Weekend links 463

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Eye 98: Beatrice Display Black, Sharp Type, 2018, and a detail from an original drawing for Lexicon by Bram de Does, 1989.

Issue 98 of Eye, the international design journal, is out this month. The new issue is a typography special but also features my review of Mark Dery’s Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey. This is the second time I’ve written about Dery’s book, with the new piece focusing more on Gorey’s work as a designer/book creator, and his place in the history of illustration.

Portal is a new release by Slovakian metal band Doomas, the artwork of which adapts one of my illustrations for Lovecraft’s Monsters. The band also have a suitably Lovecraftian video.

• Reading recommendations by M. John Harrison: the old (the excellent Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys) and the new (Underland et al).

I first started drawing in my Wake to count the number of rivers mentioned in an episode, one page alone counting 85. Gradually, I would be so moved by a line or a character I would colour them in, the most obvious being the 28 Rainbow girls to the more obscure nebulae, railroad tracks, hidden mythical islands and turn of the century lightships. Themes began to emerge which demanded documentation and always the sad, ecstatic relief of finishing a chapter merited some sort of coloured tribute. By the time I finished four years later, I simply drew a leaf to reflect Joyce’s metaphor on the last page: my leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still.

Susie Lopez on Finnegans Wake at 80

• Old ghosts at The Paris Review: a preview of The Spectacle of Illusion by Matthew L. Tompkins.

• At Dangerous Minds: Malcolm McDowell and the making of Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man!

Herbie Hancock: “I felt like I stood on the shoulders of giants and now it’s my turn”.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 590 by Christian Löffler.

• The discography of Diamanda Galás is now at Bandcamp.

• RIP Quentin Fiore, graphic designer and book creator.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Haunted dolls.

Antique Doll (1967) by The Electric Prunes | The Doll’s House (1980) by Landscape | Voodoo Dolly (1981) by Siouxsie And The Banshees

Weekend links 349

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• Before Stanley Kubrick fixed an image of Alex and his droogs in the popular imagination, artists could get away with playing on the threat of biker gangs as Wilson McLean does in this vaguely psychedelic cover from 1969. (McLean’s interpretation may possibly derive from a 1965 edition.) LibraryThing has a collection of Clockwork Orange covers from around the world which run the gamut of cogs, orange hues and variations on David Pelham’s famous Penguin design from 1972. Meanwhile, AL Kennedy celebrates 100 years of Anthony Burgess by examining the writer’s career as a whole, although the web feature still manages to get a photo of Malcolm McDowell in there.

• “Even bad books can change lives,” says Phil Baker reviewing The Outsider by Colin Wilson and Beyond the Robot, a Wilson biography by Gary Lachman. I wouldn’t call The Outsider a bad book but Wilson’s more wayward opinions (and later works) are best treated with scepticism.

• “Murtaugh refers to his subject’s ‘pervasive sense of doom’ and Welch himself speaks of ‘the extraordinary sadness of everything.'” David Pratt reviewing Good Night, Beloved Comrade: The Letters of Denton Welch to Eric Oliver, edited by Daniel J. Murtaugh.

• At The Quietus this week: Tinariwen bassist Eyadou Ag Leche is interviewed by Richie Troughton, Jane Weaver unveils a new song from her forthcoming album, Modern Kosmology, and Danny Riley explores the strange world of Ben Chasny.

• “A micro-history of cultural gatekeeping: once told by the censors what we may read, then by critics what we should, we are now told merely what we can read.” Ben Roth writing against the use of “readability” as a literary value.

• Yayoi Kusama’s amazing infinity rooms are at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, until May. For the rest of us, Peter Murphy’s panoramic photo is still online.

• More music: my friends Watch Repair have become visible enough to be interviewed by an Argentinian website. The group’s Bandcamp page recently made three new releases available.

• Yet more music: They Walk Among Us, a new song and video by Barry Adamson, and Anymore, a new song and video by Goldfrapp.

• Earth and The Bug announce Concrete Desert, a collaborative album inspired by Los Angeles and the fiction of JG Ballard.

• Bad Books for Bad People: Episode 7: The Incal – Epic French Space-Opera Comics.

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 589 by Aisha Devi, and Secret Thirteen Mix 212 by Qual.

