This detail from Bosch's curious painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights, reminds me of a dangerous lady whose favourite painting it is. The penetrating beak, the huge mouth, the underbelly being feasted on by hommes moyens sensual who are on their way to self destruction and especially the grasping hands. She is a sociopath or psychopath making a successful career in a big tobacco company.
The picture she says is "as much about contemporary New York as Holland centuries ago". She has stared for hours at every detail trying to imagine the story behind each figure and to learn as much from it as she can, because sociopaths are only interested in knowlege they can use.
Everyone in the painting is suffering or will suffer as a result of their weaknesses, except the pitiless satanic creatures who efficiently administer the punishments and are enjoying their task. Victims, the lady is convinced, want to be victims.
The Satanic agents are the only pure figures, although possessing, one supposes, all the deadly sins themselves. They are evil yet not corrupt, are in fact incorruptible. They are sociopaths, in fact, who are curiously inhuman. They seem, like the lady in question, oddly to transcend their nationality and social class and even their sex.
I would be informative to know what the painting means for her but all she says is, 'How enjoyable it is to be eaten'.
She also tells me only bad women are attractive.
Saint Augustine said
Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.St. Augustine was right but he was playing on the opposing team from the lady and he was talking about beauty not sex appeal.
Cesare Pavese had a germane point when he said it was only possible to love without reservation a completely selfish person because only a completely selfish person will always remain objective and not alter to please you.