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|Tuesday, March 27th, 2018|
|Wednesday, February 14th, 2018|
|Valentine and Lent: Alan Moore on David Lindsay
So when the VIX was fighting the falconer's strap I naturally steered into the gyre and grabbed a copy of the Savoy Voyage to Arcturus while it was available. Remarkably I wasn't alone. There were at least two more of us moving simultaneously. I don't know their motives. Since I already have access to Ballantine paperbacks with the magnificent Bob Pepper art I didn't need the book for itself. I needed to see what Alan Moore had to say about it and I wanted to share those observations -- whatever they were, sight unseen -- with you. Here it is.
It's extraordinary, the kind of literate and expansive introduction every text craves and few, especially in our genres, ever get. While we could easily get similar high-flying thoughts from Harold Bloom on the book's "gnostic" situation, having Moore deliver the lecture grounds the discussion in the lower territories of genre. This is how you work within "fantasy" to create a space for Lindsay: Lindsay in communication with Moorcock, Lindsay in opposition to much of what the parisees consider the "Appendix N" canon, Lindsay within the Ballantine canon. Lindsay shining strangely colored light for the edification of the hippies, who were finally prepared to receive what he had to say. Lindsay engaged with concerns beyond where his books end up shelved, Lindsay betrayed by C.S. Lewis of all people, took the good stuff, ran, kept taking the good stuff in secret. That Hideous Strength came out when Lindsay was dead and couldn't even cheer to see someone, anyone actually read Devil's Tor.
And here's Moore waving the deep flags. It starts opening my eyes one increment wider on what's really going on with Moorcock's poisoned London in the Hawkmoon series with its beast legions and submerged Blakean deities. It rings the changes: imaginary lands, imaginary languages, the magic power of gobbledegook, the cruelty and release warring in the breast of genre creators in particular, whose people have fewer inherent dignities than their "literary" cousins born to something a little closer to sweet delight. Logres and Cornwall. It arrays people like Moorcock and Barker (both Barkers, Clive and M.A.R.) in opposition to the zero-sum conventions of an "Appendix N." Appendix Nightspore, school of night, school of visions. Farmer. Chalker. Wagner. Maybe it even makes a case for Vance as part of a larger project, but my jury on that one will need to deliberate a little longer.
Genre redeem'd as a mutant form. As the future and the immanent eternal. And now, our feature presentation. ( Collapse )
MARCH 3RD 2002
|Thursday, February 1st, 2018|
|Amuse Bouche (or: PKD Had A Sister)
The Aristasians are active again. This from the rare tract "An Introduction to the Madrian Faith: The Religion of the Goddess" by Madria Olga Lotar, posted here without comment or really even a close reading. More as soon as I get a chance.
THE last five thousand years and more have constituted the Kali Yuga, or the Age of Iron: the tail end of the great cycle of history of our present humanity. The first millennia of the Iron Age saw the decadence of the old matriarchies and the gradual encroachment of patriarchal and semi-patriarchal forms of society and religion. The gentle, ordered world, oriented towards beauty and the feminine principle was beginning to give way to a harsher way of life which would eventually lead to the violence and materialism of the modern world.
Large parts of the world remained untouched by these changes. Some did not even hear of patriarchy until many hundreds of years later. But in the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, India and China, semi-matriarchal and semi-patriarchal regimes vied with each other, producing almost every imaginable form of hybrid government and social order. The general drift of the tide was towards greater and greater patriarchy, with male sovereigns, men occupying most positions of authority; and war and armed force becoming increasingly a factor in human affairs.
It is a mistake to suppose( Collapse )
|Tuesday, December 26th, 2017|
|Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017|
|Un a Part: Mr Brightside ov Eden
If it's been a "whirlwind" summer the last month feels more like a full-fledged hekatomb, by which I mean a big barbeque I guess. No idea why the calendar got so accelerated. Maybe it's just inefficient effort as all the players overthink the gordian knot, energy getting vented equivalent to those shut-in gas flares lighting the Dakota shale so bright you can see it from space. I can't say I've personally been that productive in real terms . . . it feels like a bigger friction drag on the system as a whole. Well, Old MacDonald had a farm as the song goes so we just beat on against the current until the tide turns.
