Weekend links 530

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Kami #58 -bloom- (2019) by Momo Yoshino.

• “Set amid the countryside and the beaches of coastal Sussex, They depicts a world in which plundering bands of philistines prowl England destroying art, books, sculpture, musical instruments and scores, punishing those artistically and intellectually inclined outliers who refuse to abide by this new mob rule.” Lucy Scholes on They: A Sequence of Unease (1977) by Kay Dick, which she calls “a lost dystopian masterpiece”. This is revelatory in a minor way since for years I’ve remembered seeing a slim volume with the title They in a bookshop, and which I later thought might have been a Rudyard Kipling book (there’s a Kipling story with the same title). The timing is right, the sighting would have been in 1977 or 78. The combination of that short, one-word title with a stark cover image and a sinister description on the rear was hard to forget but I didn’t take note of the author’s name. (I also didn’t buy the book, opting instead for some inferior work.) A shame that it seems to be resolutely out of print.

• “The threat to civil liberties goes way beyond ‘cancel culture’,” says Leigh Phillips. It makes a change seeing this coming from Jacobin when so much of the left today can find nothing wrong with censorship so long as it’s in a good cause. (Every censor that ever lived believed they were acting in a good cause, were on “the right side of history”, etc, etc.) The piece includes a dismissal of the increasingly common riposte that “only the state can censor”: this would be news to my colleagues at Savoy Books who endured years of police harassment including the seizure and destruction of printed material; the same with the long history of police action against UK rap artists. Related: “Work that’s cancelled for being ‘of its time’ was probably objected to, at the time.” Dorian Lynskey on chronocentrism and “the narcissism of the present”.

• “Cruising baths, bars, and subway toilets, snorting poppers and ‘fist fucking with 40 guys for 14 hours’ (as he recalled in You Got to Burn to Shine, his 1993 collection of prose and poems), he found meaning in a religion of radical eros whose sacrament was anonymous sex.” Mark Dery reviewing Great Demon Kings: A Memoir of Poetry, Sex, Art, Death, and Enlightenment by John Giorno.

Aubrey Powell says his best photograph is the burning man from the cover of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.

• Mixes of the week: Fact mix 770 by Lyra Pramuk, and mr.K’s Kooky Kuts Vol.4 by radioShirley & mr.K.

• The Alchemical Brothers: Brian Eno & Roger Eno interviewed by Wyndham Wallace.

• Origami-inspired optical illusion oil paintings by Momo Yoshino.

Alexander Larman on the demise of the second-hand bookshop.

• New music: Follow The Road by Yumah, and Röschen by Pole.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Lighting.

• RIP Linda Manz.

My Boyfriend’s Back (1963) by The Angels | Carnival of the Animals, R. 125: VII. The Aquarium (Camille Saint-Saëns) (1975) by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra, Heilbronn with Marylene Dosse & Anne Petit, conducted by Jörg Faerber | Kill All Hippies (2000) by Primal Scream

Weekend links 490

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An engraving from The Geometric Landscapes of Lorenz Stoer (1567).

• Curtis Harrington’s cult horror film, Night Tide (1961), receives a lavish blu-ray reissue from Powerhouse in January. The limited edition will include an extra disc of Harrington’s early short films which encompass Poe adaptations and also Wormwood Star, his portrait of occult artist (and actor in Night Tide) Marjorie Cameron.

• “He was the first American representative of an electronic sound that was largely coming from Europe, from bands like Kraftwerk, or producers like Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte…” Jude Rogers on Patrick Cowley.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins examines Hans Poelzig’s and Marlene Moeschke’s work on Paul Wegener’s 1920 film of The Golem. Wegener’s film is released this month in a restored blu-ray edition by Eureka.

• “Conrad was uncompromising in his beliefs until the end, sticking to his ideals with tenacious fervor.” Geeta Dayal on Tony Conrad: Writings, edited by Constance DeJong and
Andrew Lampert.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: 47 dead films. One of the films, Hu-Man (1975), a French science-fiction drama starring Terence Stamp, isn’t as dead as was assumed.

• The Danske Filminstitut has made a collection of Danish silent films available to watch for free online.

• The Last Time I Saw John Giorno, an Extraordinary Performance Poet by Mark Dery.

• “Like looking through butterfly wings”: Ira Cohen’s Mylar chamber—in pictures.

Callum James reviews the Early Poetical Works of Aleister Crowley.

• Drawing the Gaze: Revisiting Don’t Look Now by Jesse Miksic.

• Mix of the week: FACT Mix 745 by Visible Cloaks.

Mind Warp (1982) by Patrick Cowley | Go-Go Golem (1986) by Golem Orchestra | Night Tide (1995) by Scorn

Weekend links 487

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Art by Joe Mugnaini (1955).

• Mixes of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XIX by David Colohan, and The Ephemeral Man’s Teapot 2—Atmosphere insomniac by The Ephemeral Man.

• Patrick Clarke talks to Morton Subotnick and Lillevan about Subotnick’s pioneering synthesizer composition, Silver Apples Of The Moon (1967).

• A second volume of London’s Lost Rivers, a walker’s guide by Tom Bolton with photography by SF Said, is published by Strange Attractor next month.

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

Ray Bradbury quoted by Sam Weller in an examination of Bradbury’s dark tales and autumnal horror stories

Lumberjacks In Heat is 11 minutes of music from Mechanical Fantasy Box by Patrick Cowley, the latest Cowley collection from Dark Entries.

They Poured Out Their Light Until Only Darkness Remained: new eldritch vibrations from The Wyrding Module.

• Carmen Villain on the magic of Jon Hassell’s Aka / Darbari / Java: Magic Realism.

• An Evil Medium: Elizabeth Horkley on the films of Kenneth Anger.

