Weekend links 326

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Anchoress by Judith Schaechter.

• The publication of Alan Moore’s Jerusalem is imminent so the NYT asked him about his favourite books and writers of the moment. For the next post I’ll be writing about my own involvement with Moore’s novel.

Chris Campion on David Bowie and the missing soundtrack: the amazing story behind The Man Who Fell to Earth. Related: cinematographer Anthony Richmond on his memories of shooting the film.

Mr Beatnick on how the B-side of Change The Beat by Beside became the most sampled song of all time.

Lisa Hix on An Un-Conventional Thirst: Collecting 7Up’s most beautiful, hallucinatory billboards.

Rub Out The Word: Steve Buscemi & Elliott Sharp present texts by William Burroughs.

• Opening next month at the Corridor Gallery, Brighton (UK): An exhibition of art by Ian Miller.

• Folk singer Shirley Collins will be releasing a new album, Lodestar, her first for over 35 years.

A trip to the mythical Isle of Tiki, Polynesian Pop and A/C Eden.

• Mix of the week: Harvest Hymns by Melmoth The Wanderer.

• Wandering In Space: composer Jherek Bischoff interviewed.

Heavy Water is a new short film by Adam Scovell.

• “When will New York sink?” asks Andrew Rice.

The World’s Largest Synthesizer

The Thai Occult by Jenx

• RIP Richard Neville

The Other Without

We Are Cult

Heavy Rock (1976) by Sound Dimension | Heavy Charm (1995) by The Ear | Heavy Water (2008) by Crackle

Oz magazine online

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Oz 4. Cover art by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat.

From a television series out of time to a magazine very much of its time. The Prisoner and Oz magazine are exact contemporaries: issue 4 of Oz (June 1967) would have been on sale when Patrick McGoohan and co. were busy turning Portmeirion into The Village. In the past anyone interested in Oz had to either scour eBay for expensive paper copies or content themselves with the incomplete scans made available several years ago. But no longer, thanks to the University of Wollongong and editor Richard Neville who have made the entire run available as downloadable PDFs. These are much better quality than the previously available copies, and they also have poster inserts available as separate downloads. The wonderful set of Tarot designs created by the late Martin Sharp for issue 4 were faded and torn in the old scans so it’s a real pleasure to see this and other artwork looking so good.

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Tarot designs from Oz 4 by Martin Sharp.

Continue reading “Oz magazine online”

The Trials of Oz

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If it’s a surprise to see Cockney geezer Phil Daniels masquerading as the erudite (and non-Cockney) Thomas De Quincey in The Art of Tripping, it’s even more of a surprise to see Hugh Grant in wig and hippy gear as Richard Neville in this 1991 dramatisation of the obscenity trial against Neville’s Oz magazine. Grant wasn’t exactly unknown when this was made but it was prior to Four Weddings and a Funeral so the casting didn’t seem very notable at the time.

The play was written by Geoffrey Robertson QC from the trial transcripts to observe the 20th anniversary of a lengthy and very public trial. Robertson in 1971 was an assistant to John Mortimer, the magazine’s lawyer, so the reconstruction may be taken to be an accurate one. In addition to Grant as Neville, Simon Callow plays Mortimer, Nigel Hawthorne is prosecutor Brian Leary, and Leslie Phillips is Judge Michael Argyle. Among the witnesses there’s Alfred Molina as George Melly (yet again; see yesterday’s post), and Nigel Planer as DJ John Peel, both of whom were called to testify that the notorious “School Kids” issue of Oz wasn’t an obscene publication. The trial, like the earlier drug busts against the Rolling Stones, was as much about the State trying to clobber a bunch of anarchist upstarts as anything that involved the pros and cons of antiquated laws. The three defendants—Neville, Felix Dennis and Jim Anderson—were also accused of “conspiring to corrupt public morals”; the obscenity issue was merely a pretext for getting the longhairs into the dock.

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Oz 28 (1970). Art by Raymond Bertrand.

This isn’t a lavish production—it’s stylised to the extent that the public gallery is made up of cardboard figures—but it’s good to know that there’s a (rough) copy out there after my tape of the original broadcast developed a fault. Not available, unfortunately, is the live studio discussion that followed in which Jonathan Dimbleby spoke to Geoffrey Robertson, Germaine Greer and others about the trial. The discussion featured a delicious moment when Dimbleby referred to Greer’s feminist issue (no. 29) as “C-Power Oz“. “Come on, Jonathan,” said Greer, “it was Cunt Power Oz!” Dimbleby then spluttered “Anyone can say ‘Cunt Power Oz‘…” and hastily moved on the discussion.

A year after his TV appearance Geoffrey Robertson was in Manchester Crown Court appealing an earlier ruling of obscenity against David Britton’s Lord Horror (1990) novel. I was in the public gallery on that occasion, and it was an education seeing how little had changed since the Oz trial, with a similarly Philistine and deeply ignorant judge presiding. Robertson overturned the ruling against the novel but a ruling against one of Savoy’s Meng & Ecker comics was upheld. In 1995 we were back in court attempting to argue for a jury trial against further rulings of obscenity, this time against one of my own comics, Hard Core Horror 5. (That issue is now the opening section of the Reverbstorm book.) We failed that time thanks to a magistrate who was even less inclined to listen to any argument.

The Oz trial may seem quaint and farcical today but the issues remain pertinent: some forms of art will always be in conflict with laws that are out-of-date, badly written or maliciously applied. And once you’re standing in a courtroom your opinion about the situation is of no consequence; you’re at the mercy of the people who make the rules.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Martin Sharp, 1942–2013
Raymond Bertrand paintings
Raymond Bertrand’s science fiction covers
The art of Bertrand
Oz magazine, 1967–73

Weekend links 189

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The Outsider (1956), 1963 edition; The Occult (1971), 1973 edition.

