Weekend links 34


Halloween in Austin, Texas this year will look and sound like this.

• “Blade Runner will prove invincible“: Philip K Dick’s letter of praise to the film’s producers. Related: one of the Blade Runner designers, Syd Mead, has recently styled New York’s Bar Basque and Foodparc.

• “I decided to go into fields where mathematicians would never go because the problems were badly stated…I have played a strange role that none of my students dare to take.” RIP Benoît Mandelbrot.

Science and poetry: “a richly vexed topic badly in need of rethinking”. Related: Why the Singularity isn’t going to happen.

• In case you missed this week’s earlier announcement, a reminder that I was interviewed at Coilhouse. My vanity: it knows no bounds.

• Franklin Booth’s illustrations for The Flying Islands of the Night (1913) by James Whitcomb Riley.

On the Verge (1950) by Maurice Sandoz, illustrated by Salvador Dalí. Also this and this.


Bowie Sphinx, 1969. Photo by Brian Ward.

The Laughing Gnostic: David Bowie and the Occult.

• “Moonlighting as a Conjurer of Chemicals“: Isaac Newton’s alchemical interests.

• “A sense of otherness that goes right back“: Alan Garner at Alderley Edge.

Jimmy’s End—Alan Moore’s new feature film and spin-off TV series.

A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain by Owen Hatherley.

• The It Gets Better Project now has a dedicated website.

Quicksand (1971) by David Bowie.

4 thoughts on “Weekend links 34”

  1. “Vanity? Pah!” Evan scoffed.

    You work hard, you’re talented, and you deserve to have your words and images read and seen. Self promotion is never vain when you freelance.

    Go, John, go!

  2. Seconded!

    Goddamn John how the hell do you have time to produce this wonderful website AND maintain what must be a busy work schedule? You’re like one of Ballard’s characters who has been altered so that he doesn’t need to sleep right?

    Anyway another weekend of audio-visual-literary wonderment. Much appreciated.

    Is it possible to dissent about the relative greatness of BLADE RUNNER? I’m glad Dick was pleased and I can certainly see from a visual/conceptual standpoint why the movie has been so influential.

    But I was a Dick fan before the movie and I was disappointed because they excised all the stuff I thought made the book interesting in the first place and turned it into a kind of shoot’em-up.

    I always refer fans who enthuse about BR to LA JETE or Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS but they look at me funny. I suppose we Americans must have our gunplay alas.

  3. Evan: Thanks, put it down to habitual self-deprecation.

    Stephen: These link posts are actually very easy to do since they’re mostly things I’ve noticed and bookmarked during the week.

    Re: Blade Runner, I agree that it lacks an essential feature of Dick’s work, namely the moment when what seems to be reality is turned upside down. And Harrison Ford’s wooden performance also blights the thing. But I value it for its incredible attention to detail and the creation of a fully-realised future that went far beyond anything attempted before. Dick himself recognised as much, as did Norman Spinrad (who once said you never saw enough of the grit and filth of the future). I think of it as a major film in its own right rather than a minor PKD adaptation, just as I’d regard Solaris as another major film, rather than a minor Lem adaptation. And Lem disliked the film of Solaris, he referred to it disparagingly as “Crime and Punishment in space.”

  4. Intrigued by Jimmy’s End, which I’d already seen mentioned in the wake of Alan’s Guildhall talk the other weekend. It’s the name we locals give to St. James’ End, an area that extends West from the train station, on the edge of Alan’s childhood realm. If he sets it there rather than simply riffing on the vaguely sinister name, it’ll be an impressively niche achievement. I know one of the defining tenets of Alan’s psychogeographical work is that any stretch of land will yield wonders if mined diligently enough, but I imagine it’s one thing getting that onto the printed page and another thing getting it into the TV schedules. Fingers crossed.

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