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


 

John Aarts’ Lucifer

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The Lucifer in question being the principal character in a play of the same name by Dutch poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel (1587–1679). I confess that I hadn’t heard of this work before even though it’s well-known in the Netherlands, and may also have influenced Paradise Lost. The version linked here is an American reprint of an earlier edition from 1898 that was the first English translation of the play. The graphics by John Aarts appear to be wood engravings but I’m not certain of that, matters not being helped by the present invisibility of Mr Aarts. In addition to a suite of full-page illustrations there are many embellishments in the nascent Dutch Art Nouveau style. And unlike many books that repeat the same two or three vignettes there’s a lot of variation throughout so it’s worth seeing the book as a whole.

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Weekend links 373

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Untitled (2011) by YDK Morimoe. Via Jim Post at Dennis Cooper’s.

For The Climax Of The Night by Total Leatherette is almost certainly the only album you’ll see this year with autofellatio cover art. Faux Fox gives a taste of the new album, while an earlier piece, Squeeze Hunk, features a Tom of Finland-style video. And speaking of which, Dome Karukoski’s feature film, Tom of Finland, is released in the UK this week. Related: Tom of Finland coffee.

• The death of playwright Joe Orton in 1967 prompted yet more 50th anniversary articles this week. Mentioned here before, and better value than all the textual appraisal, is the BBC’s 70-minute TV documentary from 1982, A Genius Like Us: A Portrait of Joe Orton, which includes interviews with family, friends, colleagues and Orton’s biographer, John Lahr.

• Two skulls, 50,000 postcards and a book that took 50 years to finish: Stuart Jeffries visits artist Tom Phillips.

• New at the Internet Archive: 25,000 78RPM records. You can never go wrong with Duke Ellington.

Lock Your Door and The Reformation of St. Jules: Algernon Blackwood filmed in 1949.

Redemption, an exhibition of art by Fay Pomerance (1912–2001) at Ushaw College, Durham.

• At Dirge Magazine: Daniel Pietersen on the myth of the sunken city.

• Mix of the week: FACT Mix 613 by Aaron Dilloway.

Laetitia Sadier’s favourite albums.

• RIP Hywel Bennett

Sunken City (1961) by Les Baxter | Ys (1971) by Alan Stivell | Atlantis (1971) by Deuter

 


The Heart of the Lost Star

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Presenting my cover for the third book in Megan Derr’s gay fantasy series, Tales of the High Court. Since this cover follows a pattern established with the first book in the series, The High King’s Golden Tongue, I’ve posted volumes one and two below for comparison. In my post about the series last year I said that I appeared to have exhausted the Viollet-le-Duc illustrations which I was plundering for the (collaged) architectural frames. As things turned out I was able to work up a new one but if this series continues then further ingenuity will be required.

The Heart of the Lost Star will be published by Less Than Three Press later this month. Meanwhile, I have a number of other projects—most of them horror-related—waiting to be officially revealed. As always, watch this space.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Tales of the High Court

 


Weekend links 372

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Battistero della Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo (2017) by Mattia Mognetti.

• “Mumbo Jumbo: a dazzling classic finally gets the recognition it deserves.” Jonathan McAloon on Ishmael Reed’s unique novel being reissued as a Penguin Modern Classic.

• Amanda Gefter talks to Donald D. Hoffman, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, about “the evolutionary argument against reality”.

• Geeta Dayal on composer Raymond Scott. A new compilation, Three Willow Park, collects more of Scott’s electronic music from the 1960s.

Nagle critiques the follies of campus identity politics and social media liberalism not from the right, but as a left-leaning feminist. As she elucidates point after reasonable point, it feels as if a grown-up has finally entered the room. Like Mark Fisher, the Marxist critic who was savaged by his putative comrades for decrying “the stench of bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism” of the online left, Nagle has no sympathy for Twitter/Tumblr liberalism’s “cult of fragility and victimhood mixed with a vicious culture of group attacks, group shaming, and attempts to destroy the reputations and lives of others”. It is reassuring to find a self-described feminist disdaining the “hysterical” liberal call-out culture, and acknowledging that it has produced “a breeding ground for an online backlash of irreverent mockery and anti-PC”. Without joining the forces of reaction or losing sight of the vileness of the alt-right, she writes of “the deep intellectual rot of contemporary political progressivism”; “the moral self-flattery of … a tired liberal intellectual conformity”; and “the hysteria and faux-politics of liberal Internet culture”.

Rob Doyle reviewing Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 501 by Ryan Elliott, and ReMelodiya vol. 1 by Laurent Fairon.

Sumit Paul-Choudhury on the slime mould instruments that make sweet music.

The Wire Salon: an audience with photographer and writer Val Wilmer.

Simon McCallum‘s list of 10 great lesser-known British LGBT films.

