Weekend links 469

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X from Theodore Howard’s ABC (1880) by Theodore Howard.

• “[Parade] has everything: joy and sadness, get-down and wistfulness, mourning and melancholia, group funk and Debussy interludes, echoes of Ellington, Joni, film music, chanson. It’s a perfectly realised whole.” Ian Penman on the enigmas and pleasures of Prince.

• “Mescaline reads like the culmination of a lifetime’s wanderings in the very farthest outposts of scientific and medical history.” Ian Sansom review’s Mike Jay’s history of the psychedelic alkaloid.

• The Day the Music Burned by Jody Rosen: “It was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business—and almost nobody knew. This is the story of the 2008 Universal fire.”

This willing constriction of intellectual freedom will do lasting damage. It corrupts the ability to think clearly, and it undermines both culture and progress. Good art doesn’t come from wokeness, and social problems starved of debate can’t find real solutions. “Nothing is gained by teaching a parrot a new word,” Orwell wrote in 1946. “What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.” Not much has changed since the 1940s. The will to power still passes through hatred on the right and virtue on the left.

George Packer on what George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four means today

• Having spent the past week watching Jacques Rivette’s 775-minute Out 1, this interview with Rivette from 1974 was of particular interest.

• At Dangerous Minds: Donald Sutherland as “a sperm-filled waxwork with the eyes of a masturbator” in Fellini’s Casanova.

The Adventures of the Son of Exploding Sausage (1969): the Bonzo Dog Band getting it untogether in the country.

• Dark, velvety dark: Nabokov’s discarded ending to Camera Obscura, introduced by Olga Voronina.

• “Spotify pursues emotional surveillance for global profit”, says Liz Pelly.

• Mix of the week: Then Space Began To Toll by The Ephemeral Man.

• An interview with master of horror manga Junji Ito.

• Announcing the Arthur Machen Essay Prizes.

• RIP film-maker and author Peter Whitehead.

X is for…

X Offender (1976) by Blondie | X-Factor (1981) by Patrick Cowley | X-Flies (1997) by Mouse On Mars

Weekend links 292

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The Black Sun from Splendor Solis (1582) “attributed to the legendary figure Salomon Trismosin”.

Topic B predominates this week. The Black Sun of alchemy was the first thing I thought of when the title of David Bowie’s final album was announced late last year. The Black Sun symbolises the nigredo stage of the alchemical process when putrefaction or decomposition takes place; Carl Jung in Psychology and Alchemy equates the nigredo with the dark night of the soul. At the time I didn’t seriously think that the Bowie of 2015 would have had this in mind as a primary reference even though the Bowie of the early 1970s was immersed in Golden Dawn occultism, the Kabbalah, and a reader of Pauwels & Bergier’s The Morning of the Magicians, a book that informs the lyrics of the Hunky Dory album, and which contains a great deal of discussion about alchemy and other esoteric matters. And yet… Of all the outfits that Bowie might have worn in his final video the one that he chose for Lazarus is a match for the one he wore during the Station To Station Kabbalah-drawing photo session. At Sol Ascendans Alex Sumner and his commenters explored this twilight zone.

Back in the sublunary world, Jonathan Barnbrook’s cut-out sleeve design for the Blackstar album gained additional resonance this week: the black star as the hole that’s left when a more familiar star has been removed from its setting. Hindsight also makes poignant the observation that this was the only album without a picture of the artist on the cover. Elsewhere there were speculations about the title being a reference to Black Star by Elvis Presley (who shared a birthday with Bowie) or a term from oncology, two suggestions that fit so well they’re hard to ignore.

He began to develop a science fiction sensibility, drawing on the New Wave SF movement of Michael Moorcock and JG Ballard, other writers who used the genre such as Anthony Burgess and William S Burroughs, and an older fantasy tradition found in HP Lovecraft and Edward Bulwer-Lytton (whose The Coming Race is name-checked in Oh! You Pretty Things, 1971).

Jake Arnott on David Bowie’s literary influences

• In something-else-also-happened-this-week news, 2016 may see the long-awaited release of Andrei Tarkovsky’s films on Region B Blu-ray. Fingers crossed.

• International posters for The Man Who Fell To Earth. More Nicolas Roeg (and more shiny discs): Eureka (1983) will receive a Blu-ray release in March.

• Cracking the codes of Leena Krohn: Peter Bebergal on the Finnish writer of strange stories.

• Anthems for the Moon: Jason Heller examines David Bowie’s connections to science fiction.

• From 2013: Jon Savage on Bowie’s first meeting with William Burroughs in 1974.

• Mixes of the week: Bowie-esque Vol 1 and Bowie-esque Vol 2 by Abigail Ward.

