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 674


The Far Side of the Moon, as photographed by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

• “It goes against centuries of traditional belief to accept that the moon is barren, that it is indifferent, that it is innocent of any role in monthly spikes in the crime rate or in the cycles of menstrual unreason. When telescopic observation had found nothing on the near side (Roger Boscovich had established by 1753 that it lacks even an atmosphere), the far side still remained a site for the projection of fantasies of a different, neighbouring world.” Justin EH Smith working his way towards a history of the dark side of the moon.

• “It shocks me that movies still lean in so hard to all these outmoded gay narrative tropes: coming out, coming of age; very identity-oriented representations of gay characters. It’s much easier to represent a gay boy who’s repressed in high school and comes out and makes friends. It’s very mainstream, and kind of played out.” Bruce LaBruce on cinematic trends in relation to his new film, a gay-porn take on Pasolini’s Teorema.

• At Cartoon Brew: Pavel Sannikau explains how he developed his own techniques of digital animation in order to create the ever-expanding Floor796.

• There’s always more Poe: Mysterium, Incubus et Terror, Poe-inspired music by a variety of artists, plus illustrations by John D. Chadwick.

• At Smithsonian Magazine: The results of a themed contest in the Close-Up Photographer of the Year Challenge.

• Mixes of the week: In Praise of the Saddest Chord at Ambientblog, and The Funky Eno Pts 2 & 3 by DJ Food.

• Steven Heller talks to Hungarian artist István Orosz about his Escher-like drawings.

• At Unquiet Things: Caitlin McCormack’s ghostly chains of knotted memory.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Intricate and organic sculptures by ceramicist Eriko Inazaki.

• New music: Illumina by Call Super with Julia Holter.

Dark Side Of The Mushroom (1967) by The Chocolate Watchband | Dark Side Of The Star (1984) by Haruomi Hosono | On The Dark Side Of The Sun (live) (2003) by Helios Creed

Weekend links 645


Halloween (no date) by William Stewart MacGeorge.

• Couldn’t Care Less: Cormac McCarthy in a 75-minute conversation (!) with David Krakauer at the Santa Fe Institute, filmed in 2017 and recently posted to YouTube. Not a literary discussion, this one is all about science, philosophy, mathematics, architecture and the operations of the unconscious mind. McCarthy’s essay about the origins of language, The Kekulé Problem, may be read here.

• At Wormwoodiana: Douglas A. Anderson finds a 1932 reprint of an HP Lovecraft story, The Music of Erich Zann, in London newspaper The Evening Standard. The story had appeared a few months prior to this in a Gollancz book, Modern Tales of Horror which reprinted a US collection edited by Dashiell Hammett. The newspaper printing includes an illustration by Philip Mendoza.

• New Hollywood Vs Mutant Cinema: The flipside of US cinema, 1960s–80s. Joe Banks talks to Kelly Roberts, Michael Grasso and Richard McKenna about their new book, We Are the Mutants: The Battle for Hollywood from Rosemary’s Baby to Lethal Weapon.

• At Bandcamp: Rich Aucoin explains the army of synths on his new quadruple album. The battalion includes the bespoke modular setup known as T.O.N.T.O., a rig that few people get to play with.

• New/old music: Malebox, an EP of Patrick Cowley rarities coming soon from Dark Entries.

• Mix of the week: Samhain Séance 11: endleofon by The Ephemeral Man.

• The surreal photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard.

• “NASA team begins study of UFOs”.

Ghost Rider (1969) by Musical Doctors | Ghost Rider (1970) by The Crystalites | Ghost Rider (1977) by Suicide

Weekend links 630


Photo by Roger Phillips, 1977.

• “…these films seem decidedly more modern than the films that followed close behind them.” Pamela Hutchinson on pre-code Hollywood.

• Space travel is time travel: NASA shows us galaxies as they were billions of years ago.

• Reverb Machine explains how Brian Eno created Ambient 1: Music For Airports.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Yukio Mishima Confessions of a Mask (1949).

• Mix of the week: The Chill Out Tent Kosmische Mix by Tarotplane.

• Old music: The Glastonbury Experience (Live 1979) by Steve Hillage.

• Deep Space 13: Stephen Mallinder’s favourite soundtracks.

• Sex and pathology: David Robb on 80 years of Cat People.

• New music: Expo Botanica by Cosmic Analog Ensemble.

Behind The Mask (1979) by Yellow Magic Orchestra | Red Mask (1981) by Cabaret Voltaire | A Ritual Mask (1983) by Peter Hammill

Weekend links 543


Adolph Sutro’s Cliff House in a Storm (c. 1900) by Tsunekichi Imai.

• Good to see a profile of Wendy Carlos, and to hear that she’s still working even though all her albums (to which she owns the rights) have been unavailable for the past two decades. I’d be wary of praising Switched-On Bach too much to avoid giving new listeners a wrong impression. The album was a breakthrough in 1968 but was quickly improved upon by The Well-Tempered Synthesizer (1969) and Switched-On Bach II (1973). And my two favourites, A Clockwork Orange – The Complete Original Score (1972) and the double-disc ambient album, Sonic Seasonings (1972), are superior to both.

• “[Sandy Pearlman] told me that one of the main inspirations was HP Lovecraft. I said, ‘Oh, which of his books?’ He said, ‘You know, the Cthulhu Mythos stories or At The Mountains Of Madness, any of those.'” Albert Bouchard, formerly of Blue Öyster Cult, talks to Edwin Pouncey about BÖC’s occult-themed concept album, Imaginos (1988), and his affiliated opus, Re Imaginos.

• More electronica: Jo Hutton talks to Caroline Catz, director of the “experimental documentary” Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and Legendary Tapes.

• At the V&A blog Clive Hicks-Jenkins talks to Rebecca Law about his award-winning illustrations for Hansel and Gretel: A Nightmare in Eight Scenes.

• New music: Archaeopteryx is a new album by Monolake; What’s Goin’ On is a further preview of the forthcoming Cabaret Voltaire album, Shadow Of Fear.

Celebrating A Voyage to Arcturus: details of two online events to mark the centenary year of David Lindsay’s novel.

• “Streaming platforms aren’t helping musicians – and things are only getting worse,” says Evet Jean.

• At Spoon & Tamago: the cyberpunk, Showa retro aesthetic of anime Akudama Drive.

• At A Year In The Country: a deep dive into the world of Bagpuss.

Sinister Sounds of the Solar System by NASA on SoundCloud.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Shirley Clarke Day.

Mary Lattimore‘s favourite albums.

• Solaris, Part I: Bach (1972) by Edward Artemiev | Bach Is Dead (1978) by The Residents | Switch On Bach (1981) by Moderne