The first time I heard about “Loab”, it sent shivers down my spine. A strange ghost with dead eyes that started haunting an AI image generator last year, Loab reminded me of a devil I had been following for years. One in a different medium, in a different era and under a different name: the Marquis de Sade.
This may not seem like an obvious connection to make. The Marquis de Sade, one of the most infamous names of all time, was an 18th-century French aristocrat, a man known for his debauchery and evading authority, escaping prison and evading his own public execution in 1772. Loab is very much a product of modern times, the accidental creation of artist Supercomposite, who claimed “discoversher in an AI text-to-image generator last April. The two couldn’t be more different from each other. But what Sade’s writing showed humanity about their unspoken fascinations and what chatbots like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard reveal about similar interests seems almost destined to intersect. The question is, who will be prepared for it?
Sade’s attempts to describe humanity’s forbidden desires – or at least his own – began, somewhat famously, in the bowels of the Bastille. In the late 1770s, after being imprisoned following a series of scandalous offences, Sade became obsessed with putting a quill to paper, resulting in a body of work so obscene that the author would variously be described as “the freest spirit who ever lived”. an “apostle of assassins.”
His most infamous attempt was The 120 days of Sodom, written on a 40 foot roll. Sade called the novel “the most impure story ever written since the world was made.” It tells the story of four wealthy degenerates who imprison young subordinates in a castle and subject them to months of escalating depravity: incest, bestiality, coprophilia, necrophilia, disembowelment, amputation, cannibalism and more. By the end of the novel, the castle is awash with blood and body parts. Thanks to his writing, Sade became so deeply associated with brutality that he inspired the term sadism– deriving pleasure from pain.
While Sade believed the scroll had been destroyed during the storming of the Bastille in 1789, in reality it embarked on a continent-spanning odyssey involving underground erotic collectors, pioneering sex researchers, Nazi book burnings, outrageous surreal art, a daring robbery, international lawsuits goods. and, most recently, a huge one manuscript scandal In France. Because of the gruesome subject matter and turmoil it is associated with, some authorities even believe the scroll to be cursed.
Damned or not, the existence of the novel is a mystery. Why would anyone have made such a gigantic effort at a time when the results could never be published openly? Who exactly was the man behind it? Was Sade a revolutionary working to expose the rotten core of the aristocracy into which he was born? Or was he just an unrepentant criminal, recording, committing, or just dreaming of his own atrocities?