Weekend links 671


No. 54 (1915) by Anna Cassel.

• “I called it the treasure hunt: two years of tapes appearing from closets, letters dropping out of attics, persuading a film company to find the rushes of a TV show buried in a warehouse, paying a film director to digitise unused footage and a radio company to surface an old broadcast.” Nick Soulsby on pursuing the ghosts of Coil for his book about the group, Everything Keeps Dissolving.

• “It is likely that af Klint scholarship is on the brink of some radical changes regarding attribution and authorship.” Susan L. Aberth on the researches revealing collaborations between Hilma af Klint and other mystically-inclined women artists. It makes a change reading something about this group that isn’t completely dismissive about the beliefs that informed their work.

• New music: No Highs by Tim Hecker (“a beacon of unease against the deluge of false positive corporate ambient currently in vogue…”), and Seascape–polyptych by Jan Jelinek.

I think an unfortunate effect of Foucault’s work, as it was absorbed by academia, was that it made historians reluctant to call people or sexual acts in the past ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’ since these terms ‘did not exist at the time’ or were recent creations. This gave some homophobes a spurious defence when suggestions were made as to the inclinations of their heroes, but it also—or so I thought—tended to downplay the reality of non-opportunistic homosexual desire as a constant in history, reducing it to recorded acts performed and then deeming these inadequate evidence anyhow, because they were assumed to have taken place in a fuzzy sexual universe.

If, as it seems to me, and as it seemed to Symonds and Carpenter, terms like ‘homosexual’ were invented in the effort to describe a type of person that has always existed, then they are in essence just a shorthand. Each term has its history, associations and effects, but—and perhaps this makes me an unsophisticated thinker—I think it’s the sexual feelings that fundamentally matter, and that these have existed across time. For that reason, I don’t find the Victorian sexual psyche, as far as it can be defined, alien or outlandish, or hard to speculate on. It is the product of sexual feeling filtered through observable social beliefs and conditions.

Tom Crewe talking to Amia Srinivasan about The New Life, Crewe’s debut novel which explores Victorian sex and sexuality

• “I’ve been tumbling down the rabbit-hole of toy theatre all my life, and I’m tumbling still.” Clive Hicks-Jenkins on the dark art of the toy theatre.

• At Public Domain Review: Jean Baptiste Vérany’s Chromolithographs of Cephalopods (1851).

• “Glass is perhaps the most frequently overlooked material in history,” says Katy Kelleher.

• At Cartoon Brew: Chris Robinson remembers the surreal animations of Run Wrake.

• At Unquiet Things: Of Dreams and Dark Pasts: Surrealist Painter Sofía Bassi.

• RIP Harry Belafonte.

House Of Glass (1969) by The Glass Family | Heart Of Glass (1978) by Blondie | Slow Glass (1997) by Paul Schütze

Weekend links 545


Colour wheel from The Natural System of Colours (1766) by Moses Harris.

• The Vatican’s favourite homosexual, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, receives the ludicrously expensive art-book treatment in a huge $22,000 study of the Sistine Chapel frescos. Thanks, but I’ll stick with Taschen’s XXL Tom of Finland collection which cost considerably less and contains larger penises. Related: How Taschen became the world’s most famous erotic publishers.

• “In a metaphorical sense, a book cover is also a frame around the text and a bridge between text and world.” Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth on what a book cover can do.

The Night Porter: Nazi porn or daring arthouse eroticism? Ryan Gilbey talks to director Liliana Cavani about a film that’s still more read about (and condemned) than seen.

What is important about reading [Walter] Benjamin’s texts written under the influence of drugs is how you can then read back into all his work much of this same “drug” mind-set; in his university student days, wrangling with Kant’s philosophy at great length, he famously stated, according to Scholem, that “a philosophy that does not include the possibility of soothsaying from coffee grounds and cannot explicate it cannot be a true philosophy.” That was in 1913, and Scholem adds that such an approach must be “recognized as possible from the connection of things.” Scholem recalled seeing on Benjamin’s desk a few years later a copy of Baudelaire’s Les paradis artificiels, and that long before Benjamin took any drugs, he spoke of “the expansion of human experience in hallucinations,” by no means to be confused with “illusions.” Kant, Benjamin said, “motivated an inferior experience.”

Michael Taussig on getting high with Benjamin and Burroughs

• “Utah monolith: Internet sleuths got there, but its origins are still a mystery.” The solution to the mystery—if there is one—will be inferior to the mystery itself.

After Beardsley (1981), a short animated film about Aubrey Beardsley by Chris James, is now available on YouTube in its complete form.

• Mix of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XXIII – An Ivy-Strangled Midwinter by David Colohan.

Charlie Huenemann on the Monas Hieroglyphica, Feynman diagrams, and the Voynich Manuscript.

Katy Kelleher on verdigris: the colour of oxidation, statues, and impermanence.

• A trailer for Athanor: The Alchemical Furnace, a documentary about Jan Svankmajer.

All doom and boom: what’s the heaviest music ever made?

• At Strange Flowers: Ludwig the Second first and last.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Krzysztof Kieslowski Day.

Ralph Steadman’s cultural highlights.

• RIP Daria Nicolodi.

Michael Angelo (1967) by The 23rd Turnoff | Nightporter (1980) by Japan | Verdigris (2020) by Roger Eno and Brian Eno