White Peacock and Garden God (c. 1922) by Henry Keen.
• “Though both writers confront some of the most unsavory and unjust dimensions of human life, Genet revels in moral ambiguity and coarse language, while Erpenbeck satisfies her audience’s desire for tidy ethical responses by using careful, equally tidy sentences. Genet’s world is dirty; Erpenbeck’s is clean.” Christy Wampole compares two newly-translated collections of non-fiction writing by Jean Genet and Jenny Erpenbeck.
• Gaspar Noé’s notorious, controversial (etc, etc) Irreversible receives the prestige blu-ray treatment from Indicator in April. Still no UK blu-ray of Enter the Void is there? I had to order a German release.
• Stereolab release Electrically Possessed: Switched On Vol. 4 next month, the latest in their series of albums which collect singles, compilation tracks and other rarities.
• At Nautilus: Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold on how dreaming is like taking LSD.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Bollo presents…Éliane Radigue (& The Lappetites).
• Playwriting & Pornography: Adam Baran remembers Jerry Douglas.
• At Spine: Vyki Hendy on the joy of monochrome book covers.
• Mix of the week: Subterraneans 2 by The Ephemeral Man.
• John Boardley’s favourite typefaces of 2020.
• New music: Spirit Box by Blanc Sceol.
• Life In Reverse (1981) by Marine | Reverse World (1995) by David Toop | Reverse Bubble (2014) by Air
Bystander #16 (2016) by Mari Katayama.
• “In her prickly, misanthropic stories, her obsession with obsession is on display, big feelings and bad habits redirected to gruesome ends.” Carmen Maria Machado on the brilliance, difficulty and eccentricities of Patricia Highsmith who was born on 19th January, 1921. This reminds me that I have an unread copy of Highsmith’s The Two Faces of January that I ought to move to the reading pile.
• Saint Laurent—Summer of ’21: Gaspar Noé’s new promo for the fashion house features Charlotte Rampling and a group of models in a vaguely Argento-like scenario that’s all crimson light, sumptuous decor and a creditable cover of I Feel Love by SebastiAn.
• I’ve been listening to a lot of Magma recently so this is timely: all three of the live Retrospektïw albums from 1980 gathered together for the first time in a single package and with a bonus recording.
• At Spine: Vyki Hendy collects some recent book covers that use optical illusions (or negative space) to catch the attention. Tangentially related: William Hogarth’s Satire on False Perspective (1754).
• RIP David Larkin, art director at Granada and Pan who also edited one of my favourite series of art books.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Crop Encircled Boy presents…Alejandro Jodorowsky Day.
• Mix of the week: Subterraneans 1, a Bowie mix by The Ephemeral Man.
• At Wormwoodiana: A Secret Book of Ghost Stories.
• “Reality is plasticine,” says Eloghosa Osunde.
• Cats On Synthesizers In Space
• Subterraneans (1993) by Philip Glass | The Subterranean (1994) by Soma | Subterranean Lakes (2018) by Pye Corner Audio
The Aurora Borealis by Charles H. Whymper.
• “In 1829, when the celebrated Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai was almost 70 years old, he created more than 100 drawings of a dazzling array of subjects: playful cats, serene landscapes, even severed heads. Hokusai’s fame continued to grow after his death in 1849, and the suite of small, elaborate drawings was last purchased a century later, at a Paris auction in 1948. Then it disappeared from the public eye.” The British Museum now has the drawings which may be seen here.
• The week in cover design: Emily Temple compares US and UK covers for the same books, while Vyki Hendy collects recent titles with objects as the main feature of the cover designs. One of my recent covers (which will appear here soon) is less minimal than these but also features an arrangement of objects.
• The compilation experts at Light In The Attic Records have put together another collection of obscure Japanese music. Somewhere Between: Mutant Pop, Electronic Minimalism & Shadow Sounds Of Japan 1980–1988 will be released in January.
“A Jamesian world is one of cursed artefacts, endlessly subsuming landscapes, forgotten manuscripts and tactile beings that punish the curious and intellectually arrogant.” Adam Scovell visits the grave of MR James.
• Dragons and Unicorns: John Boardley on the lost art of the Hieroglyphic Bible.
• I almost missed John Waters’ favourite films of the year.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Sade’s Castle, Cardin’s House.
• Northern lights photographer of the year.
• Aurora Hominis (1970) by Beaver & Krause | Aurora (1971) by Tonto’s Expanding Head Band | Soft Aurora (1979) by Tod Dockstader