Friday, July 24, 2009

a baphometine vision

Something from the Archives:

Berlin is a curious city, I've been wanting to do this for a while.
I'm sitting on a brown velvet couch in the center of the Berlinische Galerie, facing a full-length portrait of Baladine Klossowska. It was executed by her brother, the painter Eugen Spiro.
In this painting a young Baladine dips to one side, arms extended, grasping a diaphanous black gown in her fingers. Lemon flowers tinged with green cluster around her face. An emerald jewel glitters on her forehead. It's all very theatrical, ostentatiously so. Her gown is like a sinister counterpoint to Loïe Fuller's ectoplasmic ruffling, twirling confection; underneath her dress she's ivory-limbed and lean (I divine); a pale pearl of a belly melts into mysterious green-gray shadowy regions; she's put rouge on her breasts and painted her knees pink... Underneath she is Salome, and strands of Jokanaan's fallen locks are woven into her petticoats and tucked amid the foliage in her coiffure. I'm pleased that the floor of the museum is echoed in the painting and that the black tips of my shoes correspond to the black tips of hers, which are shimmering with a patch of white light reflecting obnoxiously like a gemstone on velvet.
I've sat down today with the intent of summoning Baladine's breath, a la her son Pierre's baphometine vision of departed Templar saints and sinners. So it's a séance of sorts, even though I believe in ghosts, my thoughts are mixed about the afterlife so many people hope for, you know Heaven and all (though one can hope, in ghosts at least). In order to conduct this most make-shift of séances, I've armed myself with a copy of Klossowski's Baphomet, a Moleskin full of empty pages, and a pen poised in my hand, awaiting automatic instructions, babblings, whisperings, a rustle of silk, etc.
I imagine her breath smells like old, shattered silk. Or like rouged cheeks and camellias. A breath like hers would be a dervish in black crape, a whirlwind in suspension, cool and pale, stuttering gusts of broken poetry. (I am sure she is equally Ogier de Beauséant and Saint Theresa) It would hum and cry and coo and wail deliciously and it would whisper across my cheek frailly, describing to me the febrile and impassioned embrace of her poet. It would murmur a memory of his manhood, solid and well-formed, which also smells of camellias and rouge...
I shut my eyes and detect the breath of Theresa's ecstasy emanating from Rilke's roseate head, like ebullient ectoplasm curling through space . ..

Alas. Just then a wholly disruptive museum guard walks by and hesitates, glancing at my book, which has fallen open on my lap all fluttering and yellowing. I think she thinks I'm trespassing some norm of museum propriety which would prohibit impromptu/amateurish séance experiments orchestrated on three-way conversation furniture, and whether or not this is actually the case, she inquires after the title of my book, insisting that she's eternally grateful for new reading material. I flash the cover at her but the name Klossowski fails to make any notable impression, so I gesture at the portrait of Madame K. and explain the relationship in brief, but she's already darting off. She casts a phrase over her shoulder, something about Her being beautiful. Across the room I overhear a woman commenting on a set of well-formed nostrils. . . .

Mme. Baladine
1 oz apple brandy
1 oz apricot brandy
1/4 oz Pernod licorice liqueur
Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

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