Weekend links 708


Landscape from a Dream (1936–38) by Paul Nash.

• “I was telling a close friend recently, ‘at my funeral, please play this record…’” Yu Su on her love of Laurie Anderson’s second album, Mister Heartbreak.

• “Surrealism is more of an attitude than an art movement,” says Mark Polizzotti, talking about his new book, Why Surrealism Matters.

• New music: Spinning by Julia Holter; The Night Dwells In The Day by Jozef Van Wissem; and The River Of Light And Radiation by Ben Frost.

• The late David J. Skal, author of Hollywood Gothic and others, is remembered at Swan River Press.

• At Colossal: Dizzying gifs by Etienne Jacob infuse mathematical equations into endless loops.

• At Public Domain Review: Charles Rabot’s Arctic photographs (ca. 1881).

• At Unquiet Things, S. Elizabeth says “Help me downsize my library!

Drone footage of the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland.

• Mix of the week is a mix for The Wire by Kavari.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Robert Bresson Day.

Dance On A Volcano (1975) by Genesis | Volcano Diving (1989) by David Van Tieghem | Eye Of The Volcano (2006) by Stereolab

Weekend links 700


Lux in Tenebris (1895) by Evelyn De Morgan.

• “NASA celebrates the worm logo designer, Richard Danne“. Until I read this story (and this one) I wasn’t aware that the NASA logos were known as The Meatball and The Worm.

The Red Shoes: behind the scenes of the classic Powell and Pressburger film – in pictures. Related: Kings of the movies: Martin Scorsese on Powell & Pressburger.

• The 700th weekend post happens to arrive on Alan Moore’s 70th birthday. Many happy returns to the Northampton Magus.

Fundamentally, we face a choice. Either:

• it’s a coincidence that, of all the possible values that the finely tuned constants of physics may have had, they just happen to have the right values for life;


• the constants have those values because they are right for life.

The former option is wildly improbable; on a conservative estimate, the odds of getting finely tuned constants by chance is less than 1 in 10-136. The latter option amounts to a belief that something at the fundamental level of reality is directed towards the emergence of life. I call this kind of fundamental goal-directedness ‘cosmic purpose’.

As a society, we’re somewhat in denial about fine-tuning, because it doesn’t fit with the picture of science we’ve got used to. It’s a bit like in the 16th century when we started getting evidence that our Earth wasn’t in the centre of the universe, and people struggled to accept it because it didn’t fit with the picture of the universe they’d got used to. Nowadays, we scoff at our ancestors’ inability to follow the evidence where it leads. But every generation absorbs a worldview it can’t see beyond. I believe we’re in a similar situation now with respect to the mounting evidence for cosmic purpose. We’re ignoring what is lying in plain view because it doesn’t fit with the version of reality we’ve got used to. Future generations will mock us for our intransigence.

Philip Goff, professor in philosophy at Durham University, making an argument for cosmic purpose

• At Spoon & Tamago: Exploring Japanese Hell through art from the 12th to 19th century.

• New music: Turning The Prism by Ben Frost, and Sanctuary Of Desire by Steve Roach.

• Mix of the week is DreamScenes – November 2023 at Ambientblog.

• DJ Food looks at Tomi Ungerer’s Electric Circus posters.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Alain Resnais Day.

Strange Flowers visits the Villa Stuck.

Diet Of Worms (1979) by This Heat | Opera Of Worms (1981) by Van Kaye & Ignit| Wormhole (2002) by Cliff Martinez

Weekend links 566


The Amida Falls in the Far Reaches of the Kisokaido Road. From the series A Tour of Waterfalls in Various Provinces (c. 1832) by Hokusai.

• New music: In Love With A Ghost by Kevin Richard Martin (aka Kevin Martin, The Bug, etc), a preview from his forthcoming alternative score for Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972). In other hands I’d probably dismiss a further addition to the trend of creating new scores for films that don’t require them. Tarkovsky’s film certainly doesn’t need any new music, and we’ve already had an album-length homage from Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason. But I like Martin’s sombre atmospherics so he gets a pass with this one.

• “[Pauline] Oliveros wrote a piece for the New York Times in 1970 titled And Don’t Call Them Lady Composers, focusing on the difficulties of women being noticed and taken seriously in her field. It’s still online and could have been written yesterday.” Jude Rogers on Sisters With Transistors, a documentary about women in electronic music. Madeleine Siedel interviewed Lisa Rovner, the film’s director. Watch the trailer.

