Weekend links 438

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Seishu Hanaoka’s Wife (1970) by Awazu Kiyoshi.

Hoodoo, Conjuration, Witchcraft & Rootwork: a colossal new addition to the Internet Archive, being a 5-volume, 4766-page collection of folkloric material gathered by Harry Middleton Hyatt in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia between 1936 and 1940.

• Edward Gorey is the theme du jour, so here’s some more: Gorey’s 1977 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show is revelatory, especially if you’ve never seen him talking before. Meanwhile, Laughing Squid has a previously unpublished interview in which Gorey discusses his love for his disruptive cats.

• Jeff Nuttall’s mid-century survey of the aesthetic underground, Bomb Culture, receives a fiftieth anniversary republication by Strange Attractor. The new edition is edited by Douglas Field and Jay Jeff Jones, with a foreword by Iain Sinclair and an afterword by Maria Fusco.

I have always questioned identity politics with my work. I often have characters that engage in homosexual sex but do not identify as gay (hustlers, neo-Nazi skinheads, extreme left wing revolutionaries, gerontophiles, etc.). But my films have also always been inclusive in terms of race, class, and gender. I find that the new emphasis on identity politics has really narrowed creative expression. It demonstrates a profound ignorance about sexuality, history, and human experience.

My sexual identity is pretty much fixed—I’m a Kinsey 6, if not a 7—but I acknowledge that this means I’m sexually repressed. I believe, after Freud, that everyone has some bisexual potential, and the tendency to increasingly entrench gender identity as innate and immutable is really preposterous. It also leads to strict rules about sexual representation—how gays, lesbians and transgender people “must” be portrayed, the policing of representation, a kind of proprietary stance about who is allowed to portray these characters.

It really boils down to a naivety about sexuality, and a complete failure of the imagination. It discourages people who may have the potential for some kind of sexual fluidity to express themselves. I’ve always been a “bad gay,” but now this political correctness has made me feel even more alienated from the notion of “gay identity”—particularly since the new assimilationist model is so conservative and dull.

Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce discussing art, porn and politics with Hoçâ Cové Mbede

• “Who is Barbara Baranowska? Despite the so-called Polish Poster School’s fame, certain people were seemingly forgotten. Perhaps they even wanted it that way…” Daniel Bird on an elusive artist. Related: Selected works by Barbara Baranowska.

• “I don’t think I’m ever mean-spirited and I try to understand human behaviour even though it’s impossible,” says John Waters.

Nine Dimensional Synod Of Oblique Pleasures is a very welcome new release by The Wyrding Module.

Galerie Dennis Cooper presents…The Resplendent Illegibility of Extreme Metal Logos.

Apocalypse Burlesque — Tales of Doomsday Eros: a new book by Supervert.

Rare booksellers rallied against an Amazon-owned company and won.

B. Alexandra Szerlip on the 80-year history of the ballpoint pen.

Anjelica Huston: how we made The Addams Family.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 270 by Okkre.

The Cabinet of the Quay Brothers

Hoodoo Man Blues (1965) by Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band | Evil Hoodoo (1966) by The Seeds | I Been Hoodood (1973) by Dr John

Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Four

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LIFE, September 9th, 1966. Photo by Yale Joel.

Continuing the psychedelic mega-mix based on Jon Savage’s list of “100 mind-expanding masterpieces” (see this post). The fourth of the six mixes is the first visit to the USA, with songs from the years 1965 to 1967 arranged in mostly chronological order. As before, the selections from the Savage 100 are in bold, and I’ve added notes about my additions or amendments.

US psychedelia differs from the UK variety in its origins—there’s often a country or folk influence where British bands tended to be working from a background of R&B—and in the political reality that lurks underneath the spaced-out sentiments. UK psychedelia can be whimsical to a degree that tips into childishness, the stakes are often nothing more serious than the risk of being busted for illicit drug use; America was a nation at war overseas and at home, with riots and assassinations forming a backdrop to many of these songs. Kaleidoscope’s Keep Your Mind Open sounds like it might be a typical plea for freer thinking but the lyrics address the war in Vietnam, and the song fades out to the sounds of gunfire.

