Author Archives: jahsonic

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’.

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.

Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ is the missing link between ‘teretismata’ and ‘blituri’

I finished reading Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut.

Dutch translation of 1970 of Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) translated by Else Hoog and with a cover by Ton Klop
Dutch translation of 1970 of Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) translated by Else Hoog and with a cover by Ton Klop

It was not until I had read Galápagos (1985) in 2012 that I realized what a genius Vonnegut is. Last winter in China I read While Mortals Sleep (2011), a collection of short stories of which “The Humbugs” is absolutely gorgeous.

Back to Slaughterhouse-Five.

On page 21 (I’m reading the beautiful Dutch translation of 1970 translated by Else Hoog and with a cover by Ton Klop[above]), is the remark of Vonnegut on the fact that nothing intelligent can be said about a massacre, in this case the bombing of Dresden in World War II.

These are his words: “There is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like “Poo-tee-weet?“”

“Poo-tee-weet”, translated with an exclamation mark in Dutch au lieu of a question mark, is an onomatopoeia of a bird vocalization and in Vonnegut’s novel it stands for something meaningless (as Aristotle used it when he called the Platonic forms teretismata).

In reality of course, bird vocalizations are not meaningless (they are not blituri to use another ancient word), it is a form of animal communication that humans fail to understand.

Which brings us to the trope of meaningless violence, the Dutch notion of excessive and unnecessary violence. Here too, Vonnegut has something to say. When one character announces he is writing an anti-war book, someone retorts that writing and anti-war book is useless, because war is inevitable, you might as well write an “anti-glacier book”. Observations like this make Vonnegut not only a philosophical writer but also one of the great moralists of the 20th century.

RIP Aretha Franklin (1942 – 2018)

Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter and musician.

Songs such as “Respect“, “Think“, “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” and “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” have earned her the label of a feminist singer (if there is such a thing), see black feminismAmerican feminism.

P.S. The ultimate feminist anthem is “Think (About It)” (1972) by Lyn Collins.

Grotesque photography

The Grotesque in Photography. Coleman, A. D. Summit Books, 1977.

The Grotesque in Photography. Coleman, A. D. Summit Books, 1977.

The death of Fakir Musafar led me to A. D. Coleman‘s study of the grotesque in photography.

How?

Like this: Charles Gatewood directed Fakir Musafar’s Dances Sacred and Profane, Gatewood also wrote Sidetripping (1975) which was praised by Coleman, which led me to Coleman’s book The Grotesque in Photography (above).

The grotesque is one of my favourite sensibilities.

I’d like to own this book. Can anyone tell me which photo is on the cover?