Weekend links 203

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A Dune-inspired piece by Joshua Budich for In Dreams: an art show tribute to David Lynch at Spoke Art.

• “[Montague] Summers was a friend of Aleister Crowley and, like [Jacques d’Adelswärd] Fersen, conducted homoerotic black masses; whatever eldritch divinity received their entreaties was evidently propitiated by nude youths.” Strange Flowers goes in search of the Reverend Summers.

• More Jarmania: Veronica Horwell on the theatrical life of Derek Jarman, Paul Gallagher on When Derek Jarman met William Burroughs, and Scott Treleaven on Derek Jarman’s Advice to a Young Queer Artist.

Robert Henke of Monolake talks to Secret Thirteen about his electronic music. More electronica: analogue-synth group Node have recorded a new album, their first since their debut in 1995.

This hypertrophied response to decay and dilapidation is what drives the “ruin gaze”, a kind of steroidal sublime that enables us to enlarge the past because we cannot enlarge the present. When ruin-meister Giovanni Piranesi introduced human figures into his “Views of Rome”, they were always disproportionately small in relation to his colossal (and colossally inaccurate) wrecks of empire. It’s not that Piranesi, an architect, couldn’t do the maths: he wasn’t trying to document the remains so much as translate them into a grand melancholic view. As Marguerite Yourcenar put it, Piranesi was not only the interpreter but “virtually the inventor of Rome’s tragic beauty”. His “sublime dreams”, Horace Walpole said, had conjured “visions of Rome beyond what it boasted even in the meridian of its splendour”.

Frances Stonor Saunders on How ruins reveal our deepest fears and desires.

Gustave Doré. L’imaginaire au pouvoir: Four short films from the Musée d’Orsay to accompany their current exhibition, Gustave Doré (1832–1883): Master of Imagination.

• At Dangerous Minds: Remembering Cathy Berberian, the hippest—and funniest—lady of avant-garde classical music.

• “Merely a Man of Letters”: Jorge Luis Borges interviewed in 1977 by Denis Dutton & Michael Palencia-Roth.

Luke Epplin on Big as Life (1966), a science-fiction novel by EL Doctorow which the author has since disowned.

The Psychomagical Realism of Alejandro Jodorowsky: Eric Benson talks to the tireless polymath.

• A video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz for the 10th anniversary of David Milch’s Deadwood.

Eugene Brennan on Scott Walker’s The Climate of Hunter (1984).

Dune at Pinterest.

• Prophecy Theme from Dune (1984) by Brian Eno | Olivine (1995) by Node | Gobi 110 35′ south 45 58′ (1999) by Monolake

Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen revisited

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Messes Noires. Lord Lyllian (1905).

An email earlier this week from French bookdealer Chez les libraires associés contained a link to an online catalogue of books by or related to that disreputable Uranian Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen, the subject of this earlier post. The catalogue describes the poet as “l’Oscar Wilde français” which isn’t strictly true since Wilde had (and has) a far higher literary reputation. And when it came to homosexual scandal Fersen didn’t suffer anything like Wilde’s appalling treatment, he simply decamped (so to speak) to Capri with his boyfriend, Nino Cesarini. The latter is the subject of another document linked in the same email, Nino et son jumeau, an investigation (in French) concerning “Faces and legends of the friend of Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen. What is known of the appearance of Nino, are there pictures of him by von Gloeden, von Plüschow or Vincenzo Galdi?” A number of the pictures in question show Nino and others in various states of undress so those wishing to view the pages will need to be registered at Issuu first.

A couple more covers from the catalogue follow. All these publications are rare and correspondingly expensive but I still find it fascinating seeing any of this material at all when it’s been proscribed and ignored for so long. While we’re on the subject, I’ve only just noticed that Fersen’s Le Baiser de Narcisse (with illustrations by Ernest Brisset) can be viewed complete at Gallica.

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Notre-Dame des mers mortes (1902).

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Paradinya (1911).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Le Baiser de Narcisse

Weekend links 83

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In Memory by Caitlin Hackett who describes her astonishing drawings as “contemporary mythology”.

