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


 

More trip texts

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More psychedelia of a sort. Anthologist Michel Parry, who died last year, was a familiar name to British readers of fantasy, horror and science fiction for his themed collections: Beware of the Cat (1972; horror stories about cats), The Devil’s Children (1974; horror stories about children), The Hounds of Hell (1974; horror stories about dogs), Jack the Knife (1975; Jack the Ripper stories), The Supernatural Solution (1976; occult investigators), Sex in the 21st Century (1979), and so on.

Parry also compiled multi-volume anthologies throughout the 1970s, two of which have always stood out for me: the Mayflower Books of Black Magic Stories ran to six volumes presenting a wide range of occult fiction that included a number of obscure tales from Victorian and Edwardian writers; for Panther Books he compiled three collections of drug-related fantasy and SF stories that are just as varied, and may even be unique for the way they place authors as such as Lord Dunsany and Norman Spinrad together in the same volume. Both series are very much of their time—occult psychedelia!—and are worth seeking out, if you can find them. I emphasise the last point because it’s taken me a while to find a copy of Strange Ecstasies that wasn’t being offered for bizarrely inflated prices; my paperback habit has its limits… None of these anthologies have been reprinted so they’ll become increasingly scarce. For more invented drugs, there’s a good list at Wikipedia.

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Cover art by Bob Haberfield.

Strange Ecstasies (1973)
The Plutonian Drug (1934) by Clark Ashton Smith
The Dream Pills (1920) by FH Davis
The White Powder (1895) by Arthur Machen
The New Accelerator (1901) by HG Wells
The Big Fix (1956) by Richard Wilson
The Secret Songs (1962) by Fritz Leiber
The Hounds of Tindalos (1929) by Frank Belknap Long
Subjectivity (1964) by Norman Spinrad
What to Do Until the Analyst Comes (1956) by Frederik Pohl
Pipe Dream (1972) by Chris Miller

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Cover art by Bob Haberfield.

Dream Trips (1974)
The Hashish Man (1910) by Lord Dunsany
As Dreams Are Made On (1973) by Joseph F. Pumilia
The Adventure of the Pipe (1898) by Richard Marsh
Dream-Dust from Mars (1938) by Manly Wade Wellman
The Life Serum (1926) by Paul S. Powers
Morning After (1957) by Robert Sheckley
Under the Knife (1896) by HG Wells
The Good Trip (1970) by Ursula K. Le Guin
No Direction Home (1971) by Norman Spinrad
The Phantom Drug (1926) by AW Kapfer

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Cover art by Brian Froud.

Spaced Out (1977)
The Deep Fix (1964) by Michael Moorcock
All the Weed in the World (1961) by Fritz Leiber
The Roger Bacon Formula (1929) by Fletcher Pratt
Smoke of the Snake (1934) by Carl Jacobi
Melodramine (1965) by Henry Slesar
My Head’s in a Different Place, Now (1972) by Grania Davis
Sky (1971) by RA Lafferty
All of Them Were Empty— (1972) by David Gerrold

Previously on { feuilleton }
Trip texts
Acid albums
Acid covers
Lyrical Substance Deliberated
The Art of Tripping, a documentary by Storm Thorgerson
Enter the Void
In the Land of Retinal Delights
Haschisch Hallucinations by HE Gowers
The art of LSD
Hep cats

 


Art that transcends

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Late last year, US design magazine Communication Arts asked me to write a piece about psychedelic art, past and present. The resulting feature has been out for a couple of weeks in the May/June issue (no. 56) but I hadn’t seen it in print until a copy turned up today. Attempting to wrangle discussion of a very wide-ranging and amorphous field into 1500 words isn’t an easy task but I managed to sketch a history of psychedelic art beginning with Aldous Huxley and Humphrey Osmond’s mescaline experiments in the 1950s. Art that can be considered psychedelic goes back into prehistory but Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954) is the first book that considered art in general from a psychedelic viewpoint. That book, and the later Heaven and Hell (1956), are still valuable for their aesthetic meditations however much Huxley’s optimism may have been tainted by the ferment of the 1960s.

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Primitive And Deadly (2014) by Earth. Art by Samantha Muljat.

