Weekend links 489

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Typhonic Neural Tantra by The Wyrding Module.

• November 2019, as many people have been noting, is the month in which Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner takes place. At Dangerous Minds Paul Gallagher writes about the unrelated William Burroughs script whose title was borrowed for Scott’s film.

• More Ridley Scott (sort of): disco was still a big thing when Alien was in the cinemas 40 years ago, so Kenny Denton reworked Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien score into a disco single which he released under the name Nostromo.

• “The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the most exciting novels ever written and on the other hand is one of the most badly written novels of all time and in any literature.” Umberto Eco on the cult of the imperfect.

• Jonathan Glazer has made a short film, The Fall, for the BBC but the corporation’s restrictions mean that (for the moment) it’s difficult to see if you live outside the UK.

• New albums at Bandcamp: Typhonic Neural Tantra by The Wyrding Module, and Emotional Freedom Techniques by Jon Brooks (aka The Advisory Circle).

• Hawkwind dancer Miss Stacia and the Barney Bubbles estate have made a line of T-shirts based on Barney Bubbles’ Space Ritual design.

Walter Murch and Midge Costin on the art of cinematic sound design.

Ivana Sekularac on the former Yugoslavia’s brutalist beauty.

• Congratulations to Strange Flowers on its 10th anniversary.

Geoff Manaugh on the witch houses of the Hudson Valley.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: 19 experimental horror films.

Fall (1968) by Miles Davis | The Fall (2011) by The Haxan Cloak | Fall (2014) by The Bug (feat. Copeland)

Weekend links 297

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Crimson Metallic Emergent Skull Crystal Pendant by Kristen Phillips aka Floridxfauna.

The Noise-Arch Backup at the Internet Archive is 30GB of mp3s from noise-arch.net, a collection of cassette-based releases and artwork: “material represented includes tape experimentation, industrial, avant-garde, indy, rock, diy, subvertainment and auto-hypnotic materials…” 30GB is an intimidatingly large amount of material so it’s better to browse The Noise-Arch Archive, a selection of 468 releases.

• The week in erotica: Claire Voon on Ancient Erotic Dreams and Explicit Scenes in the New York Public Library Collection; Melanie Porter on Great Grandporn: Hardcore Pornography of the Silent Era; Cathy Camper on The Comics of Dale Lazarov: Illustrated Explorations of Sexual Inventiveness.

Void Beats/Invocation Trex by Cavern of Anti-Matter (Holger Zapf, Joe Dilworth & Tim Gane) was released this week. The opening number is Tardis Cymbals. Tom Furse condensed the 73-minute album into a 17-minute mini-mix.

Indeed, if you had to “place” ­Williams—put him alongside writers with whom he had something in common—it would be with the mystical autodidacts, the backstreet Rosicrucians more than with the pipe-smoking, tweedy Inklings. To that extent, the only unsatisfactory thing about Grevel Lindop’s book is its title. True, Williams went to Oxford when war broke out and became friends with the famous circle around C. S. Lewis. But he was not an Inkling in spirit. He was not at home in Oxford, and his arrival, far from consolidating the Inklings, actually broke them up by bewitching Lewis, and making Lewis neglect the central friendship of his life, that with ­Tolkien. Another scholar of Old English literature, C. L. Wrenn, said that meeting Williams made you realize why inquisitors thought they had the right to burn people. Tolkien agreed: “Williams is eminently combustible.”

Certainly, Williams’s books had an influence on the Inklings. Lindop is right to say that the central plotline of Many Dimensions suggests the story of The Lord of the Rings. In the Williams novel, it is a stone of great power, rather than a ring, but it has the same effect on those who bear it: They become its possession, not its possessor.

AN Wilson reviews Charles Williams: The Third Inkling by Grevel Lindop

• Russ Fischer recommends five films by Andrzej Zulawski (RIP). Possession (1981) is still the easiest to find, and a good place to start. I enthused about On The Silver Globe (1977–87) last year.

England’s Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground by David Keenan has been published in a revised and expanded edition by Strange Attractor.

The Preservation Man (1962): Artist and collector Bruce Lacey (RIP) filmed by Ken Russell for the BBC’s Monitor.

Barry Adamson: “I’ve been called the outsider’s outsider”.

• At Dangerous Minds: Six degrees of Marty Feldman.

• Mix of the week: FACT mix 536 by Not Waving.

• The Alan Clarke page at the BFI shop.

Umberto Eco (RIP): Porta Ludovica

Possessions (1980) by The Residents | Possessed (1992) by The Balanescu Quartet | Possessed (2001) by Sussan Deyhim & Shirin Neshat

Ikarie XB 1

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A science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem (The Magellanic Cloud, 1955).

