Monthly Archives: February 2007

A bone thrown from the void

I’ m completely smitten with Joanna Newsom’s late 2006 Ys album. Here is an early review by Woebot and here is the Wikipedia link.

Ys (2006) – Joanna Newsom

[] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Folk music and the new weird has been the hottest and hippest after replacing house, disco and electro on my musical diet. Best of 2006.

Incidentally, the vocals and harp were recorded by Steve ‘Big Black’ Albini.

From the song ‘Emily’:

That the meteorite is a source of the light
And the meteor’s just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that’s devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee

And the meteorite’s just what causes the light
And the meteor’s how it’s perceived
And the meteoroid’s a bone thrown from the void that lies quiet in offering to thee

It takes about a year and several hundred injections to make an addict

“You don’t wake up one morning and decide to be a drug addict. It takes at least three months’ shooting twice a day to get any habit at all. And you don’t really know what junk sickness is until you have had several habits. It took me almost six months to get my first habit, and then the withdrawal symptoms were mild. I think it no exaggeration to say it takes about a year and several hundred injections to make an addict.” —Junky (1953) – William S. Burroughs

His unpleasant relations with her so affected his health

And some Goltzius to bid you good night:

 Icarus, from The Disgracers, engraving, 1588

At the age of twenty-one Goltzius (1558 – 1617), Dutch painter and engraver, married a widow somewhat advanced in years, whose money enabled him to establish at Haarlem an independent business; but his unpleasant relations with her so affected his health that he found it advisable in 1590 to make a tour through Germany to Italy, where he acquired an intense admiration for the works of Michelangelo, which led him to surpass that master in the grotesqueness and extravagance of his designs. He returned to Haarlem considerably improved in health, and laboured there at his art till his death.

The monster appeared in Buenos Aires on August 26

Via Celeste comes this:


 Description of a Monster Born of a Ewe (Translation of August 1708 Work)


“The monster which is shown in the figure appeared in Buenos Aires on August 26. The contrast of three resemblances which it had, that of a child, a horse, and a calf, surprised all who saw it. I asked the person who showed it to me if I could examine it in order to describe it faithfully, but he never allowed me to do this. I examined it from quite close and drew its principal traits without his noticing. As soon as I returned to my room, having all the information about the monster vividly in my memory, it furnished what was missing from the drawing. I completed it and represented it in its natural color.”[2]

Louis Éconches Feuillée (sometimes spelled Feuillet) (1660-1732) was a French member of the Order of the Minims, explorer, astronomer, geographer, and botanist.

Limbo, weightlessness, and uncertainty

Have you ever reached out for something that was so tangible as to be almost in your grasp… that you realized you had to let go of what you were holding on to – to be able to reach even further out towards the object of your interest? The letting go is reminiscent of limbo, weightlessness, and uncertainty; that ‘far away, so close’ feeling.

Download the_one_moment.mp3 via Kierkegaardian

Oh how I love the plentiful emptiness of Michael Nyman.

Kierkegaardian and arcimboldesque

André Martins de Barros more here, Barros is also the artist who did the flyer I first encountered on Ian McCormick’s grotesque page.

Found when Googling for Arcimboldesque, this anomymous etching c.1700, mid-Italian map, sourced here

The Moviegoer is a 1961 Kierkegaardian philosophical novel by Walker Percy. The writer of this page holds that High Fidelity, Garden State, The Graduate, The Truman Show, American Beauty, Harold and Maude, Adaptation and Sideways are similarly themed.

I quote from The Moviegoer:

“Today is my thirtieth birthday and I sit on the ocean wave in the schoolyard and wait for Kate and think of nothing. Now in the thirty-first year of my dark pilgrimage on this earth and knowing less than I ever knew before, having learned only to recognize merde when I see it, having inherited no more from my father than a good nose for merde, for every species of shit that flies – my only talent – smelling merde from every quarter, living in fact in the very century of merde, the great shithouse of scientific humanism where needs are satisfied, everyone becomes an anyone, a warm and creative person, and prospers like a dung beetle, and one hundred percent of people are humanists and ninety-eight percent believe in God, and men are dead, dead, dead; and the malaise has settled like a fall-out and what people really fear is not that the bomb will fall but that the bomb will not fall – on this my thirtieth birthday, I know nothing and there is nothing to do but fall prey to desire.”

