Weekend links 341

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Fountain (1917) by R. Mutt (Marcel Duchamp), and God (1917) by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

• “What is there left to know about David Bowie? What is there left to unearth?” asks Ian Penman whose lengthy review of recent Bowie books is better by far than a shelf full of cash-in doorstops.

Strázci z hlubin casu is a collection of stories by HP Lovecraft and August Derleth from Czech publisher Volvox Globator. The book reprints artwork of mine on the cover and inside.

• Mixes of the week: Through December by David Colohan, At Alien Altars: A Conjurer’s Hexmas by Seraphic Manta, and Secret Thirteen Mix 204 by James Welburn.

• “Something vindictive resides in soot.” Timothy Jarvis on the weird fiction of Stefan Grabinski. From 2003: China Miéville on Grabinski.

• Paintings by Jakub Rozalski of eastern European peasants with mechas and werewolves.

Colm Tóibín on James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 100 years on.

Jesse Singal on why straight rural men (in the USA) have “bud-sex” with each other.

Mark Valentine recommends books on tasseography, or divination by tea leaves.

• “Northampton Calling: A Conversation with Alan Moore,” by Rob Vollmar.

Bill Schutt at Scientific American asks what human flesh tastes like.

Gwendolyn Nix on the Tritone, aka The Devil’s Musical Interval.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: _Black_Acrylic presents…Penda’s Fen Day.

• The latest Buddha Machine from FM3 is Philip Glass-themed.

Listen to The Wire’s top 50 releases of 2016

Tritone (Musica Diablo) (1980) by Tuxedomoon | Diabolus In Musica (1987) by The Foetus All Nude Review | Tritone (Musica Diablo) (2016) by Aksak Maboul

The Gable Window

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The Gable Window (1984) by John Coulthart.

Presenting some of my first Lovecraftian illustrations, neither of which have been made public before. This drawing, and the one below, are as much Derlethian as they are Lovecraftian, depicting scenes from a short story and a short novel written by August Derleth from fragments and notes found in Lovecraft’s papers. The Gable Window was collected in The Survivor and Others (1957) which happens to be the only Lovecraft-related title I own in its original Arkham House printing. Derleth’s posthumous collaborations are often more Derleth than Lovecraft but I liked the central idea of The Gable Window which, like The Music of Erich Zann, concerns a window that also serves as a portal to other dimensions.

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The Lurker at the Threshold (1982) by John Coulthart.

Before I began adapting The Haunter of the Dark in 1986 I hadn’t made much of an attempt to illustrate Lovecraft seriously. These drawings and a handful of other pieces were more like experimental sketches, although The Gable Window is obviously a very polished piece of work. Rather than depict anything overtly monstrous, each piece began as an arrangement of ink splotches and washes applied to cartridge paper soaked with water. The Lurker at the Threshold is one of several small pictures made with this technique in 1982, none of which are very successful. This one doesn’t look too bad but the best one, depicting the climax of The Dunwich Horror, I sent to the late Roger Dobson for possible use in an issue of Aklo, and haven’t seen it since. The Gable Window refined the technique by using fewer splotches and a more detailed drawing applied afterwards. I’ve never been happy with the figure, and the books on the left are lazily done, but it’s one of the better things I was doing in 1984. The biggest surprise looking at the drawing again was noticing the crest over the window which features a triangle/crescent motif that’s very similar to the one I designed a year later for Hawkwind’s Chronicle of the Black Sword album. This wasnt intentional.

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Today The Gable Window seems like an indicator of where my head was at during this time. I was tired of doing Hawkwind-related things, and eager to immerse myself in something different; a series of Ballard illustrations was one potential way forward, Lovecraft was another. A year later I’d made a decision and, as it were, stepped through the window.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Yuggoth details
A Mountain Walked
Lovecraft’s Monsters unleashed
Lovecraft’s Monsters
JK Potter and HP Lovecraft
Cthulhu Labyrinth
Tentacles #4: Cthulhu in Poland
Cthulhu Calendar
S. Latitude 47°9, W. Longitude 126°43
Resurgam variations
De Profundis
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Cthulhoid and Artflakes
Cthulhu for sale
Cthulhu God
Cthulhu under glass
CthulhuPress
The monstrous tome
Cubist Cthulhu

Dreaming Out of Space: Kenneth Grant on HP Lovecraft

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Going through some of my loose copies of Man, Myth and Magic recently turned up this article by Kenneth Grant that I’d forgotten about. I have two separate sets of Man, Myth and Magic: a complete edition in binders, and a partial collection of loose copies of the weekly “illustrated encyclopedia of the supernatural”. The partial collection is worth keeping for the unique articles that ran across the last two pages of every issue, all of which are absent (along with the magazine covers) from the bound edition. These articles formed the Frontiers of Belief series, a collection of essays of the kind one might find in magazines today such as Fate or Fortean Times. An earlier essay about Wilfried Sätty, Artist of the Occult, was reproduced here a few years ago; none of these pieces have ever been reprinted so it seems worthwhile putting another of the more interesting pieces online.

