Af en toe worden hier stoffelijke overschotten binnengebracht waarvan mijn doodgravers het belang onderschatten.Continue reading
Jean-Claude Romer was a French actor, film critic and film historian.
He was editor-in-chief of French film magazine Midi Minuit Fantastique (1962 – 1971), the first magazine dedicated to genre cinema and cinema fantastique.
It has come to my attention that the first issue of Midi Minuit Fantastique is online in full at Archive.org.
That issue is dedicated to Terence Fisher, who still seems to be a bit underrated and of whose film The Stranglers of Bombay it is said:
“More clearly than any other Hammer effort, The Stranglers of Bombay lays bare the foundation of voyeurism, scopophilia, misogyny, castration anxiety, repression, sadomasochism, and “the male gaze” which informs the construction of Hammer’s output.”The Charm of Evil: The Life and Films of Terence Fisher (1991) by Wheeler W. Dixon
One thing leading to another as they say, I stop here, because it is leading me too far.
Alasdair Gray was a Scottish writer and artist.
His magnum opus Lanark (1981) features a skin disease called ‘dragonhide’.
Adjectives applicable to this work are grotesque, fantastique and rabelaisian.
The book has a tendency to depress.
Update: The skin disease ‘dragonhide’ reminds me of Maldoror: “I am filthy. I am riddled with lice. Hogs, when they look at me, vomit. My skin is encrusted with the scabs and scales of leprosy, and covered with yellowish pus.”
You can watch the full episode (only about twenty minutes) here.
I previously mentioned this episode here.
I’m currently reading De Zahir.
One sentence in “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges caught my attention.
“I remembered too that night which is at the middle of the Thousand and One Nights when Scheherazade (through a magical oversight of the copyist) begins to relate word for word the story of the Thousand and One Nights, establishing the risk of coming once again to the night when she must repeat it, and thus on to infinity…”
Marina Warner in Stranger Magic points to “Readings and Re-Readings of Night 602” by Evelyn Fishburn which identifies the night Borges refers to as the “Tale of the Two kings and the Wazir’s Daughters“.
“By Allah, this story is my story and this case is my case,” shouts the king when he finds out that Scheherazade is telling him his frame tale.
Again in the words of Borges (from “Magias parciales del Quijote“) in which he calls that night a “magic night among the nights”:
“The King hears his own story from the Queen’s mouth. He hears the beginning of the story, which embraces all the others as well as – monstrously – itself. Does the reader really understand the vast possibilities of that interpolation, the curious danger – that the Queen may persist and the Sultan, immobile, will hear forever the truncated story of A Thousand and One Nights, now infinite and circular?”
I’m a stickler for firsts and origins, almost childishly so, or at least obsessively.
While researching Goya I stumbled on a letter by Goya to Bernardo de Iriarte dated January 4, 1794, in which I read:
I have devoted myself to painting a group of pictures in which I have succeeded in making observations for which there is normally no opportunity in commissioned works, which give no scope for fantasy and invention.” (tr. Enriqueta Harris)
Goya’s insistence on his artistic freedom (key to the notion of “romantic originality“) in making art with ‘fantasy‘ and ‘invention‘ “for which there is normally no opportunity in commissioned works” makes this dictum one of the candidates for a Manifesto of Romanticism.
Other dicta which emphasize the egomaniac (wording by Nordau) importance the Romantics placed on untrammelled feeling is the remark of the German painter Caspar David Friedrich that “the artist’s feeling is his law” and William Wordsworth‘s ascertainment that “all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings“.
In the Dutch language, the poet Willem Kloos said “I am a god in the deepest core of my thoughts,” giving voice to the Romantic conception of the artist.
Goya was a god too (and perhaps the first Romantic painter) though not a god that sought to please, soothe, nor comfort.
I’m into weird stuff and anthologies. So I’m happy with the new book The Weird, dedicated to 20th century literature in the category weird fiction, a book I discovered while researching Dino Buzzati (check out this  and this ). It was put together by Jeff VanderMeer and his wife Ann.
Yes, there is a but.
The cover of this anthology is ugly beyond belief.
Beyond belief is perhaps putting it too strongly and I don’t like negative criticism without at least providing an alternative.
So why not have put an axolotl on the cover? A good choice since there is also a short story by my favourite author Julio Cortázar in the anthology titled “Axolotl” and the axolotl is a creature like the star-nosed mole and the baby armadillo by Dora Maar which belongs in the category ‘fantastique naturel‘ and the fantastique is the natural precursor of weird fiction.
Both horror and the fantastique are just as much rooted in fascination as in revulsion, ergo in ambiguity of emotions. And what could be more ambivalent and cause more ‘mixed feelings’ than slimy slugs and snails ‘getting it on’, an act which may involve hermaphroditism, firing love darts (a source of the Cupid myth, state some sources), apophallation (gnawing at stuck penises) and even sexual cannibalism?
Of course, the attentive reader will have noticed that in the photo of ‘Courtship in the edible snail, Helix pomatia’ the soft bodies of the snails look exactly like the labia majora of an adult female human mammal.
It needs not to be said that the whole field of animal sexuality is highly fascinating and has been represented in art not often enough. Apart from Microcosmos, there has been Green Porno and the magnificent films of Jean Painlevé (Acera, or the Witches’ Dance comes to mind).