Weekend links 604

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Poster by Chris Ware for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010).

• “He is a proponent of “slow cinema,” which is to say, movies that inspire reflection because they are unhurried but fluid, clear but framed by mystery.” Hilton Als on the metaphysical world of Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

• “You could take off your clothes and lay in the sun, nude, with other guys looking for sex, right in Manhattan. And the police didn’t care. It was safe…” Stanley Stellar on his photographs of New York’s “Gay Piers”.

• At Wormwoodiana: An interview with RB Russell who talks about his new book, Robert Aickman: An Attempted Biography.

• New music: Mysterium by Held By Trees; A Journey by Hinako Omori; Waves by The Soundcarriers.

• Get some cosmic perspective with an updated version of Charles & Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten.

• You Cut Your Hair and Made a Friend: Richard Conway on Ladytron’s 604 and Light & Magic.

• At Unquiet Things: The Tawdry Technicolor Horrors of Vicente B. Ballestar.

• Alexis Petridis compiles a list of the late James Mtume’s greatest recordings.

• Steven Heller’s Font of the Month is Valvolina.

Slow Motion (1978) by Ultravox | Slow And Low (1995) by Tetsu Inoue | Slow Burning Ghosts (1996) by Paul Schütze

Weekend links 599

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Taarna by Chris Achilleos for Heavy Metal, September 1981. A typical piece by Achilleos, whose death was announced this week, and very typical for a Heavy Metal cover. Achilleos was a prolific illustrator.

• New music: The Truth, the Glow, the Fall (Live At Montreux) by Anna von Hausswolff, from her forthcoming album, Live At Montreux Jazz Festival. The last gig I went to was in October 2019, to see Sunn O))) supported by Anna von Hausswolff. Easily one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. Meanwhile, Anna von Hausswolff has had to cancel a Paris church concert following protests by a rabble of outraged Catholics. Bravo les crétins!

• “…it is easy to forget that Montesquiou—regardless of his own work—was not merely emblematic of Decadence, he was essentially patient zero in its viral spread.” Strange Flowers explores the exquisite life of the bat-obsessed, hydrangea-cultivating Robert de Montesquiou.

• “Kotatsu have been around longer than we imagine. And art history has the proof.” Spoon & Tamago on an old Japanese method for warming a room during winter. Also further evidence that cats always find the warmest place in any house.

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, art, and internet of 2021. Thanks again for the link here!

The Wire magazine has opened its collection of articles by the late Greg Tate so they may be read by non-subscribers.

• “Neil Bartlett is a gay writer’s gay writer,” says Jeremy Atherton Lin reviewing Bartlett’s latest, Address Book.

• James Balmont on the psychedelic cinema of Nobuhiko Obayashi.

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

Northern lights photographer of the year.

• The Strange World of…Takuroku.

• RIP Robbie Shakespeare.

• Robbie Shakespeare’s bass x 3: King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown (1974) by Augustus Pablo | Nightclubbing (1981) by Grace Jones | Bass And Trouble (1985) by Sly & Robbie

Weekend links 594

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Eva und die Zukunft (1898) by Max Klinger.

• “It is no exaggeration to say that MAD invented the modern, postwar American takedown.” Thomas Larson reviews Seeing MAD: Essays on Mad Magazine’s Humor and Legacy.

• At the Internet Archive: Cartoon Modern: Style And Design In Fifties Animation (2006) by Amid Amidi, a book which has been made available as a free download by its author.

• New music: A preview of Metta, Benevolence by Sunn O))), recorded live in the Mary Anne Hobbs’ radio show in 2019; Veils by Víz; The Mountain (Blakkat Dub) by Ladytron.

• At Public Domain Review: Claude Mellan’s The Sudarium of Saint Veronica (1649), an engraving made with a single continuous line.

• “For Harry Houdini, séances and Spiritualism were just an illusion,” says Bryan Greene.

TheStencil is Steven Heller’s font of the month.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Derek Jarman Day.

Nicky Mao’s favourite music.

Mad Man Blues (1951) by John Lee Hooker | Mad Pierrot (1978) by Yellow Magic Orchestra | Mad Keys (2002) by Al-Pha-X

Weekend links 591

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Ghost Box 39. Design, as always, is by Julian House.

Entangled Routes by Pye Corner Audio will be the next album on the Ghost Box label, due for release on 26th November. This will be Pye Corner Audio’s fourth album for Ghost Box, and one which forms the final part of a trilogy of imaginary soundtracks for science-fiction scenarios, “the latest installment of which plays with the idea of mycorrhizal networks and attempts by humans to listen in and communicate”.

