Category Archives: absurd

RIP Fritz Muliar, actor of “The Good Soldier Švejk”

image via

RIP Fritz Muliar, 89, Austrian actor best remembered beyond the boundaries of his native Vienna for playing the title role in the 13-part TV series, Die Abenteuer des braven Soldaten Schwejk.

The Good Soldier Švejk is the abbreviated title of an unfinished satirical novel by Jaroslav Hašek. It was illustrated by Josef Lada and George Grosz after Hašek’s death. A number of literary critics consider The Good Soldier Švejk to be one of the first anti-war novels, predating Remarque‘s All Quiet on the Western Front. Furthermore, Joseph Heller said that if he had not read The Good Soldier Švejk, he would never have written his novel Catch-22.

On the current state of cult film historiography

Gun Crazy by you.

Dearest Jan,

The current state of cult film historiography is perhaps best exemplified by the book Cinema of Obsession. It’s just a pity that it’s rather clumsily written. This could have been a great book in the hands of Greil Marcus or David Toop. Excellent is its selection of films and its four tier ontology, of which three are useful: the male gaze, the female gaze, the fugitive couple. The category titled romantic implosion is rather enigmatic.

Its main merit lies in the thematic literary criticism, as it provides a useful contribution to the notion amour fou, mad love, sexual obsession, obsessive love and the war of the sexes.


Sholem Stein

Medi Holtrop wins the Grandville grand prize of “l’humour noir”

Plaisir by Medi Holtrop by you.

Plaisir (2008)  – Medi Holtrop

In France, Norwegian artist Medi Holtrop and lifelong companion of Bernard Willem Holtrop received the 2009 Grandville grand prize of “l’humour noir.”

Via L’Alamblog[1]

I’ve previously written on the notion of humour noir, which translates into English as black comedy defined as a sub-genre of comedy and satire where topics and events that are usually treated seriously — death, mass murder, suicide, sickness, madness, terror, drug abuse, rape, war, etc. — are treated in a humorous or satirical manner. Synonyms include dark humor, morbid humor, gallows humor and off-color humor.

The French were the first to anthologize the genre in the seminal anthology Anthology of Black Humor (1940) by André Breton. Breton’s anthology not only introduced some until then almost unknown or forgotten writers, it also coined the term “black humor” (as Breton said, until then the term had meant nothing, unless someone imagined jokes about black people ). The term became globally used since then. The choice of authors was done entirely by Breton and according to his taste which he explains in the Foreword (called The Lightning Rod, a term suggested by Lichtenberg), a work of great depth that starts with contemplating Rimbaud´s words “Emanations, explosions.” from Rimbaud´s last poem The barrack-room of night : Dream.

In the United States, black comedy as a literary genre came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Writers such as Terry Southern, Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut and Harlan Ellison have published novels, stories and plays where profound or horrific events were portrayed in a comic manner. An anthology edited by Bruce Jay Friedman, titled Black Humor: Anthology was published in 1965.

I am currently researching the prevalence of black comedy in other parts of Europe.

Stelarc’s third ear

Stelarc's Ear PORTRAIT taken by nina sellars by k0re.

Stelarc’s third ear, photo by Nina Sellars from the Flickr stream of  k0re

Stelarc’s third ear[1] is performance by Australian body artist Stelarc consisting of a subdermal implant of a cell-cultivated ear in his left arm, thus becoming a living example of transhumanism.


Scatole d’amore in conserva by you.

Scatole d’Amore in Conserva

Maybe Marinetti‘s 1927 book Scatole d’Amore in Conserva (boxes of love conserved) later inspired Piero Manzoni so famously to can his own excrement. “Conjecture, your honor!”

Merda d'Artista by Piero Manzoni by [AMC]

Merda d’Artista” by Piero Manzoni by Flickr user  [AMC]

American comedian Andy Kaufman @60

Andy Kaufman performs Mighty Mouse

Click to view, hilarious!

In one of his first television appearances (on the premiere of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, October 11, 1975), Andy Kaufman lip-synched to the Mighty Mouse theme song (but only to the words “Here I come to save the day!”)

Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman (19491984) was an American entertainer and performance artist who refrained from telling jokes and engaging in comedy as it was traditionally understood; instead, he was a practitioner of anti-humor or dada absurdist performance art, referring to himself instead as a “song and dance man.”

Jim Carrey played Kaufman in Miloš Forman‘s 1999 film, Man on the Moon.

Outside of the United States he is best-known as Latka Gravas in the Taxi television sitcom.

Art’s Birthday

Fogos Copacabana 2009 - Fireworks over Copacabana 2009 by augusto.froehlich

Click for credits

The highbrow world is excited by “Art’s Birthday” which will take place in two days on January 17. “Art’s Birthday” is an annual event first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou.

The lowbrow world already celebrated art’s birthday at midnight December 31 with the various fireworks. Talk about sumptuary excess. And synchronicity. Think about how many mouths can be fed with what went up the air. For entertainment. And yet I totally understand. I enjoy fireworks and consider them a primeval art.

I’ve previously posted[1] about sumptuary excess, expenditure and the general economy.

Filliou is co-responsible for: An Anecdoted Topography of Chance.

An Anecdoted Topography of Chance (1966) – Daniel Spoerri, Roland Topor
[FR] [DE] [UK]

What the Butler Saw in Düsseldorf

The butler visited Diana und Actaeon – Der verbotene Blick auf die Nacktheit with a fellow butler and a maid.

He was thrilled to see Étant donnés[1] by Marcel Duchamp. And he did not realize it also looked like this[2]. He saw the famous metal doll sculpture[3] by Hans Bellmer and Bad Boy by Eric Fischl. He saw the most beautiful penis in post-war photography, yes he meant the Robert Mapplethorpe one[4].

He saw and liked photographs[5] of the Linley Sambourne collection, paintings by French figuratist Jean Rustin[6], paintings by Michael Kirkham[7], his first viewing of the fauvist Erich Heckel[8], Phryne[9] by French academic cult painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, waxworks by Belgian sculptor Berlinde De Bruyckere[10], and paintings by Roland Delcol[11].

The butler was also very much taken by Johannes Hüppi[12]; his first viewing of his fave John Currin[13]; his first real Félix Vallotton; and a Lisa Yuskavage[14]. But not that one.

Butler wants you to know that the works he pointed to are for reference only and may not correspond to the works at the exhibition. He also wants you to know that some of the links may be NSFW.