Weekend links 644

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Yoshitoshi’s Ghosts (2004) by Paul Binnie.

• “The later Grand Etteilla series, printed well into the nineteenth century, and the present-day proliferation of Tarot decks, following ephemeral fads and fashions, all trace their origins to this beautiful and beguiling creation from the enigmatic Egyptophile at 48 Rue de L’Oseille.” Kevin Dann on the Livre de Thot Tarot (ca. 1789) by Jean-Baptiste Alliette, better known as “Etteilla”.

• “Death is not a subject he has ever shied away from, in his fiction or conversation. Indeed, he has measured other writers by how seriously they address it.” Richard B. Woodward on his friend, Cormac McCarthy, and McCarthy’s new novels. There’s an exclusive extract from The Passenger here.

• “…addicts, psychopaths, lovelorn outsiders, cult leaders, lesbian and gay icons…you name it, the vampire has become it.” Christopher Frayling on the perennial popularity of the vampire, and a new book collection of vampire film posters.

Robert Wilson‘s new production of Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry is “a sinister, multilingual pantomime bathed in red light and looped in noise…fittingly violent, absurd, ominous and infantile”.

• “What kind of music goes with a show that originates in deep space?” Aquarium Drunkard on Sonny Sharrock’s final recordings, the soundtrack music for Space Ghost Coast To Coast.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine takes a fresh look at the health of secondhand bookshops in Britain.

• Tokyo nightlife photographed by Hosokawa Ryohei.

• New music: Approach by Lawrence English.

The Passenger (1977) by Iggy Pop | The Passenger (1987) by Siouxsie And The Banshees | The Passenger (1997) by Lunachicks

John Austen’s Harlequin

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The familiar characters of the Commedia dell’arte—Harlequin, Columbine, Pierrot et al—are depicted here by British illustrator John Austen for The Adventures of Harlequin (1923), a prose recounting by Francis Bickley of events in the life of the trickster character. Or a life… Since Harlequin has only ever been a theatrical archetype Bickley has to employ considerable invention to flesh out the details. The enterprise may be a questionable one but I’m always happy to see another book illustrated by Austen, especially when so many of his illustrated editions remain difficult to find. A Pierrot figure appeared in the first of these, The Little Ape and Other Stories, at a time when Austen’s drawing style was closer to Harry Clarke in its use of decorative detail. His style continued to evolve throughout the 1920s. Here it’s closer to George Barbier, the French artist who drew his own Commedia dell’arte trio when illustrating Michel Fokine’s Carnaval for a ballet portfolio, Designs on the Dances of Vaslav Nijinsky.

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Continue reading “John Austen’s Harlequin”

Weekend links 640

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Aquarius (1910–1914) by Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald.

• “…they created a unique Afro-Caribbean soundscape—Battiste’s exceptional skills saw him use the studio as an instrument, voices flutter in and out, instruments shiver and shriek, over which Rebennack mutters and chants, a shaman of sorts.” Garth Cartwright on the life and works of Mac Rebennack, better known to the world as Dr John.

• Issue 3 of Man Is The Animal: A Coil Zine is now available for pre-order. I contributed to this one with a piece entitled “Singularities of Art and Nature”, an examination of the Coil discography via the Wunderkammer concept and the Musaeum Clausum of Thomas Browne.

• Among the recent arrivals at Standard Ebooks, the home of free, high-quality, public-domain texts, is Arthur Machen’s episodic and influential horror novel The Three Imposters (1895).

Media History Digital Library: “A free online resource, featuring millions of pages of books and magazines from the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound.”

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Shall I, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, conjurer, introduce myself to you, viewer? And why not?

• At Public Domain Review: The Blood Collages of John Bingley Garland (ca. 1850–60).

• Mix of the week: Endymion, an autumnal ambient mix by The Ephemeral Man.

• “New Webb image captures clearest view of Neptune’s rings in decades.”

• New music: Of Endless Light by Cleared.

• RIP jazz giant Pharoah Sanders.

Conjuration (1977) by Tangerine Dream | Necronomicon—Conjurations (2004) by John Zorn | A Boy Called Conjuror (2020) by Teleplasmiste

Georges Méliès, Mage

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Georges Méliès: magician. Yes, indeed. I was watching Martin Scorsese’s Hugo again recently, a film I found more enjoyable the second time around mostly for the Méliès side of the story. The flashback to the Star Films studio offers in miniature a history that this book delivers in detail. Georges Méliès, Mage (1945) by Maurice Bessy and Joseph-Marie Lo Duca is a copiously illustrated guide to Méliès’ entire career, beginning with his early years as a conjuror and a creator of the kinds of theatrical fantasies that formed the basis for his first films. The text is in French throughout but there’s a wealth of pictorial material, with many production sketches and drawings that show how some of his more complex effects were achieved.

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One of the things I’ve always found attractive about Méliès’ films is the way they resemble 19th-century illustrations brought to life. The same can be said about some of the later Hollywood productions, especially the Douglas Fairbanks Thief of Bagdad, but they lack the overt theatricality of Méliès. For a taste of those hand-tinted marvels, go here.

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Continue reading “Georges Méliès, Mage”

Weekend links 629

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UFOs: The Psychic Solution (1977) by Jacques Vallée. A retitled reprint of The Invisible College (1975) with cover art by Peter Tybus.

• “In the summer of 1992…a curious experimental interstellar ambient-house album, made it to number one in the UK charts, promoted by a top ten single that was almost forty minutes long.” Darran Anderson navigates the noösphere with my favourite Orb album, U.F.Orb.

• Among the recent arrivals at Standard Ebooks, the home of free, high-quality, public-domain texts: Hope Mirrlees’ strange fantasy novel, Lud-in-the-Mist (1926).

• James Balmont’s guide to the intricate cinema of Hong Kong’s crime auteur, Johnnie To.

Shortlisted photos from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Jean Genet Miracle of the Rose.

• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Ambicase.

• New music: Two Sisters by Sarah Davachi.

• RIP Peter Brook and James Caan.

Unidentified Flying Object (1970) by UFO | Psychic And UFO Revelations In The Last Days (1994) by Bill Laswell & Pete Namlook | UFOnic (1995) by Sabalon Glitz