In the meantime I keep accumulating "access to tools" like some kind of post-Burning-Man spiritual successor to the Whole Earth Catalog, the one William Gibson wrote for an issue before it made the leap to digital-only updates. Oh the things we will see when the vaults open! But not yet. Now is still the time when we are out there consciously wheedling the guardians of the rare book markets, the unseen forces that arbitrate PROVENANCE.
I don't get everything all at once because I am cheap and my ambit is broad -- but we're getting close to 100% coverage. Rare Umberto Eco spins on what "the medieval" really means in an apocalyptic context, unavailable in English. Monographs on dream urban landscapes picked out in parquet on the backs of pews in Italian cathedral towns, indispensable for experiencing tarot architecture or de Chirico visions from interior angles. Ultra-traditionalist scouting manuals. Situationist punk zines, rumbling in the dark with the ghosts of gnostic thunder. Proceedings from philological conferences that have been going on in their magic mountains since the '30s, the fossil tracks of a world that died and never got the message. The self-published musings of the world's leading authority on belle de jour automata.
And of course the Temple of Psychick Youth materials, which are less about instrumentality at this point as expressing a narrative. We'll get to unbox those materials one of these days and reveal the contents to the world like some kind of seal in revelations. The French have been particularly kind, albeit characteristically eccentric.
The French also dropped a big piece of that "Legion of Super-Heroes" reinvention in my lap the other day. This is more on the fortean end but I always enjoy the effects of translation across empires and then back again, like a bird of fire released between two mirrors. One of them slips and renders A. Merritt as "Meyritt" and a door to old Vienna swings open to let the blue starlight in. They kept things we didn't, abandoned things we held onto, offer degrees of free movement that differ from what we have here.
Cabell dreamed of an alternative gnostic France. So did Clark Ashton Smith. Dunsany had one. C.L. Moore swung a sword across hers. Robert W. Chambers lived it. I spent the early '90s learning the (post)modern conjugations of these verbs and will never regret it. Or as the recent note explains (nom du pere!)
I don't know if I'd consider myself a real fan of the Doors (they aren't made, they're born) but I do like "Peace Frog." So next time we'll shine a little light on the long-term villains in the work of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, the wreckers of creation, whether they are masks or mirrors. They go by "lloigor" both ways. They ran the Third Reich both ways. But for Moore there's always an erotic element, a hint of redemption or at least reunion possible, north and south. Whether they made us love them or we made them love us -- didn't wanna do it, as Al Jolson, Judy Garland, Lilian "Bill" Shelley and ONJ in Xanadu point out -- is a side question. The real story is how they built the urban century and tore it down. Metropolis. M. Mabuse. And then us little Babbitt types and petty cadres ripped the future out of their bony-knuckled grip, beating them to the moon.
(We theoretically have a special guest lined up who was actually at the memorial concert in Hyde Park and is willing to comment on Moore's take on the terminal '60s. Sympathy for the devil indeed! Take a memo, Turner!)
For Morrison, as we've seen, the angles are increasingly cruel as he retreats from the four-color page to luxuriate on the magazine rack: hurlants. The Gentry of his "Multiversity," like the malign ultra-terrestrials of the TOPY "Green Book" (true model for the Matrix movies), like to watch horror movies. I don't really. I tend to take my walks on the brightside.
"Just as The Process' flirtation with implied 'satanic' beliefs and other sensationalist mischief ended up biting them nastily, so TOPY's amusement with the darker aspects of humanity also backfired in a hauntingly similar way." Moore is friends with the rock band that was staying with the person who wrote that passage when the mansion caught fire and they all escaped with barely a haunted but slightly scorched chocolate bar to show for it. A Crumb "Devil Girl" bar -- "it's bad for you!" -- that Moore owns today. So let's see. This one is obviously progressing at the pace of dental work. Maybe that mansion is the world. Warm smell of colitas.
|Monday, August 7th, 2017|
|slide in 3 dimensions
A little busy -- like eye-bleedingly busy, I apologize to all within range of these words -- but we have a full agenda for the next time we're together. For one thing, I think I just figured out how to
reboot reincrudate the Legion of Super-Heroes, break the egg of the trademark while keeping their ineffably weird time-travel conceit intact. Who knows where or how fast that one goes.
Keep those pooches pink, ladies! LLL! Second, work in proximity to these discarded TOPY materials is useful but I have whole boxes I haven't had time to open up yet. Maybe you will be the one who scores the winning goal. Something is moving across 1990-2 even as we speak. alt.magick is alive. God is afoot.
Third, once again, the problem of pain in the late work of Alan Moore, as expressed through the twin uh peaks of the Painted Doll plot in Promethea and the more recent issue of Cinema Purgatorio where the film of steady state time gets fucked up. Ayesha and the Nazi pornographers are somewhere in the middle.
A few days ago I had the delightful experience of hanging around one of those shady online cantinas when a couple of punk kids banged in practically demanding to see our papers. When the dust cleared it was only like these 4-5 legendary
thelemites character actors standing in a circle of busted prop furniture and eyeing each other sidelong. I was by far the smallest among them, I don't know, call me the Robert Vaughn character, just trying to sit on my schemes at that banquette over to the side and keep my kid gloves clean. God moving over the face of the waters. Who knows where it goes this time, which I believe is a song title.
|Friday, July 21st, 2017|
|Saturday, July 8th, 2017|
|Magic Wars: Levitz versus Albion
One of the gordian knots of funnybook urban legend (aren't they all) revolves around that time noted industry suit Paul Levitz greeted Alan Moore as "my greatest mistake." Moore gracefully dodges the knife as "a kind of neurotic American business thing that I didn't quite understand" and little else is said. However, the gesture opens fault lines that define the four-color astral to this day, and poignantly only Neil Gaiman, in a rare overt prophetic voice, sees all the angles:
But that's research disguised as drama, as himself does, vintage 1991 Gaiman Code, a very good year. To unpack it, we need to rewind a 7-year ache, back to 1984. Moore only has a handful of Swamp Thing on the DC books, and while he's already pushing the Code, it's a horror title. The horror titles have been sick for a long time. Pushing against the sunlight of the Code is what they do on their slow shamble to oblivion. It's not the clean death of girl comics or funny animals, war comics or the western or God help us, Joe Orlando's pirate titles, on the newsstand one month and gone the next. They hand Moore a piece of waste land like a few years earlier the competition handed a peripheral thelemite a failed genetic misfit book that exploded in his hands.
He lets the nightmares back into the nursery after decades' hard work keeping them at bay.
I myself have cut several paragraphs of drama disguised as research in order to appear deep and mysterious, but it boils down to a desperate company and rival templates for saving the world. By 1991, Levitz had lost and the model Moore embodied had won. Back in 1984, all Levitz had was a premonition of regret (tenses twist adrift in the timestream) over letting this beatnik join the team. This was not the bright and gleaming future he wanted. In 1984, Moore's early excesses must have looked like a return of the repressed all the way back to the bad times -- the other 1950s that shaped them both, the nightside of suburbia that dogged his managerial instinct with every threatened regress. In 1984, Levitz -- three years younger than Moore -- is nominally the grown-up in the room, pursuing incremental distribution shifts, writing aspirational-yet-affordable generational epics, young adult team books.
But the genie is out of the bottle. The enlightenment is faltering, ironically, under the weight of too many lush colors -- too much light -- and too much complexity as the Reagan epoch marches to its climax. Claremont hits a wall. Levitz hits a wall. The artists take over and panel counts plunge throughout the old newsstand end of the industry. Meanwhile the Berger shop consolidates the other side, where panels are dark and captions heavy.
