Weekend links 590

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Understanding Mu (1970) by Hans Stefan Santesson. Cover art by Ron Walotsky. Via.

• “I have never believed Chariots of the Gods?—it takes faith, so what I mean is that I’ve never believed in it—but it has still held my affection for decades.” Patrick Allington on ancient aliens, unidentified aerial phenomena, and the unhinged pleasures of speculative nonfiction. I still have a stash of paperbacks in what I call “The Crank Box”, a collection of the more far-out titles that proliferated in the 1970s in the wake of the bestselling (and very egregious) Erich von Däniken. There aren’t many books about ancient astronauts or flying saucers in the box because they were so plentiful, I was always on the lookout for more outlandish volumes: lost continents, yes, but not the all-too-common Atlantis; Lemuria or Mu were more like it. So too with Hollow Earths and mysterious realms as detailed in Shambhala: Oasis of Light by Andrew Tomas, or The Lost World of Agharti: The Mystery of Vril Power by Alec MacLellan. The attraction wasn’t that any of this speculation might be true, more that these books operate as bargain-basement equivalents of the Borges conceit in which metaphysics is regarded as a branch of fantastic literature. Weird fiction by other means.

Collecting these books was a fun thing to do in the 1980s when the crank publications of the previous decade had washed up on the shelves of secondhand bookshops. The shine began to wear off in the 1990s when the emergence of the internet empowered a new breed of hucksters (and worse) pushing all of this stuff as though it was “hidden knowledge”. It’s hard to get excited about a battered paperback brimming with pseudo-science and pseudo-archaeology when similar ideas proliferate on YouTube channels catering to credulous hordes.

• Absolutely elsewhere (and linked here on a regular basis): An archive of the endlessly fascinating Absolute Elsewhere, a website created by the late RT Gault in order to present “a bibliography of visionary, occult, new age, fringe science, strange and even crackpot works published between 1945 and 1988”. The listings are accompanied by an informed, sceptical and often enlightening commentary, and also include a fair amount of weird fiction. Mr Gault had the right attitude.

• New music: Raum by Tangerine Dream, a preview of the new album, Probe 6–8, which will be released next year; new/old music: a reissue of Marine Flowers (Science Fantasy) by Akira Ito.

• “He had been honest about himself, and shockingly honest about his parents, but about his work he had spun me a tale.” Carole Angier on the elusive WG Sebald.

• At The New Criterion: Two stray notes on Moby-Dick by William Logan; on contemporary reviews of Moby-Dick and Melville’s journey on the Acushnet.

• “Perhaps what’s most extraordinary about Kollaps is that it was made at all.” Jeremy Allen on Einstürzende Neubauten’s thrilling debut album.

• At Culture.pl: a podcast about Czech film director Vera Chytilová and her masterpiece of Surrealist anarchy, Daisies.

• At Perfect Sound Forever: Part 2 of a Jon Hassell tribute which talks to friends and musical collaborators.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…William S. Burroughs The Ticket That Exploded (1962).

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine unearths a medieval recipe for gingerbread.

• Mix of the week: Death’s Other Dominion by The Ephemeral Man.

MU-UR (2000) by Coil | Mu (2005) by Jah Wobble | Mu 1 (2015) by Acronym

Man is the Animal: A Coil Zine

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Death is centrifugal / Solar and logical / Decadent and symmetrical / Angels are mathematical / Angels are bestial / Man is the animal —Fire Of The Mind by Coil

In the post this week from Temporal Boundary Press, issue 1 of Man is the Animal: A Coil Zine. A timely publication, given the persistent and increasing interest in Coil, and one whose essays are all of a quality belied by the “zine” label which usually suggests something more fannish and trivial. This is a pleasing object even before you look inside, a perfect-bound A5 booklet with full-colour printing throughout, and a cover painting by Val Denham, an artist with Coil associations that reach back through the Some Bizzare period to art for Marc Almond and Throbbing Gristle. Denham also contributes one of the written pieces, Jhonn is Unbalanced, a touching memoir of Geoff Rushton/John (Jhonn) Balance. Among the other entries is a piece by Benjamin Noys, a writer whose previous studies have included an examination of the connections between my own art for the Reverbstorm comic series and the weird fiction of HP Lovecraft. Noys takes a similar approach here, finding reflections of Coil obsessions in the symbolism of alchemical magic and the weird fiction of Arthur Machen.

