Weekend links 527

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Poster art by Bob Peak.

• Sidney Lumet’s 1977 film of Peter Shaffer’s Equus receives a limited blu-ray release by the BFI in August. Richard Burton’s performance has always received a mixed response (I’ve never been in the anti-Burton camp) but the film is serious and well-made. And, as with The Offence (1973), there’s the thrill of seeing Lumet turn his attention away from his beloved New York City to examine British lives.

• “Astronomer claims to have pinpointed date of Vermeer’s View of Delft.” Yes, but how long did it take Vermeer paint the view? Speaking as someone who used to paint a lot, I’d say two or three days at least. Then there’s that awkward thing known as “artistic licence”…

• “I was taken aback by the antic side of Borges. He was irreverent, funny, insistent on his ways, and brilliantly talkative.” Jay Parini on Jorge Luis Borges, and his experience as the writer’s chauffeur in the Scottish Highlands.

• Strange Islands: Benjamin Welton on a favourite cinematic micro-genre I explored here a few years ago: the mysterious tropical island that’s a home to fearsome beasts and outsized (often deranged) personalities.

Greydogtales on The Sapphire Goddess of Nictzin Dyalhis, the Weird Tales writer with a name like a character from one of his stories.

• “I came for the giant phalluses and stayed for the joy of being a gay person.” Eight artists on the influence of Tom of Finland.

Tamsin Cleary on Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House (1977) which she calls “the world’s most demented haunted house film”. It really is.

The Gone Away, a short film by Sean Reynard for the forthcoming album from Belbury Poly.

Moorcography: the beginnings of an online Michael Moorcock bibliography.

• “Our sound engineer got a death threat”: Andrew Male on Olivia, a lesbian record label.

Bajo el Signo de Libra explores the art of Aubrey Beardsley.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg Day.

The secret drawings of Great Britain’s UFO Desk.

Wyrd Daze Lvl.4 is here.

The Four Horsemen (1971) by Aphrodite’s Child | All The Pretty Little Horses (2004) by Coil | When The Horses Were Shorn Of Their Hooves (2018) by Dylan Carlson

Weekend links 443

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• Yet more Gorey: Mark Dery’s biography of the artist prompted The New Yorker to unearth a piece of cover art that Edward Gorey submitted 25 years ago. In the same magazine Joan Acocella reviews Dery’s book and examines Gorey’s life and art. At Expanding Mind, Erik Davis talks with Mark Dery about Surrealism, the gay voice, Penny Dreadfuls, and the occult and Taoist influences in Gorey’s work.

Moving Through Old Daylight: Mark Fisher, Jim Jupp & Julian House of Ghost Box Recordings, and Iain Sinclair in conversation at the Roundhouse, Camden, London, 5 June 2010. Topics under discussion included Nigel Kneale, TC Lethbridge, John Foxx, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, alchemies of sound, the homogenisation of culture, imagining space and the impersistence of memory.

• “A radical retelling of our relationship with the cosmos, reinventing the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar.” The Space Oracle by Ken Hollings.

There was a deliberate, almost prickly quality to Fisher’s writing and thinking that is rare nowadays, when criticism is more likely to involve open-minded rationalizing than steadfast refusal. He was not one to frolic in ambiguity or irony. “Just because something is current doesn’t mean it is new,” he writes in K-Punk, as he wonders if a time traveller from the nineties would find any contemporary music as radical as post-punk or jungle had once seemed to him. When everything is cheerfully “retro,” Fisher argued, we lose our grasp on history—and, without a sense of why the past happened the way it did, our anything-goes embrace of “happy hybridities” is an empty gesture. “What pop lacks now is the capacity for nihilation, for producing new potentials through the negation of what already exists,” he writes.

Hua Hsu on Mark Fisher’s K-Punk

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Wind Protect You (1946), a novel by Pat Murphy which Mark describes as a forgotten precursor of Watership Down.

