Weekend links 147

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Bestia Apocalypsi (2000) by Konstantin Kalynovych.

A funding page for Better Things: The Life and Choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Maria Paz Cabardo’s documentary film about the late comic artist and illustrator.

• Phantasmaphile’s Pam Grossman has declared 2013 to be the Year of the Witch.

• At WFMU: The Space Ghost Coast To Coast Sonny Sharrock Tribute Episode.

I think that mass culture is idiotic. I always have. Even things that are the sort of trendy new whatevers, it’s always about money and sex and nothing else.

Laurie Anderson on music for dogs and Obama.

• It’s that…thing…again. Clive Hicks-Jenkins on his new Mari Lwyd designs.

• Rick Poynor’s Dictionary of Surrealism and the Graphic Image.

• “Why do gay porn stars kill themselves?” asks Conner Habib.

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If you’re staycationing in Scarfolk this year you’ll be pleased to hear the town now has 20% less rabies. Above: The 1972–73 prospectus for scarecrow and wicker man biology at Scarfolk Technical College. Related: A Day At The Seaside. I guessed the source even without the cryptic comments. Can you?

Laurie Spiegel designed a T-shirt for The Wire magazine.

Julia Holter covers Chiamami Adesso by Paolo Conte.

Strange Attractor has two new Austin Spare prints.

Forgotten Women Designers and Illustrators.

• RIP Alan Sharp, a sharp screenwriter.

• “Can You Pass the Acid Test?

Sonny and Linda Sharrock live at WKCR 03/21/74 | Many Mansions (1991) by Sonny Sharrock | Ghost Planet National Anthem (1993) by Sonny Sharrock

Murmur Become Ceaseless and Myriad

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Efflaration (1952) by Austin Osman Spare.

The Austin Spare revival continues with another exhibition, Murmur Become Ceaseless and Myriad at Flat Time House, London, curated by Mark Titchner. Unless I’ve missed something this is a significant moment since it’s the first time Spare’s work has been paired with that of a more contemporary artist, the late John Latham (1921–2006) whose former home provides the exhibition space.

Biographically, the artists have a lot in common: a reticence to engage with the art establishment or the commercial art market; superficial correspondences with the work of their contemporaries but isolation by force of their ideas. The artistic genius of both these artists was, in the main, recognised by their peers, even if the subject of their work was not entirely understood.

In spite of this, discussion of Spare’s practice has largely related to arcana and magic, despite his training in fine art and early mainstream successes. Conversely, Latham’s work has been understood primarily in relation to the conceptual art practices of the 1960s and 70s. This exhibition broadens these perspectives, presenting their work in the context of two parallel experimental practices. (more)

There’s also a somewhat tenuous connection between the pair in the figure of Alan Moore, a Spare enthusiast who in 1992 appeared with John Latham and a number of other literary and artistic types in The Cardinal and the Corpse, a TV film by Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit which really ought to be on YouTube but isn’t. It’s worth a watch if you can find a copy. Murmur Become Ceaseless and Myriad runs until 30th October.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Kenneth Grant, 1924–2011
New Austin Spare grimoires
Austin Spare absinthe
Austin Spare’s Behind the Veil
Austin Osman Spare

Weekend links 58

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Oya by Alberto del Pozo (1945–1992). Also known as Yansa, Oya is Changó’s third wife. She is the goddess of the winds and of lightning and is mistress of the cemetery gates. Passionate and brave she fights by her husband’s side if needed. Her favorite offerings are papaya, eggplant and geraniums. From Santeria at BibliOdyssey.