Eduardo Paolozzi‘s forays into fashion and furnishings.

Cooking with Vincent [Price]

Moroccan Tape Stash

• Tin Toy Clockwork Train (1986) by The Dukes Of Stratosphear | Clock (1995) by Node | Clockwork Horoscope (2009) by Belbury Poly

Weekend links 249

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The Philosophers (Homage to Courbet) by Christopher Ulrich. Another great tip from Full Fathom Five.

• “Mushrooms are the only psychedelic drugs that I take, and I don’t take them very often. But I would trust them. Once you’ve done them a few times it’s very easy to feel a sense of entity. You can feel that there is a characteristic in this level of consciousness which almost seems…playful? Or aware, or sometimes a bit spooky.” Alan Moore discussing art and psychedelics in Mustard magazine. Related: “Psychedelics not linked to mental health problems or suicidal behavior: A population study.”

• “Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant-garde star,” says Boyd Tonkin. At the BBC Chris Long looks at Leonora Carrington’s journey from Lancashire to Mexico. The Carrington exhibition at Tate Liverpool opened on Friday.

A Savoyard’s First Brush with Censorship, Clara Casian’s proposed documentary film about Savoy Books, is looking for Kickstarter funding.

Warner suggests that there are four characteristics that define a veritable fairy tale: first, it should be short; second, it should be (or seem) familiar; third, it should suggest ‘the necessary presence of the past’ through well-known plots and characters; fourth, since fairy tales are told in what Warner aptly calls ‘a symbolic Esperanto’, it should allow horrid deeds and truculent events to be read as matter-of-fact. If, as Warner says, ‘the scope of a fairy tale is made by language’, it is through language that our unconscious world, with its dreams and half-grasped intuitions, comes into being and its phantoms are transformed into comprehensible figures like cannibal giants, wicked parents or friendly beasts.

Alberto Manguel reviewing Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale by Marina Warner

De Natura Sonorum (1976) by Bernard Parmegiani: a free download at AGP of the original vinyl recording, something I overlooked several years ago.

• At Dangerous Minds: Real Horrorshow!: Malcolm McDowell and Anthony Burgess discuss Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange.

Meeting Bernard Szajner, a short film about the French electronic musician by Tom Colvile, Nathan Gibson & Abdullah Al-wali.

• Dismembrance of the Thing’s Past: Dave Tompkins on John Carpenter’s The Thing.

That Battle Is Over, a new song by Jenny Hval.

Mushroom (1971) by Can | The Mushroom Family (2010) by The Time And Space Machine | Growing Mushrooms Of Potency (2012) by Expo 70

Caresses by Fernand Khnopff

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Details from Caresses aka The Caress (1896), the most famous painting by Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff which can now be explored in detail at the Google Art Project. Caresses was one of Khnopff’s more enigmatic works although the term is a relative one when it comes to an oeuvre in which enigma is the default position. The combination of a young male, a feline female and the trappings of antiquity suggests Oedipus and the Sphinx although the Sphinx of mythology is a far more threatening presence. Adding to the enigma is the fact that Khnopff’s sister, Marguerite, was his model in most of his paintings which means we can recognise her heavily-jawed features in the male figure as well as the female. The essence of Symbolism for me has always been an atmosphere of unresolved pictorial mystery, a quality which this painting exemplifies.

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Malcolm McDowell and Ruth Brigitte Tocki in a deleted scene from Cat People (1982).

The mystery would have been carried over to the cinematic world in 1982 if the producers of Cat People had kept their nerve. The “Leopard Tree” dream sequence was to have featured a moment when Irena (Nastassia Kinski) meets her dead brother and mother in a pose which recapitulates Khnopff’s painting. The painting itself also appeared earlier in the film although it’s so long since I watched it I forget now whether that moment was also excised. The dream sequence may have been stretching audience credulity too far but the symbolism is fitting not least for the incestuous nature of the story. Here’s the scene in the final cut set to Giorgio Moroder’s fantastic score.

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Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer.

The painting definitely did appear on-screen in 1993 where it overshadows a crucial conversation in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Age of Innocence. Given that the setting is New York in the 1870s the usage is slightly anachronistic but once again the symbolism works for a scene which concerns unacceptable and unrequited passions.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Symbolist cinema
Bruges-la-Morte