Monthly Archives: April 2009

I was three years old when May 68 happened

May 1968

burning Citroën DS during May 68 from here.

I was three years old when May 68 happened. May 68 was the direct precursor of the hippie movement here in Western Europe. Most of our teachers had been brought up in the “hippie” climate.

Yesterday E-L-I-S-E posted this burning Citroën DS (the photo is new to me and is unsourced at E-L-I-S-E). It brings me to repost one of my favorite quotes on art and politics.This is from one year before May 68.

The juvenile delinquents — not the pop artists — are the true inheritors of Dada. Instinctively grasping their exclusion from the whole of social life, they have denounced its products, ridiculed, degraded and destroyed them.

A smashed telephone, a burnt car, a terrorised cripple are the living denial of the ‘values’ in the name of which life is eliminated. Delinquent violence is a spontaneous overthrow of the abstract and contemplative role imposed on everyone, but the delinquents’ inability to grasp any possibility of really changing things once and for all forces them, like the Dadaists, to remain purely nihilistic.

They can neither understand nor find a coherent form for the direct participation in the reality they have discovered, for the intoxication and sense of purpose they feel, for the revolutionary values they embody. The Stockholm riots, the Hell’s Angels, the riots of Mods and Rockers — all are the assertion of the desire to play in a situation where it is totally impossible.

All reveal quite clearly the relationship between pure destructivity and the desire to play: the destruction of the game can only be avenged by destruction. Destructivity is the only passionate use to which one can put everything that remains irremediably separated. It is the only game the nihilist can play; the bloodbath of the 120 Days of Sodom proletarianised along with the rest. —Timothy Clark, Christopher Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith & Charles Radcliffe in The Revolution of Modern Art and the Modern Art of Revolution (1967) via

Nabokov @110

Nabokov @110

Corgi edition of Nabokov' Lolita by you.

Corgi edition of Nabokov‘s Lolita

(notice “complete and unabridged,” meaning previously censored)

Delving more and more into the art of commemoration I find it strange that people also commemorate people’s deaths. To me the birthday is what counts. I always want to go to the source, not to the end. Just like in horoscopes, where I find it strange that it takes as basis the date of birth, rather than the date of conception.

I offer you the Corgi edition of Nabokov‘s Lolita, the novel he will always be best remembered for.

RIP Jack Cardiff (1914 – 2009)

RIP Jack Cardiff (19142009)

Jack Cardiff OBE, B.S.C. (18 September 1914 – 22 April 2009) was British cinematographer (Black Narcissus, A Matter Of Life And Death), director and photographer.

He was best known for his influential cinematography for directors such as Powell, Huston and Hitchcock.


The Girl on a Motorcycle (music by Les Reed)

Of importance to the Jahsonic canon is his film The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) starring Marianne Faithfull and Alain Delon. The film is based on the story La Motocyclette by André Pieyre de Mandiargues[1], co-written by Cardiff himself, Ronald Duncan (The Rape of Lucretia) and Gillian Freeman (The Undergrowth of Literature).

A married woman leaves her husband, zooms off on her motorcycle to see her lover, and crashes to her death while indulging in sexual reverie, a motif –or variant thereof — also to be found in Ballard’s Crash.

The film isn’t all that great, I suspect, it’s just one of those films where the idea of the film, and its paratext, are more interesting than the film in itself.

See “When the paratext is more interesting than the text.”

RIP J. G. Ballard (1930 – 2009)

RIP J. G. Ballard (1930 – 2009)

The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) – J. G. Ballard [] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Cover for the first edition of The Atrocity Exhibition.

James Graham Ballard (born November 15, 1930 in Shanghai – 19 April 2009) was a British writer. He was a prominent member of the New Wave in science fiction. His best known books are the controversial Crash, and The Atrocity Exhibition, Crash was made into film by David Cronenberg.

The adjectiveBallardian“, defined as “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in JG Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments,” has been included in the Collins English Dictionary.

