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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
Louche Lad's LiveJournal:
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|Tuesday, September 25th, 2012|
Cities or dungeons "with" central processors are redundant. Better to investigate how users actually deploy these computation engines in the field.
|Monday, February 6th, 2012|
|Thursday, September 1st, 2011|
|the metier of "france"
"I couldn't believe my ears." -- Henry Miller
Miller's Cockaigne is obviously Poictesme's slightly more brazen West Coast sister, what happens when fantasy gestates into historical romance. To Cabell, there was no functional difference. It was all a table where dreams could be housed and desires indulged. ( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, June 29th, 2011|
|Tous au charbon
"In the Ming dynasty a typical career lasted less than eight years. A familiar pattern became established: a scholar earned a degree, served with distinction and then retired at a relatively early age in order to write or teach, nurse a chronic illness, care for his parents or build a garden."
|Tuesday, May 4th, 2010|
|North of the Sun, South of the Moon
It's funny that when Ezra from Vampire Weekend says Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa is about, and I quote, "the aesthetic connections between preppy culture and the native cultures of places like Africa and India," nobody ever seems to come back with anything like, "Well, yes, but what exactly do you mean by that."Ping Island Strike: Or Why Nobody Talks About Saint Gauguin
Tracking capital flows with the sun has changed a lot over the years. I was talking to one of the old Troika hands the other day -- some of you reading this know what I'm talking about -- and he was reminiscing about waking up early to close Tokyo and open Frankfurt. It was like turning a page then. Now it's an endless scroll as the iron dog chases itself. You could argue it's chasing its tail or even its own reflection across the dateline; objects in the rearview mirror closer than they appear. The periphery becomes the core and the core becomes the periphery. Right now the smell of Greece is in the air and Actaeon becomes the stag and the world runs itself into butter. And butter remembers.
Funny that Vampire Weekend's never been on Gossip Girl. But given the structure of that show, as guest stars Vampire Weekend would really only be playing for the wrong team: that sinister hooker nanny cult that's always lurking in the shadows and regularly emits a grifter to challenge the core cast. Poppy Lifton was working for them. So was Chuck Bass's mom, Carter Baizen, Maureen, that Belgian drug dealer, those Yalie guys and that outrageous Sarah Lawrence admissions director, Lord Marcus, Dr. Van Der Woodsen himself pulling the strings. A global web of secrets. Everyone outside the magic circle is suspect and thus automatically implicated in the crimes of the hooker nannies and their arrangers. Who killed Bart Bass? Why did Nate's dad implode? And who, Gossip Girl asks, am "I?" At the end of the show, as Chuck lies dying in the Proustian wreckage of Georgina's last dance, the heavy velvet curtain may well pull back to expose the aesthetic connections between preppy culture and native culture. And the butter remembers."When you think the night / has seen your mind"
(or: Life Takes Refuge in a Single Space)
|Tuesday, April 27th, 2010|
|Pygmalion Qui Moult Subtilz Estoit
Success may entail becoming a complicated musical in-joke, but hey, I'll take it. That Pygmalion was a clever cat and apparently he was a Phoenician when everything was said and done. That's interesting in the context of the later prophets; those guys were constantly fighting idolators. It's an interesting technology when you think about it, idolizing. More "Conspirators of Pleasure," less "My Fair Lady," (cor guvn'r) but it's no wonder all those old statues were mutilated. Making them move was what got Giordano Bruno in trouble.This was unreasonably hard to find but I was
miserable until I did. The Episcopalians had the
only copy in town. She asked me if I was clergy;
I got the discount anyway.
Athens and Jerusalem. Athens really took a dive today and all are agog but nobody's actually reporting what's on the tape. All their banks are down 15% because, as it turns out, when the guys in the Finger of God decided to cut Greece to junk, they also cut these banks out of the ECB overnight window. The ECB will only take high-grade paper as collateral and now Greek banks only have trash to offer. The Finger is always accurate but its timing is always . . . inconvenient. Now the ECB has to decide whether to take trash or let the Greek banking system seize up. Either way the euro decays, but in one world the banks get up again and in the other they don't.
