Weekend links 270

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Cover design for UFOs and Extra-Terrestrials in History (four vols, 1978) by Yves Naud.

Come To The Sabbath, “a festival of dark arts delving into the influence of Black Magick, Witchcraft, Demonology and Satanism in pop culture”, takes place at Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, London, from Tues 18th–Sun 23rd August.

• “Visitors, if there had ever been any, would have said that the little town of Mansfield was haunted.” Showdown is a previously unpublished short story by Shirley Jackson.

• “A sandbox stealthy immersive sim in a surreal, horror-y world inspired by writers like Burroughs and Ballard…” Alice O’Connor previews the forthcoming computer game, Tangiers.

Sometime in the late 1960s, the artist Robert Smithson took a trip to southwestern Ohio. He saw the Great Serpent Mound there and decided that he would make a great spiral too. […] Because the Great Salt Lake’s levels vary several feet from year to year, and also from season to season, Spiral Jetty is not always visible even if you make the trip to Utah. You could go out to Spiral Jetty and find that the entire earthwork is invisible underwater. When Robert Smithson created this earthwork in 1970, he did not care if it could be easily seen or who owned it. And so, even today, no one knows to whom Spiral Jetty really belongs. To view it requires a pilgrimage.

Stefany Anne Goldberg on earthworks, new and ancient, and the art of disappearance

• “Commercial book cover design is a minor portion of Gorey’s award-winning legacy, but not a lesser art.” Steven Heller on Edward Gorey: cover designer.

• “You are accepted,” he says, “by the genre that can accept you.” Samuel R. Delany talked to Peter Bebergal about being an outsider in the world of science fiction.

A battle of Witts: A brief look at ‘Taboos’ and the work of The Passage. Mark Griffiths on a great, if seldom-remembered, Manchester band.

• “Hispanic photomonteur Josep Renau aimed Technicolor jets of scorn at the mirage of US consumerist culture,” says Rick Poynor.

• Because the internet is really big… Kelli Anderson reworks the Eames’ The Powers of Ten using imagery found via Google searches.

Against Nature is a forthcoming musical adaptation of Huysmans’ À Rebours by Marc Almond, Jeremy Reed and Othon.

“What makes a film noir?” Adam Frost & Melanie Patrick have an infographic for you.

• Mixes of the week: Gizehcast #20 by LCC, and Jenny Hval‘s WEIRD Quietus mix.

• Mysterium Tremendum: Russell Cuzner on The Strange World of Lustmord.

• The charming march of the Penguin Books logo.

Cosey Fanni Tutti: Agent Provocateur

Dark Times (Peel Session) (1980) by The Passage | XOYO (1982) by The Passage | Revelation (1982) by The Passage

Weekend links 257

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The Nine of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith, and the same card from The Ghetto Tarot, a Haitian deck created by photographer Alice Smits and Haitian art group Atis Rezistans.

Almost four months after the murders in Paris, Charlie Hebdo continues to be problematic, to use a common epithet. The “p” word occurs with such frequency in current discussions about offence—and those discussions so often seem like a secular version of old religious arguments, with Manichean forces pitted against each other, and the same schisms, heresies and witch hunts—that I’ve taken to translating “problematic” as “sinful”. Charlie Hebdo is nothing if not a heretical text even if many of those pronouncing on its heresies have never read a copy. Back in January I was confident that we’d be seeing a great deal of equivocation (if not outright victim-blaming) when people began to look closely at the magazine, or at least read hasty appraisals of its contents. You didn’t have to be a psychic to predict any of this because the equivocations are merely the current manifestation of a familiar syndrome. This week’s authorial objections about PEN America honouring Charlie Hebdo have led to a reiteration of the grumblings we heard in January: “Yes, of course, we condemn the violence but…” But, what? “But, it’s a sinful publication…”(This piece by one of the PEN objectors in the LRB is typical.) Publication liberties, which in the UK are more constrained than in the US, are apparently best championed for the virtuous (the responsible, the respectful, etc), not the sinful. In 1963 “Yes, but…” equivocations about freedom of speech were being deployed in the letters page of the Times Literary Supplement with worthies such as Victor Gollancz and Edith Sitwell wondering why it was necessary to defend a deplorable book like The Naked Lunch; in 1992 I sat in a courtroom watching a judge make similar comments when grudgingly overturning an obscenity ruling against David Britton’s Lord Horror novel. The same judge then upheld the obscenity charge against Britton & Guidio’s Meng & Ecker comic which he regarded as trashier fare, “luridly bound” and containing “pictures that will be repulsive to right-thinking people”.