Kenneth Grant was the only active occultist among Man, Myth and Magic‘s roster of very serious and well-regarded writers and experts. Grant wrote several of the encyclopedia entries although not the one about Aleister Crowley, as you might expect, that entry going to Crowley’s executor and biographer, John Symonds. Grant was also a lifelong champion of HP Lovecraft’s fiction which explains this article; many of Grant’s later occult texts have a distinctly Lovecraftian flavour, and they often refer to Lovecraft and Arthur Machen as being the unconscious recipients of actual occult emanations or presences. Grant’s belief that the authors channelled these emanations into their fiction is central to this piece, a belief that Lovecraft would have dismissed even though several of his stories (not least The Call of Cthulhu) concern exactly this process. Grant connects Lovecraft with another artist whose work he championed throughout his life, Austin Osman Spare. It was Grant’s involvement with Man, Myth and Magic that put one of Spare’s drawings on the cover of the first issue, and further drawings inside the magazine, introducing the artist’s work to a new, highly receptive audience. The drawing below (Were-Lynx) appears in the magazine behind Grant’s text so I’ve scanned a text-free copy from Grant’s Cults of the Shadow (1975).

DREAMING OUT OF SPACE by Kenneth Grant

Malevolent powers are lurking in wait to project themselves into the sleeping minds of men: this terrifying idea is a recurring theme in the stories of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who claimed that they came to him in nightmares. But were they simply bad dreams, or was he in fact receiving communications from an unknown source, as Kenneth Grant here suggests?

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“I have watched for dryads and satyrs in the woods and fields at dusk”; illustration by Austin Osman Spare, who sensed the forces looming behind Lovecraft’s work, and was inspired to illustrate these presences.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft died in 1937; but the myth-cycle which he initiated in unrivalled tales of cosmic horror now raises the question whether it was a mere fiction engendered in the haunted mind of an obscure New England writer, or whether it foreshadowed a particularly sinister kind of occult invasion.

According to a well-known occult tradition, when Atlantis was submerged, not all perished. Some took refuge on other worlds, in other dimensions; others “slept” a willed and unnatural sleep through untold aeons of time. These awakened; they lurk now in unknown gulfs of space, the physical mechanism of human consciousness being unable to pick up their infinitely subtle vibrations. They lurk, waiting to return and rule the whole earth, as was their aim before the catastrophe that destroyed their corrupt civilization.

This tradition was a major theme in Lovecraft’s work. Until quite recently people read his stories and shuddered (if sufficiently honest and sensitive enough to admit their uncanny impact), not suspecting for a moment that such things could be.

Few know that Lovecraft dreamed most of his tales. And he sometimes thought that these dreams, or rather, nightmares, were caused by misdeeds in remotely distant incarnations when, perhaps, he had aimed at acquiring magical powers. These dreams were memories of the past and prophecies of the future, for he said that “nightmares are the punishment meted out to the soul for sins committed in previous incarnations—perhaps millions of years ago!”

In his life as Howard Phillips Lovecraft he tried again and again to bring himself to face squarely the ordeal through which he knew he would have to pass, if he were finally to resolve his spiritual difficulties. The issue is brought to the surface perhaps more clearly and urgently in his poems than in his stories. He is on the brink of making the critical discovery, of surprising the secret of his inner life, and he is forced back repeatedly by the dread, the stark soul-searing fear which he bottles up in his work and which he communicates so successfully—in neat doses—to his readers.

One of Lovecraft’s most vivid creations is the ancient book of hideous spells composed to facilitate traffic with creatures of unseen worlds. He ascribed its authorship to Abdul Alhazred, a mad Arab who flourished in Damascus about 700 AD. This grimoire, during the course of its mysterious career, is supposed to have been translated by the Elizabethan scholar Dr John Dee, into Greek, under the title of Necronomicon. It contains the Keys or Calls that unseal forbidden spaces of cosmic sleep, inhabited by elder forces that once infested the earth. The Keys are in a wild, unearthly tongue reminiscent of the Calls of Chanokh, or Enoch, which Dr Dee actually obtained through contact with non-terrestrial entities during his work with the magician, Sir Edward Kelley, whom Aleister Crowley claimed to have been in a previous life. It is possible that the “evil and abhorred Necronomicon” was suggested by the clavicles or Keys of Enoch, which Dee and Kelley discovered, and which Crowley later used to gain access to unknown dimensions.