Five years after damning Moore as a mistake, the Watchmen have come and gone. The Dark Knight has returned. Levitz is so tired that even the characters spend a lot of time complaining that it's the worst year ever. All around him, the new books launching are revivals of titles like Sandman and Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Shade. Levitz the manager made the fateful decision that the rationalist cosmos Levitz the fan helped create needed radical surgery and something called "magic" rushed the genre borders to fill the gap that crisis left behind. His book -- of which I could and may still write volumes -- relied more heavily on that rationalist framework and doesn't really survive. His final storyline makes all of this explicit.
Gaiman, of all people, sees this and memorializes it in what amounts to a revolutionary manifesto for the Berger regime, like he was Firdausi talking about failed King Darab.
The decision to incorporate a "future" book into Gaiman's grand romantic reorganization of the universe is odd, similar to the near-simultaneous decision to let Chaykin structure the science fiction properties over in Twilight. The only real objective here seems to be rehabilitating Levitz into the Vertigo milieu, making space for the expansive and positivistic generational saga alongside the darker, more neurotic characters multiplying on the nightside. This, too, is a "book of magic," Gaiman argues. The future can be dazzling too, alongside all the space devils that ruled once and with strange centuries may one day come again in their haze of cosmic menace.
Ultimately a Frazerian because them tomes are dustier, we know Gaiman at this stage in his career will ultimately come down on the side of youth over black magic. Within a matter of months, he will be escaping from comics, ranging wider fields. We must imagine himself happy.
But his parting gift for Levitz is a chance. The sinister man in the blue suit who triggers four-color armageddon up above is only a possible future. Arguably the nasty puritan Mr E who sets up the vision is another. Young "Tim Hunter" through his choices today determines which worlds live and which ones die, which are mistakes and which feed our imaginations the most nourishing food. Paul Levitz is the man in the blue suit killing Constantine. In 1984 Paul Levitz is exactly the same age as the man in the black suit portrayed here. Paul Levitz is also Tim Hunter. The Legion of Super-Heroes hangs in the balance.
Paul Levitz is Mr E as well. He won some fights against the Berger shop and lost others over the intervening decades but ultimately the Berger imprint was coopted into the main line along with one or two of the prestige creators (koff) and most of the next generation, the successors. It's a generational epic, a long game. His comments about the Berger era in his own shah namah, "The Art of Modern Myth-Making," are not kind. The "dark age," he argues, was just another historical turn that ended in the squalor of its own revisionist excesses while we now inhabit a "modern age" that's presumably studded with triumph and wonder, none of which I can point to offhand.
He's happy to keep the other historical material -- the golden age before him, silver age of his youth and the bronze age of his own creative adulthood -- in print as separate volumes but as yet the "dark age" sequence remains locked up in the gigantic omnibus, a hidden poisoned-coffee-table-book chapter for only hardcore jaded fans to explore. Maybe it's a glitch in the publishing cycle. Or maybe he's not comfortable with that whole era, that wild and polymorphous model of "adult" comics. History in its phases will determine where and when he's right.
All Legion of Super-Heroes updates in the post-Levitz era have been failures. Some were more interesting than others and the most Vertigo-adjacent of them persisted for as much as a decade before ultimately crashing on the rocks of their own audience, but the spirit that once inhabited the title is clearly gone now. Arguably it suffers under a curse that may somehow be broken . . . but this is magic talking. "Mistakes" happen. The Magic Wars continue.
|Wednesday, July 5th, 2017|
|Gotham: A Library in Flames or Dark Knights, White Satin
where do we come from / what are we / where are we going
A month ago, a gifted young NLP practitioner in Poland marveled that Diana knows who she is, Superman keeps scratching across his identities like some kind of Kill Bill monologue and the third's true name is simply "Batman." I was never a really a Batman fan until I got much older and he stayed the same age or even regressed a bit to his own Golden Age, a magic hour immediately before sunrise when shadows are long but liquid and the outlines shift in the astral light. Which is to say I take a certain delight in the show "Gotham."
