The Divine Duty of Servants: A Book of Worship (Based on the Artwork of Bruno Schulz)

The Divine Duty of Servants: A Book of Worship (Based on the Artwork of Bruno Schulz)

by Rolando Perez, Malcolm McKesson

Cultural Writing. This unique work unites prose and art, exploring the dark mythologies of sexual fetishes and power. Based on the erotic drawings and etchings of Polish writer and artist Bruno Schulz, who died at the hands of the Nazis in 1942. Rolando Perez digs around in that rooted turf Schulz describes; he grows his own books in that fecund loam of literature…  See more details below


Cultural Writing. This unique work unites prose and art, exploring the dark mythologies of sexual fetishes and power. Based on the erotic drawings and etchings of Polish writer and artist Bruno Schulz, who died at the hands of the Nazis in 1942. Rolando Perez digs around in that rooted turf Schulz describes; he grows his own books in that fecund loam of literature and history, dreams and ideas. His writing is often inspired by or a response to his reading, which is wide and deep --John Strausbaugh, NY Press.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Polish Jewish artist and writer Bruno Schulz perished at the hands of the Nazis in 1942. His work survives in two novels (The Street of Crocodiles; Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass) and he has been praised by such writers as Philip Roth and Cynthia Ozick. This curioius series of vignettes is supposedly based on the erotic drawings of s&m scenarios and foot fetishism that Schulz obsessively drew, although Perez and Cool Grove Press were denied permission by the Schulz estate to reproduce any of Schultz's actual work. Instead, Perez's untethered musings about foot worship, cruel mistresses and erotic humiliation are accompanied by anachronistic photos of "hired models," Perez's own "fetishy photographs" and drawings by the late Malcolm McKesson. Novelist and playwright Perez reimagines fairy tale princesses like Snow White and Cinderella as dominatrices enjoying the favors of their worshipers, and The Odyssey's Circe as commanding a herd of pigs thrilled to be dehumanized in servicing her. Vignettes explore such characters taken from Schulz's writings as the haughty servant girls Undula and Adela, while other insubstantial sketches aim to delineate the erotic visions and political theories of the Marquis de Sade, Wilhelm Reich, Marx and Freud. In relation to these innovators, Perez's interpretive scenarios seem exploitative and pretentious. A slapdash introduction by John Strausbaugh sets up the reader for disappointment, claiming that this book can offer some insight on the question "why we love the master" in the context of Germany's embrace of Hitler. The effort does not deliver on such lofty promises: while it seems clear that the complex interstices of power and submissive eroticism resonated poignantly for the artist Schulz, Perez's graphic stylings merely titillate and attempt to shock. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Cool Grove Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.03(h) x 0.48(d)

Read an Excerpt


At Night

At night when the wives go to bed, the men go out ... long overcoats ... pretending to attend another meeting at the Cinnamon Shop, where in cricket-like speech—heads together, reading sacred texts ... in clouds of their own making, in the name of God—they build a temple to Undula's feet, and kneel down to breathe the essence of her soul through her feet, kissing each one of her toes individually ... while Undula merely sighs, and they ejaculate ... on their idol, sheepishly.


4 elderly, gentlemen crouch naked in imitation of their beloved Condor. And think: if only they could strut like that ... their paws to the ground, close to the Earth!

    A condor will often confuse a dog turd for food, and eat it.

    Legs slightly spread, knees pointing outwardly, spreading his anus with both hands, 1 of the 4 gentlemen defecates "like a condor".

    Gargantua wiped his ass with a goose.

    Bruno The Dog dreams of wiping God's, wiping Undula's, wiping his Goddess' asshole, religiously with his tongue. Bruno The Dog is an Earth sign.

"Please, please, please," he begs on his knees, "spread your cheeks for me, worthless insect that I am, and let me be your toilet, allow me to be your servant." And "perhaps," he says, nervously, tenderly, like a child afraid to be refused a biscuit, "perhaps you can bless me with your golden holy water while I lick your sacred solar anus, nice and clean." His flesh trembles inprayer, like that of Santa Teresa de Avila; patron Saint of all submissives: pierced by an angel's golden rod with a little flame at the tip of it.

