Weekend links 488

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Poster by Zdenek Ziegler for Marketa Lazarová (1966), a film by Frantisek Vlácil.

• I’ve spent the past couple of weeks watching a number of films by Béla Tarr, including his 432-minute masterwork, Sátántangó (1994). The latter was based on a novel by László Krasznahorkai, an author who not only worked with Tarr on the screenplay but helped with several of his other features. So this piece by David Schurman Wallace, about a more recent Krasznahorkai novel, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, arrives at just the right moment.

The Paris Review unlocked its Art of Fiction interview with Italo Calvino. William Weaver and Daniel Pettigrew ask the questions. And at the same site: Ivan Brunetti on the deceptive simplicity of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts.

• Halloween approaches so Sudip Bose suggests 10 pieces of orchestral music to set the mood. I made a similar list of my own in 2011. Related: Adam Scovell on 10 lesser-known folk horror films.

I thought, “When I grow up, I’m going to be in a group making this kind of music.” Slowly and Shirley, I did grow up and found myself in a group but they weren’t making that kind of music. It was a hole of longing in my guts that I needed to fix.

Andy Partridge, aka Sir John Johns, on his love of psychedelic music and the remixed reissue of the Dukes Of Stratosphear catalogue

Faye Lessler on how the Internet Archive is digitizing LPs to preserve generations of audio.

• Photographing the Dark: Allison C. Meier on Nadar’s descent into the Paris Catacombs.

• At Wormwoodiana: Go Back at Once, Robert Aickman‘s unpublished second novel.

• Queen of the Flies: Mica Levi talks to Charlie Bridgen about her soundtrack music.

• At Dangerous Minds: Sex, Nazis, and classical music: Ken Russell’s Lisztomania.

• The first new Ghost Box recording artist of 2020 will be…Paul Weller.

• Mix of the week: There’s No Going Back by The Ephemeral Man.

• The Dead Travel Fast: The Gothic Ballad of Lenore in paint.

Catacombs/Cum Mortuis In Lingua Mortua (1980) by Mussorgsky (George Solti/Chicago SO) | Fade In Hong Kong (1981) by Video Liszt | La Ballade De Lenore (1986) by Shub-Niggurath

Weekend links 243

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Genesia (2011) by Bette Burgoyne.

• “…so I started buying these old gay porn novels, just for the covers and kept on collecting them.” Maitland McDonagh on the underexamined world of gay pulp. McDonagh’s 120 Days Books is reprinting some of these scarce titles. More gay erotica: Plans are afoot to republish Des Grieux, the rare prequel to Teleny or The Reverse of the Medal (1893), a novel often attributed (without much evidence) to Oscar Wilde.

Merricat is the name under which the Turrell Brothers, John & Tom, produce their atmospheric “nacht music”. Albums with titles such as Oneiros, Widdershins and Zerkalo give an idea of the spheres of interest. They also make short films, clips from which may be seen here.

• “Fascists don’t like satire. They don’t like it at all. And they especially don’t enjoy visual satire. Because of its unique power to communicate.” Ralph Steadman talking to Robert Chalmers about recent events.

There is an unexamined commonplace now floating around the social media, which has it that satire derogates its proper function when it stops targeting the powerful, and targets the relatively powerless instead. Theodor Adorno has also been cited here and there with his remarks on satire in the Minima Moralia of 1951, but few have noticed that the account he offers there stands in direct contradiction to the current received wisdom. For Adorno, satire is in its essence wistful and traditionalist. It looks back to something that has been lost, and dismisses the straight-facedness of everyone who attempts, against all evidence, to maintain the illusion that there is anything respect-worthy about the present state of things. It targets not just elected officials, but the yokels who elected them; not just the honcho who runs the saloon, but the sucker who hands over his last possessions at the poker table. There is a need for this: the yokels and the suckers need it most of all. There is redemption in it, and I confess to harboring whatever amount of traditionalism it takes to appreciate this redemptive quality.

Paris, 2015: a lengthy meditation by Justin EH Smith on the responses of left and right to the Charlie Hebdo killings

• “When the surface of the world is so overloaded with competing narratives…there is an understandable impulse to go underground.” Iain Sinclair on the excavation of London.

• More German music: Sinai Desert (1981) and Kailash, Pilgerfahrt Zum Thron Der Götter (no date), two films with music by Popol Vuh.

Kim Fowley: Sins & Secrets of the Silver Sixties. UglyThings Magazine makes available its definitive Fowley interview from 2001.

• More electronica and mix of the week: the FACT guide to the Yellow Magic Orchestra and associates.

• Vegetable-snake Undersea Beings: Allen Ginsberg writes to the Paris Review about LSD in 1966.

• The Edge Question for 2015: What do you think about machines that think?

Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection.

Lake Baikal frozen over

Serial Killer Barbie

NGC 891 (1974) by Edgar Froese | Overture (1974) by Tangerine Dream | PA 701 (1976) by Edgar Froese

Moravagine book covers

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First publication, Grasset, 1926.

I should have liked to open all cages, all zoos, all prisons, all lunatic asylums, see the great wild ones liberated and study the development of an unheard-of kind of human life…

Recent reading was Moravagine (1926) by Blaise Cendrars, a novel that resists easy summary. It’s a Modernist work to some extent although the prose (a good translation from the French by Alan Brown) is never unorthodox in style; it’s also scabrous, amoral, misogynist and deeply misanthropic. The narrative is a picaresque affair narrated by a young doctor who frees the mysterious Moravagine from an asylum where he’s been imprisoned for many years. “Moravagine” is an adopted name whose origin and meaning is never addressed, although a French reader would find a rather unavoidable pun on “death by vagina”. Moravagine himself is an otherwise unnamed member of the Hungarian royal family, a dwarfish intellectual psychopath with a bad leg who goes on the run with the doctor, first to pre-revolutionary Russia, then to the United States and South America.

Reviewers have compared the book to Beckett, Céline and Burroughs although it’s much lighter reading than the first two, and the prose is more coherent than Burroughs in cut-up mode. Since we’ve been hearing a lot about the First World War this year it’s tempting to read the book as a kind of Dadaist reaction to Cendrars’ own experiences in the war, even though the entirety of the conflict is dispensed with in two pages. Cendrars appears as a character in the later chapters; he lost an arm in the war so he has his narrator lose a leg while Moravagine loses his reason altogether. At the end of the book he’s found imprisoned in another asylum where he believes he’s an inhabitant of the planet Mars, and where he spends his last months writing a huge, apocalyptic account of how the world will be in the year 2013.

All this, of course, presents a challenge for a cover designer. I have two Penguin editions, both with very different covers, neither of them unsuitable. Curiosity impelled me to see how the book has been treated since 1926. There aren’t many editions but their difference shows the difficulty of trying to encapsulate the contents of this strange novel in a graphic form. The selection here has avoided text-only treatments in favours of those using some form of illustration.

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Le Livre de Poche, 1957.

In an early chapter Moravagine describes fleeing the imperial household by strapping himself to a horse. Without knowing this narrative detail the painting here seems bizarrely arbitrary.

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Editora Ulisseia, Portugal, 1966.

The horses again, with Moravagine strapped underneath one of them. I’d guess the illustrators of these two books didn’t read very far.

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First UK edition, Peter Owen, 1968.

Peter Owen commissioned the first English translation which is still in use today.

Continue reading “Moravagine book covers”

Weekend links 113

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Wunderkammer (2011) by Emma Leonard.

As someone who was eight years old at the time of the Apollo moon landing, I remember calculating that I would be thirty-nine in the magic year 2000 and wondering what the world would be like. Did I expect I would be living in such a world of wonders? Of course. Everyone did. Do I feel cheated now? It seemed unlikely that I’d live to see all the things I was reading about in science fiction, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t see any of them.

A quote from Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit, an essay by David Graeber. Related: Another World: David Graeber interviewed by Michelle Kuo at Artforum.

Constellation, a series of portraits by Kumi Yamashita: “This body of work consists of three simple materials that, when combined, produce the portraits: a wooden panel painted a solid white, thousands of small galvanized nails, and a single, unbroken, common sewing thread.”

Nicole Rudick at The Paris Review on the history of psychedelic art. Related: The psychedelic art and design of Keiichi Tanaami. Also Manifesting the Mind: Footprints of the Shaman, a two-hour documentary about psychedelic drugs.

• Already mentioned here, The Lost Tapes, a 3-CD collection of previously unreleased recording by the mighty Can, is out on Monday. There’s a preview of ten of the tracks here.

• “I can’t think of anybody who would have a good word to say for centipedes…” Duncan Fallowell (a Can associate for many years) interviewed William Burroughs in 1982.

Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer and the Herb Lubalin Study Center’s Flickr sets.

Strange Flowers goes to the movies with everyone’s favourite Bavarian king, Ludwig II.

The Sphinx’s Riddle: The Art of Leonor Fini at the Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco.

• More Teutonica: A Spacemusic Primer by Dave Maier.

Van Dyke Parks: return of a musical maverick.

Forty Posters for Forty Years at Pentagram.

Donovan’s Colours (1968) by Van Dyke Parks | Sailin’ Shoes (1972) by Van Dyke Parks | Clang Of The Yankee Reaper (1975) by Van Dyke Parks.

Weekend links 17

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Aladdin Sane (1973). Cover photo by Brian Duffy who died this week.

• Among the obituaries this week: artist Louise Bourgeois; poet and partner of Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky; film director Joseph Strick, a man who dared to film James Joyce’s Ulysses; photographer Brian Duffy.

The dustbin of art history: “Why is so much contemporary art awful? We’re living through the death throes of the modernist project—and this isn’t the first time that greatness has collapsed into decadence.” Admirable sentiments but galleries and dealers have far too much invested in the corrupt edifice to let it collapse any time soon.

• Edinburgh film festival to screen ‘lost and forgotten’ British movies including the director’s cut of Jerry Cornelius film The Final Programme.

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Delectable Bawdville burlesque boy Chris “Go-Go” Harder. Via EVB who have more pics.

Homobody by Rio Safari, “a scrappy diy zine about queerness”. Obliquely related: Lizzy the Lezzie, animations at the Sundance Channel.

• Richard Norris aka Time and Space Machine puts together a psychedelic mixtape for FACT. Fab stuff.

• Diamanda Galás has a message for critics: “Stick to reviewing plant life and leave the Witches alone.”

Brion Gysin: Dream Machine will be the first US survey of Gysin’s work in NYC next month.

• Geeta Dayal’s study of Another Green World by Brian Eno reviewed at Ballardian.

• For type-heads: font anatomy wallpaper by Sigurdur Armannsson.

If it was my home: visualising the BP oil disaster.

Antony Gormley’s Breathing Room III.

The Paris Review has a new blog.

• Bizarre juxtaposition of the week: John Martyn’s sublime Small Hours with, er… The Clangers.