Tag Archives: détournement

RIP William Hamling (1921 – 2017)

Some people don’t make the news when they die. Among them this gentleman.

William Hamling was an American publisher of pulp and erotica, in a time when publishing books could still be dangerous (it has not been dangerous for the last fifty years of so, at least in the west). His financial backing for the case Redrup v. New York against Robert Redrup, a book seller who sold Hamling’s risqué paperbacks was instrumental in abolishing obscenity censorship in the United States.

Page 26 and 27 of the 'Illustrated President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography'
Page 26: From left to right, advertisements for A History of the Blue MovieThe DamnedAnn and EveMoveThreesome and Eugenie.
Page 27: “Excerpt: Thus, the actual nationwide percentage accounted for by “G” and “GP” films is probably significantly greater than the projection, and “R,” “X,” and unrated sexually oriented hybrid films probably account for less of the national market than indicate.”

Most amusingly Hamling published an illustrated edition of the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in 1970 [sample page, above].

Both its editor Earl Kemp and Hamling himself were sentenced to one year in prison for “conspiracy to mail obscene material,” but both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day. Incredible if you come to think of it (and strange also, considering that the Redrup case supposedly abolished obscenity censorship).

I would have thought a complete version of this grand example of détournement to have been available by now, disappointingly so, this is not the case.

‘In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni’ by Guy Debord is ‘world cinema classic’ #187

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978, Guy Debord) is world cinema classic #187

I watched all of this film yesterday, sparked by a renewed interest in Guy Debord, who I probably discovered in June 1994 (exactly 20 years ago) via the Wired article by R. U. Sirius on French theory, back in the day when Wired was a cool magazine.

There are several reasons why the life and work of Guy Debord should quicken your imagination:

  1. The cover of his book Mémoires is made of sandpaper to maximize damage to neighboring books when placed in and out the library shelf.
  2. His anti-film Howlings in Favour of de Sade consists of black and white screens (no images) during 52 minutes.
  3. His citing of Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity.
  4. He is the protagonist of the excellent read Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century.
  5. He defined the term psychogeography and practiced la dérive and détournement.

I also posted two ‘Debord’ photos[1] [2] on Tumblr.