The cover of the 1973 UK paperback of Colin Wilson‘s mammoth overview of occultism can still be offered as a pinnacle of hyperbole. The book itself is a very serious and informative study but its success set Wilson on a path as a writer about the paranormal where he’d previously been concerned with literature, philosophy and psychology. For many critics this finished his already shaky reputation as a serious thinker. He continued to write about philosophy and literature in subsequent books but dubious speculations about Atlantis are always more commercially attractive than studies of Nietzsche, hence the proliferation of lost continents in the later part of a bibliography which the Wilson website lists at 114 titles. Wilson was a maverick intellectual whose curiosity ignored many of the boundaries that restrained his metropolitan contemporaries; he was also an autodidact of a type that seems to irritate the university-educated. Mentions of his name in British newspapers were frequently couched in sneering or dismissive terms. His current reputation can be measured by the lack of attention the news of his death has prompted in the UK at the time of writing. (That said, dying on the same day as Nelson Mandela was unfortunate timing.)

Savoy Books published an edition of Wilson’s crime novel, The Killer, in 2002. I designed that volume, rather badly, I think. In 2004 Robert Meadley wrote a book-length reaction to Wilson’s autobiography, Dreaming to Some Purpose, which can be downloaded for free from Savoy. In it Meadley mounts a robust defence of Wilson against the broadsheet termagants. Elsewhere: the only newspaper obituary so far is at The Times (subscription required); Colin Wilson on Desert Island Discs in 1978; Gary Lachman interviewing Wilson for Fortean Times in 2004; musician Anthony Reynolds discussing his collaboration with Wilson.

• “Art, music and a mind-blowing voyage of discovery”: Richard Neville on the late Martin Sharp. At Design Observer Rick Poynor looks back at Sharp’s book and magazine illustrations of the 1960s. Of particular note is Sharp’s contribution to the “Magic Theatre” issue of Oz magazine, a unique combination of collaged visuals and text which Alan Moore often refers to as a favourite work. (See issue 12 of Moore’s Promethea, “The Magic Theatre of the Mind“.)

• “The naked woman in art isn’t unusual, but we have trouble viewing the male body as a sexual, or artistic, object,” says James Polchin.

But how can anyone be bored when there’s always death to think about? Every day. Every hour. Don’t you? All the rest is just evading or glossing the real subject of our lives. Beckett, again, the maestro of death: Never but the one matter. The dead and gone. The dying and the going. From the word go. I too shall cease and be as when I was not yet, only all over instead of in store.

Jenny Diski on death and dying.

• A teaser trailer for The Dreamlands, a film by Huan Vu (Die Farbe) based on HP Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle.

• “On Watching Wages of Fear with my 11-Year-Old Daughter” by Debra Morris.

Abram Games’ “bat wings” BBC logo is 60 years old. See it in action here.

• At Strange Flowers: Romaine Brooks‘ portraits of her famous friends.

• At Front Free Endpaper: Mervyn Peake illustrates Treasure Island.

The Great God Pan (plus satyrs and fauns) at Pinterest.

Dan Wilson on “Electric Music” on the Victorian stage.

• Mix of the week: Fact Mix 414 by Julianna Barwick.

• The BFI chooses 10 great British rural horror films.

Dunwich – The search for Britain’s Atlantis.

The Grand Canyon filled with fog.

• The Bells of Dunwich (1975) by Stone Angel | O.O.B.E. (1992) by The Orb (feat. Colin Wilson) | Why We Make It Difficult On Ourselves (2010) by Anthony Reynolds & Colin Wilson

Weekend links 48

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Nite Flights (1978) by The Walker Brothers. Cover design by Hipgnosis.

something attacked the earth last nite
with a kick that man habit-eye
cut the sleep tight boys who dreamed and dreamed
of a city like the sky

Scott Walker quotes Brion Gysin (and who knows what else) in Shutout (see below), one of the four remarkable songs he wrote for the final Walker Brothers album, Nite Flights. That album cast a shadow over David Bowie’s Lodger a year later, and led Bowie to try his hand at a cover of the title track in 1993.

• Frédéric Chaubin’s photographs of what he calls Cosmic Communist Constructions. Also a new book from Taschen, and an exhibition at the Karlsruhe Museum of Contemporary Art. PingMag interviewed Chaubin back in 2006.

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From Disparate works by Romanian artist Marcel Chirnoaga (1930–2008). See also the Virtual Museum of Marcel Chirnoaga.

The immense size of modern databases gives us a feeling of meaninglessness. Information in such quantities reminds us of Borges’s library extending infinitely in all directions. It is our task as humans to bring meaning back into this wasteland.

Freeman Dyson on The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick.

• In the Tumblr labyrinth this week: Mr Rossignol, the Elephant House for Edward Gorey, and Brion Gysin.

• Related to the last, Mutate or Die is “a bioart project being conceived of and executed by Tony Allard and Adam Zaretsky”.

• Barry Miles’s top 10 counterculture books. Related: Rick Poynor on Richard Neville’s Playpower.

“The sooner literary fiction recognises & accepts its generic identity, the sooner it can get help.”

• Is YouTube user “Kosinski” the ever-elusive Chris Marker? “All signs point to yes.”

• The Internet Archive is making its books available to US libraries.

• The Castle of Shadows at BLDGBLOG.

• The Light Painting Pool at Flickr.

• Scott Walker (with the Walker Brothers): Shutout |Nite Flights | The Electrician.