Weekend links 648


The Twittering Machine (1922) by Paul Klee.

• “Thinking of ‘writer Twitter’ as more important than writers themselves is an insult to the profession. People have been trading words for money for thousands of years. They will continue to do so after the death of a platform built on manufactured outrage, social hierarchy, unfunny jokes, stale memes, pornography, and spam. I mention this Atlantic essay only because it echoes what so many people are saying in the ether right now, not to pick on its author. The piece reads like a parody of how writers overestimate the importance of Twitter to their work and careers. It’s frankly a little embarrassing. Your work is the product you sell! Not the shitty jokes you tell with people you want to impress.” Freddie deBoer on the kerfuffle du jour. For “writer” see also “artist” or anyone else working at the intersection between commerce and creativity. From what I’ve read this week about potential technical problems at the pestilential birdcage I’d be less sanguine about its immediate survival. Since I retreated from the place as an active user two-and-a-half years ago all I get from it is the inflated subscriber number you see on the right-hand side of this page, a combination of Twitter followers plus email subscribers. The latter currently stand at some 270 individuals so if you’re among that number you can consider yourself part of a more exclusive group. And thanks for subscribing!

• “…the books of the past, besides adding to our understanding, offer something we also need: repose, refreshment and renewal. They help us keep going through dark times, they lift our spirits, they comfort us. Which means that I also strongly agree with the poet John Ashbery, who once wrote, ‘I am aware of the pejorative associations of the word “escapist,” but I insist that we need all the escapism we can get and even that isn’t going to be enough.'” Michael Dirda makes a case for reading classic, unusual and neglected books. Kudos for the mention of Anthony Skene‘s Monsieur Zenith, a character few of Dirda’s readers will have heard of.

• “While Haeckel’s paintings turn the floating phantoms into baroque spectacles of colour and flowing form, Mayer’s medusae are more sober, their tentacles subdued, their umbellate bells transparent.” Kevin Dann on the jellyfish and other “floating phantoms” described in AG Mayer’s Medusae of the World (1910).

• “The passing of time has added potency to the images, giving this interpretation of the Dracula story the feel of a distant fairy tale, a myth emerging from the mists of time, erupting across the world of cinema, its shadow reaching everywhere.” Martyn Bamber on 100 years of Murnau’s Nosferatu.

• At AnOther: Camille Vivier talks about shooting nude models in the treasure-filled home of HR Giger.

• New music: In Concert & In Residence by Sarah Davachi, and Anglo-Saxon Androids by Moon Wiring Club.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Kimono portraits were popular souvenirs for sailors visiting Japan in the 1800s.

• Mix of the week: Saturnalia: Deep Jazz for Long Nights, 1969–1980 at Aquarium Drunkard.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Clouds.

Dark Clouds With Silver Linings (1961) by Sun Ra | Obscured By Clouds (1972) by Pink Floyd | Firmament (Cloudscape) (1995) by Main

Weekend links 643


Freundschaftsfoto (1964) by Jürgen Wittdorf.

• “It’s truly astonishing how Laswell collided with vastly divergent musicians and genres while somehow still representing complementary musical spheres.” Yes, indeed. Mixes of the week: Bill Laswell Research Institute: Vol I & II, two 90-minute collections at Aquarium Drunkard dedicated to the career of the indefatigable musician/producer/catalyst.

• “These pieces are created using custom developed software and laser specialised machines resulting in highly detailed laser cut works on layered paper with some works comprising over a thousand individual parts.” Works in paper at Studio Ibbini.

• “The visual history of polyhedra is littered with false starts, poignant failures, and allegories unable to convey the weight of their subject matter.” Noam Andrews explores the history of rendering polyhedral objects in art.

• “When it came to homosexuality, the east was as bourgeois as the west.” Homoerotic art from the communist era by Jürgen Wittdorf (1932–2018) receives a reappraisal.

• More MR James: All of James’ ghost stories in a single volume at Standard Ebooks, the home of free, high-quality, public-domain texts.

• More mixes: A mix for The Wire by NikNak, and XLR8R Podcast 769 by The Sun Ra Arkestra.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Tracing the history of railways in Japan through art.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Marie Menken Day.

Angeline Morrison‘s favourite albums.

Ghost Train (1961) by Virgil Holmes | Ghost Train (1961) by Electro-Tones | Ghost Train (1962) by The Partners

Weekend links 642


A light wheel. Via.

• “Part of the instrument’s draw is its fallibility. Famously, or perhaps infamously, every Rhodes is different: some freakishly responsive, some with keys that stick like glue, and all with uneven registers, darker corners, and sweet spots.” Hugh Morris on the delicate art of reinventing the Fender Rhodes.

Rambalac’s YouTube channel of first-person walks through Japanese locations is a vicarious pleasure, especially on a big screen. It’s not all city streets but if you like urban meandering then Tokyo walk from day to rainy night – Higashi-Ikebukuro, Mejiro, Ikebukuro is a good place to start.

• At Igloomag: Chang Terhune interviews Stephen Mallinder in a gratifyingly lengthy piece which covers Mallinder’s recent solo recordings and collaborations, his work with students on his sound-art course, and (unavoidably) the late Richard H. Kirk and Cabaret Voltaire.

What I think might be a useful approach—perhaps impractical, but bear me out—I think that if we were to reconnect magic and art as a starting point, because they’re practically the same thing anyway, make art the product of your magical experiments, the way that Austin Spare did for example, then that would give magic an enormous sense of purpose and I think it would also lend art the vision that it seems to be lacking at present. A lot of modern art seems rather empty and hollow conceptualism that lacks any real vision or substance or power. A linking of magic and art would help both of those fields. Then, once you’ve done that, maybe linking art and science. There’s plenty of work already done in that regard.

Alan Moore talking to Miles Ellingham about the usual concerns plus his new story collection, Illuminations

Wheels of Light: Designs for British Light Shows 1970–1990 is a book by Kevin Foakes (aka DJ Food) which will be published later this month by Four Corners Books. The author talks about his book here.

• “The Sandjak of Novi Pazar always sounded as if it were a title, like the Sultan of Zanzibar or the Dame of Sark…” Mark Valentine on discovering outdated maps in forgotten books.

• “My brief was to find tracks that had been left by the wayside or disregarded.” Lenny Kaye on 50 years of his influential garage-rock compilation Nuggets.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 768 by Lawrence English, and King Scratch (Musical Masterpieces from the Upsetter Ark-ive) by Aquarium Drunkard.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House (1959).

• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Slag.

• This Wheel’s On Fire (1968) by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity | Cosmic Wheels (1973) by Donovan | Wheels On Fire (1985) by Haruomi Hosono

Weekend links 641


For mysterious and eldritch reasons the Republic of Palau has minted a Cthulhu-themed 20 dollar coin. Via.

• “Pre-gap tracks are a CD-specific phenomenon, paralleled only by DVD Easter Eggs, or hidden levels in a computer game. On the one hand, they’re only possible digitally, on the other, they seem to be an attempt to add some mystique to a circle of plastic.” Daryl Worthington on the 40th anniversary of the Digital Audio Compact Disc. Regular readers will know that CD has been, and remains, my favourite musical format for reasons I won’t bother arguing here. Related: Wikipedia’s list of albums with tracks hidden in the pregap. Also: “There’s endless choice, but you’re not listening”: fans quitting Spotify to save their love of music.

• “Meek’s use of sound effects and swathes of ghostly reverb, woven into seemingly innocuous pop songs and rock and roll instrumentals—as if the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was directed by Phil Spector—created a sense of the sublime and hinted at strange realities beyond our own.” Mark Pilkington explores the strange world of Joe Meek.

• “Structured as a ‘dream within a dream’, the narrative weaves together mythological, biblical, and occult references to construct a universe filled with ruinous landscapes and orgiastic celebrations.” Demetra Vogiatzaki on the enigmas, architectural and otherwise, presented by Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499).

The man who made this absurd noir was answerable neither to studio nor Shakespeare, but only his own monumental whims. Thus, Mr. Arkadin sends Citizen Kane (1941) through the looking glass—the action transposed to post–World War II Spain and given a spin somewhere between metaphysics and megalomania…

If Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus recast myth as pulp, Mr. Arkadin elevates pulp to myth. It is the most Borgesian of Welles’s movies. Writing in Cahiers du cinéma, the young Eric Rohmer compared Mr. Arkadin to Jules Verne and Fantômas: It creates something that is ­nearly impossible today: a romantic fiction that involves neither the future nor any removal from one’s usual surroundings…

J. Hoberman writing in 2006 about Orson Welles’ Mr. Arkadin (1955). I was rewatching the film earlier this week in its guise as Confidential Report, the version re-edited by its producer to try and create something with greater commercial appeal. I’ve yet to see the recent restoration but even in its butchered form it’s a fascinating piece of work

Early Cormac McCarthy interviews rediscovered: “Between 1968 and 1980, he gave at least 10 interviews to small local papers in Lexington, Kentucky and east Tennessee, a region where he lived and had friends.”

• New music: Perceptions by Model Alpha (Jonathan Fitoussi & Julie Freyri), and Epektasis by Nicklas Barker.

Dreams of Space: Books and Ephemera; “Non-fiction children’s space flight stuff 1945–1975”.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Roget Malot presents…Spirit Photography Day.

• Mix of the week: A mix for The Wire by FOQL.

Spirit (1978) by Frédéric Mercier | Spirit (1990) by Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart | Spirit Level (Lost In Space) (1992) by Horizon 222

Weekend links 640


Aquarius (1910–1914) by Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald.

• “…they created a unique Afro-Caribbean soundscape—Battiste’s exceptional skills saw him use the studio as an instrument, voices flutter in and out, instruments shiver and shriek, over which Rebennack mutters and chants, a shaman of sorts.” Garth Cartwright on the life and works of Mac Rebennack, better known to the world as Dr John.

• Issue 3 of Man Is The Animal: A Coil Zine is now available for pre-order. I contributed to this one with a piece entitled “Singularities of Art and Nature”, an examination of the Coil discography via the Wunderkammer concept and the Musaeum Clausum of Thomas Browne.

• Among the recent arrivals at Standard Ebooks, the home of free, high-quality, public-domain texts, is Arthur Machen’s episodic and influential horror novel The Three Imposters (1895).

Media History Digital Library: “A free online resource, featuring millions of pages of books and magazines from the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound.”

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Shall I, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, conjurer, introduce myself to you, viewer? And why not?

• At Public Domain Review: The Blood Collages of John Bingley Garland (ca. 1850–60).

• Mix of the week: Endymion, an autumnal ambient mix by The Ephemeral Man.

• “New Webb image captures clearest view of Neptune’s rings in decades.”

• New music: Of Endless Light by Cleared.

• RIP jazz giant Pharoah Sanders.

Conjuration (1977) by Tangerine Dream | Necronomicon—Conjurations (2004) by John Zorn | A Boy Called Conjuror (2020) by Teleplasmiste