It's funny, the WSJ called the Greeks "the oldest country of old Europe" once but the last time Europe tried a universal currency Greece was still new on the map, wrestled out of the Orient through an act of Byronic will. Greece had to petition to join the Latin League. There are all these little wars that nobody remembers, members of the League shifting position as the borders set. Scandinavia had its own currency union but there's no way you'll get them to try that again, except of course for perverse Denmark.
I've been thinking about these things and about the Seleucids, their precise heraldry and how the Apollo-Dionysus cult was absorbed into the Parthian Empire, Zarathustra was a neoplatonist too after his fashion. All these things are in the air and it smells like 1994. And Pandora says, she says--The things we forget
|Wednesday, April 21st, 2010|
|Home of the Brave
The last time I had to ramp up seriously on Thailand was that ghost year after the planes hit. (American planes. Made in America.) The firm was a weird ghost in itself, leaving almost no trace outside the firewall behind. What I heard was that the principals were purged by friends of Mr Shin and vanished owing me money, and there you go.
Since then, the interesting thing is that the fundamentals really haven't changed all that much. It's still the same weird melange of entertainment companies, jewelers, hoteliers. God only knows what their phones run on these days. I've always been fond of the caste-specific origins of their banking system. It hisses and croaks things in the moonlight about where our banks came from, how they evolved over the last decade or so and where they're going. They tell me that Thailand is an industrial powerhouse but I can never seem to look straight at those parts. Only the elephant's shadow is the part that capitalism can interact with. The rest of the elephant is elsewhere.""Truth is an honest thief, she brings you back your mirror."
They gave me a roommate from Thailand once. Math major, one of Deb Bergstrand's favorites I seem to recall. He was highly connected back in the old country. The fact that he knew so many of their pronouns proves it; in fact, most of the people I meet over here were big deals when they were back there. He'd already done his time as a monk. They're sensitive about the term "hinayana." It's funny the things you remember.
One day they'll have another king there. But you know they said that about Nepal too.
|Wednesday, March 24th, 2010|
|Tom / Huck
The CLOUD is coming up fast. Imagine it ramifying, like one of those time-lapse Godfrey Reggio contrails. If you're digital, storage is basically obsolete. Think about that. If you're not, storage is critical. People choose, one by one and group by group, one model or the other. If you fall in outer space, do you think you'd slow down after a while, or go faster and faster? That's Moore's Law for you, with one out of every nine banks on the scare list.
A few stolen minutes for you. Thinking a lot about the function of gnostic saints and why -- lip service to the contrary -- the vital relationship to history they entail has been plowed under. Old time now essentially present / father on vacation. Far cry from how at the other end of the cycle all the books were hagiographies, great chains of Homer showing all the links. Where thee id calls the goy follows. Thinking about how Greece screwed the global currency last time; where it's always 70 AD, PIGS are still unclean animals.Hi dad.
The game of telephone. It's how Tom Sawyer whitewashed the fence. Huck came close to joining that chain but his time on the river taught him something more durable than style. Sometimes, whether some people want to admit it or not, some saints are latter-day, and then the cycle swings. Too many Toms and not enough Hucks. Magic & modernity in English art. Not so much pigeons & mirrors now; cats & kings. Rolling on the river....Ba-da-ba-ba-ba-da-da-bum! Love goes on anyway!
|Wednesday, January 27th, 2010|
There's a brokerage firm that keeps sending me these weird little presents even though I haven't dealt with them directly in at least five years. Cuff links, balsa gliders, scented candles (!), hand-painted chicken eggs, all this creepy Harry Smith bric-a-brac; today it was a football that I now have to either throw away or keep around for my estate to one day find and cope with. When you're alive you can defer these questions but the minute you're dead all the overhanging intangibles are realized one way or another and all your prize possessions turn back into junk, or more to the point get mixed up with it. The implications of this for incorrigible collectors are rarely explored. If you're in love with something relatively conventional like automata or silver age comic books or old master drawings or uranium-glaze fiestaware, the market for your stuff will outlive you and your estate will be able to unload it to people who carry your particular virus. But if your kink is rarefied (paper airplanes, bottle caps, matchbooks, vintage porn) you'll be lucky to end up like the Philadelphia Wireman, with all your holy little world bagged and dumped with your corpse. In many ways this is the question of our age. Sometimes people spend their lives collecting a thing like stamps or player piano rolls, and then where are they left when the collector market for that thing dies and it all turns back into paper?
