Weekend links 549

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The Shepherd’s Dream, from Paradise Lost (1793) by Henry Fuseli.

• “16 April. A card from Tom King with news of the tattoo of me that he had put on his arm: ‘The tattoo remains popular, though bizarrely one person thought it was of Henry Kissinger. It also makes for an amusing conversation during intercourse.’ This suggests the intercourse might be less than fervent, my name in itself something of a detumescent.” Alan Bennett‘s diary for the year is always a highlight of December.

• “I know that if I don’t write, say on holiday, I begin to feel unsettled and uneasy, as I gather people do who are not allowed to dream.” The Paris Review removed its paywall on their Art of Fiction interview with JG Ballard.

• “A biologist and composer have turned the aurora borealis into sound to create a magic melding of art and nature.”

If we let it, dreaming gradually erodes wake centrism—that waking consciousness to which Westerners in particular are inordinately attached. You might think of wake centrism as a pre-Copernican-like worldview that presumes waking to be the centre of the universe of consciousness, while relegating sleeping and dreaming to secondary, subservient positions. It is a matrix, a cultural simulation evolved to support adaptation, yet it inadvertently limits our awareness. Wake centrism is a subtle, consensual, sticky and addictive over-reliance on ordinary ways of perceiving that interfere with our direct personal experience of dreaming. To paraphrase the 16th-century British clergyman Robert Bolton, it is not merely an idea the mind possesses, but an idea that possesses the mind. Wake centrism is a flat-world consciousness. It warns us to stay away from the edges, to refrain from dialoguing with dreams and the unconscious.

Rubin Naiman on sleep and dreams

96th of October: an online fiction magazine dedicated to “tales of the extraordinary”.

• “Punk artist Barney Bubbles joins Manet among works given to UK public in 2020.”

• The results of the Nature Photographer of the Year contest for 2020.

• A list with a difference: Twenty Four Psychic Pop Relics by Woebot.

• Merve Emre on how Leonora Carrington feminized Surrealism.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 675 by Teebs.

I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (1966) by The Electric Prunes | The Room Of Ancillary Dreams (2000) by Harold Budd | Blue Dream (2001) by Sussan Deyhim & Richard Horowitz

Fanned to sleep

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“The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.” — Jorge Luis Borges

As with writers, so with other artists. Post-Surrealism, and especially post-Max Ernst, we view these kinds of pictures through different eyes. In 1874 this was merely a fanciful illustration in The Ladies’ Floral Cabinet, a magazine that peppers its cultivation and arrangement advice with sentimental images of childhood. “Fanned to sleep” says the subtitle, although it might be “Fanned to Eternal Rest” given that Death’s-head hawkmoth hovering over the child’s head. The Internet Archive has several thousand pages of this particular journal so I’ve yet to see anything similar, but the engraved illustrations are all high quality, and may be ones I find myself ransacking in the future. Via @MlleGhoul.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Écorché

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Engraving by Philip Galle.

Écorché, from the French verb to flay, was the traditional term applied to depictions of the skinless man found in anatomical studies, and the musculature models made for the use of artists and sculptors. This is almost always a male figure. Women tend to feature in the anatomical works of previous centuries in order to illustrate the conditions of pregnancy, the male body being considered the default for the usual sexist reasons.

I’ve been revisiting the history of these figures while working on a new book design so what follows are a few choice examples, some of which carry a pleasantly Surrealist charge. In the years that followed the pioneering studies by Vesalius and co. there was a period of playfulness in anatomical illustration during which time the figures are shown peeling away their flesh to reveal the muscles or even the organs beneath, a striptease where the substance of the body itself is removed. As William Burroughs was fond of quoting: “‘T ain’t no sin to take off your skin, and dance around in your bones.”

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Valverde de Hamusco (1556).

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Engraving by G. Bonasone (15–).

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Engraving by Philip Galle.

Continue reading “Écorché”

Weekend links 539

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Fire, Red and Gold (1990) by Eyvind Earle.

Roger Penrose won a Nobel Prize recently for his work in physics. I read one of his books a few years ago, and was intimidated by the “simple” equations, but I always like to hear his ideas. This 2017 article by Philip Ball is an illuminating overview of Penrose’s life and work.