• “At once tiny and huge: what is this feeling we call ‘sublime’?” Sandra Shapshay explores the Romantic aesthetic.

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, art, and internet of 2018. Thanks again for the link here!

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 572 by Nastia, and FACT Mix 683 by Casino Versus Japan.

A Child’s Voice (1978) by David Thomson, an overlooked ghost story starring TP McKenna.

• Jean Cocteau’s Orphée returns from the underworld via BFI blu-ray next month.

Rated SAVX: The Savage Pencil Scratchbook

Orpheus (1967) by The Walker Brothers | Orpheus (1987) by David Sylvian | Overture To Orpheus (2003) by Colin Booth

Weekend links 436

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Cover for the now-defunct Cthulhu Sex magazine, volume 2, no. 23. Art by Chad Savage.

• Revising Lovecraft: The Mutant Mythos by Paul StJohn Mackintosh. Mackintosh was interviewed at Greydogtales in 2016 where he made a point that certainly chimes with my experience: “…the English-speaking genre community seems to have far more trouble with certain sexual themes than the mainstream literary community does, especially in Europe. […] A pity, because, for example, if H P Lovecraft’s worldview did owe much to sexual repression, then more mature engagement with that could really benefit the whole cosmic horror genre.”

• At Expanding Mind: Occultist and Aleister Crowley biographer Richard Kaczynski talks with Erik Davis about Jack Parsons, the “method of science,” the Agape Lodge, the women of Thelema, and the pluses and minuses of the Strange Angel TV series.

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953) is a short adaptation of the Poe story directed by JB Williams, and featuring Stanley Baker as the author. The film had been lost for 50 years but may now be seen on the BFI website.

• From July but more suited to the end of October: Paul Karasik on The Addams Family Secret: how a massive painting by Charles Addams wound up hidden away in a university library.

• Mixes of the week: Samhain Séance Seven: A Very Dark Place by The Ephemeral Man, Big Strings Attached, Oct. 2018 by Abigail Ward, and XLR8R Podcast 564 by Niagara.

• At Haute Macabre: Conjured from obscurity: lost, neglected and forgotten literature from Valancourt Books.

The Feathered Bough, a large-format collection of new fiction and art by Stephen J. Clark.

William Doyle on Music For Algorithms: in search of Eno’s ambient vision in a spotify era.

• The devils of our better nature: Daniel Felsenthal on Dennis Cooper and his new film.

Bone Mother, a short animated film by Dale Hayward & Sylvie Trouvé.

• “In Japan, the Kit Kat Isn’t Just a Chocolate. It’s an Obsession.”

Leigh Singer chooses 10 great films about the afterlife.

• “I am a haunted house,” says Sarah Chavez.

Psychedelitypes

Sex Voodoo Venus (1985) by Helios Creed | Sexy Boy (1998) by Air | Sex Magick (2002) by John Zorn

Weekend links 432

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Tokyo at night, one of a series of watercolours depicting the back streets of the city by Mateusz Urbanowicz.

• “The experience of reading the book is something like watching Dr. Strangelove on one screen, Apocalypse Now on a second screen, and having both feeds interrupted by explicit gay erotica.” Bad Books For Bad People examines William Burroughs’ celebrated YA novel, The Wild Boys. The subject is a perennial one here, explored at length in this post.

• Lindsay Anderson The White Bus (1967), a surreal precursor to If…. and O Lucky Man!, will receive the high-quality BFI reissue treatment as part of the Woodfall Films portmanteau feature, Red, White and Zero.

• The Radiophonic Workshop have composed the score for Possum, a horror film by Matthew Holness. The main title theme is here. The film is released later next month.

Might I have written a sober affair, had I not been under the influence? Perhaps not—I have never needed tramadol to be attended by angels, or to feel demons pricking my feet. But I think of Vincent van Gogh, who looked at the world through the yellowish haze conveyed by digitalis, and grew enraptured by sunflowers and straw chairs, and I think of a glass prism through which a beam of white light passes and is split into a rainbow. What had been a single lucid idea had passed through the drugs I took and been dispersed into a spectrum of colours I had only half foreseen.

