Weekend links 375

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Memento Mori (2012) by Yoshitoshi Kanemaki.

Greydogtales, home to “weird fiction, weird art and even weirder lurchers”, is two years old this month. An essential resource for interviews, reviews and art features.

Kim Morgan on the paranoia at the heart of John Carpenter’s The Thing. The film will receive a welcome Blu-ray reissue by Arrow Films (UK) in November.

• A third and final collection of Patrick Cowley’s soundtracks for gay porn films, Afternooners, will be released in October by Dark Entries.

Photos of the exceptional eldritch art on display until the end of the month at the Ars Necronomica show in Providence, RI.

• Barney Bubbles, Optics & Semantics: an exhibition at Rob Tufnell, London, from 31st August.

Dimitra Fimi and Adam Scovell on 50 years of The Owl Service by Alan Garner.

• The Duality of Yoshitoshi Kanemaki’s Wooden Sculptures.

• Tristan Bath on The Strange World of Keiji Haino.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 504 by Curses.

Photos of René Magritte.

• RIP Brian Aldiss

Grey Promenade (1985) by Roger Eno | Grey Stripe (1994) by Aphex Twin | Greyscale (2008) by 2562

Philip K. Dick: A Day in the Afterlife

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Blade Runner turns up in Nicola Roberts’ television documentary but not for long. Back in 1994 it was still possible to discuss a popular writer by concentrating on the books alone rather than padding the running time with film and TV derivations. The BBC’s Arena strand excelled at these 50-minute biographies of significant cultural figures.

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The last time I watched this documentary was on a big TV screen in a house in Los Angeles. Stepping out into the California sun a couple of hours later was like stepping into a Philip K. Dick novel, a slippage between the real and the fictional that Dick himself might have appreciated. Among the luminaries discussing the author’s slippery narratives are Brian Aldiss, Jim Blaylock, Elvis Costello, Anne Dick (PKD’s third wife), Tessa B. Dick (PKD’s fourth wife), Thomas M. Disch, Terry Gilliam, Kleo Mini (PKD’s second wife), Tim Powers, Kim Stanley Robinson and Fay Weldon. There’s also video footage of Dick being interviewed in the late 70s/early 80s. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Blade Runner vs. Metropolis

Max Ernst album covers

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The Road To Ruin (1970) by John & Beverley Martyn. Art: Un Semaine de Bonté (1934).

Having already looked at cover art featuring the work of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, a similar post for Max Ernst seemed inevitable. I did search for Ernst cover art after the Dalí post but at the time there were fewer examples. As usual there may be more than these since Discogs is the main search tool and they (or the albums) don’t always credit the artists. Despite having several books of Ernst’s work I’ve not been able to identify all the artwork so the Ernst-heads out there are welcome to fill in the gaps.

The Road To Ruin was John Martyn’s fourth album, and the second he recorded with wife Beverley. I’m surprised that this is the earliest example, I’d have expected a classical album or two to have predated it.

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Martinu’s Symphony No. 6 (Fantaisies Symphoniques) / Vorisek’s Symphony In D Major (1971); New Philharmonia Orchestra, Michael Bialoguski. Art: Bottled Moon (1955).

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Bluebeard’s Castle by Béla Bartók (1976); Tatiana Troyanos, Siegmund Nimsgern, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez. Art: The Eye of Silence (1943–44).

Bluebeard’s Castle is my favourite opera, and The Eye of Silence is my favourite Ernst painting, so this is a dream conjunction even if the match doesn’t work as well as it did for the cover of The Crystal World by JG Ballard. One to seek out.

Continue reading “Max Ernst album covers”

Weekend links 225

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Still from The Shaman-Girl’s Prayer (1997), a video piece by Mariko Mori. This page has pictures of Mori’s futuristic/cosmic performances, films & environments.

Time Out of Mind (1979) was a BBC TV series about science fiction writers, five short films concentrating on Arthur C. Clarke, John Brunner, Michael Moorcock, Anne McCaffrey and an sf convention. I was only interested in the Moorcock film at the time, not least because it featured a short clip of Hawkwind playing Silver Machine, and inserted scenes from the film of The Final Programme (1973) between the interviews. The Moorcock episode is less about his books than about New Worlds magazine and the so-called New Wave of sf in general, so you also see rare footage of M. John Harrison in a Barney Bubbles “Blockhead” T-shirt talking then ascending a limestone cliff, and bits of interviews with Brian Aldiss and Thomas Disch. Ballard isn’t interviewed but is present via a scene from the Harley Cokeliss film Crash! (1971) in which Gabrielle Drake slides in and out of a car while someone reads Elements of an Orgasm from The Atrocity Exhibition.

• “…there happened to be a book on Ritual Magick that talked about John Dee and summonings and Dr. Faust and all that kind of stuff. So then obviously at that age, too, I read HP Lovecraft and then Michael Moorcock and what they call fantasy literature. Through HP Lovecraft I discovered Arthur Machen, and I think that sort of percolated down inside…” Dylan Carlson of Earth talking to Steel for Brains. The Wire has the vinyl-only track from the new Earth album, Primitive And Deadly, and a track from Carlson’s solo album, Gold. Related: Artwork by Samantha Muljat, designer/photographer for the new Earth album.

Phantasmaphile has details of the next two issues of deluxe occult magazine Abraxas. Issue 6 includes a major feature on Leonora Carrington while Luminous Screen is a special issue devoted to occult cinema.

• More Broadcast: Video of a performance at Teatro Comunale di Carpi, March 2010 (part 2 here), and “constellators and artifacts” at A Year In The Country.

• “Petition demands return of ‘Penis Satan’ statue to Vancouver.” There’s an uncensored photo of the contentious statue here.

• Literary Alchemy and Graphic Design: Adrian Shaughnessy on James Joyce’s writings among graphic designers.

• Frank Pizzoli talks to John Rechy about “the gay sensibility”, melding truth and fiction, and his literary legacy.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 127 by Roberto Crippa, and FACT Mix 459 by Craig Leon.

Alan Moore has finished the first draft of his million-word novel, Jerusalem.

• Crazy pavings: Alex Bellos on Craig Kaplan’s parquet deformations.

Noise Not Music: “Live recordings, obscure cassettes and more…”

Pylon of the Month

Zoot Kook (1980) by Sandii | Rose Garden (1981) by Akiko Yano | Telstar (1997) by Takako Minekawa

Marienbad hauntings

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Last Year in Marienbad (1961). Via.

In our age of cultural plenitude it can be salutary to remember the time when many things were easy to discover but often impossible to experience; albums, books, and especially non-American films could all too frequently exist as rumours, referenced but always out of reach. Two films in particular dogged me for years in this remote manner: The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) by Wojciech Has, and Last Year at Marienbad (1961), the film that Alain Resnais made from a very novelistic screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Philip Strick alerted me to this pair of films with tantalising descriptions in a time-travel chapter of his book-length study, Science Fiction Movies (1976). Marienbad isn’t a time-travel film as such (a later Resnais film, Je t’aime, je t’aime [1968] does deal with the subject, however, and even features an actual time machine), but it is sufficiently open-ended to allow a science-fictional rationale into its enigmatic spaces. Strick’s book covered all the familiar SF territory as well as looking beyond the clichés of Hollywood and the SF genre, hence the inclusion not only of Marienbad and Saragossa, but also Je t’aime, je t’aime, Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), Bergman’s The Hour of the Wolf (1968), Pasolini’s Teorema (1968), and Buñuel’s Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). Most of these films, which were seldom shown on TV, I had to wait years to see.

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Marienbad page from Strick’s Science Fiction Movies.

I was reading Strick’s book in 1979, and since I was bored with generic clichés, and also reading a lot of reprinted stories from New Worlds magazine, I became a little obsessed with these inaccessible films, Marienbad especially. It’s difficult to say what was so fascinating about a few words of description, and a single photograph, but the picture seemed an unlikely inclusion amid so many pages filled with robots and spaceships. It promised a film that approached the themes of science fiction at the same oblique angle as many of the stories in New Worlds. A couple of years later I found a copy of the Robbe-Grillet screenplay whose pages of dogged description read like the kind of forbidding and formal exercise that Brian Aldiss had attempted in Report on Probability A (1967), a novel that first appeared in New Worlds. Among other similarities, both works share a dismissive attitude to character, presenting a trio of ciphers indicated by no more than their gender, and some initial letters. This confluence of influences, Marienbad included, fed into the chunks of New Worlds-derived prose I was writing at the time, trying to fix inchoate impressions on the page. I always failed each time I returned to that photo from Marienbad, the real charge—as I didn’t see at the time—being a result of the gap between the promise of the image and the inaccessible film itself. Finally seeing Marienbad in the late 1980s was a curious thing, like meeting somebody face-to-face after years of remote correspondence; the same readjustments needed to be made to accept that this was the reality of the work of art, not Robbe-Grillet’s embryonic version, or my own baroque imaginings.

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Screenplay book, 1962. Cover design by Roy Kuhlman.

If the above seems to strain for association by hauling a celebrated work of the Nouvelle Vague into a disreputable area then this essay by Thomas Beltzer is worth a read. Beltzer’s “Intertextual Meditation” compares Marienbad to The Invention of Morel (1940), a science-fiction novel by Adolfo Bioy-Casares which Jorge Luis Borges described as “perfect” (and which I really ought to read). If I’ve not written much about Marienbad itself that’s because it really needs to be experienced rather than described or explained. It’s a film that’s easier to admire than actually enjoy—I need to be in the right mood to accept its formalities—and given the choice I’d often sooner watch Providence (1977). But where Providence and other Resnais films have inevitably dated, Last Year in Marienbad remains out of time, a 20th-century dream held captive in 18th-century architecture where the airless rococo chambers might easily share a labyrinth with the hotel waiting-room at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

• Alain Resnais obituaries: The Guardian | The Telegraph
Last Year in Marienbad at film|captures
Marienbad (2012) by Julia Holter