Weekend links 119

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The BFI’s recent DVD release of Peter de Rome’s gay porn films has been mentioned here a couple of times already but I only bought a copy this week. It’s a remarkable release for a number of reasons, not least for showing how much attitudes towards pornography in Britain have changed in recent years. De Rome’s films are explicit enough to ensure that in the 1970s and 1980s anyone caught selling them in the UK might have been imprisoned. That you can now buy them uncut from a high street shop on a disc packaged with the usual care by the British Film Institute means another small part of our iniquitous past has gone for good. Among the extras there’s a documentary with the 88-year-old director discussing his work. This week he talked to BUTT magazine who also have one of his shorter films from the DVD, Hot Pants, on their site.

• “Reading this book, it is hard not to feel that the largest mental health problem – the really crazy thing – is society’s attitude to drugs in general and LSD in particular…” Phil Baker reviews Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain by Andy Roberts.

• “Loved by aristocrats and immortalized in literature, Denham Fouts remains virtually unknown in his own hometown.” Richard Wall on The World’s Most Expensive Male Prostitute.

The very etiology of rabies is mythic: once the bite heals and the virus has traveled to the brain, “the wound will usually return, as if by magic, with some odd sensation occurring at the site.” Then there’s the fact that no definitive diagnosis can be made without taking a biopsy of the sick animal’s brain, leaving only one gory solution: decapitation.

Rabies is horror’s muse. In almost all iterations of the genre, those we most trust suddenly turn strange: a boyfriend morphs into a wolf at midnight, a fiancé turns out to be harboring a mad first wife in the attic, a friend is bit by a zombie and goes berserk.

Alice Gregory reviews Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy.

• The Horror of Philosophy: Erik Davis talks to Eugene Thacker about Lovecraft, medieval mysticism, and thinking the world-without-us.

Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges: A Tumblr for those protesting the current anti-gay stance of the Boy Scouts of America.

• His Father’s Best Translator: Lila Azam Zanganeh on the late Dmitri Nabokov.

Les Liaisons dangereuses: illustrations by Alastair (Hans Henning Voigt).

• Andrea Scrima looks at Robert Walser’s Der Spaziergang (The Walk).

10 Great Places to Meet Lesbians If You Have a Time Machine.

• Jesse Bering in Scientific American asks “Is Your Child Gay?

As Above, So Below (1981) by Tom Tom Club | Genius Of Love (1981) by Tom Tom Club | Mea Culpa (1981) by Brian Eno & David Byrne.

Weekend links 84

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Regeneration (2011) by Toshiyuki Enoki. Via.

HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, the art exhibition that caused such a fuss last year at the Smithsonian Institution, opens at the Brooklyn Museum, NYC, on November 18th. Among the events associated with the show is a screening of James Bidgood’s lusciously erotic Pink Narcissus. David Wojnarowicz’s video piece, A Fire in My Belly, is still a part of the exhibition so the New York Daily News reached for the outrage stick to prod some reaction from people who’d never heard of the artist or his work before. Will history repeat itself? Does the Pope shit in the woods? Watch this space…

Magic is not simply a matter of the occult arts, but a whole way of thinking, of dreaming the impossible. As such it has tremendous force in opening the mind to new realms of achievement: imagination precedes the fact. It used to be associated with wisdom, understanding the powers of nature, and with technical ingenuity that could let men do things they had never dreamed of before. The supreme fiction of this magical thinking is The Arabian Nights, with its flying carpets, hidden treasure and sudden revelations…

Marina Warner, whose new book, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights, is reviewed here and here.

• Those Americans who adore big business but loathe the idea of gay marriage will be dizzy with cognitive dissonance at the news that 70 major US companies—including CBS, Google, Microsoft and Starbucks—have signed a statement saying the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is bad for business. Mark Morford at SFGate says this now means that real homophobes don’t Google.

Divining with shadows and dreams, tears and blood: S. Elizabeth talks to JL Schnabel of BloodMilk about her “supernatural jewels for surrealist darlings“.

Earth: Inferno (2003), a short film by Mor Navón & Julián Moguillansky based on the book by Austin Osman Spare. Via form is void.

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Illustration by Virgil Finlay for A. Merritt’s The Face in the Abyss. From a 1942 Finlay portfolio at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

The Mute Synth as created by Dirty Electronics & designed by Adrian Shaughnessy.

Phil Baker reviews two new Aleister Crowley biographies at the TLS.