On the far end of the clock face Frank Miller was at the (presumed) end of his shambolic engagement with the character that's shadowed his career for a generation now, Dark Knight III: The Master Race. It finishes with a regression to an idealized Year One, triangulating "Gotham" by showing us a rejuvenated Bruce Wayne running endless and millennial through the sunset city, finally a way to square the Wertham problem and put both cat woman and robin at his side simultaneously. In the totemic calculus of the city he's gotten the wolf, the lamb and the holy cabbage -- bird or "raven" in the Cry of the XX Aethyr -- across the river without allowing any of them to devour another, the Great Work of Batman. Miller is one of those solitary figures the chatterers rarely have time for beyond a curt dismissal of his politics and grudging respect for his craft. He doesn't fit the British Invasion narrative but instead stands apart. Like many of the people we love around here, he defies the thrust of received fan history, paddles against the current, beating his boats unto the fine morning. Maybe he misunderstands and maybe he's misunderstood in equal measure. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take him seriously, read him for power.
Nobody talks about this particular comic. It leaves the chatterers quiet just like the last one -- the Dark Knight Returns gasping in the dust of 911 -- left the industry in a kind of shock. That time around, the venom and the wit of it overwhelmed the critics who were initially eager to luxuriate in the great man's long-deferred statement on the superhero mythology. They got their "tights," but the satire cut too seriously for comfort in some places and not seriously enough in others. It had this weird obsession with dinosaurs. It portrayed a sexual relationship between the man of steel and the woman of whatever Wonder Woman is made of, refractory clay. The Robin-Joker phases spooked people.
This comic is actually about Superman. Batman is a window through which Miller points to the Superman of his old age, the ubermensch who suffers endless foolishness in order to shine more brightly. This is not the Superman of Miller's youth, the brittle boy scout we love to pretend to pity for his self-imposed repression. This is not even the All-Star Superman whose clarkface is screwed so perpetually in a wink that you'd think he's signaling illuminati status to the readers: it's all good, you know who I really am.
This is Lucifer flat and simple, the star that fell for all our sakes from the master race of heaven. There's an odd duginesque texture to this Superman, a narcotic attraction to the polar ice and strange lights at the magnetic top of the world. For a creature of the sun, he's far too cozy with the cold
1° la chute d'eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage
But we're here to talk about how that reflects through Batman or in this book, the egregore that evolves when these deep mythological silos intersect: a "Justice League" that pools the high and low perspectives, the cosmic and the mundane, day and night, male and female, sea and sky. That's how the book really ends, with the hymn to gravity as the force that brings the super-people -- each sui generis -- together like balls of strange mercury rolling together back to some universal secret origin. Miller has no time for the goofy plastic people this time around and the bipartisan satire of Grell versus Ditko has lost its charm. Captain Marvel is dead; the bird people of Thanagar persist here only through their orphaned children. He has a surprisingly redemptive take on Green Lantern, as well as the Atom, the Flash and even Aquaman. Wonder Woman of course, is a figure of great fascination for him, stealing the show again and again.
A brave new world with such people in 't is a world where the sun always shines somewhere in Gotham. It reminds me of the Gotham of the TV series, a gleaming West Coast sprawl of country clubs, beaches, coffeehouses, gala events, Dragnet. The old hush hush is receding in the atomic age. Disney is in town. Bradbury is in town. Cameron moves through the scene like some latter-day Catwoman, on a first name basis with George Clayton Johnson and other relevant fan names. Translate for a moment the suburbs of Gotham back onto their analogues: Laurel Canyon, Pasadena, Anaheim. I've had to check in with investors in six cities in the last sixty days and one of the last was Santa Monica. Meanwhile my father and Adam West were both dying. Los Angeles lit up the sky. Hail in Denver.
the minor fall, the major lift
It's a complicated symbol, at first an internalized cry for help and then a projection, a trick of light and also a target. Morrison has him scribbling it on cave walls in the far paleolithic as a kind of love letter and totemic promise to himself, a vow to make the eternal return when circumstances dictate. When my father died, it was like a whole library had burned down. A wealthy orphan, strange visitor from a dead planet of ubermenschen forced to hide, a different shade of lucifer figure plumbing the depths in order to bring light back to the night sky: as we argued as children, Batman has all the grandest war-machines and steel that gold can forge, but he cannot fly.
