Readouts

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The HAL Project.

January flew by in a blizzard of work so posting here tended to rely more on pictures than words. As usual the things I’ve been designing will be unveiled when they’re closer to being published or released but for now here’s some new or not-so-new items worthy of note.

The HAL Project screensaver. I’ve never had much time for gaudy screensavers, I prefer something which doesn’t get annoying when I’m otherwise engaged. For a while now I’ve been using the Mac-only Lotsawater which turns your monitor into a vertical water tank with slow motion ripples. I replaced that this week with Joe Mackenzie’s HAL Project screensaver (for Mac and Windows) which throws up random samplings of the HAL 9000 monitor animations from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sounds a bit dull until you see it in action, very crisp and detailed graphics, many of which mimic the animations of those in the film. I’ve belatedly realised how similar these fields of colour and their lines of white type are to the opening titles of A Clockwork Orange, yet another connection between the two films. Now I can sit trying to figure out some of the less obvious 3-letter codes for the spacecraft’s systems; Stanley Kubrick was so thorough you just know they all mean something.

Via the Kubrick obsessives at Coudal.

A pair of new blogs. Designer Barney Bubbles should need little introduction here but if you require one then read this. Paul Gorman has been in touch to inform me of a new online companion to his BB book, Reasons To Be Cheerful, which already looks like a treat with displays of Bubbles creations that didn’t make the book.

Writer Russ Kick was also in touch this week with news of his books and book culture blog, Books Are People, Too. Russ is the author of several books for Disinformation and his Memory Hole website notoriously caused a headache for the Bush regime when he forced photos of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq onto the front pages of American newspapers.

Songs of the Black Würm Gism. And speaking of books, the much delayed sequel to DM Mitchell’s landmark Lovecraft anthology, The Starry Wisdom comes shambling into the light of day at last. The Creation Oneiros website describes it thus:

The Black Würm Gism Cult – oceanic insect porn – a vortex of cosmic mayhem stalked by ravening lysergic entities – a post-human psychedelic seizure of Lovecraftian text, art and fragments. SONGS OF THE BLACK WÜRM GISM picks up where the acclaimed anthology THE STARRY WISDOM left off and goes beyond – way beyond! – what H.P. Lovecraft dared to show. Editor D.M. Mitchell presents an illustrated brainstorm of visceral deep-sea dream currents, aberrant trans-species sex visions, and frenzied ophidian entropy.

Contributors include: alan moore (cover illustration), john coulthart (introduction), grant morrison, david britton, ian miller, john beal, david conway, kenji siratori, herzan chimera, james havoc, reza negarestani, & many others

Yes, the rather pompous introduction for this volume is mine and the cover is Alan Moore’s psychedelic arachnoid rendering of the demon Asmodeus, the same picture I used to create my little hidden film on the Mindscape of Alan Moore DVD. The Starry Wisdom roused a vaporous fury among the more staid Lovecraft readers so I look forward to seeing what squeaks of outrage this new book inspires. Publication is set for September 2009 but you can order it now from Amazon and other outlets.

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Ghost Box haunts again. And if anything was going to provide a suitable soundtrack to “aberrant trans-species sex visions, and frenzied ophidian entropy” you could do worse than some of the works of the Ghost Box collective, especially the spooky and abrasive Ouroborindra by Eric Zann. Ritual and Education is a new download-only sampler of Ghost Box tracks and probably an ideal place to start if your curiosity is piqued by my recurrent raves about these releases. From An Ancient Star is the latest CD from Belbury Poly which swaps the Pelican Books graphics of earlier works for a convincing piece of crank lit. cover art which wouldn’t look out of place in the RT Gault archives.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Demon Regent Asmodeus
The Séance at Hobs Lane
Ghost Box
2001: A Space Odyssey program

Ginsberg’s Howl and the view from the street

howl.jpgJames Campbell in The Guardian this weekend writes about the arrest fifty years ago of Lawrence Ferlinghetti for his publishing Allen Ginsberg’s paean to ecstatic drug use and gay sex, Howl and Other Poems. Ferlinghetti was arrested on charges of selling (or “peddling”, as these prissy turns of phrase always have it) literature likely to be harmful to minors, even though it’s hard to imagine there were gangs of schoolkids rushing into his City Lights bookstore to buy a volume of experimental poetry. The ensuing trial was the first in a series of cases in the late Fifties and early Sixties which finally established (in America, at least) that the law needed to try and keep its hands off literary works.

America since 1957 has managed to grow up on one level, with Howl now regarded as a classic work of 20th century poetry, and grow more infantile on the other, with And Tango Makes Three, a childrens’ book about gay penguins, being the most-challenged book of 2006 according to the America Library Association; you can still rely on the “g” word to get the would-be book-burners agitated. The growing gulf between perceptions of morality in the US versus those in Europe can be seen in the way that US librarians need to hold an annual Banned Books Week to draw attention to the ongoing war between prudery and licence while there’s no equivalent to this in the UK. Britons used to look enviously at America’s freedoms of speech but the atmosphere has relaxed considerably here over the past twenty years while in America it sometimes seems that the clock is running backwards. That said, Russ Kick pointed out several years ago how, even among freedom-loving librarians, some books are more defensible than others.

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The City Lights bookstore is located at 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, and by coincidence I’ve spent the past couple of days exploring that locale using Google’s remarkable Street View facility which is now a feature on their San Francisco map, together with those for New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Denver. Not all the streets in these cities have been photographed yet but it’s fascinating to not only see places you’ve already been to but then turn down a side street and see the places you missed. If you want to know what it’s like to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge then here’s your chance.

Continue reading “Ginsberg’s Howl and the view from the street”

Czanara’s Hermaphrodite Angel

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More obscure art, only now we’re talking really obscure. This remarkable picture, The Hermaphrodite-Angel of Peladan by Czanara, turned up in the archives of Russ Kick’s seemingly abandoned Rare Erotica blog. “Czanara” was one Raymond Carrance (1921–?), a gay artist who I haven’t come across before and who seems to be completely absent not only from my library, but from most of the web. A great shame, if there’s more of his work like this I want to see it.

The “Peladan” of the title might be a reference to Sâr Péladan, founder of the Catholic Order of the Rose and the Cross in fin de siècle Paris, and guru to a number of significant Symbolist painters, including the brilliant Jean Delville. Hermaphroditism and androgyny were important themes for Péladan who declared, in an outburst typical of the period, “the androgyne, is the plastic ideal!” Czanara’s picture is certainly Symbolist in its details—those multiplied wings and hippogriffs—even if its intent is most likely a result of mundane pornographic imperatives.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Angels 4: Fallen angels