The House by the Canal (1945) by Algernon Cecil Newton.
• RIP Tobe Hooper. Black Hole Reviews recounts the troubled history of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in Britain, a film that was given a short-lived cinema release then banned for 20 years. Elsewhere: Who sampled from Tobe Hooper’s films? Tucktonia, a model village whose London buildings were destroyed for Hooper’s Lifeforce.
• Graphic language of the wall: Rick Poynor on Brassaï’s photographs of graffiti for Le Livre de Poche. More Poynor: National Theatre Posters: A Design History is available for pre-order from Unit Editions. There’s more from the latter here.
• “A question of queer as a kind of futurism: an attitude or tendency that connects mid-20th-century performers and photographers to contemporary digital art and fashion.” Brian Dillon reviewing Queer British Art at Tate Britain.
In evolutionary terms, the intelligence of octopuses is an anomaly. The last common ancestor between octopuses on the one hand, and humans and other intelligent animals (monkeys, dolphins, dogs, crows) on the other, was probably a primitive, blind worm-like creature that existed six hundred million years ago. Other creatures that are so evolutionarily distant from humans—lobsters, snails, slugs, clams—rate pretty low on the cognitive scale. But octopuses—and to some extent their cephalopod cousins, cuttlefish and squid—frustrate the neat evolutionary division between clever vertebrates and simple-minded invertebrates. They are sophisticated problem solvers; they learn, and can use tools; and they show a capacity for mimicry, deception and, some think, humour. Just how refined their abilities are is a matter of scientific debate: their very strangeness makes octopuses hard to study. Their intelligence is like ours, and utterly unlike ours. Octopuses are the closest we can come, on earth, to knowing what it might be like to encounter intelligent aliens.
Amia Srinivasan reviewing Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life by Peter Godfrey-Smith, and The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
• Royal Academy of Arts to reveal explicit side of Dalí and Duchamp.
• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Mystic Umbrellas.
• Norton Critical Edition’s Periodic Table of Literary Villains.
• Mix of the week: FACT mix 616 by Lanark Artefax.
• Virus Fonts has a new website.
• Little Umbrellas (1969) by Frank Zappa | Umbrellas (1971) by Weather Report | Black Umbrellas (2003) by Broadcast
Human Nature by Esther Sarto.
• I Feel Love: “Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder created the template for dance music as we know it”. Bill Brewster on the creation of one of the greatest songs ever recorded.
• The Tearoom by Robert Yang “is a (free) historical public bathroom simulator about anxiety, police surveillance, and sucking off another dude’s gun”.
• Tim Walker’s Leonora Carrington-themed fashion shoot with Tilda Swinton reaches i-D‘s website at last. More pictures and in better quality.
• Joe Dante on the legacy of Nigel Kneale. Related: We Are The Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale, edited by Neil Snowdon.
• Beth Comery‘s report on the progress of Gage Prentiss’s planned statue of HP Lovecraft for Providence, RI.
• The Plagiarist in the Kitchen: Jonathan Meades talks food and cooking with John Mitchinson.
• At Dangerous Minds: “Forget Louis Wain’s psychedelic cats, here are his crazy Cubist ceramics”.
• “Court orders Salvador Dalí‘s body be exhumed for paternity test.”
• Flash the flesh: Manchester’s gay club heroes – in pictures.
• Rick Poynor on the joy and sadness of dust.
• From The Tea-Rooms Of Mars…To The Hell-Holes Of Uranus: “Beguine”, “Mambo”, “Tango” (1981) by Landscape | I Feel Love (Patrick Cowley Mega Mix) (1982) by Donna Summer | Martian Sperm And Bagpipes (1991) by Helios Creed
The Expectation (1936) by Richard Oelze.
• Richard Oelze, 1900–1980 is an exhibition of paintings and drawings at the Michael Werner Gallery, London, which runs until January 2017. More Surrealist works by Oelze may be seen at But Does It Float and Ubu Gallery.
• Will McMorran on the problems of translating the Marquis de Sade’s most obscene work. Related: Jay Sina on Sexistential Horror: HP Lovecraft and the Marquis de Sade as perverse peers.
• Mixes of the week: More Halloween horror at No Condition Is Permanent, Secret Thirteen Mix 200 by JK Flesh, and a mix for The Wire by Botany.
