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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.


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).


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 film of 2018

I only saw three films in that came out in 2018:

  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam
  • BlacKkKlansman by Spike Lee
  • This Magnificent Cake! by Marc James Roels and Emma de Swaef
Remark the fine lighting and the cloth. Everything is made of fabric.

Although not comparable to the other two, the best film is This Magnificent Cake!

Ce magnifique gâteau ! (2018, This Magnificent Cake!) is written and directed by Marc James Roels and Emma de Swaef. It is cloth/fabric stop-motion film. The title is based on a dictum by Leopold II of Belgium recorded in a letter in which he remarked eagerly that he wanted his share of “this magnificent African cake”.

It is an anthology film set in colonial Africa in the late 19th century telling the stories of 5 different characters: a troubled king, a middle-aged Pygmy working in a luxury hotel as an ashtray, a failed businessman on an expedition who stole the fortune of his family which subsequently went bankrupt, a lost porter and a young army deserter. And a clarinetist who is forbidden by the king to play his cuckoo notes in “The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods”.

RIP Jorge Grau (1930 – 2018)

Jorge Grau was a Spanish film director who worked in the age of the sexual revolution which came late in Spain because of censorship in Francoist Spain.

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
The Bloody Countess

To the illustrious history of Spanish horror film, Grau contributed The Bloody Countess (1973) and Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974), the first film on Elizabeth Báthory, the second on zombies.

To the not so illustrious history of Spanish erotica, he contributed the film La trastienda, the first Spanish film to feature full frontal nudity. The film touches upon sexual repression and Opus Dei.

Cantudo sings “Desnudame”, in the background are excerpts from “La trastienda’

 María José Cantudo was the actress who was first seen nude on Spanish cinema screens in La trastienda. While researching Grau, it also came to my attention that Cantudo recorded a song called “Desnuda me”, Spanish for “Unrobe me”.

In the part on Spanish horror of the documentary Eurotika!, Jorge Grau is featured on 18:50 [above].

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 Robert Venturi (1925 – 2018)

Robert Venturi was an American architect, best known for his book Learning from Las Vegas (1972).

Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (1972) [above] is a book by Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour.

On the book’s cover was a billboard advertising “Tan Hawaiian with Tanya”[1].

The book had a major impact on the emergence of postmodernism.