Weekend links 183

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La table qui tourne (1943) by Robert Doisneau.

In [Gödel, Escher, Bach], Hofstadter was calling for an approach to AI concerned less with solving human problems intelligently than with understanding human intelligence—at precisely the moment that such an approach, having borne so little fruit, was being abandoned. His star faded quickly. He would increasingly find himself out of a mainstream that had embraced a new imperative: to make machines perform in any way possible, with little regard for psychological plausibility.

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think by James Somers.

Whenever the latest pronouncements about the imminent arrival of artificial intelligence are being trotted out I wonder what Douglas Hofstadter would have to say on the matter. You don’t hear much about Hofstadter despite his having been involved for decades in artificial intelligence research. One reason is that he’s always been concerned with the deep and difficult problems posed by intelligence and consciousness, subjects which don’t make for sensational, Kurzweilian headlines. Hofstadter’s essays on AI (and many other topics) in Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern (1985) are essential reading. James Somers’ lengthy profile for The Atlantic is a welcome reappraisal.

• The end of October brings the spooky links: When Edward Gorey illustrated Dracula |Paula Marantz Cohen on Edgar Allan Poe | Yasmeen Khan revisits Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu | Roger Luckhurst on horror from the Gothics to the present day, and Michael Newton on Gothic cinema.

•  Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore is a biography of the Northampton magus by Lance Parkin. The author talks about his book here, and also here where if you look carefully you can see my Lovecraft book on his shelf.

• A crop of Halloween mixes: Boo, Forever by Jescie | Samhain Seance 2: Hex with a Daemon by The Ephemeral Man | Wizards Tell Lies & The Temple of Doom by The Curiosity Pipe | Radio Belbury’s Programme 11.

The Book of the Lost is an album by Emily Jones & The Rowan Amber Hill presenting music from imaginary British horror films. Release is set for Halloween. More details here.

Laura Allsop on Derek Jarman’s sketchbooks. Jarman’s Black Paintings are currently showing at the Wilkinson Gallery, London.

Magick is Freedom! Existence Is Unhappiness: Barney Bubbles vs. Graham Wood.

• Soho Dives, Soho Divas: Rian Hughes on sketching London’s burlesque artists.

Jenny Diski on the perennial problem of owning too many books.

Equus through the years by Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

Virgin Records: 40 Years of Disruptions

• At BibliOdyssey: Chromatic Wood Type

Witches at Pinterest

The Witch (1964) by The Sonics | My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968) by October Country | You Must Be A Witch (1968) by The Lollipop Shoppe

Weekend links 49

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Star City by Tomislav Ceranic.

• Noted in the blogosphere this week: A Journey Round My Skull underwent a transmutation into 50 Watts; a blog devoted to artist, designer & illustrator Jessie M King; “The arts and musicks of the supranatural” at Secret Lexicon; From the Farm, Railroads, Sewing Machines & Beyond, lengthy reminiscences from a long life in America.

Barney Bubbles in Wonderland, in which the designer and his chums indulge in some Carrollian shenanigans somewhere in the 1960s. The resulting footage is now a promo video for Balloon Race by Bear Driver.

HP Lovecraft’s favourite words, the desert island books of Jorge Luis Borges, a profile of Christopher Isherwood, and Edward Gorey again.

[Arthur] Machen explicitly talks about the strength of London, as opposed to Paris, in that London is more chaotic. Although he doesn’t put it in these words, I think what partly draws him to London is this notion that, in the absence of a kind of unifying vision, like Haussmann’s Boulevards, and in a city that’s become much more syncretic and messy over time, you have more room to insert your own aestheticizing vision.

China Miéville in a great interview at BLDGBLOG.

Matryomin is “the unique, original erectronic [sic] musical instrument invented by Masami Takeuchi in 2000”. Yes, a theremin inside a Russian doll. The Mable ensemble playing Duke Ellington’s Caravan is, well…I’m still speechless. And there’s also this.

Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument.

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Discordia by Tomislav Ceranic.

Amazingly enough, prostitution was legal during the Victorian period. There were tons of brothels all over the major cities of England, and of all different kinds. There were lots of flagellation brothels; these were places where primarily men would go to be whipped by women or by men. There were also gay male brothels. You could go to a park in London at night, pick up what were called the “park whores” and give them a very small amount of money to have sex openly in the park. I also write about gay “cruising,” which was quite common. If you knew the right place to go and knew the right signals, you could pick up a man on the street and have sex in an alley.

Deborah Lutz is interviewed about her book Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism.

Cult-ure: Ideas can be dangerous, a book by Rian Hughes.

Chernobyl: Europe’s strangest wildlife refuge.

The Eadweard Muybridge Online Archive.

Aubrey Beardsley at Tumblr.

Caravan (1959) by Martin Denny | Caravan (1961) by 80 Drums Around The World | Caravan (1962) by Sir Julian | Caravan (1965) by The Ventures | Caravan (1973) by Enoch Light & The Light Brigade | Caravan (1997) by Jimi Tenor (I could go on and on, yes I could…)

Who is Heeps Willard?

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In which Christmas arrives two weeks early…

It was nearly two years ago that I wrote “We’re overdue a decent book-length examination of his work and his influence” at the end of the epic Barney Bubbles post. Today I finally got to sit down with a copy of Paul Gorman’s wonderful monograph about the man and his work; if only all wishes were fulfilled so swiftly and completely. This is a really excellent book but then I would say that (even without being mentioned within) seeing as I’m among the target audience. Gorman’s text is light but anecdote-rich which is what I would have preferred, leaving plenty of room for page after page of incredible visuals. The heavy design analysis can wait, for now what we’ve required was a book to set the record straight (as it were) and tip the balance in Barney’s favour after years of neglect. This is that book.

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I’m actually knocked out more than I expected seeing so much first class work brought together in one place. Barney’s early work throws light on his later evolution while the later material—as BB collectors Rebecca and Mike have noted—contains many traces of his earlier obsessions. Add to that the pages of sketches (!) and layout drafts, some truly stunning late paintings, furniture designs—including the electric plug table which Rian Hughes mentioned—and you have an essential purchase.

It’s worth mentioning again that Paul generously let me run an extract featuring some exclusive pieces that didn’t make the final cut. Paul also has further page samples at his site. As to who Heeps Willard is…that would be telling. You’ll have to buy the book if you want to find out.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 3: A Barney Bubbles exclusive
More Barney Bubbles
Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 2
Reasons To Be Cheerful: the Barney Bubbles revival
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer