Polish poster by Andrzej Bertrandt for Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film of Solaris.
• Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris receives its first ever direct English translation by Bill Johnston (only on Audible for the moment), all previous editions having been sourced from a poor French translation. An all-too-common state of affairs for non-English fiction where bad or bowdlerised translations persist for years.
• Now that Minnesota politician Michelle Bachmann is running for US president it’s a good time to examine her views when (theoretically) her actions could one day impact on us all. The Daily Beast gathered together some of her worst pronouncements, including the following about gay people: “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay.” Her husband describes his attempts to counsel (ie: cure) gay teenagers with the words “Barbarians need to be educated.” It’s no surprise that both these people find confirmation of their views in the usual narrow interpretation of Christian doctrine. Not all American Christians are this ignorant or offensive, of course. The Heartland Proclamation calls for “an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression”.
Journalist Andrew Sullivan in 2003 proposed a label for people like Bachmann: “I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.” It’s a term that ought to have more widespread use.
Czech poster for Solaris. No designer credited.
• Probing the secrets of psilocybin: “Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have zeroed in on the dose levels of the ‘sacred mushroom’ chemical capable of yielding positive, life-changing experiences, while minimizing the chance of transient negative reactions in screened volunteers under supportive, carefully monitored conditions.”
• Rick Poynor relates a visit to the Frederic Marès Museum, Barcelona, home to the 50,000 objects Marès collected over his lifetime. Further details of the collection can be found at the museum website.
In her 1969 essay “The Pornographic Imagination,” [Susan] Sontag insisted that Story of O could be correctly defined as “authentic” literature. She compared the ratio of first-rate pornography to trashy books within the genre to “another somewhat shady subgenre with a few first-rate books to its credit, science fiction.” She also maintained that like science fiction, pornography was aimed at “disorientation, at psychic dislocation.”
If so, that aim is far more interesting than what most generic “mainstream” novels set out to do. No one could describe O as predictable or sentimental. Its vision was dark and unrelenting; everything about it was extreme. Sontag also compared sexual obsession (as expressed by Réage) with religious obsession: two sides of the same coin.
Carmela Ciuraru on the story of The Story of O by Pauline Réage.
• Illuminated Persian pages from 1604 at BibliOdyssey.
• Tape drawings by Chris Hosmer.