Submissions to the 16th number of Dada journal Maintenant will be open at the beginning of October, 2021, following an announcement of the theme of the new issue in September. All you would-be (or actual) Dadaists out there have the summer to plot your potential contributions.

Our reverence for originals takes an absurdly extreme form in the recent craze for NFTs (non-fungible tokens), where collectors and traders spend huge sums of money on unique ‘ownership’ of a digital artwork that anyone can download for free. Since there’s no such thing as the original of a digital file, the artist can now certify the file as the one and only ‘original copy’, and make a fortune. Time will tell whether this is a transient fad or a new way of establishing the feeling of a relationship to the mind of the digital artist.

But our reverence for originals isn’t universal. Treating the original as special and sacred is a Western attitude. In China and Japan, for example, it’s acceptable to create exact replicas, and these are valued as much as the original—especially because an ancient original might degrade over time, but a new replica will show us how the work looked originally. And, as mentioned, there are studios in China where artists are employed to create fakes. Perhaps our culture teaches us to respond to artworks by inferring the mind behind the art.

“Works of art compel our attention—but can they change us?” asks Ellen Winner

• “What Don basically did here is find a series of one or two bar riffs, or parts, that he liked, have me write them down, and then say, in essence, ‘make something out of this’.” John French (aka Drumbo) recalls the making of Trout Mask Replica.

• From 1988 (and relevant this week because I’m reading a Pynchon novel): Thomas Pynchon’s review of Love in the Time of Cholera.

• Andy Thomas on fusion legend Ryo Kawasaki, pioneer of the synth guitar.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Dimitri Kirsanoff Day.

Gareth Jones’ favourite music.

• RIP Monte Hellman.

The Sea Named “Solaris” (1978) by Tomita | Solaris (2014) by Docetism | Solaris Return (2019) by Jenzeits

Weekend links 473


“Spectra of various light sources, solar, stellar, metallic, gaseous, electric”, print by René Henri Digeon; plate IV in Les phénomènes de la physique (1868).

• More polari: Thom Cuell this time with another review of Fabulosa!: The Story of Polari by Paul Baker. Good as it is to see these articles, one thing they all share is paying tribute to the polari-enriched radio series Round the Horne without crediting its writers, Barry Took and Marty Feldman.

• “…with its conspiracy theories, babbling demagogues and demonised minorities, Bahr’s investigation is sadly all too relevant today.” Antisemitism (1894) by Hermann Bahr, is the latest new translation from Rixdorf Editions.

Isao Tomita in 1978 showing a presenter from NHK around his tiny studio. Japanese-only but the discussion reveals that the words “synthesizer”, “tape recorder” and “mixer” sound the same as they do in English.

Ben Frost talks to Patrick Clarke about his music for German TV series, Dark.

• PYUR composes a guide through limbo with Oratorio For The Underworld.

• Steven Heller on Don Wall’s book design for a Paolo Soleri retrospective.

• Coming soon from Fulgur Press: Ira Cohen: Into the Mylar Chamber.

Will Harris compiles an oral history of Q: The Winged Serpent.

• Mix of the week: a mix for The Wire by Overlook.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Magic Shop Internationale.

Shadow In Twilight by Pram.

The Feathered Serpent Of The Aztecs (1960) by Les Baxter | The Serpent (In Quicksilver) (1981) by Harold Budd | Black Jewelled Serpent Of Sound (1986) by Dukes Of Stratosphear

Weekend links 447


Physical Training for Business Men (1917).

• At Expanding Mind: Erik Davis concludes his discussion with religious scholar Diana Pasulka about anomalous cognition, 2001 monoliths, disclosure, future truths, absurd Christianity, and her book American Cosmic.

• This year the LRB wouldn’t let non-subscribers read Alan Bennett’s 2018 diary but they have a recording of Bennett reading entries here.

• “Glen thought it was very good PR for us to be heavily involved in the druids.” Tom Pinnock talks to the Third Ear Band.

• Rebecca Fasman on the forgotten legacy of gay photographer George Platt Lynes.

• Laura Leavitt on John Cleves Symmes Jr.‘s obsession with a hollow Earth.

• David Parkinson recommends 12 essential Laurel and Hardy films.

• Paul Grimstad on the beautiful mind-bending of Stanislaw Lem.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 277 by Sigillum S.

• The endlessly photogenic Chrysler Building.

Energy Flow by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

195 Gigapixel Shanghai

Solaris: Ocean (1972) by Edward Artemyev | The Sea Named Solaris (1977) by Isao Tomita | Simulacra II (2011) by Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason