Weekend links 390

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French poster by Basha (Barbara Baranowska) for Andrzej Zulawski’s extraordinary Possession (1981).

• “Alive from Off Center, renamed Alive TV in 1992, was an American arts anthology television series aired by PBS between 1984 and 1996. Each week, the series featured experimental short films by a mixture of up-and-coming and established directors. Notable episodes included As Seen on TV, starring comic actor Bill Irwin as an auditioning dancer who becomes trapped in a television, wandering among daytime dramas, MTV, and PBS’s own Sesame Street and the atmospheric puppet melodrama Street of Crocodiles, adapted by the Brothers Quay from the Bruno Schultz story. […] Arguably the series’ best-known episode was What You Mean We? a short film written by, directed by, and starring Laurie Anderson, which aired in 1986.” Alive from Off Center, 11 episodes at Ubuweb.

• “[Count] Stenbock was a homosexual convert to Roman Catholicism and owner of a serpent, a toad, and a dachshund called Trixie. It was said that toward the end of his life he was accompanied everywhere by a life-size wooden doll that he believed to be his son. His poems and stories are replete with queer, supernatural, mystical, and Satanic themes; original editions of his books are highly sought by collectors of recherché literature.” Of Kings and Things: Strange Tales and Decadent Poems by Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock will be published by Strange Attractor in March, 2018.

• Music news of the week (in this house, anyway) is a new song, The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra, by Anna von Hausswolff. A new album, Dead Magic, is due in March, and I’m doubly-thrilled to read that Randall Dunn of Master Musicians of Bukkake (and producer/engineer for Earth, Sunn O))), etc.) is involved.

• “Why do Texas prisons ban Freakonomics but not Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf?” asks Lauren McGaughy. On the banned list is the three-volume The Graphic Canon, edited by Russ Kick, which includes my adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

• “To understand how other planets are made, exogeologists are synthesizing those planets in miniature in the earthbound equipment in their labs.” BLDGBLOG on speculative mineralogy.

• “What does the Bardo sound like?” Lauria Galbraith on Éliane Radigue‘s Trilogie de la Mort, three hour-long electronic compositions based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

• And speaking of Earth, Joseph Stannard talked to Dylan Carlson (Earth) and Kevin Martin (The Bug) about their recent collaboration.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 630 by Hanz, XLR8R Podcast 519 by Setaoc Mass, and Secret Thirteen Mix 239 by Blush Response.

• The League’s seven deadly sins: Reese Shearsmith on the cinematic influences behind The League of Gentlemen’s TV series.

Donnie & Laurie, a jam from the late 1970s with Laurie Spiegel on Electrocomp 101 synthesizer, and Don Christensen on drums.

• Guests and dates for the Dublin Ghost Story Festival have been announced.

David Bowie sang for Devo, and Mark Mothersbaugh might have the tapes.

• The albums of the year according to The Quietus.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Isabelle Adjani Day.

Possessed (1979) by MX-80 Sound | Possession (1988) by Danzig | Possessed (1992) by Balanescu Quartet

Weekend links 298

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The Gathering (2015) by Kristen Liu-Wong.

• Tom of Finland’s house in Echo Park, Los Angeles, “is a trove of homoerotic masterpieces“. The house and its former owner are celebrated in Tom House, a book by Michael Reynolds with photos by Martyn Thompson. Related: Tom House exposed by Rizzoli.

• “Underlying the heightened nature of the films was a deep, questioning soulfulness related to literary antecedents coupled with a vision of cinema open to shifting levels of perception and fantasy.” David Thompson on Andrzej Zulawski.

• Memories of the Space Age: Photos by Roland Miller of the ruins of NASA’s old launch pads, bunkhouses and research facilities. A British equivalent (and a much more modest affair) is the Highdown Rocket Site on the Isle of Wight.

• Statues allegedly made for the John Huston film of The Maltese Falcon are among the most expensive props in cinema history even though there’s still dispute about their authenticity. Bryan Burrough investigates.

• Mixes of the week: The Solar Gate: Female Private Press New-Age Music – Vol.1 by Michael Tanner, and an “alchemical” Bowie selection by The Ephemeral Man.

• “What Does It Take To Be A ‘Bestselling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes.” Brent Underwood on why Amazon ratings can’t be trusted.

Edward Gorey/Derek Lamb title sequences from the PBS/WGBH show Mystery! (1981).

• A Painter Possessed: Kate Kellaway on the occult abstractions of Hilma af Klint.

Invertebrate Harmonics: a new composition by Chris Watson.

• Frozen in time: Inside Bangkok’s first ever department store.

Roly Porter’s Favourite Space Records

• Space-Age Couple (1970) by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band | Space Age Batchelor Pad Music (Mellow) (1993) by Stereolab | Space Age Ballad (2001) by Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.

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

The edge of coherence: On the Silver Globe

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Science-fiction cinema has always suffered in comparison to its written counterparts; sets and special effects have to work hard to create believable worlds or futures, while the need to recoup enormous costs has often meant that film scenarios aren’t much better than those being written in the early days of the pulp magazines. Simplistic adventure stories yield bigger audiences and greater revenues. Computer technology has helped the effects problem but production expenses ensure that inventive or unusual SF films are scarce and invariably low-budget works. Anything too ambitious or challenging is unlikely to be funded.

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On the Silver Globe is an unfinished science-fiction film by Andrzej Zulawski that even in its incomplete state is that very rare thing: a film with a fantastic premise that doesn’t appear to have been staged for an audience at all. The film is long—over two-and-a-half hours—and much of it so disregards the conventions of commercial cinema that the immediate reaction is amazement that it exists in any form. Zulawski has a cult reputation outside his native Poland for Possession (1981), a unique horror film made when he was living in exile in Paris. On the Silver Globe was one of the reasons for his leaving the country; after two years of work in several countries, and with the film almost finished, the production was shut down in 1977 by a new vice-minister of cultural affairs who perceived a metaphoric subtext directed against the Polish authorities. The existing footage was supposed to have been destroyed but Zulawski and his production team hid the film and costumes hoping one day to shoot the missing scenes. After ten years of waiting it was decided to present the film as it was with the missing scenes filled by shots of Polish streets and countryside. A voiceover by the director describes the missing content.

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