Books without a market sometimes find their way into what genteel bookmen call the "curiosa" shelf. Often this stuff is more or less specialized porn or "erotica." Often it's just too weird to fit into whatever system the buyer has; for example, the C.F. Russell booklets would find their way here unless the store knew an enormous amount about such things. And sometimes it will be both weird and what you could call porn, which is to say it exerted some kind of libidinal power over its owner at one point as a talismanic object, a beloved thing of more or less intimate fantasy, but isn't the normative naked lady sort of thing. Children's books often have the earmarks of this when you find them in either really good or really bad condition, but children's books are also a well-recognized market and so their fascination is pretty normalized. Same with comic books or 50s crime paperbacks or science fiction for that matter. A true curio's value is more obscure. Sometimes you can puzzle it out from provenance -- even a scissored-out carpet ad becomes a numinous relic if it was owned by Francis Bacon or, again, Joseph Cornell -- but often biographical cues are absent or dead ends. Yard sale fans are good at sniffing this stuff out before it falls back through the cracks of the world.
What are your curios? What will happen to them when you're gone?
In other news I think the work of Joel-Peter Witkin [pictured above: Costumed Inmate, Insane Asylum] still has things to teach me, although it isn't what I was getting out of it twenty years ago.
|Tuesday, January 26th, 2010|
Spent most of the year so far hunting the semantic web, which seems to be the carrier of a lot of gnostic ambition these days. It's really the old story of the marriage of Cadmus and Harmony -- heaven & earth magic properly understood -- with the inevitable submissions, sublimations, translation, transubstantiation of the world on the way to the ideal. It's one of the few directions in which money is still moving, and that's interesting. In theory it's one of the last-ditch hopes for money, and in practice really always has been. Joseph Cornell, "Nymphlight" (still)
Naturally the world is what keeps on happening when you've been hunting the ideal and so there's an elegiac quality. All my favorite restaurants are basically gone: Marions Continental where the Pontani "sisters" danced and tiki season came once a year with rum drinks and summer jackets, Florent on the Gansevoort, Shiki with his fluorescent paper cuts, Two Boots with its midnight movies, Galaxy and its glitter decals under formica, Devil Moon for the girls together outrageously, Bendix even though they were yankees fans, Kiev, the Coral Room... finis gloria mundi, slipping out of the world while the semantic web was coming in, now relegated to a fragmentary half-light state, neither taggable nor forgotten. Restaurants are like pets. They rarely live as long as we do, but we let ourselves forget until one of those uncommon economic plague years takes all your favorites at once.
Someone like a William Gibson or a Joseph Cornell or a Tin Woodsman will find pleasure in memorializing the irreplaceable tangibles that are constantly one step ahead on the road to disappearing. We build these little boxes like blog posts and when they're well made they don't exactly "resist" the melt into light as much as they do not succumb. They aren't tagged, but the very fact they're electric makes them as immortal as anything else in the brave new world. The Woodsman's plush heart may not beat but it reminds him how it felt. The Tessier-Ashpool entities left their boxmaker behind to mark the exit & bait the trap; we all do.Harry Smith, "The Tin Woodsman's Dream" (Film 16, still)
And of course there are surprises on the way as the proverbial first baby continues to laugh. I had a run-in with my own mad (possibly Belgian) ad man. The Chelsea Hotel and even the Mars Bar, despite all the bad omens of the last few years, survive. I finally found the plot for the third Adrian Neubis story, the one where Venus makes her argument. It involves current efforts to dig up Leonardo da Vinci to prove that Mona Lisa (overdrive) was just the exteriorization of his skull all along. Hackneyed and overly literal, as Duchamp would say, to simply write off la gioconda as a twisty Italian dressing like his mother "on vacation," but push it five minutes into the future and it raises all kinds of exciting points about fathers & daughters, pigeons & mirrors, Ourania & her origins.
