Weekend links 639


Japanese poster for Alphaville (1965).

Peter Bogdanovich: I think we’d better have your thoughts on Godard.

Orson Welles: Well, since you’re so very firm about it. He’s the definitive influence if not really the first film artist of this last decade, and his gifts as a director are enormous. I just can’t take him very seriously as a thinker—and that’s where we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares about these days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of a pin. But what’s so admirable about him is his marvellous contempt for the machinery of movies and even movies themselves—a kind of anarchistic, nihilistic contempt for the medium—which, when he’s at his best and most vigorous, is very exciting.

• RIP JLG. I was watching Alphaville again just two weeks ago after a DVD turned up in the local charity shop. Still the only Godard film I like 100% but “liking” seems beside the point. His influence today is everywhere, so fully absorbed into the language of cinema that people barely notice it.

• “The things that cause my gaze to linger are usually the portraits or landscapes that spark a feeling of unease, disquiet and discomfort. A shadow amongst the summer trees, a lurking silhouette reflected in a perfect blue iris, a vibrant flower in the early stages of decay.” S. Elizabeth talking to Beautiful Bizarre about her new book, The Art of Darkness: A Treasury of the Morbid, Melancholic and Macabre.

• Allow John Waters (again) to dictate your film viewing with a Letterboxd list of his favourite films, based on comments in his writings and interviews. On the subject of Godard, Waters’ Crackpot book contains a whole chapter about Hail Mary.

• Astor’s Electrical Future: Iwan Rhys Morus explores a vision of the year 2000 recounted in A Journey in Other Worlds (1894), a “scientific romance” by John Jacob Astor IV, with illustrations by Daniel Carter Beard.

• Strange Attractor has announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of an Austin Osman Spare Tarot deck.

• At Wormwoodiana: The Parrot, the Unicorn and the Golden Dragon: Some 17th Century Booksellers’ Signs.

• At Bandcamp: Andy Thomas on Chris Watson‘s post-Cabaret Voltaire career in nature recordings.

• A new outlet for cinematic obscurities: Radiance Films.

Alphaville (1978) by Klaus Schulze | Alphaville (1979) by The Monochrome Set | Alphaville (1999) by Scanner

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• After writing about Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics back in January, I left a comment expressing the hope that Arrow or Eureka might give us a Region B blu-ray of Son of the White Mare (aka Fehérlófia), Jankovics’s “psychedelic” animated feature from 1982. Fast-forward nine months to Eureka’s announcement that they’ll be doing exactly this in November. Watch the trailer. The release will include some of the director’s short films plus his first feature, Johnny Corncob (1973), a historical tale presented in the “groovy” style (previously) popularised by Yellow Submarine. If idle wishes can be granted so easily then I’ll hope again that Eureka might do the same for René Laloux’s second and third animated features, the Moebius-designed Time Masters (1982) (made in the same studio as Son of the White Mare) and the Caza-designed Gandahar (1987). Fingers crossed.

• “I don’t think anybody copies me, but Harmony Korine, Todd Solondz, Bruno Dumont, Gaspar Noé, I like those kinds of directors. They’re sometimes not funny at all. They’re very serious and eerily melodramatic. I just like movies that surprise me.” John Waters (yet again) talking to Conor Williams about films, writing and a prayer for Pasolini.

• “There is something profoundly haunting about a master artist’s last painting left unfinished upon its easel…” Kevin Dann on The Mermaid (1910) by Howard Pyle.

• At Bandcamp: Navigating the Nurse With Wound List: A Gateway to Far-Flung Sounds.

• “Juicy With Meaning”: Alex Denney chooses five essential films by David Cronenberg.

• Mix of the week: Discovering 1970s jazz fusion with Kerri Chandler.

• Coming soon from Strange Attractor: Purgatory by Ken Hollings.

• Steven Heller’s font(s) of the month: Farandole & Lustik.

Dennis Cooper’s favourite albums.

• RIP Peter Straub.

White Horses (1968) by Jacky | Five White Horses (1968) by Sun Dragon | Ride A White Horse (2006) by Goldfrapp

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An alphabet designed by Ben Griffiths. Via.

• “From the cellular to the galactic, via Paleolithic cave markings to the trace impressions left by drone photography on our mind’s eye, incorporating dancing plagues, communist psychedelic witches, hyper-sexual fungi, chthonic descents, and skyward ascents, The Neon Hieroglyph weaves together a series of painterly and poetic considerations on a feminized history of the rye fungus Ergot, the chemical basis of LSD.” Coming soon from Strange Attractor: The Neon Hieroglyph, a book, LP and folio of prints by Tai Shani.

• “3rd From The Sun was the last album of Chrome’s imperial phase, and it cemented their status as one of the most inhuman and superhuman rock bands that America ever produced. More people need to recognize.” Agreed. (previously)

• “People often say, ‘How can you be so disciplined?’ It’s easy. Otherwise, I would have to go work for somebody else!” John Waters (again). Also here.