US Psychedelia, Part One by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Radio ad — Psych Out
The Byrds — Eight Miles High (first version)
The Charlatans — Alabama Bound
Jefferson Airplane — Blues From An Airplane
Country Joe & The Fish — Section 43
Great SocietySomeone To Love
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band — Electricity
Oxford Circle — Foolish Woman
The Vejtables — Feel The Music
The 13th Floor Elevators — Slip Inside This House (The Savage 100 has Roller Coaster but I got hooked on the momentum of this one—which is actually from 1968—via a compilation.)
The Count Five — Psychotic Reaction
The Magic Mushrooms — It’s-A-Happening (One of the outstanding numbers on the original Nuggets compilation.)
The Sons Of Adam — Feathered Fish
Love — 7 & 7 Is
The Beach Boys — Good Vibrations
Sopwith Camel — Frantic Desolation
The Doors — Crystal Ship
The Seeds — Mr. Farmer
Kaleidoscope (US) — Keep Your Mind Open
Radio ad — Vox Wah-Wah Pedal
The Electric Prunes — I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (Savage has Get Me To The World On Time but this is one of my favourite psych songs of all.)
Mystery Trend — Johnny Was A Good Boy
The Moving Sidewalks — 99th Floor (The first single by a band featuring ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.)
Moby Grape — Omaha

Previously on { feuilleton }
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Three
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Two
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part One
What Is A Happening?
My White Bicycle
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
Tomorrow Never Knows
The Dukes declare it’s 25 O’Clock!
A splendid time is guaranteed for all

Weekend links 194

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Untitled glass sculpture by Richard Roberts.

Lord Horror: Reverbstorm, my collaboration with David Britton, makes The Quietus list of Literary Highlights of 2013. At the same site there’s Russell Cuzner talking to English Heretic. “His methodology takes in magick, psychogeography and horror film geekdom, along with firm roots in Britain’s industrial music culture of the early 1980s, to form potent, novel topographies of an otherwise unconnected world of occultists and psychopaths.”

• A slew of London links this week: Geoff Manaugh on how the capital was redesigned to survive wartime blackouts, a piece which inadvertently explains why you see so much black-and-white street furniture in post-war films | Bob Mazzer’s photos of the London Underground in the 1970s and 1980s | Philipp Ebeling’s photos of the capital and its inhabitants today.

• “Science has become an international bully. Nowhere is its bullying more outrageous than in its assault on the phenomenon known as subjectivity.” David Gelernter on “The Closing of the Scientific Mind”. Related: “When Science Becomes Scientism” by Stanislav Grof.

• My favourite book about Orson Welles is This is Orson Welles (1992), a collection of Peter Bogdanovich’s interviews with Welles edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum. Bogdanovich’s interview tapes can now be heard at the Internet Archive.

• Brian Dillon on Dada collagist Hannah Höch who he calls “art’s original punk”, and Sean O’Hagan talking to another collage artist, Linder Sterling, who says “Lady Gaga didn’t acknowledge I wore a meat dress first”.

• One Hundred Years Of Weird Fear: Daniel José Older on HP Lovecraft’s literature of genealogical terror. More fear (and Lovecraft): Will Wiles on the growth of Creepypasta.

The Last Alan Moore Interview? A lengthy discussion with Pádraig Ó Méalóid. Shunning interviews hasn’t done Cormac McCarthy any harm so if I was Alan I wouldn’t worry.

• And speaking of Cormac McCarthy, the headline of the week: “Cormac McCarthy’s ex-wife busted after pulling gun from vagina during alien argument“.

• Where the bodies are buried: Mick Brown presents a potted biography of Kenneth Anger who offers a few reluctant quotes.

• A short animation for gore-obsessed kids: Pingu’s The Thing by Lee Hardcastle.

Helen Yentus designs a 3D-printed slipcase for a novel by Chang-rae Lee.

Ralph Steadman‘s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 103 by Lustmord.

Collage art at Pinterest.

No Escape (1966) by The Seeds | Pushin’ Too Hard (1966) by The Seeds | No Escape (1979) by Cabaret Voltaire | Pushin’ Too Hard (1982) by Paul Parker

Joseph Balthazar Silvestre’s Alphabet-album

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Monsieur Silvestre’s Alphabet-album, a collection of decorative alphabets, has a lengthy subtitle—Collection de Soixante Feuilles d’Alphabets Historiés et Fleuronnés, tirés des Principales Bibliothèques de l’Europe—and is a good example of how the 19th century, always characterised as a period of over-elaborate decoration, contains the seeds of 20th-century design. Silvestre’s book dates from 1843 yet contains several examples of sans serif or rectilinear lettering which wouldn’t have looked out of place a hundred years later. There’s also some fine examples of over-elaborate lettering, of course, with the usual embellishments and calligraphic flourishes, and also a page of letterforms based on tree shapes, a common sight in Victorian graphics.

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Continue reading “Joseph Balthazar Silvestre’s Alphabet-album”

John Martin: Heaven & Hell

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The Great Day of His Wrath (1851) by John Martin.

I’ve written on a couple of occasions about having been a precocious youth when it came to art appreciation. My first visit to the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) when I was 13 was of my own volition during one of our annual school visits to London. I wanted to see Modern Art (capital M and capital A), and especially my favourite Surrealist and Pop artists. Those works were present, of course, and it was a thrill to discover artists I hadn’t heard of such as Brâncusi and Moholy-Nagy, but the greatest shock came in the room reserved for the enormous canvases filled with apocalyptic scenes by Francis Danby and John Martin.

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The Last Judgement (1853) by John Martin.

Some of these paintings have become more visible over the years, especially Martin’s startling chef-d’oeuvre, The Great Day of His Wrath, which has found a new lease of life decorating various music releases. Yet for a long time these works were never seen in art histories, being dismissed as a kind of religious kitsch, interesting perhaps for their Romantic connections (he also depicted scenes from Milton and Byron) but with Martin regarded as deeply inferior compared to his contemporary JMW Turner. If you only look at painting as being about the surface of the canvas then Martin is inferior to Turner whose nebulous works contain the seeds of Impressionism and much 20th century art. But there’s more to art than the surface. What I saw was an astonishing audacity—this artist had dared to paint the end of the world!—and three deeply strange paintings, two of which feature deliberately confused perspectives which are almost Surrealist in their effect and quite unlike any other work produced in the 19th century.

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The Plains of Heaven (1851) by John Martin.

Well things change, not least critical opinion, and with the emergence in recent years of (for want of a better term) Pop Surrealism, and also the current vogue for crappy disaster movies and apocalyptic chatter, Martin’s paintings have been deemed interesting enough to warrant an exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, which has been the permanent home of other Martin works for many years. The show will run there until June then travel to Sheffield (where I may pay it a visit) and Tate Britain. Of note for Martin enthusiasts will be the emergence from a private collection of the vast and lurid Belshazzar’s Feast, the painting which inspired some of the set designs in DW Griffith’s Intolerance. I once read that if the insanely huge banqueting hall in that picture had been a real construction it would have extended for at least a mile. Visitors to the new exhibition will be able to judge for themselves in close-up. And speaking of close-ups, Google’s Art Project has the three paintings above in their Tate collection; click the pictures for links.

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Belshazzar’s Feast (1820) by John Martin.

Derided painter John Martin makes a dramatic comeback

Previously on { feuilleton }
Darkness visible
Death from above
The apocalyptic art of Francis Danby