Weekend links 148


Quantum Entanglement by Duda Lanna.

An hour-long electronica mix (with the Düül rocking out at the end) by Chris Carter for Ninja Tune’s Solid Steel Radio Show.

• “…a clothes-optional Rosicrucian jamboree.”: Strange Flowers on the paintings of Elisàr von Kupffer.

• A Paste review of volume 2 of The Graphic Canon has some favourable words for my contribution.

It is an entertaining thought to remember that Orlando, all sex-change, cross-dressing and transgressive desire, appeared in the same year as Radclyffe Hall’s sapphic romance The Well of Loneliness. The two novels are different solar systems. The Well is gloomy, beaten, defensive, where women who love women have only suffering and misunderstanding in their lonely lives. The theme is as depressing as the writing, which is terrible. Orlando is a joyful and passionate declaration of love as life, regardless of gender. The Well was banned and declared obscene. Orlando became a bestseller.

Jeanette Winterson on Virginia Woolf’s androgynous fantasia.

Jim Jupp discovers the mystical novels of Charles Williams.

Michael Andre-Driussi on The Politics of Roadside Picnic.

Les Softs Machines: 25 August 1968, Ce Soir On Danse.

• At 50 Watts: Illustrations and comics by Pierre Ferrero.

Soviet posters: 1469 examples at Flickr.

Oliver Sacks on drugs (again).

• At Pinterest: Altered States.

• Farewell, Kevin Ayers.

Darkest London

Why Are We Sleeping? (1969) by The Soft Machine | Lady Rachel (1969) by Kevin Ayers | Decadence (1973) by Kevin Ayers

Le Baiser de Narcisse


We have the French gay culture site Bibliothèque Gay to thank for posting illustrations by Ernest Brisset from Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen’s rare volume of homoerotic fiction, Le baiser de Narcisse (The Kiss of Narcissus). The book was originally published in 1907 but it was a new edition in 1912 which came embellished with Brisset’s Classical drawings and decorations. If these lack a degree of eros it should be noted that the text would have been condemned as outright pornography in the Britain of 1912, a paean to youthful male beauty which lingers over details of a boy’s “polished hips” and his “round and firm sex like a fruit”. As is usual with homoerotics of this period, the Classical setting and allusion to Greek myth provides the vaguest excuse for the subtext even though prudes of the time weren’t remotely fooled by this, as Oscar Wilde discovered.


Among other works by Fersen there’s a decadent roman à clef, Lord Lyllian: Black Masses (1905), which I’ve been intent on reading since it was translated into English a couple of years ago. Here Fersen provides us with yet another fictional extrapolation of Oscar Wilde who the author gifts with some of his own scandalous history. Fersen had been driven from France following a public outrage involving the “Black Masses” of the novel’s title, and the alleged debauching of Parisian schoolboys.


Nino Cesarini by Paul Höcker (1904).

Fersen settled in Capri with his partner Nino Cesarini where they spent some years reinforcing the reputation of that island (not for nothing is Noël Coward’s camp and catty character in Boom! named “the Witch of Capri”), and proselytising for the Uranian cause with a literary journal, Akademos, modelled on Adolf Brand’s Der Eigene. Fersen’s later life is reminiscent of that of Elisar von Kupffer, a wealthy contemporary who created a secluded homoerotic paradise of his own, the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion. Unlike Kupffer, however, Fersen ended his days prematurely in a haze of opium and cocaine. As for Ernest Brisset, if anyone finds other work of his online, please leave a comment.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reflections of Narcissus

Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion


The Clear World of the Blessed Souls (detail).

Once again the web proves beneficial in showing you something you didn’t expect to find. The Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion was the grandiose name given by Elisar von Kupffer (1872–1942) aka Elisarion to his art-filled villa at Lake Maggiore which he shared with his partner Eduard von Mayer. Kupffer was an artist, writer, historian and another of those rare pioneering gay men who used their position and their work to proselytise for social tolerance of same-sex attraction.


The Clear World of the Blessed Souls (detail).

Kupffer and Mayer’s Sanctuarium is documented at this site (Italian and German language only) with details of the artist’s paintings and the villa’s extraordinary mural, The Clear World of the Blessed Souls, which depicts a luscious homoerotic paradise. Also present are a few of the photos Kupffer used as a basis for his paintings (below). The mural title refers to Klarismus (Clarity), apparently the name of Kupffer and Mayer’s spiritual philosophy and a creed which evidently involves lots of naked boys. Where do I sign up?


Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Sascha Schneider, 1870–1927
The art of Andrey Avinoff, 1884–1949