The Cardinal and the Corpse

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Appearing at last on YouTube (although I think it may have been there once before) is the curious TV film that Iain Sinclair (writer & “freak wrangler”) and Chris Petit (director) made for Channel 4’s Without Walls series in 1992. This is a must for enthusiasts of Sinclair’s early novels since it features the real-life models for several of his characters—guitarist/bookdealer Martin Stone, artist/author Brian Catling, crazed bookdealer Driffield—plus Sinclair’s friends Michael Moorcock and Alan Moore. The latter is seen searching for a copy of Francis Barrett’s grimoire, The Magus (1801), a year before he attached the magus label to himself; I still don’t know whether this quest was Alan’s suggestion or Sinclair’s.

Elsewhere there are fleeting portraits of crime writer Robin Cook (aka Derek Raymond), and Kray gang member Tony Lambrianou. Other notable appearances include poet Aaron Williamson, artist John Latham and David Seabrook, a writer whose Jack of Jumps book I designed a cover for in 2006. The narrative, such as it is, is a series of quests and meetings, threaded together with anecdotes about the various personalities who are the real subject of the film. It’s all very hermetic, and what sense it makes to the uninitiated I can’t say, but it holds the attention for 40 minutes. These obscurities have a way of vanishing, so if you’re interested watch it now or download it for later.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Terror and Magnificence
Mister Jarman, Mister Moore and Doctor Dee
Compass Road by Iain Sinclair

Weekend links 142

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Gratifying this week to see album cover art under discussion even if the heat-to-light ratio was as unbalanced as it usually is when pop culture is the subject. Jonathan Barnbrook, who also designed the Heathen (2002) and Reality (2003) packaging for David Bowie, wrote about the thinking behind the new cover on his blog. (And for the time being let’s note that this is still only a cover design, we don’t know what else is on its way.)

For my part I’ll point out that the artist-as-cover-image is the great cliché of album design, and the bigger the name the more the rule applies; Neville Brody complains about this in the first book of his work, as does Storm Thorgerson in the Hipgnosis books. In Bowie’s case the rule has been applied almost universally since his debut album in 1967, the only variations being illustrational ones or slight dodges like having his feet appear on the front of Lodger and his back facing the viewer on Earthling. Consequently the new design is a radical gesture from an artist who could have got away with a photo of himself du jour. By way of contrast, consider that Rod Stewart is a year older than David Bowie and presented the world with this artefact in October 2012.

Related: Hard Format responds to the cover, Chris Roberts on “Picasso resurrected in a Rolf Harris era“, and Alex Petridis on The inside story of how David Bowie made The Next Day.

The Quicksilver typeface, designed by Dean Morris when he was only 16, bought by Letraset and now an indelible feature of pop design from the 1970s. Morris describes his experience here (“they shunned rapidographs!”) and collects examples of the print history here.

When the days are short, we are closest to the medieval world. To the avoidance of mirrors where death improves our portraits every morning with a few more lines and shadows. What would once have been a sermon, a conjuring of hellfire, a phantom slide show, is now an entertainment. But before we can begin again, we have to kick free of the embrace of our inconvenient predecessors, that compost legion of the anonymous dead. They come uninvited, requiring us to sign up for what the late Derek Raymond called the general contract: a brief turn in the light, then extinction. Eternal darkness. How to live with such knowledge? William Burroughs admired the unswerving bleakness of Beckett’s gaze, the way he reduced compensatory illusions to zero. Nowhere left to crawl. And nothing to crawl on. Last breath is last breath. Stare into the abyss and the abyss will stare right back.

Iain Sinclair reviews The Undiscovered Country: Journeys Among the Dead by Carl Watkins

Broadcast’s James Cargill on Morricone, Minidiscs and Scoring Berberian Sound Studio. Related: Melmoth the Wanderer posts a new mix, The Curious Episode of the Wizard’s Skull, and more spooky sounds are on their way from The Haxan Cloak.

• A Firm Turn Toward the Objective: Joanne Meister on meeting the great Swiss designer Josef Müller-Brockmann.

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Twitter user @thisnorthernboy reworked Paul Emsley’s portrait of Kate Middleton. @barnbrook approved.

• The Beatles of Comedy: David Free on the Monty Python team.

• The history of the London Underground poster.

Impossible Architecture by Filip Dujardin.

• At Pinterest: Art Dolls & Sculpture

• Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing album has been on repeat play this week: Warm Leatherette/Walking In The Rain | I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) | Demolition Man

Weekend links 107

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Le Faune (1923) by Carlos Schwabe.

• “When I recently attended a conference in China, many of the presenters left their papers on the cloud—Google Docs, to be specific. You know how this story ends: they got to China and there was no Google. Shit out of luck. Their cloud-based Gmail was also unavailable, as were the cloud lockers on which they had stored their rich media presentations.” Ubuweb’s Kenneth Goldsmith on why he doesn’t trust the Cloud.

• “I’m a poet and Britain is not a land for poets anymore.” A marvellous interview with the great Lindsay Kemp at Dangerous Minds. Subjects include all that you’d hope for: Genet, Salomé, David Bowie, Ken Russell, Derek Jarman, The Wicker Man and “papier maché giant cocks”.

• “As early as the 1950s, Maurice Richardson wrote a Freudian analysis which concluded that Dracula was ‘a kind of incestuous-necrophilious, oral-anal-sadistic all-in wrestling match’.” Christopher Frayling on the Bram Stoker centenary.

Björk gets enthused by (among other things) Leonora Carrington, The Hour-Glass Sanatorium and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s YouTube lectures.

• Before Fritz Lang’s Metropolis there was Algol – Tragödie der Macht (1920). Strange Flowers investigates.

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David Marsh recreates famous album covers using Adobe Illustrator’s Pantone swatches.

• New titles forthcoming from Strange Attractor Press. Related: an interview with SAP allies Cyclobe.

• 960 individual slabs of vinyl make an animated waveform for Benga’s I Will Never Change.

• An exhibition of works by Stanislav Szukalksi at Varnish Fine Art, San Francisco,

Keith Haring‘s erotic mural for the NYC LGBT Community Center is restored.

The Situationist Times (1962–1967) is resurrected at Boo-Hooray.

• Doors Closing Slowly: Derek Raymond‘s Factory Novels.

Will Wilkinson insists that fiction isn’t good for you.

• More bookplates at BibliOdyssey and 50 Watts.

The Top 25 Psychedelic Videos of All Time.

Flannery O’Connor: cartoonist.

• RIP Adam Yauch.

• Their finest moment: Sabotage (1994) by Beastie Boys.