* * *

Bruno's Dream

BRUNO barks on all fours, wagging his tail with happiness. His testicles exposed to the air, hang unprotected. BRUNO is excited, breathing heavily, his tongue half way out of his mouth. He loves hiding his bone in the earth, between the roses and the lilies. He likes the way it feels to stick his nose in the dirt, to dig a hole with his paws, and see all those little worms squirming nervously before him. But Bruno has to work fast. The last time his Mistress caught him making a hole in the garden, she beat him so mercilessly, he humiliated himself by peeing with excitement in front of her: his penis touching the moist ground beneath him.

Note # 1

The Dog: "An emblem of faithfulness, and
it is in this sense that it appears so often at
the feet of women in the engravings of medieval
tombs ..."

First Experience

Every fetishist remembers the exact time of day, the minute, the second, the object of his obsession became conscious. The way the sun cast shadows on the wall, or not; the sound outside his room, or the absence of sound; the shape of a cloud that moved overhead at that particular point in time, or a cloudless and clear sky; and all the "insignificant" little things that everyone else on that day, at that hour, quite normally failed to notice. But, there are memories one simply cannot live without; memories we take to our graves. They are precious to us, either because they remind us of a golden moment in a past we can never recapture, or because they marked the beginning of something important in our lives. Swann was transported to his childhood with the mere dipping of a biscuit in tea. And the memory of his childhood governess shot dead through a window—the image of her body lying lifeless on the floor: her skirt pushed up above her thighs, to reveal her legs in black stockings, marks the beginning of Archibaldo de la Cruz's obsession with mannequins and his death-sexuality fetish. Few artists have understood the psychology of the fetishist as well as Buñuel. His Archibaldo, like Proust's Swann, is a character haunted by the past. His fetish, the product of a certain moment in his own personal history.

    To be a fetishist is to be obsessed with time. Both the fetishist and the hysteric share this obsession. But while the hysteric runs away from time, the fetishist runs towards it and embraces the time "when ..", and tries to re-live it with every "repetition" of it.

    In my own story, as I'm sure, in the stories of others like myself, it all happened very suddenly: one afternoon while W— and I played together. For though I was already taken in by the beauty of her hair, her lips, her eyes, her girlishly rosy cheeks, never until then, had I given her feet even a passing glance—those delicate little feet of hers. But then, what normal 13 year old would look at a girl's feet with lust?

    Yet I had.

    Maybe it was because she had brushed my leg with the sole of her foot. Perhaps. It was a bit like discovering a door I had always passed through, for the first time.

    I couldn't believe that this was happening to me, and yet my new experience filled me with all kinds of strange, and inexplicable desires.

    W—'s feet were white, milky smooth. They were the feet of those angelic nymphs in Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the 19th century. And I wanted nothing more at that moment than to take her feet in my hands and kiss them. Her toes, so pretty, so delicate, the soles of her feet had the appearance of white velvet, such that whenever I come across a reproduction of Ingres' Grande Odalisque, I always think of those exquisite feet that so long ago opened up a world for me. For without her realizing it, she changed my life, that quiet, peaceful, summer afternoon in my parents' house; that afternoon when we played together on the floor, and she was barefoot.

    It was she and she alone that brought religion to my life. Without her I would, no doubt, have remained—even at that young age—a mere atheist, lacking in spirit, deprived like so many others in our century of a worthy object of worship; ignorant, even of that most spiritual of all books, Mr. Schulz's Booke of Idolatry.

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Meet the Author

Cuban born Rolando Perez is the author of numerous books on a variety of subjects ranging from philosophy and literary criticism to poetry and drama. Some of his published titles include On An(Archy) and Schizoanalysis, Severo Sarduy and the Religion of the Text, and The Lining of Our Souls (based on selected paintings of Edward Hopper.) He has also written over 15 plays that have received production in NYC.

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