The Weird Questionnaire

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A peacock. Photograph by Vidhya Narayanan.

Posted at the Weird Fiction Review in the past week, The Weird (or Étrange) Questionnaire is Éric Poindron’s Weird (or Étrange) riposte to the Proust Questionnaire. I’d read the post, and seen Jeff VanderMeer’s answers to the questions, but wasn’t planning on answering it myself until Neddal Ayad wrote asking whether I’d be willing to do so for a future WFR assembly of responses. So here we are. The rules are as follows:

…there are sixty questions (twice as many as most versions of the Proust Questionnaire). Spend no more than a minute on each, and an hour in total. However, don’t keep checking your watch: “let writing define time.”

In the end I took longer than an hour but the time limit is a good idea, otherwise I’d have spent far too long pondering, revising, qualifying remarks, unqualifying the qualifications, and so on. Deadlines have their uses.


The Weird Questionnaire

1: Write the first sentence of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.

The first night of winter moonlight revealed a pattern of tiny runic figures etched inside the window glass.

2: Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

01:15

3: Look at your watch. What time is it?

01:20

4: How do you explain this—or these—discrepancy(ies) in time?

It’s always later than you think.

5: Do you believe in meteorological predictions?

“Believe” seems the wrong word in this context since the question concerns a conjecture based on scientific study. Short-range forecasts are fine, long-range ones seldom seem to be.

6: Do you believe in astrological predictions?

If this refers to newspaper columns, they’re always so vague they may as well be computer-generated. Maybe they are.

7: Do you gaze at the sky and stars by night?

Yes, when I’m out of the city.

8: What do you think of the sky and stars by night?

My bad eyesight (the stars are always a blur), the length of time the light has taken to reach us, how the familiarity of the few stars we do manage to see shields us from the true immensity of the stellar gulfs.

9: What were you looking at before starting this questionnaire?

A guest post by Clive Hicks-Jenkins on Kathe Koja’s blog.

10: What do cathedrals, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and other religious monuments inspire in you?

Further appreciation of the values of art, architecture and related crafts. In the case of cathedrals: astonishment at the feats of labour required to build them in a pre-industrial age; their presence as sites of accumulated history.

Continue reading “The Weird Questionnaire”

Weekend links 32

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Red Quechquemitls (2010) by Sylvia Ji.

• The Blackout Mix, a pay-what-thou-wilt 49-minute mixtape, “specially designed to accompany (or simulate) a human-plant interaction”. Art by Arik Roper, music selection by Jay Babcock.

An ode to the many evolved virtues of human semen: “the penis is capable of dispensing a sort of natural Prozac” says Jesse Bering.

• The new John Foxx CD & DVD release, D.N.A., has a Jonathan Barnbrook cover, a new collaboration with Harold Budd and a disc of short films.

• “I have been copying Margaret Hamilton my whole life, and I am proud to admit it. The Wicked Witch of the West, the jolie laide heroine of every bad little boy’s and girl’s dream of notoriety and style, whose twelve minutes of screen time in The Wizard of Oz can never be topped … I’m a big butch-lesbian hag. I love the ones with chips on their shoulders and heavy attitude. They’re my real favorites.” John Waters always gives great interviews.

• Listen to a track from the forthcoming Brian Eno album while you’re reading Kristine McKenna’s interview with the man himself at Arthur mag. Includes an appreciation by Alan Moore.

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Atropa Bella Donna (2009) by Sylvia Ji.

• Steven Severin is touring the UK this month, performing a live accompaniment to screenings of Jean Cocteau’s The Blood of a Poet. He’s at the Tyneside Cinema this Tuesday. Other dates can be found on his website.

• “I know it’s a very emotive subject and you’re either for it or against it but for a jobbing self-employed musician such as me – bootlegging (CD copying) is just killing us.” Finding The Spaces Between: musician Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey, et al) interviewed.

Mile End Pugatorio (1991), a one-minute film-poem by Guy Sherwin and Martin Doyle. Related: four one-minute movies by The Residents.

• Gijs Van Vaerenbergh installed an Upside Dome at the St. Michiel Church in Leuven, Belgium.

• Sidney Sime illustrates Lord Dunsany at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

Europe according to gay men. There’s more at Mapping Stereotypes.

• There’s never a dull moment in the High Desert.

• Generative art by Leonardo Solas.

The art of Ralph Koltai

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Ralph Koltai‘s contrasting of panels of corroded metal with smooth objects makes for some attractive combinations, reminding me of similar rough and smooth juxtapositions by artist and designer Russell Mills, notably on one of his Samuel Beckett covers and his design for Harold Budd and Brian Eno’s The Pearl. Koltai’s site also includes a gallery of his designs for theatre. Digital rust infiltrates my own work now and then via some photos I took of a Manchester railway bridge, the most recent use being in the background of the cover for Finch.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Finch posters
Samuel Beckett and Russell Mills
The art of Jo Whaley

Fragment Endloss by Robert Henke

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I’ve mentioned before that Robert Henke, aka Monolake, is one of my favourite electronic musicians, and it was great last year when he reinstated his habit of offering a free download each month. Unlike the short fragments or scraps that many artists throw for free to audiences there’s been some substantial work on offer, such as an hour-long live performance of his Layering Buddha set.

The download for this month is a perfect soundtrack to accompany the New Year chill, Fragment Endloss, a 30-minute piece of ambient drift from 1992, reworked slightly for 2008.

This is a very personal piece for me, created in a time where I felt quite dark and lived in an appropriate environment. I just had moved from West-Berlin, Neukoelln, to the east, to Prenzlauer Berg, which at that time was not the expensive hippster neighborhood it is now, but the very opposite. I lived in a small place on the ground floor in a backyard, with a coal oven and a toilet outside the building… It was the end of winter, cold, unfriendly, and very dark. Pretty much like on the pictures above.

Musically this is influenced by ‘The Pearl’ (Brian Eno, Harold Budd). Sound design wise it shows that I just go the TG-77 and SY-77, and then there is this one long brass-like sound that I made as a result of listening to John Chowning.

For the free track of the month version I slightly edited the original 45 minute version and added field recordings of Bahnhof Zoo and the S-Bahn here in Berlin which I also captured in 1992.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Live Performance in the Age of Supercomputing
Layering Buddha by Robert Henke
New Monolake