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design

The Most Amazing Room In Queens, NYC.

Brian Eno on composers as gardeners.

Alan Turing is Alan Garner’s hero.

• Paintings by Guy Denning.

Static (1998) by Redshift | The Owl Service (2000) by Pram | Lover’s Ghost (2010) by The Owl Service.

Weekend links 58

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Oya by Alberto del Pozo (1945–1992). Also known as Yansa, Oya is Changó’s third wife. She is the goddess of the winds and of lightning and is mistress of the cemetery gates. Passionate and brave she fights by her husband’s side if needed. Her favorite offerings are papaya, eggplant and geraniums. From Santeria at BibliOdyssey.

Austin Osman Spare is a good example of the dictum that quality will out in the end, no matter how long it remains buried. Overlooked by the art establishment after he retreated into his private mythologies, a substantial portion of his output was equally ignored by occultists who wanted to preserve him as a weird and scary working-class magus. One group dismissed his deeply-felt spiritual interests in a manner they wouldn’t dare employ if he’d been a follower of Santeria, say (or even a devout Christian), while the other group seemed to regard his superb portraits as too mundane to be worthy of attention. Now that Phil Baker’s Spare biography has been published by Strange Attractor we might have reached the end of such short-sighted appraisals and can finally see a more rounded picture of the man and his work:

[Kenneth] Grant preserved and magnified Spare’s own tendency to confabulation, giving him the starring role in stories further influenced by Grant’s own reading of visionary and pulp writers such as Arthur Machen, HP Lovecraft, and Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer. Grant’s Spare seems to inhabit a parallel London; a city with an alchemist in Islington, a mysterious Chinese dream-control cult in Stockwell, and a small shop with a labyrinthine basement complex, its grottoes decorated by Spare, where a magical lodge holds meetings. This shop – then a furrier, now an Islamic bookshop, near Baker Street – really existed, and part of the fascination of Grant’s version of Spare’s London is its misty overlap with reality.

Austin Osman Spare: Cockney visionary by Phil Baker.

Austin Osman Spare: The man art history left behind | A Flickr set: Austin Osman Spare at the Cuming Museum | HV Morton meets Austin Spare (1927).

• More quality rising from obscurity: Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End. Skolimowski’s drama is one of unpleasant characters behaving badly towards each other. Anglo-American cinema featured a great deal of this in the 1970s when filmmakers disregarded the sympathies of their audience in a manner which would be difficult today. John Patterson looks at another example which is also given a re-release this month, the “feral, minatory and menacing masterwork” that is Taxi Driver.

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Echú Eleguá by Alberto del Pozo. Among the most ancient of the orishas Echú Eleguá is the messenger of the gods, who forges roads, protects the house, and is heaven’s gate-keeper. In any ceremony he is invoked first. He owns all cowrie shells and is the god of luck. A prankster, Echú Eleguá frequently has a monkey and a black rooster by his side. Like a mischievous boy he enjoys gossip and must be pampered with offerings of toys, fruit, and candy.

Minutes, a compilation on the LTM label from 1987: William Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, Tuxedomoon, Jacques Derrida, The Monochrome Set, and er…Richard Jobson. Thomi Wroblewski designed covers for a number of Burroughs titles in the 1980s, and he also provided the cover art for this release.

Mikel Marton Photography: a Tumblr of erotic photography and self-portraits.

From Death Factory To Norfolk Fens: Chris & Cosey interviewed.

NASA announces results of epic space-time experiment.

Oritsunagumono by Takayuki Hori: origami x-rays.

Plexus magazine at 50 Watts.

Mother Sky (1970) by Can | Late For The Sky (1974) by Jackson Browne.

Weekend links 55

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From the Ornamental Age series (2009) by Seher Shah.

Seher Shah has recently updated her website giving us a better view of her extraordinary art.

The Demon Regent Asmodeus, my short film of Alan Moore’s reading from the first Moon & Serpent CD, has been posted to YouTube. In other self-promotion news, Mahakala, a drawing of mine from 1984, finds an audience on Tumblr.

• Yet more Moore: Alan Moore & Iain Sinclair “explore psychogeography” at the Cheltenham Festival in June. Alan will also be discussing science and fiction with Robin Ince. Then in July he’s performing with fine fellow Stephen O’Malley at Alexandra Palace as part of Portishead’s I’ll Be Your Mirror festival. They’ll be providing text and music for Harry Smith’s Heaven and Earth Magic.