David Bowie Doing Shit: a Tumblr

“Heroes” (1978) by Blondie & Robert Fripp | “Heroes” (2003) by King Crimson | “Helden” (2007) by Apocalyptica ft. Till Lindemann

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

Weekend links 105

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A suspended fluid photograph from Demersal, a series by Luka Klikovac.

• “Soon, Mr. Lachman was writing occult music. His song “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear,” which appeared on Blondie’s 1977 album Plastic Letters, was an example.” Gary Lachman: from Blondie to Swedenborg.

Neil Krug’s cover art for the new Scissor Sisters album, Magic Hour, channels the cloudless skies and photographic surrealism of Storm Thorgerson.

Implicate Explicate, a multiple 16mm film installation by Rose Kallal. Sound by Rose Kallal & Mark Pilkington using modular synthesizers.

Despite conservative queerdom’s best efforts to hide its “otherness” behind a velvet wall of “same as you” Tom and Hank and Jill and Janes, Mattilda and her like will not be ignored. As parades of neo-nuclear same sex families mug for the cameras on courthouse steps, queer body boys parade and flex impossibly taut muscles across our nation’s gym runways and circuit parties, and far, far too many proudly proclaim in knee-jerk defensiveness how “straight-acting” they are across the net, Sycamore blows raspberries at the forced mirage and holds up faded pictures of yesteryear boys and girls whose one claim to fame once was their difference.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is interviewed at Lambda Literary

Paul Oestreicher, an Anglican priest, sets the cat squarely among the pigeons with the question (and answer) “Was Jesus gay? Probably.”

Andromeon, video by Alexander Tucker and Serena Korda for a new song by Alexander Tucker.

• Museums of Melancholy: Iain Sinclair on London’s memorials. An LRB essay from 2005.

FACT mix 325 is by Battles: from Boredoms to Cluster and The Alchemist.

The glass hills of Mars, “a region the size of Europe”.

Labyrinths and clues, an essay by Alan Wall.

The Alchemy of Emptiness.

Drop (1972) by Soft Machine | Drop (2002) by Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions | Airdrop (2006) by Kashiwa Daisuke.

Weekend links 103

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Robert Fripp photographed by Chris Stein. Video posterization by Michael Schiess.

Scans of Synapse, “The electronic music magazine”, are posted here. Issues range from 1976 to 1979, and include interviews with the more notable synthesists of the period, Kraftwerk included. Brian Eno was regularly interviewed by synth mags despite always being reluctant to talk about what equipment he might be using; sure enough he’s featured here. Far more interesting is a longer interview with Robert Fripp that catches the guitarist as he emerged from his self-imposed retirement in the mid-70s with the extraordinary Exposure album. (See a 1979 promo video for that here.) Related: TR-808 drum sequences in poster form by Rob Ricketts.

• More electronic music from the 1970s: “[Don Buchla] showed me that the idea of playing a black-and-white keyboard with one of these instruments was completely ridiculous. It was inappropriate and had nothing to do with the way you would use an electronic instrument.” Suzanne Ciani talks to John Doran about electronic music composition. A collection of her early recordings, Lixiviation, is released by Finders Keepers. Related: The Attack of the Radiophonic Women: How synthesizers cracked music’s glass ceiling.

• “Her writing—full of immigrants, circus animals, freaks, socialists, hipsters, servants, and suffragettes—revels in the atmosphere of the ‘Yellow Nineties,’ a period characterized by Wildean decadence and art for art’s sake.” Jenny Hendrix on Djuna Barnes.

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More etchings by Albin Brunovsky at But Does It Float.

• More scanned magazines: the Fuck You Press archive at Reality Studio. A trove of rare publications produced by Ed Sanders in the 1960s with contributions from world-class writers, William Burroughs included.

• “[My parents] were horrified by what I did, but they encouraged me to keep doing it because I was obsessed, and what else could I do?” John Waters writing in (of all places) the Wall Street Journal.

• A time-lapse assembly of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) by Jeff Desom who explains how he did it here.

The Occult Experience: a 95-minute documentary on the international occult scene, filmed in 1984–85.

• Compost and Height re-post A Gold Thunder, a song by Julia Holter first sent to them in 2010.

• Drawings by Bette Burgoyne.

Schroeter’s Salomés

Cats are liquids

Fade Away And Radiate (1978) by Blondie (featuring Robert Fripp) | Exposure (1978) by Peter Gabriel (produced by and featuring Robert Fripp) | Exposure (1979) by Robert Fripp | Babs And Babs (1980) by Daryl Hall (produced by and featuring Robert Fripp) | Losing True (1982) by The Roches (produced by and featuring Robert Fripp).