Austin Osman Spare is a good example of the dictum that quality will out in the end, no matter how long it remains buried. Overlooked by the art establishment after he retreated into his private mythologies, a substantial portion of his output was equally ignored by occultists who wanted to preserve him as a weird and scary working-class magus. One group dismissed his deeply-felt spiritual interests in a manner they wouldn’t dare employ if he’d been a follower of Santeria, say (or even a devout Christian), while the other group seemed to regard his superb portraits as too mundane to be worthy of attention. Now that Phil Baker’s Spare biography has been published by Strange Attractor we might have reached the end of such short-sighted appraisals and can finally see a more rounded picture of the man and his work:

[Kenneth] Grant preserved and magnified Spare’s own tendency to confabulation, giving him the starring role in stories further influenced by Grant’s own reading of visionary and pulp writers such as Arthur Machen, HP Lovecraft, and Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer. Grant’s Spare seems to inhabit a parallel London; a city with an alchemist in Islington, a mysterious Chinese dream-control cult in Stockwell, and a small shop with a labyrinthine basement complex, its grottoes decorated by Spare, where a magical lodge holds meetings. This shop – then a furrier, now an Islamic bookshop, near Baker Street – really existed, and part of the fascination of Grant’s version of Spare’s London is its misty overlap with reality.

Austin Osman Spare: Cockney visionary by Phil Baker.

Austin Osman Spare: The man art history left behind | A Flickr set: Austin Osman Spare at the Cuming Museum | HV Morton meets Austin Spare (1927).

• More quality rising from obscurity: Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End. Skolimowski’s drama is one of unpleasant characters behaving badly towards each other. Anglo-American cinema featured a great deal of this in the 1970s when filmmakers disregarded the sympathies of their audience in a manner which would be difficult today. John Patterson looks at another example which is also given a re-release this month, the “feral, minatory and menacing masterwork” that is Taxi Driver.

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Echú Eleguá by Alberto del Pozo. Among the most ancient of the orishas Echú Eleguá is the messenger of the gods, who forges roads, protects the house, and is heaven’s gate-keeper. In any ceremony he is invoked first. He owns all cowrie shells and is the god of luck. A prankster, Echú Eleguá frequently has a monkey and a black rooster by his side. Like a mischievous boy he enjoys gossip and must be pampered with offerings of toys, fruit, and candy.

Minutes, a compilation on the LTM label from 1987: William Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, Tuxedomoon, Jacques Derrida, The Monochrome Set, and er…Richard Jobson. Thomi Wroblewski designed covers for a number of Burroughs titles in the 1980s, and he also provided the cover art for this release.

Mikel Marton Photography: a Tumblr of erotic photography and self-portraits.

From Death Factory To Norfolk Fens: Chris & Cosey interviewed.

NASA announces results of epic space-time experiment.

Oritsunagumono by Takayuki Hori: origami x-rays.

Plexus magazine at 50 Watts.

Mother Sky (1970) by Can | Late For The Sky (1974) by Jackson Browne.

Kenneth Grant, 1924–2011

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Kenneth Grant by Austin Spare (c. 1951).

Kenneth Grant, writer and occultist, died last month but the event was only announced this week. He’ll be remembered for the nine fascinating occult treatises he wrote from 1972 to 2002, and for continuing the work of Aleister Crowley as head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a position which became fraught in later years as various occult factions disputed his authority. Having collected occult books for much of the 1980s I find his name calls out from the shelves more than many other writers; as well as authoring his own works he edited all the major Crowley texts with Crowley’s executor John Symonds, presenting them in authoritative editions for a new readership.

Grant proved a very loyal champion of people he admired, significantly so in the case of Austin Osman Spare whose work he collected, exhibited and republished from the 1950s on. It was Grant’s position as one of the many advisors for Man, Myth & Magic in 1970 which resulted in the part-work encyclopedia using one of Spare’s stunning drawings as the cover picture for its first issue. That effort alone gave Spare an audience far beyond anything he received during his lifetime, and Grant ensured the magazine featured Spare’s work in subsequent issues. Grant’s occult works made liberal use of unique illustrations by his wife, Steffi Grant, Austin Spare and others. The books were singular enough even without their pages of curious artwork, a beguiling and sometimes incoherent blend of western occult tradition, tantric sex magick and hints of cosmic horror which were nevertheless always well-written, annotated and crammed with technical detail. Alan Moore in 2002 examined the experience of an immersion in Grant’s mythos with a wonderful review he called “Beyond our Ken“. He notes there the influence of HP Lovecraft, another of the visionary figures who Grant championed throughout his life.