Neither can Wonder Woman. They don't need to.
Batman's movies are terrible, part of the problem. Superman's movies are terrible. Wonder Woman's was a good start.
|Wednesday, May 31st, 2017|
|Our Moonlight Revels: Storming the Reality Principle (by Strategy)
At this point I've had a few windows open perpetually for a few weeks, a kind of background process dreaming to itself now that there's a lull on the Road and the rains have settled in. One is a searchable "Little Big" with all the Russell Eigenblick beats highlighted. Another is the 1943 German Baron Munchhausen, which I stumbled upon hunting the moment in the Gilliam when they burst the gates of Vienna from the inside and find nobody laying siege. I can't actually find that bit. People online think the climax is when his ramshackle companions decimate the enemy army via what I guess you could call oblique application of force: mice blown through hearing trumpets, defrocked spies with a blunderbuss in the tower, Sarah Polley, Kieron Gillen (!), the dictionary, Wendy's Burgers, Teen Vogue, whatever Louise Mensch is. It's a right-hand vector of sorts that reminds me that another of the perpetual windows is the text of Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties, which is strange because it really doesn't have a climax, only a resolution deep behind its forest of signs and the impact on the rogue mechanicals we've come to know. Something falling to measure time like saturn receding in the face of swallowed children. I've pieced together a lot of the samovar queen's plan and a lot of what that guy H. Humbert "Hubertus" Harwood or whatever his name wanted instead, but that's not the point.
Another window contains all this Peter Brook that's opened up in the last year. Today an 81 year old badass lady gets a stack of his DVDs delivered. I can practically watch the truck pull up in real time. Where are we going? Where do we want to go? Whatever that other Crowley was up to making the matter of germany (Angelegenheit) central to our thing here is very interesting. It allows us to triangulate across to that matter of Großbritannien (eng-a-land) in useful ways: a minimum of three points on a plane, three [men] and a [little lady] and it strikes me now the Germans ate Peter Brook with a spoon in his heyday even though now like Michael Moorcock he inhabits Paris instead. The neoreactionary enigma of Russell Eigenblick is the counterweight to the last war brewing in albion even as we speak, and on that hill we are on firm footing here. Or perhaps rather, under it. Twin Peaks, meine großmutter glancing down the cliff and muttering about meeting "the devil" back in the day, where over here & now we would say king of the fairies.
|Tuesday, March 28th, 2017|
While snapping in the last pieces of the NEMO plot it strikes me that the early phases of LOEG are a wee bit more "prognostic" than ordinarily assumed. Helene Smith, thou may yet be avenged, apparently. We've connected a few of other the dots outlining "Martian language" in other venues -- Jack Spicer and the hypnotists and Smith of course, that mediumistic princess of the field of Arbol -- but this one still needs a little crunching when time permits. Meanwhile the planetary logic of it speaks for itself. There's a moon and it is hatching a new root race: half techno-amazon, half insect, half mad scientist. And there's a mars. The house of NEMO does not participate in this evolution until just maybe the end, marriage in heaven.
|Saturday, March 11th, 2017|
|Old Heads on Young Shoulders
Running (if you will) to the top (of the hill) to work a few deals (with gods) but occasionally it's nice to stop our paces and natter about comic books that may or may not have ever really been looked at in years if not decades. Like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for instance. Obsessively "annotated," solved in some ways but rarely coagulated or understood as an evolving technical apparatus for first mapping, then plotting and executing activity on the microcosmic interfaces where fiction happens. The initial volumes were really just goofing around for a paycheck whilst building a war machine and the density of semiotic chaff or "dazzle" that allows the thing to operate unmolested: anything going on keeps going on after the reader labels that carrot person in the parlor dome and rests.