|Friday, January 8th, 2010|
|Friday on my Mind
Chelsea hasn't changed at all except some of the old haunts are gone. Very interesting Wallace Berman show -- both the "big" verifax grids and the rarely seen "little" single-cell collages live up to their reputation, far more hermetic
than the empty buzzword usually entails when people reach to characterize his work. There was a particularly gorgeous variant (איב זח פצ סנ) where he'd assembled celebrities of the era -- the Kennedys, Marilyn, Liz Taylor -- and painted over the faces, leaving the posture, clothes & hair as reference points, but the highlight was probably a full-wall blow-up of the photo that turned into the Mermaid Tavern poster: crouched down executing yet another row of perfect Hebrew semaphore, black paint on white except where a spill forces him to switch to white on black. Now that, as John Zorn once said, is purity, "if you're into purity."Wallace Berman, "Aleph" (still image).
Had a pleasant chat with Frau Klagsbrun about the weather and got the Cameron catalog in return. (There is no Berman catalog.) On the train you open the book and suddenly a guy sitting to your left calls a blind girl a whore; the train is taken out of service and we all step across the platform. The girl wanted to take the express, would've rather taken the E instead of the 7. So it goes.
|Friday, January 1st, 2010|
According to Romeo Muller, there's an endless archipelago where each old year in its turn subsists in a perpetual retirement. "Choose ye an island." Like a lot of poetic images, this is most useful when you invert it (pigeons & mirrors again): if the archipelago of last years did not exist, we would have to invent it
by, for example, chalking off a box for each "atoll" to inhabit. I am currently obsessed with Dan Clowes.
Once you start filling in the islands there are some basic technical approaches for reorienting your perspective. One of my favorites revolves around the idea that while the past continually recedes, the relationships between historical moments remain relatively intact, so that roughly 15 years will always separate 1995 from both 1980 and 2010, for example. Applying this relatively portable frame to various eras allows you to approximate the maturation and decay of various trends and other cultural entities, not to mention the inflection points around which history appears to speed up or slow down. This in turn liberates the perspective from generational constraints and reinvigorates the past.
For example, when we were children, World War I was still roughly 60 years in the past and its traces occupied a certain stratum in contemporary life, had a certain resonance or echo. Nowadays, World War II occupies the same relative position and (barring outside factors) its reverberations should be diminishing at roughly the same rate. When we were children, the ghost of 1958 was roughly 20 years gone, which means that the world of South Pacific or "Great Balls of Fire" was as present for our parents then as Twin Peaks or "Out of Time" is to us now. The Eisenhower recession ... the 1987 crash ... the credit crunch. Today 1958 is barely relevant but they're remaking Wall Street. In 20 years, where will we be? And so and so forth, adjusting for inflection points of course. If everything else is equal, comic book collecting today should be roughly as mature as stamp collecting was around 1910. (And if it isn't, it points to the presence of previously invisible external forces.) This also has a constructive application, as 1958, for example, can be approximately reconstituted as the dot product of all the historical relationships that constitute 2010, only slid back about a half century and holding constant terms constant.
The effect is similar to the invention of artificial spatial perspective with its web of gazelines. When you start thinking in these terms it gets easier to put scattered historical accounts in their places -- to navigate the otherwise endless sea of time, memory & junk in search of terra that's firma -- and construct your own. Watch pop coagulate, backward through the bobbysoxers, cylinder recordings, vaudeville, Napoleon, nursery rhymes, commedia, vanishing point ("tradition").
|Monday, December 28th, 2009|
|The New (Interior) Suns
Land of the Mangaboos. Jess, 1955. Oil on burlap.
"Your Highness," said he, "I will now proceed to prove my magic by creating two suns that you have never seen before; also I will exhibit a Destroyer much more dreadful that your Clinging Vines." So he placed Dorothy upon one side of him and the boy upon the other and set a lantern upon each of their heads. "Don't laugh," he whispered to them, "or you will spoil the effect of my magic." Then, with much dignity and a look of vast importance upon his wrinkled face, the Wizard got out his match-box and lighted the two lanterns. The glare they made was very small when compared with the radiance of the six great colored suns; but still they gleamed steadily and clearly. The Mangaboos were much impressed.
