Weekend links 266

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Spine and cover art by John Schoenherr for the first American edition of Dune, 1965.

• “[Herbert] had also taken peyote and read Jung. In 1960, a sailing buddy introduced him to the Zen thinker Alan Watts, who was living on a houseboat in Sausalito. Long conversations with Watts, the main conduit by which Zen was permeating the west-coast counterculture, helped turn Herbert’s pacy adventure story into an exploration of temporality, the limits of personal identity and the mind’s relationship to the body.” Hari Kunzru on Frank Herbert and Dune, 50 years on. Related: “To save California, read Dune,” says Andrew Leonard. There’s a lot more Dune cover art at ISFDB.

• “Embedded in Adam’s footage were several dark forms, human-ish in outline, unidentifiable but unmistakable, visible within the leaves or the shadows.” Holloway is a short film by Adam Scovell based on the book by Robert Macfarlane, Dan Richards and Stanley Donwood.

The Library of the Lost: In Search of Forgotten Authors by Roger Dobson; edited and with an introduction by Mark Valentine. Roger and Mark were my first publishers in 1988 when their Caermaen Books imprint produced the large-format edition of The Haunter of the Dark.

• “…over the years he created a series of ‘Pharmacies’: rows of glass bottles filled not with medicines to cure the body…but objects to stimulate the mind.” Clare Walters reviews Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust, an exhibition at the Royal Academy, London.

• “The sound machines we build today are invariably one-offs, made from salvaged parts, with all the precariousness of a prototype.” Sarah Angliss on the art of making music machines.

Mission Desire is a new single by Jane Weaver whose video is “set to scenes from Marie Mathématique – the French 1960s mini-series about Barbarella’s younger sister”.

• Ghost signs, ginnels and hidden details: an alternative guide to Manchester by Hayley Flynn aka Skyliner.

• “I want to be despised,” says John Waters who has a new art exhibition at Sprüth Magers, London.

Sonic Praise, an album of “Krautprogbikermetal” by Ecstatic Vision.

• The Evolution of the Great Gay Novel: an overview by Rebecca Brill.

* At Bibliothèque Gay: more homoerotic drawings by Jean Cocteau.

Wyrd Daze Lvl2 Issue 3 is a free download.

Nicolas Winding Refn: vinyl collector.

Art With Naked Guys In It

Caladan (2011) by Roly Porter | Giedi Prime (2011) by Roly Porter | Arrakis (2011) by Roly Porter

Weekend links 175

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Heartbeat of the Death – Queen Elizabeth the First (2013) by Haruko Maeda.

• “The casual mixing of people from across the world at The Garden broke down many barriers. Its rich, beautiful, smart, and successful people were confident enough to exercise the kind of sexual freedom that would land you in jail elsewhere in the country.” Kate Webb on Alla Nazimova’s Hollywood estate, The Garden of Alla.

• “…from 1956 to 1970 Borges taught English literature at the University of Buenos Aires, and now, over half a century later, one of his courses is finally available in English in a slim, delightful volume.” Will Glovinsky on Professor Borges. Related: Jacob Mikanowski says “To Tlön: Let’s Invade Reality”.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 084 by Koen Holtkamp—Alice Coltrane, Alan Watts, John Cage, Popol Vuh, Faust and others—and Sequenze E Frequenze, “the rarefied outer limits of ‘stare at the sun, outsider peaked’ Italian music”.

Consider the fate of the concept of ‘futuristic’ music. The ‘futuristic’ in music has long since ceased to refer to any future that we expect to be different; it has become an established style, much like a particular typographical font. Invited to think of the futuristic, we will still come up with something like the music of Kraftwerk, even though this is now as antique as Glenn Miller’s big band jazz was when the German group began experimenting with synthesizers in the early 1970s.

Where is the 21st-century equivalent of Kraftwerk? If Kraftwerk’s music came out of a casual intolerance of the already-established, then the present moment is marked by its extraordinary accommodation towards the past. More than that, the very distinction between past and present is breaking down. In 1981, the 1960s seemed much further away than they do today. Since then, cultural time has folded back on itself, and the impression of linear development has given way to a strange simultaneity.

Mark Fisher on the present cultural moment, and the weirdness of Sapphire and Steel.

• At Front Free Endpaper: A Gay Library Thing and French Line Gay Pulp Cover Designs. Callum is also giving away books by Frederick Rolfe/Baron Corvo to anyone who asks. The proviso is you write a short review for his blog.

• Film director Ben Wheatley on Don’t Look Now: “I felt a great panic come over me”. Elsewhere it was announced this week that Wheatley is planning a film of JG Ballard’s High Rise.

• Brits may remember the wonderful Laurie Pike from the Manhattan Cable TV show in the early 1990s. These days she’s writing an online guide to the city of Paris.

Ben Frost has made three previously unreleased recordings available at Bandcamp.

The Media History Digital Library: 800,000 pages of film and radio periodicals.

• The results of three derives in London by Christina Scholz here, here and here.

• The late Seamus Heaney reads his own translation of Beowulf here and here.

High Rise (1979) by Hawkwind | Pop Sicle (1994) by High Rise | High Rise (2005) by Ladytron

The Occult Explosion

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So here’s a strange thing: having spent another working week sifting through scanned books at the Internet Archive what do I find but scans of album booklet art by Wilfried Sätty only a couple of days after writing about his album covers. The album in question may be familiar to some readers but it was a new one to me. The Occult Explosion (1973) was a collection of recorded interviews with people such as Alan Watts and Anton LaVey discussing subjects pertinent to the title, although the general tone is more in the direction of catch-all mysticism than occultism as such. Anton LaVey is there to pronounce about Satanism, of course, and the album also features two songs by British rock band Black Widow, one of which, Come To The Sabbat, has since achieved a kind of novelty notoriety. (There’s a nice video-feedback recording of them playing the song live on Beat Club in 1970.)

Nat Freedland was the author of a book entitled The Occult Explosion for which the album acts as an audio appendix. This is all so typically 1970s: witchcraft, Satanism, rock music, yoga, Alan Watts, UFOs, ESP, and the whole thing packaged in Sätty’s post-psychedelia collages. The entire album is available at the Internet Archive: the recordings are here while the badly-scanned insert pages are here. (There’s a better view of the cover art at Flickr.) Some of the more impressive pieces of Sätty’s art follow, work which has been buried for almost forty years. Just to add to the net of coincidences this week, the last of the pictures below borrows a demon from Gustave Doré’s Divine Comedy, the same source as yesterday’s Rick Griffin poster.

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Continue reading “The Occult Explosion”