Weekend links 650


A detail from Tom Phillips’ cover design for Starless And Bible Black (1974) by King Crimson.

• RIP Tom Phillips. The term “polymath” is often used by monomaths to describe people who are proficient in two areas instead of just one. Tom Phillips was a model polymath, an artist whose work ranged wherever his curiosity took him, from conventionally realist portraiture to abstract painting and computer art, from collage, sculpture and stage design to 20 Sites n Years, a long-term photographic work. When Phillips decided to illustrate Dante’s Inferno he first translated the book himself; the Dante project subsequently evolved into a TV/film production made in collaboration with Peter Greenaway and Raúl Ruiz. As for A Humument, this is the artist’s book by which all others should be judged, a unique reworking of a Victorian novel which now exists in multiple editions and sub-works. Humument extracts became a kind of Phillips signature (you can see one at the top of this post), a series of often cryptic fragments and pronouncements that appeared in prints and paintings while also supplying the libretto for Phillips’ first opera, Irma, one of his many musical compositions. Some years ago I posted a quote by Brian Eno about his former art teacher; those words (from A Year With Swollen Appendices) are worth repeating:

It’s a sign of the awfulness of the English art world that he isn’t better known. Tom has committed the worst of all crimes in England. He’s risen above his station. You can sell chemical weapons to doubtful regimes and still get a knighthood, but don’t be too clever, don’t go rising above your station.

The smart thing in the art world is to have one good idea and never have another. It’s the same in pop—once you’ve got your brand identity, carry on doing that for the rest of your days and you’ll make a lot of money. Because Tom’s lifetime project ranges over books, music and painting, it looks diffuse, but he is a most coherent artist. I like his work more and more.

• “The most radical thing about Ever So Lonely is the instrumental when it breaks down and for eight glorious bars you’re dancing to a classical raga and loving it, whoever you are.” Sheila Chandra again on the fleeting pop career of Monsoon.

• Something to look forward to for next summer: Worlds Beyond Time: Sci-Fi Art of the 1970s, a book by Adam Rowe, curator of 70s Sci-fi Art at Tumblr.

• Mix of the week: Groove Orient: South Asian Elements in Psychedelic Jazz at Aquarium Drunkard.

• “Physicists create a wormhole using a quantum computer.” Natalie Wolchover explains.

Pattern Collider is a tool for generating and exploring quasiperiodic tiling patterns.

• “Infernal Affairs is still Hong Kong’s greatest crime saga,” says James Balmont.

Secret Satan, 2022, the essential end-of-year book list from Strange Flowers.

• Also no longer with us as of this week, comic artist Aline Kominsky–Crumb.

• New music: Violet Echoes by Subtle Energy.

Il Trio Infernale (1974) by Ennio Morricone | Firebird Suite: Infernal Dance Of King Kastchei (Stravinsky) (1975) by Tomita | Infernal Devices (2011) by Moon Wiring Club

Weekend links 289


Fathomless Sounding (1932) by Gertrude Hermes.

• Over at Greydogtales (“weird fiction, weird art and even weirder lurchers”) I talk about art, design, the writing of this blog, and I also reveal more about my ongoing Axiom project. The latter currently stands at two novels, a couple of half-finished stories and a few pieces of artwork. I may be unveiling some of the art in the new year so watch this space.

• Howard Brookner’s Burroughs: The Movie (1983), a definitive film portrait of William Burroughs, is released at last on DVD/Blu-ray. US-only for the moment but further releases elsewhere are promised. The director’s nephew, Aaron Brookner, has a documentary about his uncle released next year.

• “…beautifully articulated bawdiness, perverse pleasures and a radical, though nondidactic, political view.” Melissa Anderson reviews Boyd McDonald’s Cruising the Movies: A Sexual Guide to Oldies.

The crisis, as Ellis and Silk tell it, is the wildly speculative nature of modern physics theories, which they say reflects a dangerous departure from the scientific method. Many of today’s theorists — chief among them the proponents of string theory and the multiverse hypothesis — appear convinced of their ideas on the grounds that they are beautiful or logically compelling, despite the impossibility of testing them. Ellis and Silk accused these theorists of “moving the goalposts” of science and blurring the line between physics and pseudoscience. “The imprimatur of science should be awarded only to a theory that is testable,” Ellis and Silk wrote, thereby disqualifying most of the leading theories of the past 40 years. “Only then can we defend science from attack.”

Natalie Wolchover on A Fight for the Soul of Science

• Mixes of the week: A mix by Front & Follow, and The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XIV by David Colohan.

• “Psychedelics can’t be tested using conventional clinical trials,” says Nicolas Langlitz.

• At Dangerous Minds: Ralph Steadman illustrates Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

• Why does Moby-Dick (sometimes) have a hyphen? Erin Blakemore investigates.

• My thanks again to Dennis Cooper for including this blog on his year-end list.

• Cian Traynor was given 20 minutes to ask Ennio Morricone some questions.

Lolita at 60: Ten writers reconsider Nabokov’s novel, page by page.

• At Ballardian: High-Rise: Wheatley vs Cronenberg.

Poison Ivy: The Queen of Psychobilly Punk

The Cinema of Hotels: a list

Solo intimacy DIY

Moby Dick (1970) by Led Zeppelin | William Burroughs Don’t Play Guitar (1996) by Islamic Diggers | Physical (2001) by Goldfrapp