• Cosmic gardens and boulder boulevards by Charles Jencks.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Murray Melvin Day.

Richard Dawson‘s favourite music.

• RIP John Giorno.

My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968) by October Country | The October Man (1982) by Bill Nelson | Late October (1984) by Harold Budd

Burroughs: The Movie revisited

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Photo by Kate Simon.

Howard Brookner’s 86-minute documentary Burroughs: The Movie (1983) has been mentioned here on several occasions, and with good reason since it’s the best film anyone has made or will make about William Burroughs and the Beat circle he emerged from in the 1950s. Brookner’s documentary is a model film biography, opening with the writer’s appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1981 then backtracking to his childhood in St. Louis, his family life, the Beat period, the Bunker years, and so on, ending with his move to Lawrence, Kansas in the early 1980s. It’s intimate, frequently very funny, and reveals a human side to Burroughs too often buried by the weight of a sinister reputation. Brookner spent several years working on the film which features appearances from, and interviews with, a priceless range of friends, relatives and collaborators: Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Hunke, John Giorno, James Grauerholz, Brion Gysin, Patti Smith, Terry Southern, Mortimer Burroughs (William’s brother), William S. Burroughs Jr (William’s son who died while the film was in production), Francis Bacon, Jackie Curtis and many others. Tom DiCillo and Jim Jarmusch helped with the camera and sound duties.

The BBC screened the film as part of their Arena arts strand during the miraculous run of that series in the 1980s, since when it’s become difficult to see unless you have a copy on tape. So it’s been good to hear that Aaron Brookner is intending on restoring and reissuing his uncle’s debut film, having found the original print along with many outtakes. Howard Brookner died of AIDS in 1989 so Aaron is launching a Kickstarter fund to restore the film today, December 1st, which is World AIDS Day:

Burroughs: The Movie is a very special film: with in-depth interviews from Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, and many more; intimate scenes such as Burroughs and James Grauerholz with Burroughs’ son Billy Jr.; and it is the only time on camera Burroughs speaks candidly about the tragic shooting accident that left his wife Joan dead.  As Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times Review: “Rarely is a documentary as well attuned to its subject as Howard Brookner’s Burroughs, which captures as much about the life, work and sensibility of its subject as its 86 minute format allows. Part of the film’s comprehensiveness is attributable to William S. Burroughs’ cooperation, since the author was willing to visit old haunts, read from his works and even playfully act out a passage from Naked Lunch for the benefit of the camera. But the quality of discovery about Burroughs is very much the director’s doing, and Mr. Brookner demonstrates an unusual degree of liveliness and curiosity in exploring his subject”. (more)

Given that so many of the film’s participants are now dead this project has historical as well as aesthetic significance. If you have some spare cash and a more than passing interest in William Burroughs than I’d urge you to lend your support.

Burroughs: The Movie at Twitter: @HowardBrookner
Burroughs: The Movie at Facebook: www.facebook.com/burroughsthemovie

Previously on { feuilleton }
Zimbu Xolotl Time
Ah Pook Is Here
Jarek Piotrowski’s Soft Machine
Looking for the Wild Boys
Wroblewski covers Burroughs
Mugwump jism
Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire

Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966

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The Cut-Ups (1966).

More of the present preoccupation. Choosing Brion Gysin as a subject seems like a detour but the shots above are from Antony Balch’s 1966 film The Cut-Ups which also features William Burroughs, Ian Sommerville and someone-or-other’s cute boyfriend of the time who’s only ever credited as “Baby Zen”, a person about whom I know nothing at all.

I first saw The Cut-Ups in video form projected on the screens of the Haçienda nightclub in Manchester during their Final Academy evening in 1982, an event at which Burroughs and John Giorno both gave readings. The film on that occasion was mixed with some of the other Antony Balch shorts including Towers Open Fire, and together they made a strong (and bewildering) impression. The Cut-Ups, as noted a few days ago, may have inspired some of the flash edits in Performance, although Nicolas Roeg had been cinematographer on Petulia for Richard Lester the year before, a film which uses similar Resnais-like flashbacks and flash-forwards. In Balch’s film several sequences each a foot in length are cut together at random, a process which was a lot more radical in 1966 than it looks today. The opening sequence shows Brion Gysin walking out of a shop, along a street, down an alley and into the Rue Git le Coeur where the Beat Hotel was located at no. 9, and into whose door he disappears. I visited the street the last time I was in Paris, and took a few snaps whilst there, but it wasn’t until I rewatched The Cut-Ups a couple of years later that I realised I’d made the same walk as Gysin, having inadvertently discovered the narrow passage (the Rue de L’Hirondelle) which connects Git le Coeur with the Boulevard Saint-Michel.

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The corner of the Boulevard Saint-Michel where Gysin’s walk begins.

The route can be traced (after a fashion) using Google’s Street View where the photos have the usual drawbacks of being positioned high in the air and with a field-of-view which makes narrow spaces look a lot more cramped than they seem when you’re there. For those who can’t visit Paris, however, you at least get a sense of the Latin Quarter, even though the area is a lot more gentrified today than it was in 1966. The Beat Hotel, as I’ve noted before, is now the expensive Hotel du Vieux Paris whose website makes no mention of their establishment having once been cheap lodgings for depraved writers, artists and junkies. As for the Gysin film, I still wonder where he began his walk: was it at the Tabac Saint-Michel or elsewhere? You can judge for yourself at Ubuweb which has a copy of The Cut-Ups in its Burroughs film collection.

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Rue de L’Hirondelle from the Boulevard Saint-Michel.

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Rue de L’Hirondelle from Rue Git le Coeur.

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Rue Git le Coeur looking towards the Seine. The former Beat Hotel is down the street on the right.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire