Weekend links 624

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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

Weekend links 572

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L’Insolite (1980) by Jean-Marie Poumeyrol.

• “As we move down the ladder of prestige into the world of unvetted tweets, we observe an increasing difficulty, among people with very strong opinions, in exercising that basic critical competence of distinguishing between the authorial creation of a character, and the author’s affirmation of that character’s every moral trait and political view.” Justin EH Smith on the HR managers of the human soul.

• “When is a Didone not a Didone? How far must an exemplar Didone, like a Didot or a Bodoni, be altered before it loses its ‘Didoneness’?” John Boardley on the vexed question of font classification, and the need for an alternative to the present system.

• “Birds with Human Faces and Birds with Human Souls share shelf space with The Book of Owls and Expert Obedience Training for Dogs…” Joanna Moorhead visits the Casa Estudio Leonora Carrington in Mexico City.

“Indolent” is a funny way to characterize her natural state, which seems more like “incisive” to me, but I also have the unshakable sense—for myself—that writing can’t or shouldn’t look like staring into space or feel like not wanting to move from the couch. “A fraud is being perpetrated: writing is not work, it’s doing nothing,” she states in that first essay, from 1992. But she immediately counters with, “It’s not a fraud: doing nothing is what I have to do to live.” Listing a few more pertinent existential options, Diski ends with, “Or: writing is what I have to do to be my melancholy self.” The protoplasmic, chattering, melancholic “I” of these essays is, of course, the collection’s constant, its true subject. I can commiserate with her on every page even if emulation is out of reach.

Johanna Fateman on the incisive long-form criticism of Jenny Diski

• At Spine: Vyki Hendy identifies sunburst as a new trend in book cover design. I often think I overuse these things in my own cover designs which means I may be inadvertently (and fleetingly) trendy.

• At the Magnum Gallery, London: Metamorphoses, photographic studies by Herbert List of male bodies and Greek statuary.

• At Spoon & Tamago: A butterfly sipping moisture from puddles, sculpted entirely in wood by Toru Fukuda.

• At Dangerous Minds: Joseph Lanza on the easy listening side of psychedelic pop.

• At CounterPunch: Louis Proyect on thinking like an octopus.

• Mix of the week: Fact Mix 510 by Britton Powell.

Bye Bye Butterfly (1965) by Pauline Oliveros | Butterfly Mornings (2001) by Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions | Butterfly Caught (2003) by Massive Attack

Weekend links 564

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Fantastical Tree (c. 1830) by Carl Wilhelm Kolbe.

• “It’s just a square and a semi-circle at the end of the day.” Pete Adlington navigates the rapids of high-profile cover design for the UK edition of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and The Sun. I’m not always keen on the minimal approach but the Faber edition is a better design than the equally minimal US cover whose circle in a hand makes it look like a reprint of Logan’s Run. Faber also produced a limited edition with the sun circle wrapped onto sprayed page edges.

• “‘With a mysterious smile on her lips,’ writes the Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, ‘the painter whispered to me, “What you just dictated to me is the secret. As each Arcana is a mirror and not a truth in itself, become what you see in it. That tarot is a chameleon.”‘” The painter referred to is the now-ubiquitous Leonora Carrington whose own Tarot deck is investigated by Rhian Sasseen.

• “‘Horror is an emotion,’ Douglas E. Winter tells us. I would respectfully like to amend that assertion. Horror is a range of emotions. And each of these moods, if they are to be successful, must be cultivated differently.” Brian J. Showers offers his thoughts on horror fiction.

• “You move from awareness of—and preoccupation with—how sounds affect our bodies, into how that might create a web of connection with the external world—with the natural world.” Annea Lockwood talking to Jennifer Lucy Allan about her career as a composer and sound artist.

• Gay cruising and its geography in cinema and documentary, a list of films by Mike Kennedy. Related: Shiv Kotecha on O Fantasma (2000), a film by João Pedro Rodrigues.

• Coming from Strange Attractor in June: Coil: Camera Light Oblivion, a photographic record by Ruth Beyer of the first live performances by Coil from 2000–2002.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Star Called Wormwood (1941), a strange novel by Morchard Bishop.

• At Unquiet Things: Ephemeral and Irresistible: The Spectacular Still-life Botanical Drama of Gatya Kelly.

• “Fevers of Curiosity”: Charles Baudelaire and the convalescent flâneur by Matthew Beaumont.

• 1066 and all that: Explore the Bayeux Tapestry online.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 311 by Arigto.

• New music: Terrain by Portico Quartet.

Fever (1956) by Little Willie John | Fever (1972) by Junior Byles | Fever (1980) The Cramps

Leonora Carrington and the House of Fear

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Kim Evans’ 50-minute TV profile of Leonora Carrington finally turned up on YouTube in December, in a slightly truncated copy. I taped this when it was first broadcast by the BBC in November 1992, and had the foresight to digitise it before my video recorder stopped working, but I’ve never wanted a YT account so I resisted the urge to upload it myself. If I was going to do so I’d offer things to Ubuweb instead, but I haven’t managed that either.

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Leonora Carrington and the House of Fear was shown a few months after Carrington’s paintings had been the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London, two events that made nonsense of Tate Modern’s subsequent labelling of her as a “lost” artist. Most artists would be happy to be described as “lost” if it meant being given almost an hour of screen-time on BBC 1 together with a retrospective show at a major London gallery. Describing Carrington as “lost” was a convenient way for the Tate and any art critics playing catch-up to sidestep their having ignored her work for decades. (Joanna Moorhead embarrassed Tate Modern about this neglect in 2007.) Surrealism lost its avant-garde status in the late 1940s, and became increasingly disreputable thanks in part to Salvador Dalí’s prominence and self-promotion. There were Surrealist exhibitions in London prior to 1992—notably the expansive Dada and Surrealism show at the Hayward Gallery in 1978—but the British art and literary world has always been suspicious of an excess of imagination, the very thing that’s too the fore in Kim Evans’ film. This follows the standard BBC template of the time, combining a biographical sketch with a view of the artist’s day-to-day life which here includes a visit to a crypt full of mummified corpses, and a lesson in how to make egg tempera. Marina Warner championed Carrington’s art and writing throughout the “lost” years, and she turns up briefly to offer some comment.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Temptations
The Secret Life of Edward James
Leonora Carrington, 1917–2011

Weekend links 559

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Cover art by Toshiyuki Fukuda for the Japanese edition of the new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

• “The story here is how between 1978 and 1982, this impulse shed its novelty genesis and its spoils were divvied up between gay producers making high-energy soundtracks for carnal abandon, and quiet Hawkwind fans smoking spliffs in Midlands bedrooms.…this excellent compilation offers fresh understandings of a period in sonic history where the future was up for grabs.” Fergal Kinney reviews Do You Have the Force? Jon Savage’s Alternate History of Electronic Music, 1978–82.

DJ Food continues his history of mini CDs with Oranges And Lemons, the 1989 album by XTC which was released in the usual formats together with a limited edition of three small discs in a flip-top box. The cover art by Dave Dragon is a good example of the resurrected groovy look.

• “If Austin Osman Spare, William Burroughs, Mary Butts and Kathy Acker got together for a séance, the transcript could well look like this.”

• How Leonora Carrington used Tarot to reach self-enlightenment: Gabriel Weisz Carrington on his mother’s quest for mythic revelations.

• Mixes of the week: Sounds Unsaid at Dublab with Tarotplane, and To Die & Live In San Veneficio by SeraphicManta.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: 5strings presents…Solve et Coagula: An introduction to Israel Regardie.

• The Joy of Silhouettes: Vyki Hendy chooses favourite shadow-throwing cover designs.

Emily Mortimer on how Lolita escaped obscenity laws and cancel culture.

Freddie deBoer has moved his writing to Substack.

• New music: Wirkung by Arovane.

• Children Of The Sun (1969) by The Misunderstood | Children Of The Sun (1971) by Hawkwind | Children Of The Sun (2010) by The Time And Space Machine