"His fantasies are taken to be not escapes from reality but descents
-- Robert Duncan, "Jack Spicer's One Night Stand & Other Poems"
|Friday, December 18th, 2009|
|Pigeons & Mirrors
As many of you know my long work of capitalist self-immolation was achieved earlier this year and since then I've been reborn (levigate) as a sustainable free agent. So far the main adjustments are psychological. It reminds me of how the Beatles tricked the Vacuum Cleaner Beast into annihilating first the rest of the Sea of Monsters, then itself, leaving them to find their way back through the Sea of Nothing where Martin Amis lives. It is good but the way to Pepperland is often hypnotic.
Along these lines I had the great good luck to find a bootleg Krautrocksampler
online recently. Projects like this are often mere facile exercises in hipsterism but St. Julian's prose has real verve and so animates insights that would in other hands only drive collector markets. (Cope realizes this.) The best parts are early on when he describes the amnesiac West German kids' efforts to first absorb the mass of American (and then Anglo-American) pop thrown at them, then digest it and finally regurgitate it in a recognizable but still uniquely "German" form. This is of course what happens to your mercury in the rasa shastra system. More immediately interesting, it's also a good example of double reflection, in which crossing the river twice is not equivalent to never having crossed at all but in fact opens up first an inversion and then infinite regress. We saw this earlier with the "haunted" Meek sound, reel-to-reel recordings of the three-minute American symphony played back at us to let the American teenager see its own soda-shop, B-movie, blackboard jungle ghosts from a new angle: John Leyton to the Meteors and ultimately coughing up Rocky Horror, suedehead & the Damned. We saw it again in the nouvelle vague (see last post)."The delicate perfume of sex and leatherette pervades the air,
the radios playing new Gene Vincent songs."
(Photo credit MadelonTK)
It of course is still going on. The "Dark Monarch
" evolves England's hidden reverse
and vice versa: Britpop like James Brown is dead (undead undead) and as we all know the pound like British Aerospace still swings both ways (like a pendulum do), between and reflecting both the continents. I am not of course a WASP but modern life can still be rubbish (so the story begins / get my crepes suzette).
The problem, everyone tells me this week, is storage
: data, power, oil, gas, grain, gold. Near-term, remarkably, production is not a concern -- producers can't unload the stuff fast enough. Everyone knows the futures curve is profoundly unbackwardate; it is however also extreme in its current contango. Reverse gold rush, building the pressure of demand: ad men & the art of mirrors
.On exhibit in the Court of the Crimson King (St Ives)
through January 10
|Monday, September 28th, 2009|
|the living & the dead
I heckled one of these trailers when it played theatrically. The other holds up OK. Despite disclaimers
to the contrary, the differences between them -- their intended audiences, ideological situation, intrinsic interest -- are instructive.
|Monday, November 3rd, 2008|
Yma Sumac or Amy Camus, another flaming creature
has left the planet. Imagine the golden door swinging open, a feather the color of sunlight wafts to the yellow newsprint at the bottom of her cage but the bird herself is gone. Xtabay. That voice is free to go back where it came from, up and up the heart of the Andes. A good omen.
|Monday, December 31st, 2007|
|not dead; dreaming
turn from Ann-Margret for all the beautiful and ugly, old and new people of livejournal and beyond.
BOMBASTICUS WILL RETURN in: The Voluptuous Horror of H.P.L.
|Saturday, October 15th, 2005|
|Squid Versus Whale
"You were much more emotional when you were younger." People talk a lot about monsters from the retro deep, but sometimes they still come to the surface. Squid versus whale. It keeps going on.
|Tuesday, September 27th, 2005|
One of the funniest things I have ever seen was an unsigned sheet of doodling we found back in the files of an art house in Salt Lake City, clearly the workings of an unhinged projectionist. It was a series of little portraits neatly labeled by age – Age 1, staring baby, Age 3, cute tot and so on. The gag was that at intervals the row of heads was interrupted by a caption “THE CHANGE!” and then when the dating resumed the person would have gone through puberty, changed sex, became maniacal, grown an extra eye, mutated into a hippo or whatever. Between CHANGEs, the aging process went on as normal but the heads got smaller as they got closer to the bottom of the page. I seem to remember it ending with panel after panel of tiny hippo skulls (Age 245 … Age 257 … Age 269). My God, that was the best cartooning I’ve ever seen.
