Weekend links 339

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Untitled (2011) by Roger Hiorns. Photograph by Kate Green.

• “Most surprising and troubling of all is the status of a series of new paintings, also depicting naked male bodies. The figures look archaic, painted using latex and molten and folded plastic. They have sex with each other and with themselves. Extra penises float about, and fill any otherwise unoccupied orifice. There’s a lot of rogering going on, anal and oral, the figures consumed entirely by the act.” Adrian Searle reviews Roger Hiorns’ latest show at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

• “At the heart of magical belief is the belief in your own free will, in your ability to make changes and influence the world. It wasn’t accepting your circumstances, it was working to understand and directly change them.” Jessa Crispin on the women of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Addison Nugent on William Hope Hodgson: “The Forgotten Bodybuilding, Shark-Fighting Sailor who Invented Cosmic Horror (and annoyed Houdini)”. I’d quibble with the “forgotten”—Hodgson is sometimes overlooked but not exactly unknown—but the appraisal is welcome.

• More end-of-year lists: The Quietus posts its Albums of the Year, Bandcamp does the same, while Adrian Curry at MUBI announces his favourite film posters of the year.

Callum James has devised The Quite Difficult Book Quiz for those who’d like a challenge (and a donation to charity) over Christmas.

• “A profoundly poetic anomaly”: Kenan Malik on the Tantric paintings that pre-empt Modernist abstraction.

Patricia M’s Flickr albums contain a wealth of antique graphic design, advertising art and undigitised letterforms.

• “Cronky, shonky, soggy, knackered”: Simon Reynolds on ten years of Moon Wiring Club.

Michael LePointe on the delightful mysteries of The Voynich Manuscript.

Veloelectroindustrial: Wandering the wastelands of former industry.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 202 by JG Biberkopf.

• “Was Edmund Wilson jealous of Lolita?” asks Alex Beam.

• “Research finds MP3s drain your music of emotion.

Richard H. Kirk‘s favourite albums.

Pavel Banka‘s surreal abstractions.

Dennis Cooper‘s Alan Clarke Day.

Cosmic Surfin’ (1978) by Yellow Magic Orchestra | Cosmic Meditation (1991) by Moondog | Cosmic Call (2006) by The Evpatoria Report

Animation Magazine: The Brothers Quay

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Interviews with the Brothers Quay have been quite plentiful in recent years—some may be found on their DVD releases—but for the Quay enthusiast some are more notable than others. This half hour programme for French TV stood out for me for taking place inside the London studio where many of the Quays’ short films have been made. The interview was conducted in 2002, and one of the brothers mentions that they may be leaving the premises soon; one of their exhibition catalogues has a recent photo of the studio so we can assume this wasn’t the case.

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Since this was made for an animation series the discussion is mainly about the brothers’ animation techniques. There’s also some barbed comment later on about the conservative state of British television. The UK’s Channel 4 was a great champion of animation in its early days, and the channel’s budget for short films helped finance many of the early films by the Quays and their producer Keith Griffiths. This was at a time when there were only four TV channels to choose from; today we have numerous satellite channels but no room on any of them for unusual or experimental fare. Similar sentiments are voiced on the BFI’s recent collection of Alan Clarke films. Just as there’s no room for the Quays in the current climate, there’s no room either for the single dramas that directors like Clarke were making in the 1970s and 1980s.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, a film by the Brothers Quay
More Brothers Quay scarcities
Eurydice…She, So Beloved, a film by the Brothers Quay
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

Penda reborn

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Penda’s Fen is one of the most important British television dramas of the 1970s, and would increasingly be recognised as such if the licensing problems which have dogged an official DVD release could be resolved.

That was how I ended the section about Penda’s Fen in the David Rudkin essay I wrote last year for Andy Paciorek’s Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies. The book had only been out for a couple of months when the BFI announced that Penda’s Fen would at long last be given a DVD and Blu-ray release, together with a collection of other TV dramas directed by Alan Clarke. A few months later and Penda’s Fen is now on sale, so those of us served by the European DVD region (or those with region-free players) no longer have to point people to a low-grade YouTube recording of the film.

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There’s no need for me to rhapsodise further about Rudkin’s work in general or Penda’s Fen in particular when I’ve already done so in the Folk Horror Revival piece, and in this lengthy post from 2010. The film itself looks the best I’ve ever seen it, slightly desaturated compared to the DVD I made of my own VHS recording (but then the BFI transfer is closer to the film elements) but with a fuller frame than in the TV screening. The one striking difference is in the title sequence which in the 1990 screening had a red cast throughout, something that’s missing from the BFI version. I don’t know why this is but the red cast always made the jump to the titles from a still shot of the Malvern hills more abrupt than it needed to be.

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The extras on this release are minimal, with a short collection of interviewees apparently taken from a longer documentary about Alan Clarke’s work that will be in the Clarke collection out next month. The booklet features a new essay about the film by Sukhdev Sandhu, editor of the excellent Penda’s Fen tribute, The Edge Is Where The Centre Is. The Folk Horror Revival book is listed in the notes at the end of Sukhdev’s piece so I’m hoping this may prompt some of the people encountering Rudkin’s work for the first time to also look at his stage plays and that other sui generis television film, Artemis 81. David Rudkin, who will be 80 this year, was one of the many unique writers shunted out of the TV world by the very “entertainment barons” that Arne the playwright condemns in Penda’s Fen. I’m glad he’s lived to see this overdue reappraisal of his finest work for the medium.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies
The Living Grave by David Rudkin
The Edge Is Where The Centre Is
Afore Night Come by David Rudkin
White Lady by David Rudkin
Penda’s Fen by David Rudkin
David Rudkin on Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr

Weekend links 308

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Frank Herbert’s Dune receives a new cover design by Alex Trochut together with other notable works of science fiction and fantasy for a new series from Penguin.