In most countries, parents can tell their kids that if they work hard and do everything right, they could grow up to be the head of state and symbol of their nation. Not us. Our head of state is decided by one factor, and one factor alone: did he pass through the womb of one aristocratic Windsor woman living in a golden palace? The US head of state grew up with a mother on food stamps. The British head of state grew up with a mother on postage stamps. Is that a contrast that fills you with pride? (…) Earlier this month, David Cameron lamented that too many people in Britain get ahead because of who their parents are. A few minutes later, without missing a beat, he praised the monarchy as the best of British. Nobody laughed.

Johann Hari kicks the royals.

• Related to the above: Lydia Leith’s royal wedding sick bag.

Beautiful Century relates a dispiriting (and very common) encounter with Google’s blog prudery. The new Beautiful Century is now at Tumblr.

• In the future, everything will be on Tumblr for fifteen minutes. Among this week’s discoveries there’s Writers and Kitties, attractive men and vintage photos at Stuff Doer, and all manner of things at Maggs Counterculture including a picture by Jim Leon I hadn’t seen before.

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From the Ornamental Age series (2009) by Seher Shah.

“Sidewalk cafés, free from conservative business attire…” Film of groovy Greenwich Village in the late 1960s. Related: groovier fashions in Art Nouveau Barcelona.

Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009, a book from MIT Press.

The Delian Mode, a film about electronic musician Delia Derbyshire by Kara Blake.

Austin Osman Spare, a biography of the artist and occultist by Phil Baker.

• Lando Jones is giving away three limited edition prints of his artwork.

Plano Creativo, a blog (in Spanish) by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

B Magazine is a new publication for gay Americans.

Diaghilev gets his due at Coilhouse.

Baby’s On Fire (1973) by Brian Eno | Baby’s On Fire (1976) by 801 | Baby’s On Fire (from Velvet Goldmine) (1998) by The Venus In Furs.

Strange Attractor Journal Three

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The wonderful and essential Strange Attractor Journal will be with us again next month.
The previous number (now sold out, I think) included my essay about psychedelic artist Wilfried Sätty.

CONTENTS

Contra Genesis—Catherine Eisner
Unusual cases of extra-genital conception, extra-uterine
gestation, and other anomalous exits.

Burmese Daze—Erik Davis
In which the author submits to the pleasures of a transgender spirit possession festival.

Adventures in the Fourth Dimension—Mike Jay
A Victorian time machine and history’s first theme park ride.

Ego in Exotica Sum—Ken Hollings
In memoriam Martin Denny, crown prince of the exotica sound.

A Psychoactive Bestiary—Richard Rudgley
The joy of zootoxins, from the ant to the giraffe.

Liberté, Légalité, Éternité—David Luke
Some notes on psychonautic misadventures in time.

Kandinsky’s Thought Forms—Gary Lachman
The occult roots of modern art.

Magic Words—Steve Moore
Virgil the Necromancer in mediæval legend.

Abu’l-Qasim al-Iraqi—Robert Irwin
12th century Arab alchemists on the edge
of knowledge.

The Electrochemical Glass—Richard Brown
A slow-evolving artwork from a living alchemist.

The Man Behind the Screen—David Rothenberg
Hans Christian Andersen’s greatest and least-known work.

The Mole of Edge Hill—John Reppion
Joseph Williamson, Liverpool’s tunnelling philanthropist.

La Maison de Poupées—Robert Ansell
A photographic study of a magnificent compulsion.

The Dirty Thirties—Alexis Lykiard
From Arthur Koestler’s Encyclopædia of Sexual Knowledge.

Paint it Black—Stewart Home
Autohagiography of an artist.

Redonda and Her Kings—Roger Dobson
The island life of early science fiction author MP Shiel.

Magic in Paris—Phil Baker
Demons of the opium den in Thirties Paris.

The Dark Man’s Dreams—Doug Skinner
An introduction to Xavier Forneret, Surrealism’s lost poet.

Ghosts: A short Story
by Lady Vervaine.

Plus original artworks by Alison Gill, Josephine Harvatt, Betsy Heistand, Katie Owens, Arik Roper.

Editor: Mark Pilkington.
Print Design: Alison Hutchinson.

Strange Attractor celebrates unpopular culture. We declare war on mediocrity and a pox on the foot soldiers of stupidity. Join Us.

Strange Attractor Journal Three available now from Strange Attractor Shoppe and all good bookshops.

£14 inc p&p by mail order or £13.99 in UK shops.