Weekend links 361

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The Future Vol.2 (2016) by f1x-2.

• One of the notable things about the reaction to the original series of Twin Peaks was the way in which Americans were astonished that something so outré could be allowed on television. Here in the UK the response was a little more subdued; we had, after all been spoiled for years by The Prisoner, Sapphire and Steel, and numerous odd and challenging dramas by Dennis Potter and others. Pre-dating all of these was The Strange World of Gurney Slade (1960), a six-part series starring Anthony Newley that was unprecedented in its Surrealism. Andy Murray looks back at the series, and at the rest of Newley’s career.

Andrew Dickson on Peter Ackroyd whose latest book, Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day, is published later this month.

Alyona Sokolnikova on a Soviet vision of the future: the legacy and influence of Tekhikia – Molodezhi (Technology for the Youth) magazine.

You know who weren’t cops? All the radicals and queers and artists and dreamers that were there while I grew up, my mom and dad’s old friends from New York and the wider bohemian world, the actors and the drag queens and the dilettantes and the ex junkies and the current junkies, the kind of queer people who wouldn’t get caught dead getting married, the people who actually made the “old New York” of the myth into what it was. They were smart and they were funny and they were tougher than I can imagine and they were possessed of an existential commitment to the idea that life is complicated and so we shouldn’t be quick to judge. They were tolerant, in the true sense, even while they were tireless advocates for actual justice. […] Now we’re Rudy Giuliani, trying to get offensive art pulled off the walls. Now we’re the book burners. Now we’re the censors. Now we attack the ACLU for defending free speech. Now we screech about community morals. Now we’re the prison camp screws. That’s us. Me, I could never be one of the good ones. Never. I can never live up to that ideal. I know I’m not good enough. I know when the judgment day comes, I go down. And so I decline. You can decline, too.

Planet of Cops by Freddie deBoer, or how inflexible morality makes everyone a cop

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 601 by Dark Entries, Secret Thirteen Mix 221 by Eli Keszler, and XLR8R Podcast 490 by Ben Lukas Boysen.

• At Dangerous Minds: Punk, Patti Smith, William Burroughs & capitalism: A “conceptual conversation” with RE/Search’s Vale.

Emily Wells on the strange, irreverent worlds of Down Below and The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington.

Rick Poynor on Mike Halliwell’s montages based on JG Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition.

• “Why are the British so scared of cannabis?” asks Professor David Nutt.

Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture (1978) by Arthur Evans.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jacques Rivette Day.

Designing Penguin Modern Classics

Future Dub (1994) by Mouse On Mars | Future Proof (2003) by Massive Attack | Future (2004) by Alva Noto

Abrahadabra

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01 First (1985).

I’ve linked to so many publications at the Internet Archive I’m a little surprised it’s taken me this long to find something featuring my own work. Abrahadabra was a Dutch periodical covering subjects familiar to readers of the esoteric magazines of the 1980s (RE/Search, Rapid Eye, etc): Industrial music of the TG/Psychic TV/Coil variety, transgressive writers such as Burroughs, Ballard and Bataille, weird fiction of the Lovecraft/Machen school, and a heavy emphasis on occultism. My friend Ed was one of the contributors which is how my Pan drawing ended up in the Witches issue in 1987.

For a publication with minimal resources the production was often impressive, the drawing on the cover of the Austin Spare issue, for instance, being printed in silver ink on black paper. The contents were mostly in Dutch but each issue featured interesting and often original graphics. I also drew a small Horus head for issue 11 (which I’d forgotten about until I saw it again), whose title design was used on the cover of issue 12. Some of the other issues I hadn’t seen before so it’s good to find them scanned and easily available. The 1980s was the last time print was used as the primary medium for underground culture to talk to and disseminate itself. By the end of the decade many of the small magazines had either evolved—both RE/Search and Rapid Eye turned into books—or expired. The final Abrahadabra is dated 1990.

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02 Second (1985).

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03 Third (1985).

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04 Sex (1985).

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05 Derangement (1985).

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Network 21 TV

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What was Network 21? It’s easiest to grab an explanation from the people responsible:

NeTWork 21 was a pirate television station which broadcast a 30mns program on Fridays from midnight throughout April to September 1986 in London. It had never been done before, and has not been done since anywhere in the UK. The broadcasts took place on channel 21 of the UHF band, slightly below ITV, using a low powered transmitter covering 8-10 miles across London. Program content was literally hand made, shot with a Sony Video 8 camera, edited on Low Band U-Matic, and broadcast on VHS. They showed slices of London’s artistic buzzing underground life as well as casual glimpses of everyday life, something which the normal television stations never showed. We would also offer slots to whoever was willing to appear on pirate TV, saying, showing or doing whatever they wanted, with no pre/post-production censorship of any kind. Because of our low tech approach, we could easily film people, situations and events with minimum disruption and maximum interaction. We were also free to choose program content and style according to our own mood, without having to worry about ratings, advertisers or good taste standards. (more)

In 1986 the UK only had four TV channels, and none of them ran through the night so theoretically there was plenty of space available for other broadcasters. In practice any unauthorised activity was always swiftly curtailed. Those of us outside London could only read about these illicit broadcasts but now it’s possible to jump back in time to the gloomy heart of Thatcherite Britain via the Network 21 YouTube channel. All the clips are fairly short and lean heavily towards the (for want of a better term) Industrial culture familiar from the early RE/Search publications, Simon Dwyer’s sorely-missed Rapid Eye, and Cabaret Voltaire’s “television magazine” TV Wipeout: William Burroughs (reading at the London Final Academy event in 1982), Brion Gysin, Psychic TV, Diamanda Galás, Derek Jarman et al. There’s also Roz Kaveney on passion, and Simon Watney with a news item related to the AIDS crisis in the US. The network website has complete listings for each broadcast.

Previously on { feuilleton }
ICA talks archived
The Final Academy

Saint Genet

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Miracle of the Rose (1965). Photo by Jerry Bauer, design by Kuhlman Associates.

[William Burroughs is] without a doubt…the greatest American writer since WWII. There are very, very few writers in his class; I think Genet is about the only one whom I’d put in the same category. All the British and American writers so heavily touted—the Styrons and the Mailers and their English equivalents—it’s just not necessary to read anybody except William Burroughs and Genet.

JG Ballard, RE/Search interview, 1984.

Jean Genet (the “Saint” was a gift from Jean-Paul Sartre) was born on December 19th, 1910 so consider this a late centenary post. Some of Ballard’s debt to William Burroughs can be found in writings such as The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) and his early text experiments. Genet’s influence, if we have to look for such a thing, I usually see in the use of metaphor to transform an uncompromising reality. Like the moment at the beginning of Crash (1973) when the crushed bodies of package tourists are compared to “a haemorrhage of the sun”. Genet’s writings effected similar transformations from squalid prison environments, turning the sexual assignations and passions of the inmates into ceremonial acts which assume the lineaments of a new religion. He used to claim in later life to have forgotten all his works but we haven’t forgotten him. A small selection of Genet links follows.

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Esquire, November 1968.

RealityStudio:

Burroughs’ most famous and most widely read piece for Esquire remains his coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, “The Coming of the Purple Better One,” which was included in Exterminator! Burroughs was hired to cover the convention along with Terry Southern, who was a pioneer in New Journalism with his “Twirling at Ole Miss” (which appeared in Esquire in February 1963), John Sack, who wrote on the experiences of Company M in Vietnam for Esquire (with the legendary cover “Oh my God — We hit a little girl”), and Jean Genet, an authority on oppression who turned increasingly politically active after the events in Europe in May 1968. (Continues here.)

Ubuweb:
Un Chant d’Amour (1950): Genet’s short homoerotic drama which he later disowned. The film’s masturbating prisoners and naked male flesh made it notorious and, for later generations of filmmakers, a pioneering and influential work.
Le condamné à mort (1952): A reading of Genet’s poem (in French) with electroacoustic accompaniment.
Ecce Homo (1989): A short film by Jerry Tartaglia which cuts scenes from Un Chant d’Amour with gay porn.

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Bibliothèque Gay:
Vingt lithographies pour un livre que j’ai lu, Jean Genet, Roland Caillaux, 1945. A sequence of twenty pornographic drawings.

