̶ Well, I don’t know how mad you were when you wrote Self-Portrait with Sphinx…
The fervour of her mouth, the lushness of her lips: Bocca basciata non perde ventura, anzi rinnuova come fa la luna.
̶ …all I know is that I love it! Especially the Winged Fiend! Where does it come from, your view of the Sphinx?
̶ The Greeks. The Egyptian Sphinx is masculine. He’s a figure of the sun god, an emblem of royal power. The Greek Sphinx is far more interesting, simply because she’s feminine. In Hesiod’s Theogany she’s the child of a woman-serpent and her son, a dog with two heads.
̶ On ancient Greek vases she’s an incubus—lion’s body, woman’s head, eagle’s wings and serpent’s tail.
̶ Like on the cover of the album?
̶ Yes. And what do you see in it?
̶ In Moreau’s painting?
̶ Well, it’s very erotic. You feel the attraction.
The syncopation of her speech, the accent of her English: Is it only because we’ve just made love that I find her voice hovers between music and language?
̶ Yes. And that’s far more interesting than the fight between hero and monster.
̶ Because of the enigma?
̶ Yes. The enigma substitutes for the fight. And the fight, of course, is already a substitute for fucking.
̶ And the second enigma?
̶ Who are the two sisters who bring each other into being?
̶ The night and the day! Where does that come from?
̶ It’s not in Sophocles. It’s a later addition.
̶ You use it brilliantly, that sun and moon motif.
̶ Masculine-feminine. Everything derives from that.
And then I told you of La chambre secrète, Robbe-Grillet’s instantané that, at Film School, Fernando had asked Ariane to read. She did. And when he asked her if she’d play the woman in it, she said she would. A few weeks later there she was, naked on her back on velvet cushions, chains stretched from her ankles and wrists and blood dripping from her breast: You could have heard a pin drop in the screening room. Fernando had brilliantly captured the mystery in Moreau’s painting, the allure of Robbe-Grillet’s narration. Out of the play between curling smoke plumes and shadowy colonnades, Oriental tapestries and a brilliant blood stain, Ariane’s body distilled an intense eroticism: I knew that body, and I felt proud. But more than pride, I felt gratitude, for it was Ariane who’d shown me that sex in the bedroom need not be the shadow of sex in the head: It can be its enactment.