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Illustration by Teodor Rotrekl.

A film by Jindrich Polák, adapted from Lem’s novel by Polák and Pavel Jurácek. (1963).

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A Second Run DVD (2013).

With the exceptions of Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Stalker (both in a league of their own), I’ve never been very enthused about Eastern Bloc science-fiction cinema. If I hadn’t been watching some Czech films recently, and listening to the soundtrack music of Zdenek Liska, I might not have bothered with this one despite its being promoted as a visual influence on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ikarie XB 1 won the Grand Prize at the Trieste International Science Fiction Film Festival in 1963, a tie with Chris Marker’s La Jetée. (Umberto Eco was one of the judges.) Fifty years on, Marker’s film has hardly dated at all while Ikarie XB 1 seems very much of its time. But Polák’s film still has some things going for it, surprisingly so considering the director was more used to making comedies.

Ikarie XB 1 is a spaceship travelling to Alpha Centauri in the year 2163. The DVD subtitles don’t translate the name Ikarie so unless you already know it means “Icarus” there’s no foreshadowing of any possible threat, at least until the opening shots of a deranged crewman stumbling through empty corridors. Many of the scenes which follow seem over-familiar but only because the scenario of space-crew as interstellar family has become such a standard feature of filmed space opera from Star Trek on. The production design is dated, of course, but the film makes great use of black and white in the lighting patterns, on-screen visuals, clothing designs, etc. It’s easy to see why Kubrick thought it was a cut above other SF films of the period, especially with its widescreen compositions. The DVD booklet (and Kim Newman’s interview on the disc) mention Kubrick’s stylistic borrowings; judge for yourself with these screen-grabs. I was hoping the Liska soundtrack might be more electronic than it is. It’s very much a Liska score—at times you can’t help but imagine a Svankmajer puppet lurking round a corner—but with added reverb and spectral organ chords. The latter assist a sequence where two of the crew members explore an apparently derelict space station.

This page reviews the film in some detail (complete with plot spoilers). For the curious, the entire film is a free download at the Internet Archive.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Fiser and Liska
Two sides of Liska
Liska’s Golem
The Cremator by Juraj Herz

Weekend links 62

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A plate from Tales of the Amur by Dmitry Nagishkin, a 1975 edition illustrated by Gennady Pavlishin.

• The week in Surrealism: Opera of the surreal gives Dalí an encore: Yo, Dalí, a previously unperformed work by Xavier Benguerel, receives its premier in Madrid. Meanwhile Tate Liverpool’s summer exhibition, René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle, is profiled here. “René Magritte has inspired more book covers than any other visual artist,” says James Hall.

If Rimbaud anticipated the Surrealists by decades, Ashbery is said to have gone beyond them and defied even their rules and logic. Yet though nearly 150 years have intervened since Rimbaud’s first declaration of independence, many readers in our own age, too, still prefer a coherence of imagery, a sameness of tone, a readable sequential message, even, ultimately, what amounts to a prose narrative broken into lines.

Lydia Davis on Rimbaud’s Wise Music.

Umberto Eco’s glimpse into the art of the novel | Return to Wonderland: an essay on Lewis Carroll’s world by Alberto Manguel | Heavy sentences by Joseph Epstein: On How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, by Stanley Fish.

And then there’s the mystery of what happened to him for those four months in London when we have no trace of him. Rimbaud mentions Scarborough in “Promontory” and talks about “Hotels, the circular façades of the Royal and the Grand in Scarborough or Brooklyn.” Since there’s that missing period in England, people say he must have gone to Scarborough, and have even checked hotel registers for that period, but as far as I know nobody has ever found anything. Someone even checked railway and train schedules in order to pin him to this real place. I seem to remember a French writer admitting that Rimbaud was never in Brooklyn, but kind of wishfully thinking that he might have been. Which is very funny. “Rimbaud in Brooklyn”: there’s a project for someone.

A Refutation of Common Sense, John Ashberry on translating Rimbaud.

Robert Jeffrey posts a video of his nine-year-old self giving Madge a run for her money in 1991. As Boy Culture puts it: “Anyone who feebly clings to the belief that gay can be prayed away should take a look at this and give up already…” Amen.

• The mathematics of Yog-Sothoth: Richard Elwes on Exotic spheres, or why 4-dimensional space is a crazy place.

For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry by Christopher Smart (1722–1771).

Lesbian pulp fiction, 1935–1978 and Faber 20th century classics.

As The Crow Flies, a new album from The Advisory Circle.

New World Transparent Specimens by Iori Tomita.

79 versions of Gershon Kingley’s Popcorn.

Minor Man (1981) by The League of Gentlemen.