Aquarelle by Félicien Rops, 1878.
A pig with a golden tail leads a blinded provocative woman to a new adventure while her three former loves fly away.
Rops (1833-1898) was educated by the Jesuits but rejected their moral concepts at puberty. He lived with two sisters who shared him with additional transient female conquests in a decadent Paris immerged in macabre pleasures.
In the spirit of that specific French period, the pursuit of pleasure was paid for by poverty and ruin, generated by the greed and cruelty of woman, and by fevers, sadness, illness and death generated by exhaustion and syphilis (HIV raged only in later times). Rops held the Devil as the master of sex, which corroded and disaggregated the body: “man is possessed by woman and woman is possessed by the Devil. Woman inspires great things but also prevents their realization”. Rops personally assisted to the rout of the French imperial armies at Sedan (1870) and attributed the decadence of the Latin countries to the overwhelming obsession of man by woman: the greater the importance and power of woman in a civilization, the greater its decadence. The most martial, brutal, misogynic civilizations are the most successful.
This aquarelle summarizes the subject of this essay. The first question is if evolution is the reconnoitering of unsuspected paths that draw unknowing explorers to them. The second question challenges the positive role played by sex in the evolution of mammalians once the hominid level of cognitive development had been reached. Has the sexual drive not overreached his goal and has it not become an hindrance to further progresses? Should it not be kept in bounds and repressed instead of tolerated and magnified? Do bestial pulsations jeopardize Man’s evolvement toward a humane destiny?