I’ve always thought that literature should be entertaining as well as instructive—a very old-fashioned idea but one that I adhere to. When I set out to write in this way—particularly in this way, a political way, if you want to call it that—I intend to make a donation, to try to give something. There doesn’t seem to me to be any point in giving more misery or exacerbating unhappiness through some kind of hyper-intellectual, pyrotechnical writing about unhappiness and the shit that we all find ourselves in. That’s been done plenty. I think first of all that it doesn’t need to be done any more and second of all there’s a kind of reactionary aspect to it which is that the emphasizing of misery without any anti-pessimism, as you put it, would be simply seduction into inactivity and political despair. In other words, to do politics at all on any level, especially on a revolutionary or on an insurrectionary level, there has to be some anti-pessimism—I won’t say optimism because that sounds so fatuous, futile; but anti-pessimism is a nice phrase. And there’s a deliberate attempt at that in the writing. Then again it’s a matter of my personality, I guess, inclined towards the notion of the healing laugh to some extent. We have an anarchist thinker in America, John Zerzan, who wrote an essay against humour which maybe is one of the things I was reacting against. Even if irony is counter-revolutionary which I think it might be to a certain extent I don’t see any way in which you could say that laughter itself is counter-revolutionary. This doesn’t make any sense to me unless you mean to get rid of language and thought altogether, which is just another form of nihilism. So as long as you’re going to accept culture on some level you’re certainly going to have to accept humour. And as long as you’re going to have to accept humour you might as well see humour as potentially revolutionary.

Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey, who died last month. Many of Wilson’s writings are available at The Anarchist Library. From 2008: A poem for Leonora Carrington

• “It’s such a fundamental question,” says Midori Takada, “why do humans need to make rhythm, and the space that structure creates?”

• “14 Warning Signs That You Are Living in a Society Without a Counterculture” by Ted Gioia.

• A trailer for Earwig, the new film from Lucile Hadzihalilovic, based on a story by Brian Catling.

• New music: Aura by Hatis Noit, and Warmth Of The Sun by Pye Corner Audio.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…SE Hinton Rumble Fish (1975).

• “Hear tracks from the 1980s Peruvian electronic underground”.

Intermittent Eyeball Fodder at Unquiet Things.

West Tulsa Story (1983) by Stewart Copeland | Kála/Assassins Of Hakim Bey (1997) by Coil | Neon Lights (2000) by Señor Coconut Y Su Conjunto

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A symmetrical ink blot from Gobolinks, or Shadow Pictures for Young and Old (1896) by Ruth McEnery Stuart & Albert Bigelow Paine, a book where the blots are much more interesting than the interpretative verses that accompany them.

• “…within a year, they were on The Tube, performing their German-language extrapolation of Throbbing Gristle’s Discipline to a visibly nonplussed audience.” Alexis Petridis on the return of Propaganda. The group’s debut album, A Secret Wish (previously), has long been an obscure object of desire round here.

• RIP Alan White, drummer in Yes for much of the 1970s (see Sound Chaser for details), and also—although nobody mentioned this at the time—the originator of the drum sounds sampled on a Fairlight for Beat Box by the Art Of Noise.

• “For the anthropologist Stewart Guthrie, pareidolia is not a fringe phenomenon: it is at the core of religious experience.” Hunter Dukes on the interpretation of ink blots.

• “…self-righteousness is the one thing that I don’t agree with,” says John Waters. “We used humour to fight when I was young.”

• New music: October Cut Up by Black Glass Ensemble, and New Witness by Michael Begg.

• Also RIP Shiv Kumar Sharma, master of the santoor.

• “Scientists recreate Cleopatra’s favourite perfume.

Simon Fisher Turner’s favourite albums.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Len Lye Day.

Cleopatra’s Barge (1962) by Alex North | Cleopatra’s Needle (1963) by Ahab And The Wailers | Cleopatra King Size (2002) by Jah Wobble & Temple Of Sound

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The Aurora Borealis by Charles H. Whymper.

• “In 1829, when the celebrated Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai was almost 70 years old, he created more than 100 drawings of a dazzling array of subjects: playful cats, serene landscapes, even severed heads. Hokusai’s fame continued to grow after his death in 1849, and the suite of small, elaborate drawings was last purchased a century later, at a Paris auction in 1948. Then it disappeared from the public eye.” The British Museum now has the drawings which may be seen here.

• The week in cover design: Emily Temple compares US and UK covers for the same books, while Vyki Hendy collects recent titles with objects as the main feature of the cover designs. One of my recent covers (which will appear here soon) is less minimal than these but also features an arrangement of objects.

• The compilation experts at Light In The Attic Records have put together another collection of obscure Japanese music. Somewhere Between: Mutant Pop, Electronic Minimalism & Shadow Sounds Of Japan 1980–1988 will be released in January.

“A Jamesian world is one of cursed artefacts, endlessly subsuming landscapes, forgotten manuscripts and tactile beings that punish the curious and intellectually arrogant.” Adam Scovell visits the grave of MR James.

• Dragons and Unicorns: John Boardley on the lost art of the Hieroglyphic Bible.

• I almost missed John Waters’ favourite films of the year.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Sade’s Castle, Cardin’s House.

Northern lights photographer of the year.

Aurora Hominis (1970) by Beaver & Krause | Aurora (1971) by Tonto’s Expanding Head Band | Soft Aurora (1979) by Tod Dockstader