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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Derek Jarman: Know What I Mean…

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The recent news from the BFI about their forthcoming collections of Derek Jarman films sent me to YouTube once more in search of a documentary I’d been hoping to see again. Derek Jarman: Know What I Mean… is the film in question, and was posted a few months ago by director Laurens Postma on his own YouTube channel. Postma produced a number of arts features for Channel 4 (UK) in the 1980s, one of which, Six Into One: The Prisoner File, a documentary about the making of Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, has been mentioned here already. The Jarman film was made in 1988, and I think was the first lengthy TV examination of Jarman’s career. It’s still one of the best since the later documentaries tended to be either shortish interview sessions or posthumous works such as Derek (2008) by Isaac Julien and Bernard Rose.

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Postma’s film captured Jarman shortly after he’d moved to his cottage at Dungeness, and at a point when his films were becoming more visible as a result of funding and screening from Channel 4. This was also the point when he was becoming more vocally political thanks to what seemed at the time to be the unending reign of the iniquitous Margaret Thatcher. The Tories of the day had recently announced the now-infamous Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act (discussed in the film as both Clause 28 and—confusingly—Clause 29, the labels by which the amendment was first known), an ruling that forbid councils from promoting homosexuality, especially in schools. This period was the peaking of anti-gay bigotry in Britain, a reaction against the growing freedoms of the 1970s and, inevitably, the menace of AIDS which was still being regarded as “the gay plague”. Jarman had recently been diagnosed as HIV+, something he discusses here with typical good cheerf although the conversation is generally more about art than about his health, his films or their process, and about the way his own works were always related to gay sexuality. Jarman was one of many gay artists who welcomed their sexual identity as fixing them in the position of outsiders, and it’s notable how many of his films are also concerned with outsider figures. When discussing The Tempest (1979) he compares Prospero’s island to gay sexuality, an uncharted enclave where different rules apply. This was still a common view among gay men and lesbians in the 1980s—Jarman’s friends in Coil used to say similar things in their interviews—and very different from today’s drive towards social assimilation. Postma’s film ends with Jarman on the beach at Dungeness, the perfect zone for a lifelong outsider, midway between the land and the sea.

(Note: the Winston Churchill referred to in the film is the grandson of the famous Prime Minister. Winston Churchill Jr. was an MP in the Thatcher government who tried to bring in a bill banning the public exhibition of “explicit homosexual acts” following Channel 4′s TV broadcast of Jarman’s Sebastiane.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
David Tibet meets Derek Jarman
Shooting the Hunter: a tribute to Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s landscapes
Derek Jarman album covers
Ostia, a film by Julian Cole
Derek Jarman In The Key Of Blue
The Dream Machine
Jarman (all this maddening beauty)
Sebastiane by Derek Jarman
A Journey to Avebury by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s music videos
Derek Jarman’s Neutron
Mister Jarman, Mister Moore and Doctor Dee
The Tempest illustrated
In the Shadow of the Sun by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman at the Serpentine
The Angelic Conversation
The life and work of Derek Jarman

 


Weekend links 400

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Le Répit (La Mort allaitant une chauve-souris) (1895) by Valère Bernard.

Playhouse 90 presents Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. An American TV production from 1957 starring Boris Karloff, Roddy McDowall, Eartha Kitt and others; introduced by Sterling Hayden. It’s bizarre. Acidemic goes into the detail.

• Erik Davis talks to occult writer and drug geek Julian Vayne about Baphomet, the (sur)reality of spirits, evolution, ritualizing entheogens, and his new book Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony.

• “Unsurprisingly, 1. Outside was the record that the #BowieBookClub readers most readily associated with Hawksmoor.” Anna Aslanyan revisits Peter Ackroyd’s architectural mystery.

The Flowers of Dorian Gray: part one of a series of posts examining one of Oscar Wilde’s favourite symbols.

• At Haute Macabre, an interview with Michael Locascio & Heather Jean Skawold of Dellamorte & Co.

One Minute Art History, an animated film by Cao Shu.

Film posters at the Harry Ransom Center, UT-Austin.

• Mix of the week: FACT mix 639 by Black Milk.

Susanna‘s favourite albums.

• Welcome to The Spoodoir.

• Flowers Of Evil (1983) by Cortex | Baphomet (1989) by Foetus Inc. | Heart Of Darkness (1989) by Syd Straw

 


A view from a hill

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This week I’ve been rushing to complete a series of illustrations so there’s been no time to write the post I had in mind. In its place, here’s a preview of another series I was working on in September which I’m told should be published soon. More about that later, and yes, the similarity to Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog was intentional.

 


Weekend links 399

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• “In the mid-Seventies the influential stop-motion animators, Stephen and Timothy Quay, embarked on a series of dark graphite drawings, conceived as imaginary film posters. They kept their first autonomous art project hidden for decades, allowing only a few glimpses to transpire in some of their animation classics such as Noctura Artificialia and Street of Crocodiles. In hindsight, the Black Drawings can be considered as a blueprint for their future work. This book offers a first in-depth exploration of this important graphic series that reveals many of the themes and techniques that would come to life in their celebrated animation films.” Quay Brothers: The Black Drawings 1974—1977 is a book by Edwin Carels and Tommy Simoens.

• The first of the BFI’s forthcoming blu-ray boxes of Derek Jarman films is now available for preorder. In addition to what I presume will be an uncensored presentation of Sebastiane (1976) the set also includes the digital premiere of In the Shadow of the Sun (1980) an “alchemical” blending/transmutation of Jarman’s early Super-8 films with a score by Throbbing Gristle. Related: Adam Scovell on another of the films in the set, Jubilee (1978), and one that Jarman disliked even though it incorporates many of his obsessions, especially in the punk-baiting sequences derived from Shakespeare and Elizabethan metaphysics.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 638: Circuit des Yeux, XLR8R Podcast 528 by Huxley Anne, Secret Thirteen Mix 246 by Hiro Kone, and drone works from Abby Drohne. And since the untimely death of composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was announced a few hours ago, a return to his sombre mix for FACT from 2015.

Nabokov’s ambitions weren’t interpretive. He “held nothing but contempt for Freud’s crude oneirology,” Barabtarlo explains, and in tracking his dreams he wasn’t turning his gaze inward. For him, the mystery was outside—far outside. Nabokov had been reading deeply into serialism, a philosophy positing that time is reversible. The theory came from JW Dunne, a British engineer and armchair philosopher who, in 1927, published An Experiment with Time, arguing, in part, that our dreams afforded us rare access to a higher order of time. Was it possible that we were glimpsing snatches of the future in our dreams—that what we wrote off as déjà vu was actually a leap into the metaphysical ether? Dunne himself claimed to have had no fewer than eight precognitive dreams, including one in which he foresaw a headline about a volcanic eruption.

Daniel Piepenbring reviewing Insomniac Dreams by Gennady Barabtarlo

• Gavin Stamp 1948—2017: a eulogy to the late architectural writer by Jonathan Meades. One of Stamp’s more offbeat assignments was providing illustrations for the George Hay Necronomicon in 1978.

Embassy of the Free Mind is the name of the new online library whose digitisation of rare occult volumes was financed by author Dan Brown.

• At Dangerous Minds: Meet Princess Tinymeat, the obscure genderbending trashglam post-punk goth offshoot of Virgin Prunes.

• “Why are film-makers obsessed with the story of doomed British sailor Donald Crowhurst?” asks Jonathan Coe.

• “Asian music influenced Debussy who influenced me—it’s all a huge circle,” says Ryuichi Sakamoto.

• At Spoon & Tamago: The birds of Tokyo beautifully illustrated by Ryo Takemasa.