• David Lynch’s solo album, Crazy Clown Time has just been released so The Guardian last Friday let the artist/director/musician edit their G2 supplement. Xan Brooks tried to get Lynch to open up about his inspirations while elsewhere Lynch had a chat with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Of more interest to me was news that some of the deleted sequences from Blue Velvet have been discovered. I’ve known about these for years from a feature in Video Watchdog magazine but never thought we might get to see them. Related: a mixtape by David Lynch & musical collaborator/engineer ‘Big’ Dean Hurley.

• “Book jackets these days, for reasons I won’t unpack, seem to revel, overtly, in wit, conceptual deviousness, unusual clever or droll juxtapositions – we, as a professional community, seem to have elevated the visual bon mot above all other virtues.” Peter Mendelsund in a great post about certain problems in book design, starting with the very problematic question of what to do with Nabokov’s Lolita. Related: Covering Lolita, a gallery of covers through the ages which run the gamut of bad decisions.

• “For his sins Pinocchio is not only hanged but robbed, kidnapped, stabbed, whipped, starved, jailed, punched in the head, and has his legs burned off.” Nathaniel Rich goes back to Carlo Collodi’s original Pinocchio. Disney it ain’t.

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Some of Berthold Wolpe’s Faber cover designs are now available as prints from wire-frame whose Pelham/Ballard prints were mentioned here recently. Related (and worth another visit): Faber 20th century classics at Flickr.

Technical Vocabularies – Games for May, a small collection of poems by Alan Moore & Steve Moore, is now online with authorial permission. Alan’s Beardsley pastiche on the cover is a bonus.

• Cabaret Voltaire’s Richard H. Kirk says the group’s Virgin albums will be reissued next year by Mute. A new edition of The Crackdown? Yes, please.

• “Homo Riot can only think of six or seven street artists in the world who regularly feature gay themes in their work, and he knows all of them.”

Rub Out The Words: Letters from William Burroughs and Philip K. Dick on the language virus theory of William Burroughs.

L’exilé de Capri: the connections between Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen and Roger Peyrefitte explored at Strange Flowers.

• Flying cars and monorails: Soviet Russia in the 1960s also had a Gerry Anderson view of the future.

Are You An Anarchist? The Answer May Surprise You.

Baby’s On Fire (1973) by Brian Eno | Baby’s On Fire (live, 1974) by Eno & The Winkies | Baby’s On Fire (live, 1976) by 801 | Baby’s On Fire (1998) by The Venus In Furs.

Le Baiser de Narcisse

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We have the French gay culture site Bibliothèque Gay to thank for posting illustrations by Ernest Brisset from Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen’s rare volume of homoerotic fiction, Le baiser de Narcisse (The Kiss of Narcissus). The book was originally published in 1907 but it was a new edition in 1912 which came embellished with Brisset’s Classical drawings and decorations. If these lack a degree of eros it should be noted that the text would have been condemned as outright pornography in the Britain of 1912, a paean to youthful male beauty which lingers over details of a boy’s “polished hips” and his “round and firm sex like a fruit”. As is usual with homoerotics of this period, the Classical setting and allusion to Greek myth provides the vaguest excuse for the subtext even though prudes of the time weren’t remotely fooled by this, as Oscar Wilde discovered.

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Among other works by Fersen there’s a decadent roman à clef, Lord Lyllian: Black Masses (1905), which I’ve been intent on reading since it was translated into English a couple of years ago. Here Fersen provides us with yet another fictional extrapolation of Oscar Wilde who the author gifts with some of his own scandalous history. Fersen had been driven from France following a public outrage involving the “Black Masses” of the novel’s title, and the alleged debauching of Parisian schoolboys.

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Nino Cesarini by Paul Höcker (1904).

Fersen settled in Capri with his partner Nino Cesarini where they spent some years reinforcing the reputation of that island (not for nothing is Noël Coward’s camp and catty character in Boom! named “the Witch of Capri”), and proselytising for the Uranian cause with a literary journal, Akademos, modelled on Adolf Brand’s Der Eigene. Fersen’s later life is reminiscent of that of Elisar von Kupffer, a wealthy contemporary who created a secluded homoerotic paradise of his own, the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion. Unlike Kupffer, however, Fersen ended his days prematurely in a haze of opium and cocaine. As for Ernest Brisset, if anyone finds other work of his online, please leave a comment.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reflections of Narcissus
Narcissus