Category Archives: avant-garde

RIP Cecil Taylor (1929 – 2018)

Cecil Taylor was an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as having been one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion, for example described as “eighty-eight tuned drums” (referring to the number of keys on a standard piano). He has also been described as “like Art Tatum with contemporary-classical leanings”.

His composition Indent (1973) is on Thurston Moore’s Top Ten Free Jazz Underground (1995).

Dropping dead on ‘The Sublime Void’

I visited the Jozef Peeters apartment on De Gerlachekaai 32 in Antwerp.

The apartment overlooks the Schelde and features artwork by Peeters himself, including murals and furniture he designed. Also, there is work by Michel Seuphor (personal favorite) and Jo Delahaut.

Photo: On the table of the living room: The last book Godelieve Peeters (his daughter who preserved the apartment as total artwork until her death in 2004) was reading before she died. On it are her glasses. It has been conserved as a crime scene. I imagine her falling dead on her book. There is a letter from De Witte Raaf under the book. The book is The Sublime Void.

I used to live in the apartment on the other side of the street, our windows faced each other. At the time, this must ‘ve been around 2000, I did not know who Jozef Peeters was.

 

RIP Mark E. Smith (1957 – 2018)

Mark E. Smith was an English musician, known for his post-punk group the Fall, a renowned and idiosyncratic offshoot from the UK post-punk popular music scene.

His voice is reminiscent of Jonathan Richman and tracks such as “Big New Prinz” [above] are as weird and danceable as Richman’s “Roadrunner” for example.

On a personal note: the covered “Mr. Pharmacist” in 1986, at a time when I was into garage rock.

P.S. The train footage in the clip of “Big New Prinz” is an example of slow television.

RIP Sunny Murray (1936 – 2017)

Sunny Murray was an American musician, one of the pioneers of the free jazz style of drumming.

His album Sonny’s Time Now (1965) is in the Top Ten Free Jazz Underground.

On that record Amiri Baraka reads his controversial 1965 poem “Black Art” (above) which features the line “we want poems that kill”, an instance of the aestheticization of violence.

A book about nothing, or, in praise of plotlessness and the antinovel

I’m rereading Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant, a book which is brilliant in its lateral connections, arguing amongst other things that the Industrial Revolution in England goes hand in hand with the legal use of opium as recreational drug.

Speaking of opium, I’ve published a photo of an oozing, exuding, secreting and leaking poppy seed head.

But that’s not what I wanted to show you.

On page 47 in Writing on Drugs is Flaubert and he is cited stating his desire to write ‘a book about nothing‘ (‘un livre sur rien’), in other words a plotless novel, an antinovel as it were.

“What strikes me as beautiful, what I would like to do, is a book about nothing, a book with no external tie, which would support itself by its internal force of style, a book which would have hardly any subject or at least where the subject would be almost invisible, if that can be so.” (Flaubert, Letters 170).

Amazing.

Did Flaubert fulfil his ambition?

Maybe he did. The closest he came to writing about nothing was in his Bouvard et Pécuchet and Dictionary of Received Ideas.

Poetry is like painting, cooking, and cosmetics

Title page[1] from the Carlos Schwabe illustrations for Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal.

I have no clue what plant it is (a flesh-eating plant perhaps?), nor if it is real or imaginary, but I’m pretty sure it fits in the horticultural horror category.

Additionally, as far as I know, this illustration is the only literal interpretation of the flowers of evil.

One thing inevitably leads to another:

On opening my copy of The Romantic Agony for the nth time brought up this passage:

“That poetry is like the arts of painting, cooking, and cosmetics in its ability to express every sensation of sweetness or bitterness, of beatitude or horror, by coupling a certain noun with a certain adjective, in analogy or contrast” writes Baudelaire in an unpublished preface to a 2nd preface of The Flowers of Evil (translation by Marthiel and Jackson Mathews).

Beautiful isn’t it, this trying to connect poetry to cuisine and cosmetics via adjectives and nouns in logical combinations, evoking diverse sentiments?

See also: literature and olfaction, synesthesia and literature, paragone and ekphrasis.

Once more, one thing leads to another

Encore” is a musical composition by Nicolas Jaar.

As usual, one thing leads to another.

This particular Youtube upload (above) features the photo “Dancers Wearing Gas Masks In England On February 1940“.

The photo stems from the Edward George Warris Hulton collection and features girls wearing gas masks and dancing a can-can-like dance.

The sample at the beginning of the song:

“from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing”

is from an audio recording of “The Creative Act,” a speech by ‘mere artist” Marcel Duchamp given in 1957.

In view of its non-elitist (although it can also be read as a defence of Duchamp’s own greatness) point of view (considering bad art also as art); its emphasis on reception and audience participation; its view as the artist as a mere medium, I pronounce “The Creative Act” to be a nobrow manifesto of sorts.