Mark Pilkington is In Wild Air

Professor Yaffle

The Sun’s Gone Dim And The Sky’s Turned Black (2006) by Jóhann Jóhannsson | The Great God Pan is Dead (2008) by Jóhann Jóhannsson | A Pile of Dust (2016) by Jóhann Jóhannsson

 


A fair curled creature, Hylas was his name

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Mosaic with Hylas and Nymphs from Tor Bella Monaca, Rome (2nd century BC).

Among the myths to which Greek lovers referred with pride, besides that of Achilles, were the legends of Theseus and Peirithous, of Orestes and Pylades, of Talos and Rhadamanthus, of Damon and Pythias. Nearly all the Greek gods, except, I think, oddly enough, Ares, were famous for their love. Poseidon, according to Pindar, loved Pelops; Zeus, besides Ganymede, was said to have carried off Chrysippus. Apollo loved Ayacinth, and numbered among his favourites Branchos and Claros. Pan loved Cyparissus, and the spirit of the evening star loved Hymenæus. Hypnos, the god of slumber, loved Endymion, and sent him to sleep with open eyes, in order that he might always gaze upon their beauty. (Ath. xiii. 564). The myths of Phœbus, Pan, and Hesperus, it may be said in passing, are paiderastic parallels to the tales of Adonis and Daphne. They do not represent the specific quality of national Greek love at all in the same way as the legends of Achilles, Theseus, Pylades, and Pythias. We find in them merely a beautiful and romantic play of the mythopœic fancy, after paiderastia had taken hold on the imagination of the race. The case is different with Herakles, the patron, eponym, and ancestor of Dorian Hellas. He was a boy-lover of the true heroic type. In the innumerable amours ascribed to him we always discern the note of martial comradeship. His passion for Iolaus was so famous that lovers swore their oaths upon the Theban’s tomb; while the story of his loss of Hylas supplied Greek poets with one of their most charming subjects. From the idyll of Theocritus called Hylas we learn some details about the relation between lover and beloved, according to the heroic ideal…

A Problem in Greek Ethics; Being an Inquiry into the Phenomenon of Sexual Inversion (1883/1908) by John Addington Symonds

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Hylas mosaic, Saint-Romain-en-Gal-Vienne, France (3rd century).

Not for us only, Nicias, (vain the dream,)
Sprung from what god soe’er, was Eros born:
Not to us only grace doth graceful seem,
Frail things who wot not of the coming morn.
No—for Amphitryon’s iron-hearted son [Heracles],
Who braved the lion, was the slave of one:—

A fair curled creature, Hylas was his name.
He taught him, as a father might his child,
All songs whereby himself had risen to fame;
Nor ever from his side would be beguiled
When noon was high, nor when white steeds convey
Back to heaven’s gates the chariot of the day,

Nor when the hen’s shrill brood becomes aware
Of bed-time, as the mother’s flapping wings
Shadow the dust-browned beam. ‘Twas all his care
To shape unto his own imaginings
And to the harness train his favourite youth,
Till he became a man in very truth.

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Rape of Hylas mosaic from the Basilica of Junius Bassus, Rome (first half of the 4th century).

Water the fair lad wont to seek and bring
To Heracles and stalwart Telamon,
(The comrades aye partook each other’s fare,)
Bearing a brazen pitcher. And anon,
Where the ground dipt, a fountain he espied,
And rushes growing green about its side.

There rose the sea-blue swallow-wort, and there
The pale-hued maidenhair, with parsley green
And vagrant marsh-flowers; and a revel rare
In the pool’s midst the water-nymphs were seen
To hold, those maidens of unslumbrous eyes
Whom the belated peasant sees and flies.

And fast did Malis and Eunica cling,
And young Nychea with her April face,
To the lad’s hand, as stooping o’er the spring
He dipt his pitcher. For the young Greek’s grace
Made their soft senses reel; and down he fell,
All of a sudden, into that black well.

Theocritus, Idyll XIII: Hylas (translated by CS Calverley)

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Hylas and the Nymphs (1635) by Francesco Furini.

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Hylas with the Golden Jug (c.1650) by Il Volterrano (Baldassare Franceschini).

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Signed & numbered prints

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Coulthart Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
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