Weekend links 613

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An engraving by Rafael Custos from Cabala, Spiegel der Kunst und Natur, In Alchymia (1615) by “Father C.R.C.”.

• “Writing is very subconscious and the last thing I want to do is think about it.” Cormac McCarthy responded to a handful of questions from a couple of lucky high-school students. Lithub’s list of McCarthy’s rare public manifestations missed this chatty encounter with the Coen Brothers from 2007.

• Strange Flowers celebrates Rosa Bonheur, “the most famous and successful woman artist of the 19th century, dressing in men’s clothing, smoking cigars, riding astride and living openly with female partners.”

A Secret Between Gentlemen by Peter Jordaan “details a British Government coverup of a gay scandal involving great names. Hidden for 120 years, it is a history that has never been told, and until recently could not be told.”

[Mark E. Smith] liked HP Lovecraft, whose monster of The Call of Cthulhu and The Dunwich Horror appears in the song N.W.R.A., “Body a tentacle mess”. He quite liked MR James’ Ghost Stories. He liked the more recent, seemingly disgraced, and by then unfashionable, occult fiction of Colin Wilson: The Black Room and Ritual in the Dark. But He LOVED the writing of early twentieth century Arthur Machen. “Machen’s fucking brilliant.” In his autobiography Renegade he comments, “He lives in this alternative world: the real occult’s not in Egypt, but in the pubs of the East End and the stinking boats of the Thames—on your doorstep, basically.”

Woebot goes deep into the grotesque and esoteric worlds of Mark E. Smith and The Fall

• “It sometimes seems as though inn signs are the symbols and the focus of some great alchemical experiment in the landscape of England.” Mark Valentine on inn signs and some of the theories about their origins.

• “…we’re going back into this shipwreck and, you know, pulling out the gold pieces”. Dennis Bovell on reworking the Pop Group’s incendiary debut album as Y in Dub.

• Mixes of the week: A Wendy Carlos mix by Erik DeLuca for The Wire, and a psychedelic/post-punk mix by Robert Hampson for NTS.

Landscapes is an exhibition of torn-paper collages by Jordan Belson at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

• “A force entirely of itself”: Robert Fripp on the difficult legacy of King Crimson.

White Landscape I (1971) by Douglas Leedy | John Cage: In A Landscape (1994) performed by Stephen Drury | Primordial Landscape (2013) by Patrick Cowley

Weekend links 608

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The Temple, an illustration from The Ship that Sailed to Mars (1923) by William Timlin.

• “With the grotteschi, Piranesi produced hybrid forms of ornament juxtaposed in an array without regard to single-point perspective. With his capricci, he brought disparate structures into a landscape that existed only within the borders of the plate. Perhaps because of his early fidelity to accuracy and the long tradition of printmaking as a medium for the measured representation of antique forms, Piranesi’s capricci take on a particularly fantastic aura.” Susan Stewart on the ruinous fantasias of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, one of whose etchings happens to be providing the page header this month.

• At Dangerous Minds: 23rd Century Giants, the incredible true story of Renaldo & The Loaf! Oliver Hall conducts a long and very informative interview with two of Britain’s strangest music makers.

• New music: Nightcrawler by Kevin Richard Martin, recommended to anyone who enjoys the nocturnal doom of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore; and Murmurations by Lea Bertucci & Ben Vida.

“Throughout the book, McCarthy writes as if he knows something that more conventional historians aren’t always keen to accept: that the past doesn’t always make sense, that it’s often cruel and irrational, and that some things aren’t so explainable. History is not a book waiting to be opened so much as a Pandora’s box that might curse us and leave us chastened by what we find inside.”

Bennett Parten on Cormac McCarthy’s baleful masterpiece, Blood Meridian

• “Inside me are two wolves and they are both paintings by Kazimierz Stabrowski.” S. Elizabeth‘s latest art discoveries.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on Arthur Machen and the mysteries of the Grail.

• RIP Betty Davis and Douglas Trumbull.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Tobe Hooper Day.

Temple Bells (1959) by Frank Hunter And His Orchestra | Temple Of Gold (1960) by Les Baxter | Temple (2018) by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Weekend links 607

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Jerry (1931) by Paul Cadmus.

• “I wanted to photograph naked young men as opulently and as attentively as those professional ladies appearing in Playboy-type magazines.” RIP James Bidgood, photographer and director of no-budget gay-porn classic Pink Narcissus. Also in the obituary notices this week: Monica Vitti and John Appleton, composer of electronic music and inventor of the Synclavier sampling keyboard.

• “…the Sola Busca deck is limited in its use for divinatory purposes today, and yet, since its enigmatic imagery irresistibly invites decoding, the deck nonetheless beckons twenty-first century cartomancers into a game of high imagination.” Kevin Dann on the mysteries of the world’s oldest complete Tarot deck.

• “This Missouri company still makes cassette tapes, and they are flying off the factory floor.” Jennifer Billock reports.

He attended to his own talent, not in the interest of bombast or self-aggrandisement, but rather like a faithful watchman. He had the fixity of the great and therefore no need of vanity. He estimated that three shillings would be a reasonable price for Ulysses. A tiresome book, he admitted. At the same time he was dogged by fear that the printing house would be burnt down or that some untoward catastrophe would happen. He assisted Miss Beach in wrapping the copies, he autographed the deluxe editions, he wrote to influential people, he hawked packages to the post office. He knew that the illustrati would change their minds many a time before settling down to a final opinion and that many another would know as much about it as the parliamentary side of his arse.