So much for old arguments. Jodie Ginsberg at Index on Censorship goes into some detail about the PEN kerfuffle in a piece entitled “I believe in free expression, but…”; Justin EH Smith for Harper’s says:

I heard from [friends and equals] countless variations on the banality that “violence is always wrong.” How did I know that this judgment, though perfectly true in itself, was only a banality, the expression of a sentiment that had little to do with pacifism? By the clockwork predictability of the “but” that always followed.”

Kenan Malik, who writes a great deal about these issues (his new book is The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics) posted a statement from Jo Glanville from English PEN, and a lengthy piece by Leigh Phillips. This affair will rumble on.

• More sinful material: Samuel R. Delany’s Hogg is a novel so transgressive/offensive that it took 26 years to find a publisher. You seldom see any mention of the book when Delany’s work is being discussed, especially in prudish SF circles, but Dennis Cooper’s blog ran a retrospective feature about it this week. Caveat lector. Related: Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany is looking for crowdfunding.

• “[Judy] Oppenheimer relates that Jackson kept a library of over two hundred books on witchcraft, and her interest in the subject was not purely academic.” Martyn Wendell Jones on Shirley Jackson.

The Satyr and Other Tales, a collection by Stephen J. Clark, the title story of which is “inspired by the life and ethos of sorcerer and artist Austin Osman Spare”.

• Mixes of the week: Bacchus Beltane 2: The Mists of Avalon by The Ephemeral Man, and The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. VI by David Colohan.

Boy and his SIR: BDSM and the Queer Family, a photo series by Kevin Warth, and Xteriors II, a photo series by Desiree Dolron.

• The Quest for Stenbock: David Tibet talks to Strange Flowers about his obsession with the eccentric Count.

Dark Star: HR Giger’s World is a documentary about the artist by Belinda Sallin.

1 in 3 Impressions, a free EP of Moog music by M. Geddes Gengras.

The rise and fall of the codpiece

Blade Runner Reality

Some Weird Sin (1977) by Iggy Pop | Sin In My Heart (1981) by Siouxsie and The Banshees | It’s A Sin (1987) by Pet Shop Boys

The Last Angel of History: Afrofuturism, science fiction and electronic music

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There’s been a resurgence of interest recently in Afrofuturism (see this recent newspaper article, and this site), not before time when the term has been around since 1993. The concept itself goes back a long way, at least as far as the remarkable body of work produced by Sun Ra (1914–1993) whose vast discography dates from 1956 and has to be considered the first concerted attempt to craft an expansive cosmic/futuristic mythos in music.

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Sun Ra and his Arkestra make fleeting appearances in The Last Angel of History (1997), a 45-minute documentary by John Akomfrah which looks at Afrofuturism via its manifestations in fiction, contemporary music, and in space travel. The connecting tissue is a somewhat dated bit of cyperpunk fluff but it’s worth sticking around for the cast of interviewees. On the musical side there’s George Clinton, Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, DJ Spooky, Goldie, and A Guy Called Gerald; on the writing side there’s Ishmael Reed (whose early novels would have been published by my colleagues at Savoy Books if the company hadn’t gone bust in the early 80s), Samuel R. Delany (Savoy did publish one of his novels), Octavia Butler, Kodwo Eshun and Greg Tate; Nichelle Nichols has a chance to talk about something other than Star Trek for once since she helped with NASA’s recruitment programme. There’s also Bernard A. Harris Jr, one of the first African-Americans in space. The techno-fetishism seems overheated now that we’ve all calmed down about computers and the internet but that doesn’t negate the important points: sf as a reflection of the present moment, and as a means to imagine a different situation or way of life. With 2014 being Sun Ra’s centenary year I’m anticipating a lot more of this.

The Last Angel of History: part 1 | part 2 | part 3

Previously on { feuilleton }
Rammellzee RIP

Weekend links 51

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James Bidgood’s luscious and erotic micro-budget masterpiece Pink Narcissus (1971) receives a screening at the IFC Center Queer/Art/Film festival, NYC, on Monday. The film is presented by Jonathan Katz, curator of the Hide/Seek gay art show whose controversial history was recounted here in December. The NYT ran a short piece about Bidgood, now 77 and not the first artist to be disappointed by his past work; they also have a Bidgood slideshow. Hide/Seek, meanwhile, is now a touring exhibition.

• Related: the delightful Drew Daniel of Matmos (and Soft Pink Truth) posing in a jockstrap at the Club Uranus, San Francisco circa 1990; he also used to go-go dance wearing a fish.

• The Isle of Man may have one of the oldest parliaments in the world but its laws have often been out of step with its neighbour across the Irish Sea. This week the island joined the rest of the UK in granting civil partnerships to its citizens. Now the name whose punning appeal so delighted James Joyce doesn’t seem as inappropriate.

Howard Jacobson: “The novelist Yukio Mishima posed pointing a Samurai sword to his chest and ultimately had himself beheaded in public. This is what’s called taking your art seriously.”

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The Realm of the Queen of the Night (1974) by Wolfgang Hutter from Zauberflote at 50 Watts.

The revelatory operations of the chance encounter lie at the heart of le merveilleux (“the marvelous”)—the Surrealist conception of beauty. You find something marvelous in the world (an object, an image, a person, a place) that corresponds, like a piece clicking into a puzzle, to a deep inner need.

Slicing Open the Eyeball: Rick Poynor on Surrealism and the Visual Unconscious by Mark Dery.

Boy from the Boroughs: Alan Moore interviewed by Pádraig Ó Méalóid; Michael Moorcock interviewed at Suicide Girls.

• Illustrations from Quark, the anthology of speculative fiction edited by Samuel Delany & Marilyn Hacker in 1970.

The Residents, sans masks, filmed at their San Francisco home in the 1970s.

• Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor played on a glass harp.

What art can do for science (and vice versa).

• You can never have too much Virgil Finlay.

• Lydia Kiesling reviews Lolita.

Alain Resnais film posters.

Red Mug, Blue Linen.

No GDM (dub version) (1979) by Gina X | L. Voag’s Kitchen (2004) by Soft Pink Truth.

Weekend links 9

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Own a copy of Arthur #7 (October 2003) with my swirling cover pic featuring cosmic jazz maestro Sun Ra. Lots of good stuff inside, details here.

Spinetingler Magazine announced their nominees the 2010 Spinetingler Award this week. Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch is one of the titles in the Best Novel category while my cover for Jeff’s book is in the Best Cover category.

• A Journey Round My Skull posted the results of the Raymond Roussel illustration contest. Entrants were asked to read Roussel’s story Bertha, The Child-Flower then create a picture based on that.

Has Dottie got legs? The New Criterion on the poetry of Dorothy Parker.

• The gays: Fuck Yeah Hot Weird Guys, more from the Tumblr hall of mirrors; Simon Callow reviews Gay Icons Through the Ages by Tom Ambrose; Wessel + O’Connor Fine Art is open again with a new exhibition at a new location in Lambertville, NJ; some things never change: “Secret tape reveals Tory backing for ban on gays.”

• “Make the inaccessible exciting.” Colin Marshall interviews Chris Bohn, editor of music magazine The Wire.

• More music: Jon Savage’s brief history of Krautrock. The new Soul Jazz compilation, Deutsche Elektronische Musik, is released next week.

Sage of the Apocalypse; Samuel R Delany’s Dhalgren comes to the stage in New York.

• Further Penguin fetishism: “Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain.”

• Yes, they’re out there, the Clients From Hell. For a palliative there’s Herbert W Kapitzki’s elegant poster designs from the 1960s.

• Song of the week: House of Glass (1967) by The Glass Family.