Weekend links 212

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Poster for the recent Ballard-themed Only Connect Festival of Sound in Oslo. Design by Non-Format.

Bulldozer by Laird Barron was my favourite piece in Lovecraft’s Monsters, the recent Tachyon anthology edited by Ellen Datlow that I designed and illustrated. So it’s good to hear that Nic Pizzolato, writer of the justly-acclaimed HBO series True Detective, is among Barron’s readers. True Detective, of course, created a stir for referencing Robert Chambers’ weird fiction in a police procedural. The series is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, and I can’t recommend it too highly.

• Citation-obsessed Wikipedians don’t believe Hauntology is a genuine musical genre, a sentiment which will probably surprise some of its practitioners. Whatever the merits of the argument, I rather like the idea of a musical form that resists strict definition.

• “This year, in order to do things differently, I will make a conscious effort to separate the man from his writing.” Giovanna Calvino, daughter of Italo Calvino, remembers her father.

With ideology masquerading as pragmatism, profit is now the sole yardstick against which all our institutions must be measured, a policy that comes not from experience but from assumptions – false assumptions – about human nature, with greed and self-interest taken to be its only reliable attributes. In pursuit of profit, the state and all that goes with it is sold from under us who are its rightful owners and with a frenzy and dedication that call up memories of an earlier iconoclasm.

Alan Bennett delivers a sermon.

Zarina Rimbaud-Kadirbaks, aka Dutch Girl In London, reviews the Chris Marker exhibition that’s currently running at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

• Exteriorizing the Inner Realms: Christopher Laursen talks to Phantasmaphile and Abraxas magazine‘s Pam Grossman about occult art, past and present.

• The Beast is back: Erik Davis talks to Gary Lachman about his new book, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World.

• The body as factory: anatomy of a New Scientist cover image. Rick Poynor on the recurrent use of a familiar visual metaphor.

• Mix of the week without a doubt is FACT Mix 445 by Stephen O’Malley, a three-hour behemoth.

• Jennifer in paradise: Photoshop developer John Knoll on the story of the first Photoshopped image.

• The trailer for Grandfather of Gay Porn, a documentary about Peter de Rome by Ethan Reid.

Giorgio’s Theme is a new piece of electronic music by Giorgio Moroder.

Agender, a series of androgynous photo-portraits by Chloe Aftel.

• RIP Little Jimmy Scott

Evil Spirits

Chase (1978) by Giorgio Moroder | Call Me (1980) by Blondie | The Apartment (1980) by Giorgio Moroder

Rex Ingram’s The Magician

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The Magician (1926), Rex Ingram’s curious occult horror film, receives a rare screening with live music accompaniment at the Brighton Fringe Festival on Tuesday, 22nd May. The film is notable for being based on the 1908 Somerset Maugham novel of the same name whose modern-day magus character, Oliver Haddo, was modelled on Aleister Crowley. The screening will feature an introduction by Gary Lachman, and a live soundtrack by the fabulous Ragged Ragtime Band, featuring members of Blondie, Indigo Octagon, Raagnagrok and Time. Booking details and other information here.

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Maugham’s book has always been easier to find than Ingram’s film, more’s the pity when the film—despite some flaws—is the superior article. Read today, the novel comes across as a template for the standard Dennis Wheatley tale of middle-class innocents imperilled by grandiloquent villainy. A young couple, Arthur Burdon and his fiancée, Margaret, are pitted against Haddo’s extravagant diabolisms; for assistance they have a friend, Dr Porhoët, a Van Helsing type, older than the couple and with a convenient (but purely intellectual) interest in the occult. Haddo kidnaps Margaret and forces her with hypnosis into an unconsummated marriage. Haddo’s goal is to create artificial life—homunculi—and for that he requires a virgin’s blood. Maugham later described his novel as “lush and turgid”, an honest and accurate appraisal. Aleister Crowley was amused at being portrayed as a “Brother of the Shadows” but pretended to be scandalised by Maugham’s alleged plagiarism which he condemned in a Vanity Fair review that he signed “Oliver Haddo”. The best parts of the novel certainly owe something to other authors, usually the scenes concerning the sinister magus and his occult activities; the rest of the characters are lifeless by comparison. Some of the better passages read like HP Lovecraft writing Dorian Gray, and Maugham not only quotes from Walter Pater but also (uncredited) from Wilde’s Salomé.

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Paul Wegener as Oliver Haddo.

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