Edna O’Brien on James Joyce

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Secret Glory by Arthur Machen, another novel now in its centenary year.

• At Aquarium Drunkard: It Is Not My Music, (1978) an hour-long Swedish TV documentary about Don Cherry.

• At Bandcamp: The transportive psychedelia of Moon Glyph records.

• Mix of the week: Fact Mix 844 by A Psychic Yes.

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

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Guitar.

Mumblin’ Guitar (1960) by Bo Diddley | Electric Guitar (1979) by Talking Heads | Impossible Guitar (1982) by Phil Manzanera

Man is the Animal: A Coil Zine

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Death is centrifugal / Solar and logical / Decadent and symmetrical / Angels are mathematical / Angels are bestial / Man is the animal —Fire Of The Mind by Coil

In the post this week from Temporal Boundary Press, issue 1 of Man is the Animal: A Coil Zine. A timely publication, given the persistent and increasing interest in Coil, and one whose essays are all of a quality belied by the “zine” label which usually suggests something more fannish and trivial. This is a pleasing object even before you look inside, a perfect-bound A5 booklet with full-colour printing throughout, and a cover painting by Val Denham, an artist with Coil associations that reach back through the Some Bizzare period to art for Marc Almond and Throbbing Gristle. Denham also contributes one of the written pieces, Jhonn is Unbalanced, a touching memoir of Geoff Rushton/John (Jhonn) Balance. Among the other entries is a piece by Benjamin Noys, a writer whose previous studies have included an examination of the connections between my own art for the Reverbstorm comic series and the weird fiction of HP Lovecraft. Noys takes a similar approach here, finding reflections of Coil obsessions in the symbolism of alchemical magic and the weird fiction of Arthur Machen.

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Epigraph from Outside the Circles of Time by Kenneth Grant.

The weird fiction of HP Lovecraft was a Coil obsession, and Lovecraft receives the most attention in a great piece by Andy Sharp which takes its cue from the appearance in Titan Arch of lines from the epigraph for Outside the Circles of Time, an occult study by magus and scholar Kenneth Grant. The latter was another Lovecraft obsessive—no doubt one of the first, given his age—whose books are littered with references to both Lovecraft and Machen. I spotted the Coil/Grant connection many years ago (although quite some time after Love’s Secret Domain was released), and acknowledged the link in two pages in The Haunter of the Dark, one of which reprints Grant’s epigraph, while the other is a picture with the title In Spaces Between, a line from Titan Arch which is also a reference to the Necronomicon extract in The Dunwich Horror: “The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.” Sharp does more than merely acknowledge this web of connections, he delves into Grant’s dense treatise in search of further correspondences. I’ve not read Grant’s book for many years but this essay makes me think I ought to look at it again. By coincidence (or is it? etc), both Love’s Secret Domain and Outside the Circles of Time have been reissued this year, the Grant book by Starfire Publishing.

Contents:
The Vision and the Voice: Esoteric Dimensions of Coil’s Vocals by Hayes Hampton
A Hauntology of Coil by Sean Oscar
Are You Loathsome Tonight?: Coil’s Transformations by Benjamin Noys
The Horseman Betrays His Steed by Cormac Pentecost
The Spaces Between: Outside the Circles of Time and Love’s Secret Domain by Andy Sharp
Jhonn is Unbalanced by Val Denham

Previously on { feuilleton }
Dreaming Out of Space: Kenneth Grant on HP Lovecraft
Peter Christopherson Photography & The Art of John Balance Collected
The White People by Arthur Machen
Val Denham album covers
Kenneth Grant, 1924–2011
Peter Christopherson, 1955–2010
The Angelic Conversation

Dessinateurs et humoristes: George Barbier

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The haute couture of the 1920s has been the subject of my latest work-related research so I’ve been going through back issues of Gazette du Bon Ton, an expensive French fashion magazine which used pochoir prints of drawings by a variety of illustrators to depict the latest dress designs from Paris. One of the regular Bon Ton contributors was George Barbier (1882–1932), an artist whose work has appeared in several posts here, and who I look for now and then when browsing library archives. Searching for new Barbier may be at an end, however, since the more recent uploads at Gallica include almost all of the books that he illustrated. It’s no surprise that these have turned up eventually—it was only a matter of time—but among the cache there’s a unique item that I’d never have expected to see.

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Dessinateurs et humoristes is a scrapbook of odds and ends covering Barbier’s career from 1912 to 1924, mostly humorous illustrations for magazines such as La Vie Parisienne, but the collection also includes handwritten material together with many sketches and drafts for unfinished drawings. This is part of Gallica’s “Collection Jaquet”, 113 scrapbooks collecting magazine work by French illustrators. I’ve not had the time to go through the rest of the collection but there are many familiar names in the list, each with books of their own: Albert Robida, Théophile Steinlen, two volumes dedicated to the prolific Gustave Doré, etc. Gallica’s information about these items is minimal so for now the identity of “Jaquet” remains a mystery. As for the Barbier scrapbook, if you like the artist’s drawings this is a delight to look through, a cornucopia of camp frivolity replete with all the usual crinolined ladies, powdered wigs, mischievous Cupids, tiny dogs, and almost as many nude males as there are females. There’s also a picture bearing the title “The Great God Pan” although as a representation of the deity it’s closer to Aubrey Beardsley than anything from Arthur Machen.

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