Monthly Archives: January 2019

Some recent discoveries: the cinema of Walerian Borowczyk and music of Bernard Parmegiani


De Natura Sonorum (1975) by Bernard Parmegiani


Sometimes I can’t even remember just how I stumbled upon something. Maybe it was a suggestion by YouTube that brought me into contact with Bernard Parmegiani maybe it was something I was reading. I just can’t trace it. However it may be, I stumbled upon Parmegiani simultaneously with his connection to Walerian Borowczyk. Parmegiani did the soundtrack for at least three of Borowczyk’s films: Les Jeux des Anges (1964), Docteur Jekyll et les femmes (1981) and Scherzo infernal(1984). I’d seen Scherzo before but I had not seen Les Jeux des Anges[1] nor the Jekyll film. You can watch the Jekyll film over at YouTube[2] in an English version with Dutch subtitles.

Neither had I seen that holy grail of transgressive cinema The Beast  (way up there with Le Sexe qui parle by Claude Mulot and The Image by Radley Metzger, both from the same year) which you can see here[3] in a dubbed Spanish version. An uncut version, it appears. You can read its British censorship history somewhere online, it’s extensive. Both Docteur Jekyll et les femmes and The Beast are obsessed with large beast-like phalli. In the case of Jekyll ripping open the abdomen of its victims, in the case of The Beast as seen in copulating horses (with gorgeous shots of dripping horse vulvae) and of a bear-like-constantly-ejaculating huge hammer-shaped penis raping and making love to Sirpa Lane.

As for Parmegiani’s art music. I listened numerous times to the incredible piece De Natura Sonorum[4] (1975) which is really remarkable at being soothing while appearing chaotic. I cant’t get enough of it. Caribou mentions it in his Caribou 1000 and apparently it has been of some influence on Aphex Twin. From what I know of him, that may be true.

Finally, at 4:40 of Chants Magnétiques[5] (1974) you can hear ASMR bits. For those of you unfamiliar with ASMR, it stans for autonomous sensory meridian response and it are sounds that give goose bumps, cold chills.

Some questions on ‘King Mob Echo’ #1

I mentioned King Mob Echo in my previous post on Rita Renoir[1]. It’s the magazine of the English Situationist offshoot wich ran for five issues in the period 1968-70.

Its historiography seems to be incomplete.

King Mob Echo first issue
King Mob Echo first issue

The first issue depicts and image of the Fantomas serial which Wikipedia[2] lists as of the Barrabas film.

Unidentified Fantomas film still, the caption above reads “77. Feuillade, Fantomas, 1912”.

However, if you look closely at the image, you will see that the caption reads “77. Feuillade, Fantomas, 1912”. The Barrabas film dates from 1920 so it seems unlikely that the still stems from that film. The film, which lasts more than five hours, is here, I just don’t have time to watch it. Can anyone tell us from where this still is taken? It is also on the cover of Fantomas: The Corpse Who Kills (2008).

Secondly, and here’s a little mystery I solved myself, there is the caption, a citation by Karl Marx:

I am nothing but I must be everything

Most sources researching King Mob attribute this dictum to The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, but it’s not, it’s actually from Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and reads in the original German: “Ich bin nichts und ich müßte alles sein” and is recently translated as “I am nothing and I should be everything”.

Rosa Luxemburg's corpse
Rosa Luxemburg’s corpse, photo from ‘Lipstick Traces’

Thirdly, there is the case of the photo of Rosa Luxemburg’s corpse. I’ve known this photo since I read Lipstick Traces, featured in their section on King Mob, but I would very much want to find out where this photo was first published.

Anyone?

RIP Rita Renoir (1934 – 2016)

Via research on the King Mob Echo magazine, which led me to Chris Gray which led me to Conrad Rooks which led me to Chappaqua (in which Rita had a part), it has come to my attention that Rita Renoir has died.

Rita Renoir was a French exotic dancer, sex symbol, nobrow figure and actress.

Above you can see Rita Renoir performing a striptease to Serge Gainsbourg’s “Sois belle et tais-toi“, a song from the album Serge Gainsbourg N°2 (1960).

But…

The clip is actually from from Il mondo di notte numero 3 (1963), a typical mondo film and the music by Riz Ortolani. The scene is superb.

RIP Edgar Hilsenrath (1926 – 2018)

German writer Edgar Hilsenrath is best-known for his novel The Nazi and the Barber (1971), the story of a German SS mass murderer, who after the war assumes a Jewish identity and escapes to Israel and becomes a zionist. The story is told from his perspective and describes the atrocities he committed.

