|The Serpent on the Tree becomes Eve: monster and reptile become one with the female.
Paradox of the Biblical imperative: go forth and multiply if
woman is a sign for Temptation, Evil, Terror. Hell's maw equated with
the vagina dentata: a black void which haunts the proliferation of
bestiaries, legends, narratives of martydom and of sainthood, but also
the trembling narratives of the confessional and the
configurations of artists' paper fantasies.
Then the historical evidence: cathedral figures sculpted in hierarchies
of exaltation; the morality of portal figures; the beastly apostles:
eagle, bull, lion, man: virgins aloof or crushed beneath spears; broken
fragments of drapery, foliage: worlds lost and found.
Inquisition: instruments of torture; questioning, binding, flogging,
pinching, wrenching, poking and burning the skin and its most sensitive
organs. The trials calligraphed or printed obscure the hiss of fire on
flesh, screams, stench, the jouissance of the priest and executioner.
Temptation: woman, sorcerers, from Hans Baldung Grien's voluptuous
females belching and farting in their sensual coven, to Goya's scribes,
on the threshold of the Enlightenment, haunted by the Sleep of Reason.
All are commensurate: a coven of witches, the bestiality of soldiers,
the lascivious phantasms of the priesthood.