“Encore” by my poulain Nicolas Jaar is World Music Classic #699.

Let’s make some room for bad taste

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buPWYJf2Eu8&feature=fvw]

Let’s make some room for bad taste.

Enter Lolo Ferrari.

Lolo Ferrari, born Eve Valois (February 9, 1968 – March 5, 2000) was the stage name of a French dancer, actress, and singer billed as “the woman with the largest breasts in the world” though their size was artificially achieved. In 1995, she caused a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival with the presentation of the movie Camping Cosmos by Jan Bucquoy.

Camping Cosmos is a comedy film by Belgian director Jan Bucquoy, starring Lolo Ferrari. We see Belgians on holiday in a trailer park at the beach in the year 1986 with the first danger signals of AIDS. The purpose of the campsite entertainer is to bring culture to the common people; but they are not interested when the play of Bertolt Brecht Mother Courage and Her Children is shown. Then he launches a beauty contest, a song contest and a boxing match

In Camping Cosmos Lolo Ferrari comes out of the sea as an Aphrodite with the song of “Land of Hope and Glory” and having her first orgasm with the comic Tintin in the Congo. The influence of Jacques Lacan is imminent: Sex is the little Death. Arno Hintjens and Jan Decleir are a homosexual couple. The protest of the younger generation (Eve and her boyfriend) supposedly refers to Traité du savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations by Raoul Vaneigem. A character cites Louis Scutenaire and détournement publicitaire à la Marcel Mariën is used. Both were Belgian surrealists.

The film is awful but aged 34 and feeling you haven’t seen everything yet and after all, you are from Belgium, and you see it anyway. You rent it a second time (you must be bored) and thankfully the video store clerk alerts you to your mistake.

RIP Simon Vinkenoog (1928 – 2009)

RIP Simon Vinkenoog, 80, Dutch poet and writer.

Vinkenoog with Spinvis in a totally Fela Kuti-esque track

Simon Vinkenoog (1928 – 2009) was a Dutch poet and writer. He was instrumental in launching the Dutch “Fifties Movement“.

In the Anglosphere Vinkenoog’s name is associated with the Albert Hall poetry event (and the film Wholly Communion) and his connection with IT magazine.

He was one of the Néerlandophone beat writers. The same cultural climate that begot the beat writers in the United States engendered European counterparts.

These countercultures must be looked for in two spheres, the sphere of European counterculture and the sphere of European avant-garde.

In France this was the Letterist International, in Germany perhaps Gruppe 47; visually and on a European scale there was COBRA.

Vinkenoog was born in the same year as Andy Warhol, Serge Gainsbourg, Jeanne Moreau, Nicolas Roeg, Guy Bourdin, Luigi Colani, Stanley Kubrick, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, William Klein, Roger Vadim, Yves Klein, Jacques Rivette, Alvin Toffler, Ennio Morricone and Oswalt Kolle.

The Cut-Ups is World Cinema Classic #108

The Cut-Ups is World Cinema Classic #108

The Cut-Ups

Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello!
– Look at that picture – Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello!
Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.- does it seem
to be persisting? – Yes? Hello!
Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! – Good!
– Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! – Thank
you – Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes?
Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes?
Hello! – Look at that picture – Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes?
Hello! – Does it seem to be persisting?
– Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello!Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! – Good! – Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello!
– Thank you!

The Cut-Ups[1] is an experimental film by British filmmaker Antony Balch and American writer William Burroughs, which opened in London in 1967. It was the second time Balch and Burroughs had collaborated after their earlier Towers Open Fire. The Cut-Ups was part of an abandoned project called Guerrilla Conditions meant as a documentary on Burroughs and filmed throughout 1961-1965.

The film contains 19 minutes of someone saying “Yes, Hello?”, “Look at that picture,” “Does it seem to be persisting?,” and “Good. Thank you,” accompanied by a repetition five or six basic film clips shot in New York City and featuring Brion Gysin.

Inspired by Burroughs’ and Gysin’s technique of cutting up text and rearranging it in random order, Balch had an editor cut his footage for the documentary into little pieces and impose no control over its reassembly. The film opened at Oxford Street’s Cinephone cinema and had a disturbing reaction. Many audience members claimed the film made them ill, others demanded their money back, while some just stumbled out of the cinema ranting “its disgusting”.

Included in The Cut-Ups are shots of Burroughs acting out scenes from his book Naked Lunch. The idea of bringing Naked Lunch to the big-screen was Balch’s dream project. First developed in 1964, a script was completed in the early 1970s which would have adapted the book as a musical. Personal differences between Balch and the film’s would-be leading man Mick Jagger caused the project’s collapse.

For an indepth description of the films of William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Antony Balch, see brightlightsfilm [1] by Rob Bridgett.