Continue reading “Dreaming Out of Space: Kenneth Grant on HP Lovecraft”

Weekend links 196

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Cochemare (1810) by Jean Pierre Simon. One of 100,000 high-resolution images now available from Wellcome Images.

• Ted Morgan’s Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs (1990) was a solid biography blighted by a bizarrely bad-tempered and judgemental attitude towards many of Burroughs’ friends and colleagues. Morgan says Burroughs disliked the book (he also says his subject died in 1993, not 1997…) so I’m looking forward to the new biography by Barry Miles, Call Me Burroughs: A Life. There’s a curious detail in Jeremy Lybarger’s piece about August Derleth, HP Lovecraft’s publisher and lifetime champion, causing a fuss after the Chicago Review published extracts from Naked Lunch in 1958. Burroughs enjoyed Lovecraft’s fiction but it’s unlikely that Lovecraft would have been anything other than appalled by Burroughs’s work. Barry Miles will be holding a Q&A session at the ICA, London, next month following a screening of Howard Brookner’s restored documentary, Burroughs: The Movie.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 105 by Sturqen. At 3quarksdaily Dave Maier writes in praise of drones (the musical variety), and links to three mixes.

• Interviews: Haakon Nelson talks to Harold Budd, Joseph Burnett talks to William Basinski, John Stezaker talks to Nicolas Roeg.

Derek responded to an invitation to address [AIDS] hysteria by lining the gallery with a set of tarred and feathered mattresses loaded with the traces of queer love-making and then framing them against wallpaper made from Xeroxed, blood-spattered front pages. In the middle of all this he then constructed a makeshift barbed-wire cage that imprisoned and protected a pair of apparently naked lovers – usually a pair of handsome, sleeping boys, but for one afternoon at least Tilda Swinton dropped by, just to make the point that the boys didn’t have an exclusive stake in or artistic rights to this crisis. Between the walls and the cage, the air of the gallery was thick with tension and hatred – sometimes literally so, as visitors to the gallery objected vociferously to what they were seeing.

Neil Bartlett on celebrating Derek Jarman 20 years after his death.

• William Friedkin’s Wages of Fear remake, Sorcerer (1977), receives an overdue reissue on DVD/Blu-ray in April.

James Knowlson asks “What lies beneath Samuel Beckett’s half-buried woman in Happy Days?”

• The UK’s web filtering seems to be blocking common sense says Jane Fae.

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A devil buggering a man (19th century).

• The poetry of Hart Crane, from the American epic to personal belonging.

The Sonny Sharrock Quartet play Stupid Fuck, live 1988.

Pinterest nightmares

Borogoves

• Lutinemusic: Espera | Died Of Love | All I Have Is Gold

Weekend links 167

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Poster by Luke Insect & Kenn Goodall.

In recent years I’ve had little patience for British cinema: too much dour “realism” with little of Alan Clarke’s vitality, too many comedies that aren’t funny, too many Hollywood calling cards, too much Colin Firth… So it’s been a pleasure to see Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio followed this month by Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England, a pair of films that stand out by daring to be different in a medium which seems to grow more creatively conservative with each passing year. A Field In England adds to the micro-genre of weird British films set around the time of the English Civil War. In place of witchfinders and devil worshippers we have magic, murder, madness, and a field of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Wheatley, like Strickland, takes risks that wouldn’t be allowed with a bigger budget which makes me excited to see what they’ll be doing next. A Field In England is already out on DVD & Blu-ray. The trailer is here. The director talked to Mat Colegate about the genesis of the film (spoiler alert). There’s more big hats and cloaks in this list of ten 17th century films.

• “I like to look at men…the way they look at women,” photographer Ingrid Berthon-Moine says about her pictures of sculpted testicles.

Roger Dean has finally sued James Cameron over the designs for Avatar. Will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

• Google has taken its Street View cameras to Battleship Island, “the most desolate city on earth“.

• The strange fantasy novels of Edward Whittemore are available again in digital editions.

Julia Holter talks about her forthcoming Gigi-inspired album Loud City Song.

• At Pinterest: Maneki-neko, the beckoning cat of good fortune.

Beautiful Books: Decorative Publishers’ Cloth Bindings.

• The abstract paintings of Hilma af Klint (1862–1944).

Lee Brown Coye illustrates August Derleth in 1945.

Bill Laswell’s discography intimidates the collector.

• Mix of the week: Kit Mix #23 by Joseph Burnett.

• The Soundcarriers: Last Broadcast (2010) | Signals (2010) | This Is Normal (2012)