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In Spaces Between from The Great Old Ones (1999).

And speaking of Lovecraft, I’ve often wondered whether Kenneth Grant ever saw a copy of my Haunter of the Dark collection. For the opening of the Great Old Ones Kabbalah sequence which Alan Moore and I created for the book I added an extra piece of art entitled In Spaces Between, a reference to Coil via an epigraph from Grant’s Outside the Circles of Time (1980) which I borrowed for the facing page:

For there are Thrones under ground
And the Monarchs upon them
Reign over Space and Beyond

Invoke Them in Darkness, Outside
The Circles of Time

In Silence, in Sleep, in Conjurations
Of Chaos, the Deep will respond…

Coil aficionados will recognise those words as the origin of some lines from Titan Arch (1991):

There are Thrones under ground
And Monarchs upon them
They walk serene
In spaces between

Grant followed his epigraph with another quote, from Lovecraft’s Necronomicon.

In addition to Alan Moore’s Grant review, Fulgur have a detailed Kenneth Grant bibliography on their pages. They were also the publishers in 1998 of Zos Speaks! Encounters with Austin Osman Spare by Kenneth and Steffi Grant, a memoir and celebration of Spare’s work which revealed this trio of remote astral voyagers to be human beings after all. The book is currently out of print but it’s essential for anyone interested in Austin Spare or, for that matter, Mr and Mrs Grant.

Previously on { feuilleton }
New Austin Spare grimoires
Austin Spare absinthe
Aleister Crowley on vinyl
Austin Spare’s Behind the Veil
Austin Osman Spare

Weekend links 36

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Mervyn Peake’s Caterpillar from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland finds itself used to promote High Society, an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection devoted to the long history of human drug-taking. There’s more about the exhibition here and also an accompanying book by Mike Jay from Thames & Hudson. Related: The Most Dangerous Drug:

A group of British drug experts gathered by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) rated alcohol higher than most or all of the other drugs for health damage, mortality, impairment of mental functioning, accidental injury, economic cost, loss of relationships, and negative impact on community.

• Unless the magazine Man, Myth & Magic was advertised on TV in 1970 (and I suspect it would have been) Austin Osman Spare’s work has never been seen on British television, certainly not in any detail or with a credit to the artist. This week the BBC finally paid him some attention with a brief spot on The Culture Show as a result of the Fallen Visionary exhibition which is still running (until November 14) in London. Alan Moore, Fulgur‘s Robert Ansell and others attempt to summarise Spare’s career in seven minutes.

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Neil Fujita designs: Mingus Ah Um (1959) and The Godfather (1969).

• RIP graphic designer Neil Fujita. Related:

“By taking the “G” and extending it to the “D,” I created a house for “God.” The way the word was designed was part of the logo and so was the type design. So when Paramount Pictures does a film version or Random House, which bought out the book from Putnam, does another Godfather book, I still get a design credit. In fact, before the first Godfather film opened in New York I saw a huge billboard going up in Times Square with my design on it. I actually got them to stop work on it until we were able to come to an agreement.” Waxing Chromatic: An Interview with S. Neil Fujita

French SF illustration. Related: Where did science fiction come from? A primer on the pulps, a feature by Jess Nevins with some of the craziest covers you’ll see this month.

• Gay-bashers in 1970s San Francisco had to beware the wrath of the Lavender Panthers.

• More Marian Bantjes as she discusses her work in an audio interview.

Music from Saharan cellphones.

Origami Beauty Shots.

Krautrock.com

Better Git It In Your Soul (1959) by Charles Mingus.