• At Dangerous Minds: Joe Banks on the incidents that led to Lemmy’s dismissal from Hawkwind in 1975, an extract from Hawkwind: Days of the Underground. The book is available from Strange Attractor in Europe and via MIT Press in the USA.

• “Not married but willing to be!”: men in love (with each other) from the 1850s on. It’s always advisable to take photos like these with a pinch of salt but several of the examples are unavoidably what they appear to be.

Most of all, this resolutely collaborative production stood against the vanity and careerism of individual authorship; Breton called it the first attempt to “adapt a moral attitude, and the only one possible, to a writing process.” The text itself is peppered with readymade phrases, advertising slogans, twisted proverbs, and pastiches of such admired predecessors as Rimbaud, Apollinaire, and Lautréamont, whose pluralistic credo, “Poetry must be made by all. Not by one,” anticipates the sampling aesthetic by a century. But the intensity was draining, and as the book moves toward its final pages and the writing becomes increasingly frenetic, you can almost feel the burnout taking hold. After eight days, fearing for his and Soupault’s sanity, Breton terminated the experiment.

Mark Polizzotti reviews a new translation by Charlotte Mandell of The Magnetic Fields by André Breton and Philippe Soupault

• The hide that binds: Mike Jay reviews Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin by Megan Rosenbloom.

• “A photographer ventures deeper into Chernobyl than any before him.” Pictures from Chernobyl: A Stalker’s Guide by Darmon Richter.

John Van Stan’s reading of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley uses my illustrations (with my permission) for each of its chapters.

Susan Jamison, one of the artists in The Art of the Occult by S. Elizabeth, talks to the latter about her work.

William Hope Hodgson: The Secret Index. A collection of Hodgson-related posts at Greydogtales.

Gee Vaucher talks to Savage Pencil about her cover art for anarchist punk band, Crass.

Weird, wacky and utterly wonderful: the world’s greatest unsung museums.

Tom Cardamone chooses the best books about Oscar Wilde.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jean-Pierre Melville Day.

You by The Bug ft. Dis Fig.

Magnetic Dwarf Reptile (1978) by Chrome | Magnetic Fields, Part 1 (1981) by Jean-Michel Jarre | Magnetic North (1998) by Skyray

Weekend links 538

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The Elf Ring by Kate Greenaway.

• “Is it possible that the Victorian fairy tradition, beneath its innocent exterior, operated as a conduit for a hidden tradition of psychedelic knowledge?” Just in time for the British mushroom season, Mike Jay explores the connections between psychedelic mushrooms, folklore and fairy tales.

• “This second coming of Prince’s greatest album is the immaculate execution of a flawed conception: the belief that you can never have too much of a good thing.” Simon Reynolds on Prince and the expanded, multi-disc reissue of Sign O’ The Times.

• “An extraordinary stash of more than 400 erotic drawings by Duncan Grant that was long thought to have been destroyed has come to light, secretly passed down over decades from friend to friend and lover to lover.” Mark Brown on a trove of gay erotica.

• New art exhibitions: Wessel + O’Connor celebrates 35 years of homoerotic exhibitionism with 35 works by different artists; “masks a must”. And New Framing at Museum More includes a great painting by Jan Ouwersloot of trams manoeuvring at night.

• There is no Prog, only Zeuhl: A guide to one of rock’s most imaginative subgenres by Jim Allen. I recommend the Weidorje album.

The Power (Of Their Knowledge), another preview of the forthcoming album by Cabaret Voltaire (or Richard Kirk solo).

• RIP Eddie Van Halen. Annie Zaleski selects 10 of his best songs (really 9 plus an instrumental…).

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Leonora Carrington The Hearing Trumpet (1976).

• Mix of the week: Autumn and Wise (The Fall) by The Ephemeral Man.

Abandoned Isle of Wight

Dark Side Of The Mushroom (1967) by Chocolate Watch Band | Mushroom (1971) by Can | Growing Mushrooms Of Potency (2011) by Expo ’70