• The Chronicles of Clovis (1911), a story collection by Saki (HH Munro) who died 100 years ago this week.
• “Jack is 24, sometimes he’s a drag queen named Sabrina.” The Queen (1968).
• The Mindset of the Macabre: An interview with Abigail Larson.
• “The world is full of bloviators,” says MAD cartoonist Al Jaffee.
• Ginette Vincendeau on how the French birthed film noir.
• How to throw a dinner party like Salvador Dalí.
• Sastanàqqàm, another new song by Tinariwen.
• At A Year In The Country: more Quatermass.
• Photographs by Klaartje Lambrechts.
• Paul Bailey on Pasolini’s lost boys.
• Adam Shatz on Leonard Cohen.
• Subterranean London
• Joan Of Arc (1986) by Jennifer Warnes with Leonard Cohen | Who By Fire (1986) by Coil | The Future (1992) by Leonard Cohen
Ekeko (2016) by Jon Jacobsen.
• Outer Space (1999), a short film by Peter Tscherkassky using reprocessed footage taken from The Entity (1982).
• Pye Corner Audio playing live for 77 minutes at New Forms Festival, Vancouver 2016.
• Salvador Dalí‘s rare Surrealist cookbook republished for the first time in over 40 years.
• Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett; extracts from the writer’s most recent diaries.
• The Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library is a new source for free antique images.
• The shopfronts of independent Paris photographed by Sebastian Erras.
• The Edge of the Ceiling (1980) is a short film about writer Alan Garner.
• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 198 by Bestial Mouths.
• Brenda S G Walter on eviscerating the body of Black Metal.
• “When did new age music become cool?” asks Geeta Dayal.
• Barok Main, a new piece from Mica Levi & Oliver Coates.
• American gay magazine XY has been relaunched.
• Confessions of a vinyl junkie by David Bowie.
• Touch Radio archive at the British Library.
• Harvard’s collection of glass flowers.
• Michelle Stuart‘s Magical Land Art.
• Dali’s Car (1969) by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band | Save Me From Dali (1980) by Snakefinger | Salvador Dali’s Garden Party (1989) by Television Personalities
I’ve known the name of American publisher Essex House for many years but the books they published, all of which appeared in a frenzy of activity from 1968 to 1969, have never been easy to find in the UK. The company is chiefly of note today for having three original Philip José Farmer novels on their list, all works of fantasy with the erotic side more dominant than in Farmer’s previous work. Erotic fiction with a generic slant was the Essex House speciality, and while the Farmer covers have appeared here before, I’d not seen any other Essex House covers until the discovery of this page which collects 38 of the 42 published titles.
It’s immediately evident looking down the list that the (uncredited) designer managed to forge a distinctive identity for the books at a time when any cover would suffice if the written material was sufficiently pornographic. Many of the covers borrow (or mutate) pre-existing artworks, while others emulate the watered-down psychedelic style that by the late 60s was visible everywhere in the US and much of Europe. These aren’t all great pieces of design but the graphics on erotic titles in the 60s either played safe by favouring text-only covers or sported technically crude emulations of paperback illustration. (For an example of just how technically crude, see this post about some of the many gay pulps on sale in the US.)
Essex House may not have been around for long but they seemed to be attempting something different, at least where the covers were concerned. I’ve only read the Farmer books so I can’t vouch for the other titles but the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction writes that
…about half the 42 titles published by Essex House were sf/fantasy; they included novels by Philip José Farmer, Richard E Geis, David Meltzer (perhaps the most distinguished), Michael Perkins and Hank Stine…of which a number were ambitious, some literary, and most somewhat joyless—even emetic—and redolent of 1960s radicalism.
Pornography as a tool of radical politics had a brief vogue in the late 60s and early 70s, something that’s particularly evident in the underground magazines of the period. The results may be “joyless” to some but then I find a lot of the alleged classics of science fiction joyless so it’s all a matter of taste. There was no equivalent of Essex House in the UK but in the 1970s France had the Chute Libre imprint which not only published all of the Essex House Farmer titles but did so with a collection of equally striking (or “joyless”) cover designs.
Artwork is a solarised version of Le Bout du monde (1949) by Leonor Fini.
Continue reading “Essex House book covers”