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Epigraph from Outside the Circles of Time by Kenneth Grant.

The weird fiction of HP Lovecraft was a Coil obsession, and Lovecraft receives the most attention in a great piece by Andy Sharp which takes its cue from the appearance in Titan Arch of lines from the epigraph for Outside the Circles of Time, an occult study by magus and scholar Kenneth Grant. The latter was another Lovecraft obsessive—no doubt one of the first, given his age—whose books are littered with references to both Lovecraft and Machen. I spotted the Coil/Grant connection many years ago (although quite some time after Love’s Secret Domain was released), and acknowledged the link in two pages in The Haunter of the Dark, one of which reprints Grant’s epigraph, while the other is a picture with the title In Spaces Between, a line from Titan Arch which is also a reference to the Necronomicon extract in The Dunwich Horror: “The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.” Sharp does more than merely acknowledge this web of connections, he delves into Grant’s dense treatise in search of further correspondences. I’ve not read Grant’s book for many years but this essay makes me think I ought to look at it again. By coincidence (or is it? etc), both Love’s Secret Domain and Outside the Circles of Time have been reissued this year, the Grant book by Starfire Publishing.

Contents:
The Vision and the Voice: Esoteric Dimensions of Coil’s Vocals by Hayes Hampton
A Hauntology of Coil by Sean Oscar
Are You Loathsome Tonight?: Coil’s Transformations by Benjamin Noys
The Horseman Betrays His Steed by Cormac Pentecost
The Spaces Between: Outside the Circles of Time and Love’s Secret Domain by Andy Sharp
Jhonn is Unbalanced by Val Denham

Previously on { feuilleton }
Dreaming Out of Space: Kenneth Grant on HP Lovecraft
Peter Christopherson Photography & The Art of John Balance Collected
The White People by Arthur Machen
Val Denham album covers
Kenneth Grant, 1924–2011
Peter Christopherson, 1955–2010
The Angelic Conversation

Weekend links 578

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The Witch (1920) by Mila von Luttich for Die Muskete.

• “One thing that used to annoy Geff in particular—I don’t think Sleazy cared so much—was that the gay press hardly ever paid any attention to Coil. It really was the cliché of, if you’re making disco bunny or house music then you might get covered in the gay press, but if you’re not doing something that appeals to that rather superficial aesthetic, which was the hallmark of the gay scene, they didn’t even deign to glance at you.” Stephen Thrower talking to Mark Pilkington about Love’s Secret Domain by Coil, and touching on an issue that I’ve never seen referred to outside the occasional Coil interview. Coil’s sexuality was self-evident from their first release in 1984 but they always seemed to be too dark and too weird for the gay press, and for the NME according to this interview.

• “Gorey collected all sorts of objects at local flea markets and garage sales—books, of course, though also cheese graters, doorknobs, silverware, crosses, tassels, telephone insulators, keys, orbs—but he especially loved animal figurines and stuffed animals.” Casey Cep on Edward Gorey’s toys.

• Last week it was a giant cat opposite Shinjuku station; this week at Spoon & Tamago there’s a giant head floating over Tokyo.

DJ Food delves through more copies of The East Village Other to find art by underground comix artists (and Winsor McCay).

• New music: My Sailor Boy by Shirley Collins, and Vulva Caelestis by Hawthonn.

• “€4.55m Marquis de Sade manuscript acquired for French nation.”

• At Dangerous Minds: The Voluptuous Folk Music of Karen Black.

• At Greydogtales: Montague in Buntlebury.

Aaron Dilloway‘s favourite music.