• “…poet, scholar and biographer Sandeep Parmar…has raised the possibility that a long poem by Hope Mirrlees, titled Paris and published by the Hogarth Press in 1919, was a strong influence on The Waste Land.” Alfred Corn on new TS Eliot scholarship.

• “[Evolution‘s] strain of body horror brings to mind an ethereal HP Lovecraft mixed with David Cronenberg.” Rachel Bowles talks to the film’s director, Lucile Hadzihalilovic.

• Library music “is a sonic world of ‘weird beats, odd instrumentations, albums full of dark jazzy interludes or bizarre garage rock.'” Adrian Shaughnessy on innovation in banality.

Italy, which EM Forster called “the beautiful country where they say ‘yes’”, became another resort, especially the island of Capri, where a French poet staged a ceremonial flogging of his teenage Italian lover before the boy departed to do his military service and became the subject of a novel by his compatriot Roger Peyrefitte. In the Egyptian city of Alexandria, Forster observed the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy “standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe”, and the Australian novelist Patrick White met a local man who became his lifelong companion. For decades, the novelists Paul and Jane Bowles presided in Tangier, which Jack Kerouac was to call a “sinister international hive of queens”. William Burroughs arrived in 1954 with a teenage Spaniard named Kiki who, Woods writes, “was, famously, the boy who would blow smoke into his pubic hair and say ‘Abracadabra’ as his hardening cock emerged from the cloud”. Tangier was to figure in Burroughs’s novel Naked Lunch as a phantasmagoric, rubbery walled sex market called the Interzone.

Caleb Crain reviewing Homintern by Gregory Woods

• Beardsley biographer Matthew Sturgis reviews Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné, a two-volume collection edited by Linda Gertner Zatlin.

• “He was the Bresson of Birkenhead.” Andrew Collins reviews the forthcoming collection of BBC dramas directed by Alan Clarke.

• “The postwar Hollywood western was more content to let strangeness be strange,” says Michael Newton.

• “Bosch’s work has always caused trouble for interpreters and critics,” says Morgan Meis.

Misplaced New York: a project by Anton Repponen and Jon Earle.

Wyrd Daze, Lvl2 Issue 6, is out, and as before is a free download.

Lessons we can learn from Robert Altman’s 3 Women.

• Mix of the week: FACT Mix 548 by Peder Mannerfelt.

Paris 1971 (1971) by Suzanne Ciani | Paris II (1987) by Jon Hassell | Dreaming Of Paris (2013) by Van Dyke Parks

Weekend links 297

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Crimson Metallic Emergent Skull Crystal Pendant by Kristen Phillips aka Floridxfauna.

The Noise-Arch Backup at the Internet Archive is 30GB of mp3s from noise-arch.net, a collection of cassette-based releases and artwork: “material represented includes tape experimentation, industrial, avant-garde, indy, rock, diy, subvertainment and auto-hypnotic materials…” 30GB is an intimidatingly large amount of material so it’s better to browse The Noise-Arch Archive, a selection of 468 releases.

• The week in erotica: Claire Voon on Ancient Erotic Dreams and Explicit Scenes in the New York Public Library Collection; Melanie Porter on Great Grandporn: Hardcore Pornography of the Silent Era; Cathy Camper on The Comics of Dale Lazarov: Illustrated Explorations of Sexual Inventiveness.

Void Beats/Invocation Trex by Cavern of Anti-Matter (Holger Zapf, Joe Dilworth & Tim Gane) was released this week. The opening number is Tardis Cymbals. Tom Furse condensed the 73-minute album into a 17-minute mini-mix.

Indeed, if you had to “place” ­Williams—put him alongside writers with whom he had something in common—it would be with the mystical autodidacts, the backstreet Rosicrucians more than with the pipe-smoking, tweedy Inklings. To that extent, the only unsatisfactory thing about Grevel Lindop’s book is its title. True, Williams went to Oxford when war broke out and became friends with the famous circle around C. S. Lewis. But he was not an Inkling in spirit. He was not at home in Oxford, and his arrival, far from consolidating the Inklings, actually broke them up by bewitching Lewis, and making Lewis neglect the central friendship of his life, that with ­Tolkien. Another scholar of Old English literature, C. L. Wrenn, said that meeting Williams made you realize why inquisitors thought they had the right to burn people. Tolkien agreed: “Williams is eminently combustible.”

Certainly, Williams’s books had an influence on the Inklings. Lindop is right to say that the central plotline of Many Dimensions suggests the story of The Lord of the Rings. In the Williams novel, it is a stone of great power, rather than a ring, but it has the same effect on those who bear it: They become its possession, not its possessor.

AN Wilson reviews Charles Williams: The Third Inkling by Grevel Lindop

• Russ Fischer recommends five films by Andrzej Zulawski (RIP). Possession (1981) is still the easiest to find, and a good place to start. I enthused about On The Silver Globe (1977–87) last year.

England’s Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground by David Keenan has been published in a revised and expanded edition by Strange Attractor.

The Preservation Man (1962): Artist and collector Bruce Lacey (RIP) filmed by Ken Russell for the BBC’s Monitor.

Barry Adamson: “I’ve been called the outsider’s outsider”.

• At Dangerous Minds: Six degrees of Marty Feldman.

• Mix of the week: FACT mix 536 by Not Waving.

• The Alan Clarke page at the BFI shop.

Umberto Eco (RIP): Porta Ludovica

Possessions (1980) by The Residents | Possessed (1992) by The Balanescu Quartet | Possessed (2001) by Sussan Deyhim & Shirin Neshat