Sarah Perry on trying to write while besieged by bodily pain and prescription drugs

• Jacques Tourneur’s masterful MR James adaptation, Night of the Demon (1957), is released on region-free Blu-ray next month by Powerhouse Films.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 673 is The Bug presents PRESSURE, and XLR8R Podcast 561 by Zendid.

• The Space Shifters exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London, messes with Adrian Searle‘s mind.

Gregory Wells on queers, faeries and revolutionaries in the psychedelic movement.

Wide Boys (1977) by Ultravox! | On Demon Wings (2000) by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore | Spoonful (2013) by Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

Derek Jarman: Know What I Mean…

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The recent news from the BFI about their forthcoming collections of Derek Jarman films sent me to YouTube once more in search of a documentary I’d been hoping to see again. Derek Jarman: Know What I Mean… is the film in question, and was posted a few months ago by director Laurens Postma on his own YouTube channel. Postma produced a number of arts features for Channel 4 (UK) in the 1980s, one of which, Six Into One: The Prisoner File, a documentary about the making of Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, has been mentioned here already. The Jarman film was made in 1988, and I think was the first lengthy television examination of Jarman’s career. It’s still one of the best since the later documentaries tended to be either shortish interview sessions or posthumous works such as Derek (2008) by Isaac Julien and Bernard Rose.

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Postma’s film captured Jarman shortly after he’d moved to his cottage at Dungeness, a relocation that was a kind of semi-retirement even though his films were becoming more visible as a result of funding and screening from Channel 4. This was also the period when he was becoming more vocally political thanks to what seemed at the time to be the unending reign of the iniquitous Margaret Thatcher. The Tories of the day had recently announced the now-infamous Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act (discussed in the film as both Clause 28 and—confusingly—Clause 29, the labels by which the amendment was first known), a ruling that forbid councils from promoting homosexuality, especially in schools. The late 80s saw the peaking of anti-gay bigotry in Britain, a reaction against the growing freedoms of the 1970s and, inevitably, the menace of AIDS which was still being regarded as “the gay plague”. Jarman had recently been diagnosed as HIV+, something he discusses here with typical good cheer although the conversation is generally more about art than his health, and about the way his own works were always related to gay sexuality. Jarman was one of many gay artists who welcomed their sexual identity as fixing them in the position of outsiders, and it’s notable how many of his films are concerned with outsider figures. When discussing The Tempest (1979) he compares Prospero’s island to gay sexuality, an uncharted enclave and a home to outcasts where different rules apply. This was still a common view among gay men and lesbians in the 1980s—Jarman’s friends in Coil used to say similar things in their interviews—and very different from today’s drive towards conformity and social assimilation. Postma’s film ends with Jarman on the beach at Dungeness, the perfect zone for a lifelong outsider, midway between the land and the sea.

(Note: the Winston Churchill referred to in the film is the grandson of the famous Prime Minister. Winston Churchill Jr. was an MP in the Thatcher government who tried to bring in a bill banning the public exhibition of “explicit homosexual acts” following Channel 4’s TV broadcast of Jarman’s Sebastiane.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
David Tibet meets Derek Jarman
Shooting the Hunter: a tribute to Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s landscapes
Derek Jarman album covers
Ostia, a film by Julian Cole
Derek Jarman In The Key Of Blue
The Dream Machine
Jarman (all this maddening beauty)
Sebastiane by Derek Jarman
A Journey to Avebury by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s music videos
Derek Jarman’s Neutron
Mister Jarman, Mister Moore and Doctor Dee
The Tempest illustrated
In the Shadow of the Sun by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman at the Serpentine
The Angelic Conversation
The life and work of Derek Jarman