This was especially amusing for me because we had THE CHANGE in my high school too, only we called it the science of climacterics. This has since been turned into genre fiction by John Crowley but the basic idea was that the typical person goes through long-wave cycles that take you from crisis to peak every 14 years. I am not a big fan of this theory but people around me find it funny so I laugh along. Actually this is all preliminary for a POLL!( Read more...Collapse )
|Monday, September 26th, 2005|
|The Importance of Being Yma
I first heard the Voice of the Xtabay about 20 years ago when, primed by a throwaway reference in an H.P. Lovecraft tribute anthology
(at one point alien prog rock is compared to "Yma Sumac...that freak South American singer a few years ago"), I had the frankly bizarre good luck to find the original EP in the local flea market, a place where you could get Navaho food, hand-carved chess tables and other fern-bar gothic furniture trucked up from Mexico, and piles of Ballantine adult fantasy paperbacks priced at fifty cents. They undoubtedly had a lot of other stuff there as well but I was still young and relatively stupid. Anyway, if her voice was anywhere near Lovecraftian, I had to hear it for myself. Besides, the album
was already 35 years old! A collector's item! So I threw it on there with a lot of the weirdly bloodless crap I thought I should like at the time (Chad & Jeremy, June Tabor and even, dear reader, a Sinatra record) and took a listen. It was satisfyingly exotic, conjuring a landscape of Inca rituals, mythology, lost Peruvian princesses and all that Nicky Roerich stuff . . . often in Spanish so I wasn't terribly interested. That stuff, I could get down the block, but the antediluvian culture behind
the Spanish, the lost civilization where the girls could sing like birds, pictures were painted in the color of sunlight and anima menaces were calling like sirens from every mountain peak, that was exciting:The Xtabay is the most elusive of all women. You seek her in your flight of desire and think of her as beautiful as the morning sun touching the highest mountain peak. Her voice calls to you in every whisper of the wind. The lure of her unknown love becomes ever stronger, and a virgin who might have consumed your nights with tender caresses now seems less than the dry leaves of winter. For you follow the call of the Xtabay...though you walk alone through all your days.
That's from the record jacket but was quoted in FATE magazine
, which only demonstrates that Yma's fan base and the Lovecraft people were often found drinking in the same bars.
A few years later, at school, we would blast this album and the Singing Nun as a kind of sonic warfare (this would later become much more sophisticated), but then again we did a lot of dumb things like get really drunk and dance to the national anthem of Finland or whatever, all this weird junior united nations gone bad type stuff. And that's when I heard that Yma Sumac didn't really exist, she was just a Jewish girl from Brooklyn (the details always vary slightly) named Amy Camus, a failed opera singer who reversed her name for publicity. Since the "xtabay" is actually a Mayan
legend (a long walk from Peru) and a cunning pig-latin anagram for Les "Baxter," god of exotica, there's some circumstantial evidence for this. But then, dear reader, who was "Moises Vivanco," the debonair Indiana Jones of bandleaders who (legend has it) called the princess down from the mountain and eventually married her (twice)? Was he from Brooklyn too? Another of the masks of Baxter?
To be honest, it doesn't interest me so much which side of the mirror Yma/amY came from as what's been on her mind since then. Why did she drop out of sight in America after making only a handful of records and a few movies? Did her "unusually constructed" mutant throat finally give out? Why did she do most of her work in the '60s behind the Iron Curtain? What were they aiming at, the impersonation of the gods or just a quick marketing hook? At what point did the act become real, if it wasn't always thus? At this point, the people who knew the secrets are dead or in relative seclusion -- the truth is slipping away and matters less and less to the world it leaves behind. At the end, all that will be left is those four- or five-octave recordings in some language that claims to be court Quechua. That amazing throat was real.So much has been said about the girls over the years, but we have never found an answer. It didn't matter in the end how old they were, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling: still do not hear us calling them from out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.