The Nazi and the Barber (1971), Manor Books edition of 1973.


It is supposedly both funny and gruesome, which earns it its label ‘grotesque’.

Four years since the Charlie Hebdo massacre

Today, it is exactly four years ago that Charlie Hebdo was massacred. 

My father, who died in 2000, used to bring copies of Hara-Kiri home when I was a boy.

Charlie Hebdo was the new incarnation of Hara-Kiri, after it had been permanently banned by the French government.

I recently looked at ALL covers of Hara-Kiri, which you can find here.

The funniest cover is perhaps Hara-kiri n°162 (March 1975) which depicts a frontal view of male genitals wearing a shirt along with the following accompanying text:

“Chômeurs ! c’est pas avec cette tête la que vous trouverez du boulot rasez-vous !”

English:”Unemployed! You won’t find a job with your face looking like this. Shave yourselves!”

I am, you might say, an unabashed fan of Charlie Hebdo. I am also a fan of the right to offend and insult, especially of fictional beings.

The words of Marquis de Sade from “Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans” are particularly apt here:

“I should like there to be perfect freedom to deride them all [all religions]; I should like men, gathered in no matter what temple to invoke the eternal who wears their image, to be seen as so many comics in a theater, at whose antics everyone may go to laugh.”

For those of you who think that Charlie Hebdo was obsessed with Islam. You are mistaken. It is simply not true and it has been proven.

Art critic Yve-Alain Bois in “Taken Liberties: Yve-Alain Bois on Charlie Hebdo”[1] has stated:

“A statistical analysis of Charlie Hebdo‘s content over the past ten years, particularly that of its front page, was published in Le Monde on February 25. It reveals not only that the publication was actually less obsessed with religion than is generally supposed, with only 7 percent of its front pages devoted to the subject, but also that the topic of Islam makes up less than a fifth of even these covers. When Charlie attacks religion–its contributors are particularly exercised by fundamentalism (of all stripes) and the hypocrisy of the clergy–Catholicism is most often the butt of its satire.”

So only seven percent is devoted to religion, and of that seven percent, only twenty percent to Islam. Which makes for 100*.07*.2 equals 1.4 percent. Yve-Alain Bois bases himself on research by Jean-François Mignot and Céline Goffette titled “Non, ‘Charlie Hebdo’ n’est pas obsédé par l’islam” [“No, ‘Charlie Hebdo’ is not obsessed with Islam”], published in Le Monde, February 24, 2015.

As we go forward, I’m rather pessimistic about freedom of speech , especially with regards to the global growth of religion. The question E. Kaufmann asks in 2010, Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? is extremely relevant today.

2019 in the public domain

Every year, I check which authors have become public domain.


“When you will have made him a body without organs
then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions 
and restored him to his true freedom.”
To Have Done with the Judgment of God (1947) by Antonin Artaud

In 2019, the list includes German artist Kurt Schwitters, German actor Karl Valentin, Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein, French playwright, actor and director Antonin Artaud, Soviet-born painter Arshile Gorky, American film director D. W. Griffith, German actor, film director, and screenwriter Paul Wegener, Hungarian composer Franz Lehár and Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo.

Best ♩, ♪, ♫, ♬ of 2018

Apart from a brief but ardent infatuation with Dutch schlager singer André Hazes in April (you don’t want to know 🙂 ), musically the best of 2018 was the discovery of the oeuvre of Hiroshi Yoshimura (1940 – 2003) who worked within Japanese ambient.

I discovered Hiroshi Yoshimura while listening to Birds of Venezuela (1973), an album of bird vocalizations which was re-released this year.

This whole Japanese ambient scene is most weird. There is the super sweet Jamaica ~ Waves And Light And Earth (1993) by Takashi Kokubo, which Discogs classifies as non-music.

In fact, many of these albums seem to have been made as pure background music. Kokubo’s album Get At The Wave (1987) was created for a new line of Sanyo air-conditioners.

Then there is the oddity Watering a Flower (1984) by Haruomi Hosono which was commissioned by Muji as in-store background music. And Hiroshi Yoshimura’s A・I・R (1984) was produced for the makeup and skincare company Shiseido; while his album Surround (1986) was made for playing at the model homes of the Misawa Home corporation.

But the best album is Green (1986) by Hiroshi Yoshimura. Someone remarked that this album is what green sounds like, what plant life sounds like. So soothing, full of natural sounds that have a very relaxing effect.

Enjoy.