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

Giger’s Tarot


This week’s posts reminded me that I have a copy of the HR Giger Tarot set published by Taschen under their Evergreen imprint in 2000. The set is Taschen’s reworking of Giger & Akron’s Baphomet Tarot der Unterwelt set from 1994, and I recall this being one of the last things Taschen created with Giger after spending the previous decade producing a run of books, diaries and posters featuring his paintings. Inside a box you find a set of 22 oversize Tarot trumps presenting some of Giger’s works against metallic silver surrounds. There’s also a poster-size sheet for card readings printed with his pentagram design plus a 224-page paperback book by Swiss Tarot scholar Akron, aka CF Frey, which interprets the paintings as they relate to the Major Arcana. (The Baphomet set had a hardback book and the pentagram design printed on the back of each card.)


The design on the back of the cards, printed in black on metallic silver.

If you’re familiar with Tarot symbolism you don’t have to use these cards to find the correspondences intriguing. The trump ordering is an odd mix of the Crowley scheme with the more traditional designations. Two of the trumps have also been given new names: The Hanged Man is now The Hanged Woman while Crowley’s Art (formerly Temperance) has become Alchemy, an association which works since the card in the Crowley deck depicts the Androgyne of alchemical symbolism. I can imagine some Tarot collectors finding these cards far too dark and nasty, but when so many Tarot designs today are various degrees of garish or twee there’s plenty of room for a Giger or two to harsh the New Age mellow.

The card set has been out of print for years but Abebooks still carries copies at reasonable prices. A few examples of the cards follow.


Continue reading “Giger’s Tarot”

Phallic worship


And why not, say I? Being a born-again pagan I’d much rather venerate the generative organ of the human male in all its splendour than abase myself before one of the invisible sky gods; I had my fill of that when I was an unwilling young Catholic. And besides, what gay man doesn’t worship the phallus in some form?

Most people have heard of the Japanese festival, Kanamara Matsuri, a Shinto fertility celebration. Giant ceremonial phalluses are paraded through the streets and a good time is had by all. Less well-known is a similar Dionysian festival which takes place in the small town of Tyrnavos, Greece on the first Monday of Lent.

If you want to eat phallus-shaped bread, drink through phallus-shaped straws from phallus-shaped cups, kiss ceramic phalluses, sit on a phallus-shaped throne and sing dirty Greek songs about the phallus, then you should visit the little Greek town of Tyrnavos each year on “Clean Monday.”

The festival is in honor of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, madness and ecstasy. While the men, women and children of Tyrnavos celebrate the penis, the rest of Greece marks the beginning of the pre-Easter fast more modestly by flying kites and eating octopus, olives and unleavened bread. More.


Bronze statuette of the Roman fertility god Priapus, made in two parts (shown here in assembled and disassembled forms).

Fitting then, now that spring is passing into summer, that Taschen are following up their Big Book of Breasts with the Big Penis Book. The splendid cover needs to be seen in action (as it were) since the underwear is printed on a clear wrapper which can be removed to expose the wonderful tumescence beneath. I like the sly humour in the design which makes the background of the breasts book blue while the penis book is pink. I’m not too sure about the quality of the contents from their previews, much of it seems to be filled out with photo shoots from gay porn of the Seventies. But I’ll suspend my judgement until I’ve given it a proper viewing. If anything was going to be the phallic worshipper’s bible, this must be it. Good to see Taschen flying the flag as always for high-quality porn/erotica.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of ejaculation