His work was most recently celebrated in the exhibition J. G. Ballard. Autopsy of the new millennium.

2591 Reprint (1974) by mjkghk 2499 Reprint (1974) by mjkghk 2229 Reprint (1974) by mjkghk The Drought by Martin Isaac

David Pelham covers

Cheri: New Michele Pfeiffer film



Cheri is an upcoming film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend (The Libertine), and directed by Stephen Frears. It is an adaptation of the novel by French author Colette. The film premiered at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. Set in 1920s Paris, Cheri tells the story of the end of a six-year affair between an aging retired courtesan, Léa, and a pampered young man, Chéri. Turning stereotypes upside-down, it is Chéri who wears silk pajamas and Léa’s pearls, and who is the object of gaze.

The film also stars Kathy Bates (Misery) and Anita Pallenberg (Performance).

Hitler @120

Adolf Hitler @120

Heartfield vs. Hitler

John Heartfield Hitler Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk, 1932. [1]

Adolf Hitler (18891945) remains a powerful and dark figure even 64 years after his death. His legacy as a personification of evil in the 20th century is rivalled only by Joseph Stalin‘s. Both were possessed by the Devil, Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, asserted in 2006.

Which brings me to the problem of evil.

Epicurus is generally credited with first expounding the problem of evil, and it is sometimes called “the Epicurean paradox” or “the riddle of Epicurus.”

“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?” — Epicurus, as quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief

But shocking as it may sound, both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin believed that they were actually bettering the world by their actions; the evil of Hitler and Stalin had — in their own eyes — a purpose.

Some feel that true evil lacks this purpose and only enjoys causing destruction and chaos as a form of ultraviolence without motive. As such, figures like serial killers, spree killers and psychopaths are the personificaton of evil.

It is their kind of gratuitous violence we fear most, because it is unmotivated, a caprice.

“Stranger-killing, the killing which has no motive, is something which we associate to “pure evil“, and that we fear more than anything else in the world. There are several excellent examples of this morbid fascination, especially in the world of cinema: some of the most “relevant” contemporary blockbusters deal with the theme of serial killing (Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal” and “The Silence of the Lambs“, David Fincher’s “Seven“, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho“, Mary Harron’s “American Psycho“).” — Albert Hofer[2] via [3]

While we like to think –not without reason, the first spree killer is a postwar development — that this kind of senseless violence is a late 20th century phenomenon, proof exists that gratuitous acts of violence already existed as far back as the early 19th century. Witness this illustration by Dutch illustrator Christiaan Andriessen:

Senseless Violence

A boy attacked in the street by a butcher’s apprentice with a cleaver, 22nd of November 1806. “What’s the matter lad? Well, that boy over there just cut me in my face with his cleaver.” — from the diary of Christiaan Andriessen:

RIP Peter “Carry On” Rogers (1914 – 2009)

RIP Peter Rogers (1914 – 2009)

Carry On… Up the Khyber

Peter Rogers (20 February 1914 – 14 April 2009) was a British film producer. Rogers is best-known as producer of the Carry On series of British sex comedy films, beginning with Carry On Sergeant in 1958.


“It sounds bizar but the Carry On films are as much part of the sixties as Pink Floyd” (documentary by the BBC, 2007).

The Carry On films were a long-running series of British low-budget comedy films, directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers. An energetic mix of parody, farce, slapstick and double entendres, they are seen as classic examples of the low end of British humour in the British comic tradition of the music hall and seaside postcards, best documented in Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema by Simon Sheridan.

World Cinema Classic #98

Via Ian Kerkhof‘s incredibly prolific blog[1] comes our 98th World Cinema Classic, an ongoing project at the Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia.

This entry goes to The Dogway Melody [2] (1930), one of the Dogville shorts.


The Dogway Melody is a 1930 comedy short film that recreates scenes from early musical films, particularly The Broadway Melody. The entire cast are trained dogs with human voiceovers. It was directed by Zion Myers and Jules White and it forms part of the MGM produced series of Dogville shorts.