YouTube:
The Maids (1975): Glenda Jackson and Susannah York in a film by Christopher Miles based on Genet’s play. There’s also Fassbinder’s Querelle (1982) but YouTube’s limitations don’t do it any favours.
Jean Genet (1985): an extract from the BBC interview where the writer makes a fool of interviewer Nigel Williams. This captured Genet a few months before his death and he remains the stubborn outsider to the last, questioning the conventions of the television interview which he compares to a police interrogation. A transcript of the whole fascinating event can be found here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Emil Cadoo
Penguin Labyrinths and the Thief’s Journal
Un Chant D’Amour by Jean Genet

Philippe Jullian, connoisseur of the exotic

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Monsieur Jullian as seen on the back cover of Dreamers of Decadence (1971).

Here at last is the long-promised (and long!) piece about the life and work of Philippe Jullian (1919–1977), a French writer and illustrator who’s become something of a cult figure of mine in recent years. Why the fascination? First and foremost because at the end of the 1960s he wrote Esthètes et Magiciens, or Dreamers of Decadence as it’s known to English readers, a book which effectively launched the Symbolist art revival and which remains the best introduction to Symbolist art and the aesthetic hothouse that was the 1890s. If I had to choose five favourite books Dreamers of Decadence would always be on the list. This point of obsession, and Philip Core’s account of the writer, made me curious about the rest of Jullian’s career.

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An illustration from Wilson & Jullian’s For Whom the Cloche Tolls (1953). “Tata has called these his Krafft-Ebbing (sic) pictures of his friend Kuno, whatever that means.”

Philip Core was friends with Philippe Jullian, and Core’s essential Camp: The Lie that Tells the Truth (1984) has Jullian as one of its dedicatees. It’s to Core’s appraisal that we have to turn for details of the man’s life. There is an autobiography, La Brocante (1975), but, like a number of other Jullian works, this doesn’t seem to have been translated and my French is dismally pauvre. Core’s piece begins:

Philippe Jullian, born to the intellectual family of Bordeaux Protestants which produced the well-known French historian, Camille Jullian, was a last and lasting example of pre-war camp. His career began as an artist in Paris with a reputation for drag-acts parodying English spinsters. Snobbery, a talent for sensitive daydreaming, and a consuming passion for antiques, obscure art and social history, made a very different figure out of the thin and dreamy young man. Jullian suffered terribly during the Second World War; he managed to survive by visiting some disapproving cousins dressed as a maiden aunt, whom they were happy to feed. However, he made a mark in the world of Violet Trefusis, Natalie Barney and Vita Sackville-West by illustrating their books with his wiry and delicate doodles; this led to a social connection in England, where he produced many book jackets and covers for Vogue throughout the 1950s.

Having only seen Jullian in his besuited and bespectacled guise it’s difficult to imagine him dragged up, but the cross-dressing interest is apparent in his humorous collaboration with Angus Wilson and in a later novel, Flight into Egypt. As for the wiry and delicate doodles, they’re very much of their time, in style often resembling a less-assured Ronald Searle. One early commission in 1945 was for the first of what would become a celebrated series of artist labels for Château Mouton Rothschild. Later cover illustrations included a run for Penguin Books some of which can be found at Flickr.

Philip Core continues the story:

Elegant in the austerely tweedy way the French imagine to be English, Jullian exploited his very considerable talents as a writer, producing a series of camp novels throughout the 1950s (Scraps, Milord) which deal frankly but amusingly with the vicissitudes of handsome young men and face-lifted ladies, grey-haired antique dealers and criminals. One of the first to reconsider Symbolist painting, Jullian reached an enormous public in the 1960s with his gorgeous book, Dreamers of Decadence – where an encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre and its accompanying literature helped to create the boom in fin de siècle revivalism among dealers and museums.

An acerbic wit accompanied this vast worldly success; always docile to duchesses, Jullian could easily remark to a hostess who offered him a chocolate and cream pudding called Nègre en chemise, “I prefer them without.” Less kindly, to a gay friend who objected to Jullian’s poodles accompanying them into a country food shop by saying “Think where their noses have been”, he could also retort “Yes, that’s what I think whenever I see you kiss your mother.”

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