• “…for every ten projects I start, nine will probably fall by the way side—they just don’t get made. Nothing happens, you can’t find the tapes, you can’t find the rights holders, the tapes were destroyed, no one’s interested.” Jonny Trunk interviewed at Aquarium Drunkard.

• At Unquiet Things: S. Elizabeth is celebrating the first anniversary of The Art Of The Occult (previously) by giving away a signed copy of her book to one of the commenters on this post.

• “Sand is not only temporary, it is also the most temporised form of matter.” Steven Connor on the dust that measures all our time.

• Mixes of the week: Autumn Hymnal: A Mixtape by Aquarium Drunkard, and In Estonia with Bart de Paepe by David Colohan.

• “Touched by the hand of Ithell: my fascination with a forgotten surrealist.” Stewart Lee on Ithell Colquhoun.

• Skin trade: a playlist of percussion at the outer limits; Valentina Magaletti surveys alternatives to the conventional kit.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine reviews The Devil At Saxon Wall by Gladys Mitchell.

• “The Show: Alan Moore brings vaudevillian dazzle to Northampton noir,” says Phil Hoad.

• At Bandcamp: A Guide to the Eclectic Funk Music of Bernie Worrell by John Morrison.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Octave Mirbeau The Torture Garden (1899).

• At Spine: Vera Drmanovski on redesigning the novels of Hermann Hesse.

• New music: Music For Psychedelic Therapy by Jon Hopkins.

South To The Dust (1990) by Ginger Baker | Into Dust (1993) by Mazzy Star | Photon Dust (2020) by Pye Corner Audio

Crank book covers

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Cover art by Tony Roberts, 1974. A book I received as a present for Christmas, 1974. Also the first place I encountered the words “Popol Vuh”, before discovering the music of Florian Fricke and co. a few years later.

Yes, “crank” is a pejorative word but it’s used with some degree of affection, as in “harmless crank”. It’s also a convenient umbrella term for the books referred to in the weekend post which embrace diverse subjects, from lost continents and “earth energy” to ancient astronauts and flying saucers.

The prime crank decade was the 1970s, a period when publishers were falling over themselves to cash-in on the massive popularity of Erich von Däniken’s dubious investigations, while also catering to the by-products of the hippy era and the occult revival. Books by Charles Fort, Immanuel Velikovsky and James Churchward (the Mu series) all received reprints, with some appearing in paperback for the first time. The British editions of these books were published by imprints like Corgi, Panther and Sphere who were also publishing large quantities of science fiction, a situation that led to many crank titles being packaged as though they were fiction or fantasy. Sphere was in the vanguard, presenting a wide range of books with the same cover designs, cover artists and Novel Gothic typeface as their SF titles. A cynical move, no doubt, but it also makes the crank books seem more like fiction than their authors might have intended.

This post presents a selection of crank titles with cover art by SF artists but there are many more examples out there. (Watch the skies!) I’ve limited the selection to British publishers but the same syndrome was evident in American publishing, as documented at Absolute Elsewhere. And I’ve included a couple of books by sceptics John Sladek and Dr. Christopher Evans. These were intended to dismantle the claims of L. Ron Hubbard, Erich von Däniken and co. but were still packaged in paperback to resemble the books they were attacking. The major demolition of Von Däniken is Ronald Story’s The Space Gods Revealed but covers for that one have always been relatively restrained.

Missing from this list are three paintings by SF artist Peter Jones for books by Dr. Celia Green. The art may be seen in Jones’s Solar Wind collection but I couldn’t find any of the printed covers, which suggests they had a limited run if they were printed at all. These are odd for being typical fantasy imagery attached to serious studies of lucid dreaming and out-of-body experiences. Dr. Green is a philosopher and science researcher (she coined the term “out-of-body experience”) so she doesn’t belong on a crank list in any case. Also absent is the most popular British cover illustrator of the decade, Chris Foss, who would have been too busy working through his fiction commissions and creating designs for feature films.

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Cover art by Tony Roberts (?), 1974.

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Cover art by Bruce Pennington, 1974.

Evans was a computer scientist, an occasional contributor to New Worlds magazine, and also the model for the deranged Vaughan in JG Ballard’s Crash. Cults of Unreason investigates crank sects such as the flying-saucer worshippers of the Aetherius Society (hence the cover art), and the Scientologists who caused a stir in Britain in the 1960s when L. Ron Hubbard set up an outpost at East Grinstead.

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Cover art by Colin Hay, 1974.

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Cover art by Angus McKie, 1979.

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