More info over at Kierkegaard and Arcimboldo.

The possibility of a literary canon

On the Possibility of Conservative Literary Criticism

via Acephalous by Scott Eric Kaufman on Feb 27, 2007

Actually, Scott’s post is more about the possibility of a literary canon tout court. He says: “few believe that Shakespeare, Tolstoy or Melville shouldn’t be taught—that’d they’re somehow inadequately “literary” in some regard—only that they should be taught alongside Behn [amatory fiction, women’s lit], (George) Eliot [women’s lit] and Stowe [Uncle Tom].” He recognizes place and time constraints: “Practical issues obviously abound. I’m talking about the hypothetical canon here, not what can be covered in a ten or eighteen-week survey.”

Shakespeare is universal because he embraced cultures and traditions outside his own—although his argument suffers here from being too quick on the triumphalism. …But then there’s the problem of what else should be included in the canon. We all agree that Shakespeare should, but what about all those books written by brown people who live on islands we’ve never even heard of. Can they possibly produce great literature. …

there’s absolutely no reason [Erna] Brodber‘s Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home couldn’t be a work of “universal” genius. Were someone to argue that “our” cultural tradition isn’t represented, the claim to universality could be wielded as a multicultural cudgel: It doesn’t matter, we could say, swinging, because it tells a universal story, as applicable to us and our lives as any native Jamaican.


none of the usual critics of academia have attempted to define the literary in such a way that Shakespeare and Dickens are in, but Brodber and the rest are out. Or, they could have the courage of their convictions and say that if Shakespeare and Dickens are in, so are Brodber and the rest …

In this respect, I think the multiculturalist have cornered the cultural traditionalists, forcing them into a position either visibly incoherent (the false universalism of Shakespeare) or spectacularly racist (Dead and White, That’s What’s Right! Dead and White, That’s What’s Right!). ….

To conclude Scott asks: Where do they go from here?

Essentially, Acephalous is in search of a postmodern canon. A canon that gives a place to the other; the queer, the postcolonial. He’s not denying the justifiability of the Western canon, but wonders how big a place should be reserved for the ‘other’ within that canon, without deviating too far from the what-is-ness of things. I look forward to reading more.

The artificiality of the image, its gloss rather than its reality

Via “Don’t you ever come down?” come The films of late Guy Bourdin on YouTube

Guy Bourdin (2006) – Alison M. Gingeras
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Exhibit A: Guy Bourdin (2001) – Luc Sante
[FR] [DE] [UK]

More text on Bourdin over at my page and pictures over at Flickr.

Also, this picture a very good illustration of Bourdin’s fascination with disembodied limbs, what I like to call independent body parts in fiction, of which I’ve blogged here.

Trivia: Madonna was sued in 2004 for using the copyrighted work of the late French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin in her music video for the American Life track “Hollywood”[YouTube]. It was claimed she reenacted poses from at least eleven of the late photographer’s erotically tinged photos. Madonna settled the copyright lawsuit out of court.[4]

François Houtin’s imaginary gardens

Imaginary gardens with real toads in them

The French printmaker François Houtin (1950- ) is an artist whose work has been devoted almost exclusively to the depiction of imaginary gardens.


Also an interesting blog:, introduced by Mr Aitch of Il Giornale as:

I’m grateful to Peacay, of Bibliodyssey renown, for introducing me to the work of this artist, nicely described by his friend and collaborator Gilbert Lascault as ‘the printmaker-gardener, the draughtsman-nurseryman, the demanding dreamer, the landscape artist, and the arboriculturalist-etcher.’

Here is another superb post from Bibliodyssey:

German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber (1739-1810) trained as a physician and went and studied botany in Sweden under the great Carolus Linneaus. He would eventually edit one of Linneaus’s publications and he also included the Linnean binomial species naming system for the first time for some of the animals depicted above.

And this one on cabinets of curiosities is a must.