Zaria Gorvett on the ghostly radio station that no one claims to run.

S. Elizabeth reposted her Coilhouse interview with me from 2010.

• “Boys are selling sex in Japan. Who is buying?” Boys For Sale

• At Spoon & Tamago: Ando Tadao’s Hill of Buddha.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Gisèle Vienne Day.

Sun Ra is now on Bandcamp.

Shaolin Buddha Finger (1994) by Depth Charge | Atomic Buddha (1998) by Techno Animal | Psycho Buddha (2001) by Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.

 


Being PrEPared

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I don’t know when I first noticed that the word “introvert” contains the word “invert” but if I require a shorthand self-identification beyond the vocational then “introvert invert” is a suitable candidate. Being an introvert isn’t always easy in a resolutely extrovert world, but being an introvert invert has considerable drawbacks, such as how you meet anyone like yourself when the available meeting places—club and bars—inspire severe loathing. Clubbing is no longer the only option now that we have online dating (and gay clubs have been dying off in any case…) but the options were few in the 1980s. It’s impossible for me to think about any of this without considering that if I wasn’t such an introvert I might not be alive today. I was 20 in 1982 when the AIDS epidemic was starting to travel the world; had I been more gregarious I might have been investigating all those wretched clubs and bars instead of sitting at home, listening to music and drawing pictures.

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The Thatcher government only started to get serious about HIV/AIDS in 1987 when this information leaflet was delivered to every household in Britain. (See scans of the whole thing here and here.) There was also an accompanying public information film narrated by John Hurt, and directed by Nicolas Roeg, of all people. It was quickly replaced with other films that were less apocalyptic.

Whatever your attitude to nightlife, if you were gay in the 1980s then AIDS was omnipresent even before it became an issue that politicians dared to discuss in public. I remember when Patrick Cowley died (November 1982); I remember when Klaus Nomi died (August 1983); I bought the Panic/Tainted Love single by Coil when it was released (May 1985), the profits of which went to AIDS charity The Terrence Higgins Trust (the first record release to make such a donation). Coil’s doom-laden Horse Rotovator album from 1986 was shaped by the group’s experience of watching many of their friends succumb to illness and death. There were many other such responses, one of the greatest being the monumental Masque Of The Red Death album cycle by Diamanda Galás, dedicated to Galás’s brother and her friends who were killed by the epidemic. I can’t think of artist and writer Philip Core without remembering the interview he gave to The Late Show from his hospital bed in 1989, a hollow-eyed ghost of his former self. The accumulated fear and paranoia of a dark decade lingered into the 1990s even after condom-use had become widespread and HIV became manageable with drug treatments.

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More from the fun decade. A government health ad from The Face magazine, February 1987.

The paranoia of the 1990s is one of the first things that Evan J. Peterson discusses in The PrEP Diaries, an account of growing up gay in America at a time when HIV was treatable but still something to be worried about. Evan is a friend whose previous books have been mentioned here (one of which I contributed to), but this is his first non-fiction title, a witty and enlightening combination of erotic memoir and public service declaration. “PrEP” refers to the drug marketed in America as Truvada, a pre-exposure prophylaxis anti-viral medication which has been gaining use in the US as a preventative treatment for HIV. The drug’s use is recommended primarily to partners of those who are HIV+ but it’s also being recommended to gay men with active sex lives as an additional safeguard against HIV. I’ve been aware of Truvada for several years but since it still isn’t easily available in the UK I’ve not followed the discussion around its use or effectiveness very closely.

One of the reasons for Evan writing The PrEP Diaries was to widen the discussion about PrEP/Truvada by showing how his own use of the medication has helped dispel the paranoia he felt about HIV risks, a paranoia that had been with him since childhood. He was born in 1982, the year that AIDS first began to make headlines so he’s of a generation that has never known a time without the risk of HIV. One of the notable things about his book is the way it shows the substantial differences of experience between the gay and straight worlds, differences that persist even as legislative equality grows. Sexual risk is one of these differences, something you’re always aware of if you’re gay or bisexual but which the straight world seldom considers at all. I have a half-brother who’s a few years older than Evan, and two nephews who are a decade younger; all are straight, and I doubt that any of them have given more than a moment’s thought to the idea that sexual activity could have life-changing consequences even though viruses don’t care about your sexuality. HIV can be kept under control today yet it continues to spread, in part because the serious concerns of previous decades are no longer prevalent. You can’t go on any gay dating site without eventually seeing someone with “poz” in their name or some other indication (usually a + symbol) of their HIV status. One of the benefits of PrEP that Evan discusses is its helping people who are HIV+ to find more partners as well as protecting those partners from infection. He also emphasises something you seldom see mentioned in general discussion of HIV, that positive status doesn’t describe a single condition; some people are positive but undetectable, meaning that their viral load is extremely small.

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