Weekend links 459

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• “Their graves were covered with cement tiles to block the radiation emanating from their corpses.” Sophie Pinkham reviews three books about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

• At Dangerous Minds: Julius Eastman: The resurrection of the visionary minimalist composer continues; at The Quietus: The Strange World of Julius Eastman.

• Mixes of the week: a Dune-inspired Secret Thirteen Mix 286 by Coeden, and ’94–95 Mirrorverse by The Ephemeral Man.

Nabokov had meanwhile acquired a literary agent in New York. She made no headway placing translations of his Russian novels. His latest, she informed him, was “dazzlingly brilliant” and hence wholly without promise for the American market. She suggested something more topical, an idea that left her client hyperventilating. “Nothing,” he would roar later, “bores me more than political novels and the literature of social unrest.” He was, he enlightened his representative, neither Sinclair Lewis nor Upton Sinclair. (Ultimately he tossed the two over the cliff together, as “Upton Lewis.”) Weeks later, in the bathroom of a Paris studio apartment, he began — “a champion figure skater switching to roller skates,” as he complained, speaking for whole cadres of displaced professionals — to write in English.

Stacy Schiff on Vladimir Nabokov, literary refugee

Iain Sinclair on Ghosts of a Ghost: William Burroughs, time surgery and the death of the image.

ST Joshi remembers Lovecraftian writer Wilum Pugmire (RIP).

The Conspirators: A Borgean Tribute to Jorge Luis Borges.

Jasper Sharp on where to begin with Japanese cyberpunk.

Greg Anderson on the new Sunn O))) album, Life Metal.

Drew Daniel of Matmos picks his Bandcamp favourites.

• The Kraken surfaces for Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

• An interview with Brian Eno by Suite (212).

Apocalypse Now: Final Cut

The Book of Weirdo

Conspiracy Of Silence (1994) by Cypher 7 | The Vodun Conspiracy (1996) by The Sidewinder | Machine Conspiracy (2010) by Conforce

Borges in the Firing Line

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Jorge Luis Borges was interviewed on TV a number of times in later life but most of the available appearances are in un-subtitled Spanish. His 1977 meeting with William F Buckley on Buckley’s long-running debate and discussion show, Firing Line, is an exception, and a welcome one for being almost a whole hour of serious discussion. Buckley’s reputation has been reappraised in recent years. Gore Vidal famously accused him on live TV of being a “crypto-Nazi”, a barb that prompted Buckley to momentarily lose his usual composure. With American politics currently beset by actual Nazis, crypto- or otherwise, as well as people who wouldn’t crack open the spine of a book even if you offered them another tax break, Buckley now looks like an impossible figure: an American conservative who was also a genuine intellectual with a passion for literature.

The discussion on this occasion is less about Borges’ works than about language and literature. If you’ve read any Borges interviews then this is familiar territory, but Borges elaborates here on subjects that were only touched on elsewhere, especially the strengths of English over Spanish as a literary language, and the pros and cons of translation. This latter subject is a sore point for Borges readers such as myself who believe that the current translations (made after Borges’ death) are inferior to the earlier ones, many of which were prepared with the approval of the author. It’s painful to hear him say he thought his stories worked better in English, and it makes me wonder again what he might make of the present state of affairs.

Elsewhere, Buckley tries to lead Borges into a discussion of politics, a subject that he generally avoided because it didn’t interest him, and whenever he did mention the subject he’d usually get into trouble by saying something that would annoy one side of the political spectrum or the other. I was pleased to note a fleeting reference to Arthur Machen, mentioned in relation to the Julio Cortázar short story, Casa Tomada (House Taken Over), which Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo reprinted in their Antología de la Literatura Fantástica (1977).

Previously on { feuilleton }
La Bibliothèque de Babel
Borges and the cats
Invasion, a film by Hugo Santiago
Spiderweb, a film by Paul Miller
Books Borges never wrote
Borges and I
Borges documentary
Borges in Performance

Weekend links 389

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I Had Sweet Company Because I Sought Out None. Collage by Helen Adam.

• Readers of The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges continue to be compelled to either illustrate the impossible archive or create virtual equivalents. The Library of Blabber by nothke is a procedural version for home computers in which each volume on the shelves contains randomly-generated content.

• The Japanese American Toy Theatre of London presents: James Bonk in Matt Blackfinger (1987). Directed by Akiko Hada, with music by David Toop, and a song from Frank Chickens’ Kazuko Hohki (who also co-wrote the script).

• Music, Time and Long-Term Thinking—The Long Now Foundation (and a fair amount of Brian Eno) by Austin Brown, Alex Mensing and Ahmed Kabil.

• A Return to Normilcy: Bernie Brooks talks to post-punk group Normil Hawaiians about their 1982 album More Wealth Than Money which has just been reissued.

• Sound artist and theremin player Sarah Angliss has reworked music by Bernard Herrmann for an upcoming stage adaptation of The Twilight Zone.

• Does the world need another reissue of A Secret Wish by Propaganda? Not really but there’s a “deluxe” vinyl and CD edition on the way.

• “What Would [Bernard] Wolpe Do?” Talking Wolpe, Albertus and book cover design with the Faber & Faber Art Department.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 629 by Idle Hands/Chris Farrell, and XLR8R Podcast 518 by Cassy.

• At Phantasmaphile: Neglected collage artist Helen Adam (1909–1993).

Collectors’ corner: photos of book and music libraries

• The Black Meat (Deconstruction Of The Babel-Tower of Reason) (1994) by Automaton | Babel (2010) by Massive Attack feat. Martina Topley-Bird | Branching (2016) by The Library of Babel

Weekend links 382

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Raven (2015), a metal sculpture by Taiichiro Yoshida.

• “Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light [at the Smithsonian American Art Museum] restores Thomas Wilfred (1889–1968) to his rightful place in the history of modern art.”

• At Brown Noise Unit: a fascinating, lengthy interview by Philip Kaberry with Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) et al, with particular focus on O’Malley’s work with Japanese musicians.

• Erik Davis talks to scholar, writer, and mythographer William Rowlandson about Jorge Luis Borges, magical trees, Yankee mysticism, and the power of the weird and murky.

• The first issue of the world’s first magazine of fantastic art and literature, Der Orchideengarten (previously), has been reprinted in full with additional English translation.

• At Muddy Colors: the month in covers for September/October which includes my cover for Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng (and which is on sale now).

• At 3:AM Magazine: Adam Scovell talks to horror author Ramsey Campbell about the ghost stories of MR James.

Paralysis: Live at Silent Night #8, a new release on (limited) cassette and digital by The House In The Woods.

• At Dangerous Minds: Jozef van Wissem buries the dead in his new video, Virium Illarum.

PKD Files — A podcast about the life and work of Philip K. Dick.

• Russell Cuzner on The Strange World of Nurse With Wound.

Clark Collis on the rise and fall of Fangoria.

• The North Star Grassman And The Ravens (1971) by Sandy Denny | Flight Of The Raven (1979) by Emerald Web | Kill The Great Raven (1979) by Snakefinger

Weekend links 353

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The Critics (1927) by Henry Scott Tuke.

• Geeta Dayal talks to ambient musician Midori Takada about Through The Looking-Glass (1983), an album being reissued this month by Palto Flats/We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records.

Jacob Brogan reviews The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann, a graphic biography of writer, occultist, explorer and determined cannibal, William Seabrook.

• More from the usual suspects (on these pages at least): Jonathan Meades on his new cookbook and a recent bout of heart surgery; and Iain Sinclair on The Last London.

The law only applied to men, but that didn’t mean same-sex relationships between women were immune to opprobrium. Dorothy Todd was hired as the editor of British Vogue in 1922. Under her visionary stewardship, the magazine became a bastion of high modernist style, swapping petticoats and corsets for Picasso, Cocteau, Man Ray and Woolf. Todd lived with her lover, the fashion editor Madge Garland. Sacked in 1926 because of declining circulation, she planned to sue the magazine, but was silenced when the publisher Condé Nast threatened to publicly expose her “morals”.

In such an inimical climate, it’s not surprising that art became a zone of enchantment as well as resistance. The plenitude of camp aesthetics, the lush excess, the cross-pollination of high and low forms might be conceived as a direct response to the paucity and hostility of the culture at large. From the mannered decadence of Aubrey Beardsley’s naughty woodcuts, to Cecil Beaton’s portraits of Stephen Tennant as a radiant boy prince, to the cabaret high jinks of Danny La Rue, to the wickedly doctored library book covers made by the playwright Joe Orton (a crime for which he received a jail sentence), camp offered a way of remaking the world, cutting it down to size and reassembling it in richly strange and strangely rich new forms.

Olivia Lang on the British artists working in defiance of iniquitous laws prior to the (partial) decriminalisation of homosexual acts in 1967.

• Due for publication later this year, You Should Come With Me Now, a new collection of short fiction by M. John Harrison.

Daniel Marner reviews Scarred For Life Volume One: The 70s, a book about the dark side of British pop culture.

Jay Babcock talks to Erik Davis about the end of Arthur magazine and his new life in the Californian desert.

• The nature photography of Nobuyuki Kobayashi and the ruin photography of Gina Soden.

Jon Forss of design team Non-Format on his time designing The Wire magazine.

Mac McClelland on how doctors treat mental illness with psychedelic drugs.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 216 by WSR.

Hisham Matar on Jorge Luis Borges.

London Boys (1976) by T. Rex | Last Train To London (1979) by Electric Light Orchestra | London (2004) by Patrick Wolf