Weekend links 530


Kami #58 -bloom- (2019) by Momo Yoshino.

• “Set amid the countryside and the beaches of coastal Sussex, They depicts a world in which plundering bands of philistines prowl England destroying art, books, sculpture, musical instruments and scores, punishing those artistically and intellectually inclined outliers who refuse to abide by this new mob rule.” Lucy Scholes on They: A Sequence of Unease (1977) by Kay Dick, which she calls “a lost dystopian masterpiece”. This is revelatory in a minor way since for years I’ve remembered seeing a slim volume with the title They in a bookshop, and which I later thought might have been a Rudyard Kipling book (there’s a Kipling story with the same title). The timing is right, the sighting would have been in 1977 or 78. The combination of that short, one-word title with a stark cover image and a sinister description on the rear was hard to forget but I didn’t take note of the author’s name. (I also didn’t buy the book, opting instead for some inferior work.) A shame that it seems to be resolutely out of print.

• “The threat to civil liberties goes way beyond ‘cancel culture’,” says Leigh Phillips. It makes a change seeing this coming from Jacobin when so much of the left today can find nothing wrong with censorship so long as it’s in a good cause. (Every censor that ever lived believed they were acting in a good cause, were on “the right side of history”, etc, etc.) The piece includes a dismissal of the increasingly common riposte that “only the state can censor”: this would be news to my colleagues at Savoy Books who endured years of police harassment including the seizure and destruction of printed material; the same with the long history of police action against UK rap artists. Related: “Work that’s cancelled for being ‘of its time’ was probably objected to, at the time.” Dorian Lynskey on chronocentrism and “the narcissism of the present”.

• “Cruising baths, bars, and subway toilets, snorting poppers and ‘fist fucking with 40 guys for 14 hours’ (as he recalled in You Got to Burn to Shine, his 1993 collection of prose and poems), he found meaning in a religion of radical eros whose sacrament was anonymous sex.” Mark Dery reviewing Great Demon Kings: A Memoir of Poetry, Sex, Art, Death, and Enlightenment by John Giorno.

Aubrey Powell says his best photograph is the burning man from the cover of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.

• Mixes of the week: Fact mix 770 by Lyra Pramuk, and mr.K’s Kooky Kuts Vol.4 by radioShirley & mr.K.

• The Alchemical Brothers: Brian Eno & Roger Eno interviewed by Wyndham Wallace.

• Origami-inspired optical illusion oil paintings by Momo Yoshino.

Alexander Larman on the demise of the second-hand bookshop.

• New music: Follow The Road by Yumah, and Röschen by Pole.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Lighting.

• RIP Linda Manz.

My Boyfriend’s Back (1963) by The Angels | Carnival of the Animals, R. 125: VII. The Aquarium (Camille Saint-Saëns) (1975) by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra, Heilbronn with Marylene Dosse & Anne Petit, conducted by Jörg Faerber | Kill All Hippies (2000) by Primal Scream

4 thoughts on “Weekend links 530”

  1. Apparently no one has digitized “They: A Sequence of Unease” and made it available. According to the WorldCat, only university libraries and their ilk own copies; I don’t know what would be entailed if one wanted to read it at one of them. Most likely one would have to somehow prove themselves to be “legitimate” (i.e. academic) researchers. Then sign agreements to not duplicate or distribute. An alternative would be to find a book collector who owns it and would allow you to read it. It’s too bad, as what I read of this book seems eerily reminiscent of exactly what’s going on in the present day, and very much hinting at what the future might be like if certain politicians win re-election.

    I surely would like to read this book.

  2. I’d like to read They as well now that I’ve had the mystery of its identity solved after all this time. I’m hoping that Lucy Scholes’ article may prompt a publisher to take notice and consider a new edition.

  3. Hi John,
    The idea that the ‘left’ supports censorship is nonsense. It’s a victim card played by people upset at having their golliwog tea towels called racist. People just won’t accept the same level of casual bigotry in our culture.
    I have no idea why Savoy would disagree about state censorship – are you claiming the police aren’t the enforcers of the state’s views? Britton and Butterworth were literally prosecuted by The Crown!
    Do you genuinely believe James Anderton was part of the ‘Woke Stasi’?
    Sorry, I just can’t let this sort of thinking pass, there is too much at stake.
    All the best,

  4. Balthus paintings aren’t golliwog tea towels: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/08/nyregion/we-need-to-talk-about-balthus.html

    The harassment of Savoy had two stages: in the first they were caught up in Anderton’s anti-pornography purges of the late 70s and early 80s which were exclusive to Manchester. These raids weren’t only on the few sex shops but on general newsagents who were selling soft-porn titles such as Penthouse that were freely available nationwide. Savoy prompted special attention because they were publishers as well as shop-owners, and had published two erotic titles: Tides of Lust by Samuel Delany, and The Gas by Charles Platt. David Britton’s first prison conviction wasn’t for any of these but for having on sale four paperback books, erotic potboilers not photo magazines, which he’d bought from one of the remainder shops in London. The Inside Linda Lovelace trial several years earlier was supposed to have established that paperback erotica couldn’t be deemed obscene material but this meant nothing in Manchester. No other police force in the country was behaving like this, it was Anderton’s moral crusade.

    The second phase of harassment began when Savoy published Britton’s Lord Horror novel which featured a police chief “Appleton” talking about Jews the way Anderton had talked in the press about gay men “swimming in their own filth”. The first Meng & Ecker comic followed soon after which had Meng on the cover holding Anderton’s decapitated head. The police raided the shops and offices again almost immediately, and continued to do so for several years. One of the subsequent trials contesting the destruction of seized material was refused a jury because the magistrate refused to accept that Savoy were a serious publisher, despite their having published books by Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison, et al, with print runs of 25,000 each. The magistrate’s position contravened an assurance given by the government that drew up the obscenity law of the time that publishers would be allowed trial by jury in such cases. In other words, an assurance by the state that the law wouldn’t be used to override works of demonstrable artistic worth. This isn’t secondhand information: I was one of the defence witnesses, and was told that a comic I’d spent a year drawing had no artistic value.

    The logic that says the police (and magistrates) never act alone in bending or breaking the law because they’re vindictive, ignorant, racist, whatever, not only excuses the above but absolves the police every time someone dies in custody or when “resisting arrest”.

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