The psychedelic art of the 60s isn’t exactly overlooked so I paid more attention to tracing the influence of the psychedelic style, and also mentioning painters such as Ernst Fuchs, Alex Grey, Martina Hoffmann and Mati Klarwein. Among the more recent artists, I was pleased that Samantha Muljat‘s album cover for Earth was featured. I’ve been listening to this album a great deal over the past few months, and loved that cover as soon as I saw it. One of the other contemporary names, Brazilian artist Duda Lanna, works in a very different style: bold, vivid, and often abstract. There seems to be a lot of this kind of work around at the moment, so much so that I kept spotting new examples after the article had been delivered. It’s difficult to say whether this is a developing trend or simply a case of there being more of everything around these days. I’ll play safe and suggest it’s probably a bit of both although, as I say at the end of the article, if the movement to legalise drugs gains momentum we can expect to see a lot more psychedelic art.

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Garden of Psychedelic Delights by Duda Lanna.

 


A Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

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The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word “satire” is

Formerly often confused or associated with satyr, from the common notion (found already in some ancient grammarians) that Latin ‘satira’ was derived from the Greek ‘satyr’, in allusion to the chorus of satyrs which gave its name to the Greek ‘satyric’ drama.

The word derives from “satura”

in early use a discursive composition in verse treating of a variety of subjects, in classical use a poem in which prevalent follies or vices are assailed with ridicule or with serious denunciation (OED)

but Austin Osman Spare’s A Book of Satyrs deliberately confuses satyr with satire, being a collection of satirical drawings among which may be found a small number of satyrs. Spare’s book was published in 1907 in an edition of 300 copies; it was reprinted by John Lane in 1909, and has been reissued since but any edition of Spare seems fated to vanish almost as soon as it appears, hence this unauthorised scan at the Internet Archive. Technically, these are some of the most detailed drawings that Spare produced so it’s to their benefit that the copies are a decent size; the meaning may not always be clear but you can at least wander among the accumulations of body parts, masks and bric-a-brac. Most are dated 1906, Spare’s 20th year.

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Read the rest of this entry »

 


Eurydice…She, So Beloved, a film by the Brothers Quay

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Another recent short from the Quays that’s yet to be given a wider release, Eurydice…She, So Beloved (2007) is an opera/dance piece subtitled “Film ballet in homage to the 100th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo“. Orfeo (Simon Keenlyside) sings an aria while Hermes (Kenneth Tharp) rouses Eurydice (Zenaida Yanowsky) from her sleep in a suitably Stygian and rather industrial Underworld. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Inventorium of Traces, a film by the Brothers Quay
Maska: Stanislaw Lem and the Brothers Quay
Stille Nacht V: Dog Door
Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets
Brothers Quay scarcities
Crossed destinies revisited
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
The Brothers Quay on DVD

 


Inventorium of Traces, a film by the Brothers Quay

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Inventorium of Traces was made in 2009 but it’s taken a while to make its way out of Poland in any complete form. In this 25-minute video piece the Quays turn their attention to Lancut Castle, a celebrated Polish stately home, and the former residence of the Potocki family. Of the latter, Jan Potocki would have an understandable attractions for the Quays being the author of The Saragossa Manuscript, a book that’s briefly alluded to when the Saragossa region is glimpsed on a map. The first half of the film shows visitors to the Castle being observed by statues and paintings, one of which is a portrait of Jan Potocki; in the second half, night falls, the building is locked, and some typical Quay business begins with flickering light and spectral animation. The music is by Krzysztof Penderecki, a composer the Quays used a year later for their superb animation, Maska, and also the composer of the soundtrack to the Wojciech Has adaptation of Potocki’s novel. The quality of the uploaded video could be better (the frame seems to be cropped) but it’s good enough for Quay obsessives. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Saragossa Manuscript posters
Maska: Stanislaw Lem and the Brothers Quay
Stille Nacht V: Dog Door
Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets
Brothers Quay scarcities
Crossed destinies revisited
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
The Brothers Quay on DVD

 


 




 

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“feed your head”

 

Below the fold

 

Penda's Fen by David Rudkin