Monthly Archives: November 2007

William Blake @250

The great red dragon and the woman clothed with the sun (c. 1800) – William Blake

William Blake (November 28 1757 – August 12 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. Blake was an important proponent of imagination as the modern western world currently defines the word. His belief that humanity could overcome the limitations of its five senses is perhaps one of Blake’s greatest legacies. His words, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite,” (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell) were seen as bizarre at the time, but are now accepted as part of our modern definition of imagination. This quote was the source of the names for both The Doors musical group and Aldous Huxley‘s book The Doors of Perception.

Cult fiction #1

Musk, Hashish and Blood

Musk, Hashish and Blood

Musk, Hashish, and Blood is a French language collection of tales by Hector France, translated into English By Alfred Allinson, designed and etched by Paul Avril.

Its original title was Sous le Burnous (1886).

The book is mentioned in Sax Rohmer‘s Dope:

“Which of these three rooms you choose?” she asked, revealing her teeth in one of those rapid smiles which were mirthless as the eternal smile of Sin Sin Wa.
“Oh,” said Rita hurriedly, “I don’t know. Which do you want, Mollie?”
“I love this end one!” cried Mollie. “It has cushions which simply reek of oriental voluptuousness and cruelty. It reminds me of a delicious book I have been reading called Musk, Hashish, and Blood.”
“Hashish!” said Mrs. Sin, and laughed harshly. “One night you shall eat the hashish, and then–”
She snapped her fingers, glancing from Rita to Pyne.
“Oh, really? Is that a promise?” asked Mollie eagerly.
“No, no!” answered Mrs. Sin. “It is a threat!”

Richard Francis Burton mentions it in the comments to his translation of The Book of One Thousand and One Night:

“All the splendour and squalor, the beauty and baseness, the glamour and grotesqueness, the magic and the mournfulness, the bravery and the baseness of Oriental life are here: its pictures of the three great Arab passions, love, war and fancy, entitle it to be called “Blood, Musk and Hashish.””

From a description by Alexander Books, its most recent publisher:

This graphic and exciting picture of the Algerian desert, its tribes and their astounding customs is a sensational recounting of France’s experiences in North Africa. With little hyperbole describing his fascinating life, France tells the stories of his adventures in the nineteenth century Arab world from an eyewitness view that is as exciting today as it was a century ago. Not much is known of Hector France, except that he lived an adventurous life and wrote about it with style and gusto. When this book was first printed in a limited edition of only 500 copies in Britain in 1900, France felt, perhaps with some cause, that many of the things he described would have sent his Victorian readership into shock. Yet there is a certain romance to be discovered amid the exquisitely described barbarism, an exoticism that cannot be found in today’s world.

This post is part of a new series: cult fiction

Reflections on the Novel by Sade: first English translation?

The Crimes Of Love (1800) – Marquis De Sade [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Reflections on the Novel (French: Une Idée sur les romans) is an essay by Sade first published in 1799 in Les Crimes de l’amour. Its preface features a history of the novel and Sade’s theories on the ‘modern novel‘:

“The modern novel is born with Richardson, Fielding, Rousseau and Prévost. It then procedes to the The Monk and Ann Radcliffe

Sade goes on to note that “It is Richardson and Fielding who have taught us that only the profound study of the heart of man . . . can inspire the novelist.” And goes on: “If after twelve or fifteen volumes [of Clarissa] the immortal Richardson had virtuously ended by converting Lovelace and having him peacefully marry Clarissa, would you . . . have shed the delicious tears which it won from every feeling reader?”

The essay exists in translations by Geoffrey Gorer and David Coward.

I have been looking for a public domain English translation of this text. Can anyone point me in the direction of the first English language translation?

Update: Wolf’s Hollow: The Marquis de Sade in English.

Lowell Blair seems to be have been the first English translator of Crimes of Love. No mention is made if he also translated the prefatory essay I mention.

World cinema classics #26


The Intruder (1962) – Roger Corman

The Intruder is a 1962 American film directed by Roger Corman, after a novel by Charles Beaumont, starring William Shatner. Also called Shame in US release, and The Stranger in the UK release. The story centers around the machinations of a racist named Adam Cramer (portrayed by Shatner), who arrives in the fictitious small southern town of Caxton in order to incite townspeople to racial violence against the town’s African-American minority and court-ordered school integration.

The Intruder is the greatest irony of Roger Corman’s film career, after cranking out dozens of exploitation films he put up his own resources to produce a serious work of drama on the explosive issue of racism and integration. The film went on to win rave reviews and film festival prizes but became Corman’s first film to lose money.

Similarly themed fiction includes I Spit On Your Graves.

Previous “World Cinema Classics” and in the Wiki format here.

Esotika’s exotica

Mike from Esotika introduces himself

I’m currently an undergraduate student in the process of getting my BFA in Photography at Northern Illinois University. … I’m 21 years old and only have a few semesters left before I’ll be applying to graduate schools.

When hip-hop’s selling perfume and boy band’s selling grief

Everything Is Everything” is a poem by Paul Heaton read by Bootsy Collins (listen) in a spoken word performance featured on Late Night Tales: Fatboy Slim.

Poem About Everything and Naught:

When hip-hop’s selling perfume

And boy band’s selling grief

The blues man’s market life insurance just won’t flip underneath

Jazz just chucks its concrete into transparent handkerchief

Everything is anything to anyone … (read)

The near-encounter as plot device


The Edge of Heaven (2007) Fatih Akın

The near-encounter is a plot device I first spotted in the French film L’Auberge Espagnole but I had already seen elements of it in the romantic comedy Serendipity. The Edge of Heaven, the latest film by Gegen die Wand director Fatih Akın is constructed around this plot device.

The premise of the near-encounter is simple: Two people, who are supposed to meet according to the plot, cross each other without noticing. The audience is aware of the near-encounter, the fictional characters are not. An example from the film L’Auberge Espagnole: a protagonist is tying his shoelaces while another protagonist walks by. Due to the shoe lacing, the “shoe lacer” cannot see the other, and the other cannot see the “shoe lacer” because of his bended position.

The Edge of Heaven is highly recommended.


Fat Boy Slim, Late Night Tales

Late Night Tales: Fatboy Slim (2007) – Azuli Records.

Late Night Tales: Fatboy Slim is the 19th DJ mix album, released in the Late Night Tales series on Azuli Records. It was mixed by British DJ, Fatboy Slim. Hi-lites include “Blue Skies” [1] by Willie Nelson, “I’ll Keep A Light In My Window” by Ben Vereen and “From a Logical Point of View” by Robert Mitchum. Recommended.

Late Night Tales and its predecessor Another Late Night are the names of two related series of DJ mix albums released on Azuli Records independent record label. The tracks on the albums are selected and mixed by a diverse selection of DJs, recording artists, and bands, asked by Azuli “to compile an album of their favorite music that inspired them to make music their profession – their favorite of the favourites”. The series is also noted for its imaginative cover designs, the designer of which is as of yet unidentified. Anyone?

I’d like to …


“Fuck the pain away”(2000) – Peaches

Merrill Beth Nisker (born 1968 in Toronto, Canada), better known as Peaches, is an electroclash musician whose songs are concerned mainly with sex. She lives and works in Berlin. She has been called the Karen Finley of the 2000s. The song “Fuck the Pain Away” was used in a scene in the film Lost in Translation in which Bob and Charlotte, the two main characters, find themselves in a strip club.