Weekend links 317


Alphonse Mucha’s Le Pater, a book of mystical Symbolism written, designed and illustrated by the artist, was published in a limited edition in 1899. The book has been out of print ever since but Thomas Negovan at Century Guild will be reprinting it later this year.

• “Five axioms to define Europe: the coffee house; the landscape on a traversable and human scale; these streets and squares named after the statesmen, scientists, artists, writers of the past; our twofold descent from Athens and Jerusalem; and, lastly, that apprehension of a closing chapter, of that famous Hegelian sunset, which shadowed the idea and substance of Europe even in their noon hours.” George Steiner explores his idea of Europe.

Journey To The Edge Of The Universe by Upper Astral, 43 minutes of cosmic ambience, is a cassette-only release from 1983. The album has never been reissued so secondhand copies command excessive prices but it may be downloaded here.

• Mixes of the week: Three hours of ambience by Gregg Hermetech, XLR8R Podcast 446 by [Adrian] Sherwood x Nisennenmondai, and Secret Thirteen Mix 190 by Shxcxchcxsh.

Today [Angela] Carter is well known, widely taught in schools and universities, and much of what she presaged—in terms of recycling and updating (“old wine in new bottles”, she called it), or gender role play and reversal—has become commonplace in the culture. Despite this, many critics find it difficult to situate her work properly. This is partly because Carter is so sui generis (she has literary offspring but few antecedents), and partly because many struggle with the relationship of politics and aesthetics in her writing.

Kate Webb reviews two new books about Angela Carter

• Words that will forever pursue us: Tim Page on the late Michael Herr, “rock’n’roll voice of the Vietnam War”.

• From 2015: Luigi Serafini on how and why he created an encyclopedia of an imaginary world.

James Campbell on Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs: celebrating the Beats in Paris.

Fragile Beasts, an exhibition of grotesque print ornaments at Cooper Hewitt, NYC.

• Not before time, Guy Gavriel Kay wants to see an end to the plague of writing tips.

• David Bowie and Buster Keaton by Steve Schapiro.

Tom Charity on the films of Michael Cimino.

Alison Goldfrapp: photographer.

Golem Mecanique

European Man (1981) by Landscape | Europe After The Rain (1981) by John Foxx | Trans Europe Express (1994) by The One You Love

Weekend links 315


The Deluge (1920) by Winifred Knights.

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, nonfiction, film, music, art & internet of 2016 so far. (Thanks again for the nod to this blog!)

• At Literary Hub: Jonathan Russell Clark on Jorge Luis Borges, and Jon Sealy on why indie presses [in the US] are opening bookstores.

• “It’s not just about the music.” A conversation on the occult practices in the arts between poet Janaka Stucky and Peter Bebergal.

• Daisy Woodward talks to Andreas Horvath about Helmut Berger, Actor, a documentary about Visconti’s muse and lover.

• More Fritz Leiber: Brian J. Showers on his decision to republish Leiber’s horror novel, The Pale Brown Thing.

• Mixes of the week: Sextape 4 by Drixxxe, and Radio Oscillations #96 (Richard Pinhas/Heldon) by Iron Blu.

• The 5th Young One: Pay No Attention to the Girl Behind the Sofa; John Reppion on a television mystery.

• More reading suggestions: Cheerless beach reads for gloomsters and saddies by S. Elizabeth.

• Never the same film twice: Seances by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson.

• How painter Winifred Knights became Britain’s “unknown genius”.

• The Journey & The Destination: An interview with Hawthonn.

Robert Latona goes in search of the grave of Constance Wilde.

• Invisible by Day: photos by Mikko Lagerstedt.

• A Queer Lit Q&A with Evan J. Peterson.

• RIP Michael Herr and Bernie Worrell.

Bridget Riley: The Curve Paintings.

• The typography of Blade Runner.

Japanese matchbox labels

SOS by Portishead

A Rainbow In Curved Air (1969) by Terry Riley | The Great Curve (1980) by Talking Heads | Dangerous Curves (2003) by King Crimson



Full metal Jacket poster (1987). Illustration by Philip Castle.

Watching Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket on Blu-ray recently I was wondering again whether anyone has noted the similarity between the film’s poster design and the cover for the UK edition of one of its source books, Michael Herr’s Dispatches. At the risk of repeating some common piece of Kubrick lore, here goes.

Airbrush artist Philip Castle painted the helmet that’s become the perennial image used to promote the film. Kubrick often reused the services of people he trusted, and had earlier employed Castle as poster artist for A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick also oversaw the design of publicity materials for his later films so we can be reasonably sure this idea was one of his.


Dispatches (1979). Illustration by Steven Singer.

Michael Herr’s collection of reports about the Vietnam war was first published in the US in 1977 with a UK edition following a year later. The cover of the US first edition is unremarkable compared to this typically excellent Picador design from 1979 (no designer is credited). That year saw the release of Apocalypse Now for which Herr wrote the narration. Kubrick was eager to turn Herr’s book into a film but neither of them could find a suitable story to provide a structure for Herr’s reportage until the director decided to weld Dispatches to the first two thirds of Gustav Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers (1979). Full Metal Jacket mixes episodes and speech/dialogue from both books: Hasford’s sniper attack on a jungle trail gets transplanted to Herr’s description of the fighting in Hue City.


The Short-Timers (1987). No illustration credit.

Hasford’s novel was first published in the UK in this shoddy tie-in version with some generic war painting badly cropped into helmet shape in order to match the film poster. Such a good book really deserved better than this hack design. Much as I like Full Metal Jacket, when you read Herr and Hasford you have to admit that the film only captured a fraction of the horror and madness in the books. Herr’s writing is justly celebrated while Hasford’s novel seems to have been forgotten again. Anyone who likes Kubrick’s film ought to search it out, it’s an indelibly memorable and disturbing read. The sniper scene is far more brutal and chilling than its cinematic equivalent, and is delivered by stark prose like this:

The snipers zero in on us. Each shot becomes a word spoken by death. Death is talking to us. Death wants to tell us a funny secret. We may not like death but death likes us. Victor Charlie is hard but he never lies. Guns tell the truth. Guns never say “I’m only kidding.” War is ugly because the truth can be ugly and war is very sincere.

Also worth searching out is Herr’s short memoir, Kubrick, published the year after the director’s death, in which the writer describes his three-year collaboration on Full Metal Jacket‘s screenplay. It’s a generous and insightful piece of writing, worlds away from Frederic Raphael’s condescending and mean-spirited Eyes Wide Open.

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