended to represent any sort of royalty but really, who cares?

But the thing that really tickled my fancy when I looked into the provenance of this image a little further was that I found out it had been created by Henri Privat-Livemont (1861-1936), who was more famous as a creator of this Art Nouveau advertising poster.

An advertisement for Absinthe Robette. That works for me double. Not only does it reference the fact that Rob undergoes a dream analogue of the Apsinthion Protocol, but it also picks up on a theme I find personally appealing

Dealing with the sorceress

Rob’s dream-self in the first Gnosis dreamscape is so desperate for the love of Michiko Maeda’s dream-self oriental princess that he resorts to the rather dangerous assistance of a sorceress.

And I enjoyed writing that, because I have something of a weakness for sorceresses.  Goes along with being a thaumatophile, I guess.   Every time I have the chance to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I try to stop by and gaze at this painting, which was probably my initial visual inspiration for the sorceress scene.

Domenico Guidobono (1668–1746), "Allegory"

That’s good.   Woman.  Book.  Assorted supernatural stuff that I can’t decode.  But perhaps a little better from my perspective is this image (possibly of Circe) by the English Pre-Raphaelite John William Waterhouse.

John William Waterhouse (1849 - 1917), "Sorceress"

Woman.  Book.  And still better for the mad science lover, some sort of flask or beaker right in front of her.  A good image if you think that the sexist organ a woman has is her brain.

But of course Rob’s dream is an oriental fantasy, so we need an image from orientalist art to really make the visual image work.  Fortunately, I have one.

Friedrich von Amerling (1803 - 1887), "The Oriental" (click through for larger image)

Woman.  Book.  Play of light in an oriental setting.  Works for me for the sorceress!