Toys (1968) by Herbie Hancock | Joy Of A Toy (1968) by The Soft Machine | Broken Toys (1971) by Broken Toys

Weekend links 564

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Fantastical Tree (c. 1830) by Carl Wilhelm Kolbe.

• “It’s just a square and a semi-circle at the end of the day.” Pete Adlington navigates the rapids of high-profile cover design for the UK edition of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and The Sun. I’m not always keen on the minimal approach but the Faber edition is a better design than the equally minimal US cover whose circle in a hand makes it look like a reprint of Logan’s Run. Faber also produced a limited edition with the sun circle wrapped onto sprayed page edges.

• “‘With a mysterious smile on her lips,’ writes the Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, ‘the painter whispered to me, “What you just dictated to me is the secret. As each Arcana is a mirror and not a truth in itself, become what you see in it. That tarot is a chameleon.”‘” The painter referred to is the now-ubiquitous Leonora Carrington whose own Tarot deck is investigated by Rhian Sasseen.

• “‘Horror is an emotion,’ Douglas E. Winter tells us. I would respectfully like to amend that assertion. Horror is a range of emotions. And each of these moods, if they are to be successful, must be cultivated differently.” Brian J. Showers offers his thoughts on horror fiction.

• “You move from awareness of—and preoccupation with—how sounds affect our bodies, into how that might create a web of connection with the external world—with the natural world.” Annea Lockwood talking to Jennifer Lucy Allan about her career as a composer and sound artist.

• Gay cruising and its geography in cinema and documentary, a list of films by Mike Kennedy. Related: Shiv Kotecha on O Fantasma (2000), a film by João Pedro Rodrigues.

• Coming from Strange Attractor in June: Coil: Camera Light Oblivion, a photographic record by Ruth Beyer of the first live performances by Coil from 2000–2002.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Star Called Wormwood (1941), a strange novel by Morchard Bishop.

• At Unquiet Things: Ephemeral and Irresistible: The Spectacular Still-life Botanical Drama of Gatya Kelly.

• “Fevers of Curiosity”: Charles Baudelaire and the convalescent flâneur by Matthew Beaumont.

• 1066 and all that: Explore the Bayeux Tapestry online.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 311 by Arigto.

• New music: Terrain by Portico Quartet.

Fever (1956) by Little Willie John | Fever (1972) by Junior Byles | Fever (1980) The Cramps

Weekend links 562

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Teenage Lightning (Les Éclairs au-dessous de quatorze ans) (c. 1925) by Max Ernst.

• “There has never been another director who has lain in wait for us with the same wrath or disgust. He is so complicated that finally he became the very thing he was nervous of admitting, a true artist best measured in the company of Patrick Hamilton, Francis Bacon, or Harold Pinter. He saw no reason to like us or himself.” David Thomson on why Alfred Hitchcock’s films still feel dangerous.

• New music: “Habitat, an environmental music collaboration by Berlin based composer Niklas Kramer and percussionist Joda Foerster, is inspired by the drawings of Italian architect Ettore Sottsass. Each of the eight tracks represents a room in an imaginary building.”

• “You could describe Lambkin’s work as a rich sort of ambient music, but largely without the synthetic textures that ambient music often possesses.” Geeta Dayal reviews Solos, a collection of recordings by Graham Lambkin.

Tom of Finland: Pen and Ink, 1965–1989 is an exhibition at the David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, which runs to 1st May. The website includes a virtual tour.

• More revenant gay art: Bibliothèque Gay reviews a new Spanish translation of Baiser de Narcisse by Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen.

• Introducing Ark Surreal: “Surreal collages by Allan Randolph Kausch. Some cute and sweet, others dark and intriguing.”

• At Artforum: Albert Mobilio on Extra Ordinary: Magic, Mystery, and Imagination in American Realism.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Shizuoka is installing monuments inspired by their plastic model industry.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jordan Belson Day.

Museum of Everything Else

• RIP Bertrand Tavernier.

Teenage Lightning 2 (1991) by Coil | Teenage Lightning (1992) by Skullflower | Teenage Lightning (Surgeon Remix) (2001) by Coil