By the end it's a catalog . . . of tactics . . . what someone among the loggias might even call a thesis setting forth his knowedge of the universe and his proposals for its welfare and progress. He might actually have a formal grimoire slouching down his sleeve to formally unite the kingdoms of [a]egypt but it's practically an afterthought, an encore to his maps of dream. We already see the hinges of history and the individual, where fake nous comes from, how it evolves under the impacts of desire, its ultimate magnetic journey north and south. Clever, unusual people -- oh to be the creme de la creme -- cross the panel borders and participate in the world of spies, the world of magicians, maybe occasionally the world of the superheroes. Some come back.
Take for example the strange case of Jean Grey, better known to many as superhero Famke Janssen. When she was born within the fictional timeline circa 1948, her parents didn't have the Muriel Sparks character as a reference so her name emerges fully formed out of a kind of private void: maybe they were Scottish, which explains the hair and handwaves the emotional walls that made her such a natural fit for the early school.
But when she was concocted fully formed in maybe early 1963, late 1962, Stan Lee reached for a shiksa to fill out his squad and found the prime of Miss Jean Brodie reaching back. The book was huge. The play was huge. You could not get away from it. And while that family gene proved recessive, it's still there, carrying the potential for a different kind of academic situation, at least as intense but gendered very differently. And while Cyclops was probably fired from the radio station a few months before the movie and its soundtrack came out, you can imagine the odd ghost regret he felt for never getting to play the Rod McKuen track endlessly as a secret mash note. That secret mash note is another of the hinges around which time is structured.
(And of course the triumph of the superheroes has altered our world. While trying to make sure the single broke after he left radio you find things like this, funny foreshadowing like mutants born centuries too soon.)
Now while most readers are chewing on that, the rest of us are actually over here with Alan Moore, who never actually wrote the character although he took a turn on Magneto once and of course developed the environment where the character's parthogenetic dystopian twin "Rachel" (apparently not a shiksa) flowered. What you've just seen is only a minor demonstration of the techniques on display throughout LOEG, the dazzle ships distorting distance and direction like flashing colours at a Gilbert & George show or the machines Jerry Cornelius' father built in France. It takes a Village.
The real polemic, the big guns, are still so well camouflaged that a decade after the Black Dossier they still elude direct surveillance. We've hit a few of the high notes from the NEMO trilogy, crunching the unspoken critique that they're just a throwaway to pad Kevin's retirement fund. Century of course builds to Hogwarts as the ultimate expression of a particular aeonic project, the revolt of the novitiate groomed to serve. He clearly loathes the syrup that acts as a preservative -- Ridgely was just watching an Attenborough on amber last night -- and so this is his method of gathering all his enemies into one snake's head so he can crush it. Mary Poppins as mask of God, the perrenial by definition is what always comes back while publishing fads come and go. In the process so many of his enemies wash away like chalk drawings in the rain. There's the myth of Crowley, the great beast 666. There goes Mick, doomed to a kind of panto black brotherhood while Brian remains poignant and vibrant in death. Good-bye, Harry. And there goes a generation of anoraks annotating the biographies of roaches while the real life is elsewhere, in the toys Prospero deigns to keep on the table after he's let Al[l]en -- who is also sometimes John Constantine -- wither and burn.
But if Century is partially about heisting someone else's sarcophagus for later personal use, there's another school in the books that casts a longer shadow. Beside the magicians there are the spies, Dee as a hinge that swings over to Walsingham as well as Prospero and 007 is singled out for special scorn as the sacrifice when A+M climb the 39 steps to Greyfriars. That's the posh campus where we briefly see Gloriana with "Jack Wilton" in tow, Prospero apparently being absent that day. It's a land of strange regress, hard pews, toilet training and casual instructive cruelty, a universe that teaches discipline, canalizes desire, enforces hierarchies. Miss Martindale's lurid reputation.
We see the claw marks of this country again behind the pages when they don't enjoy their visit to Samois, while NEMO is winding up her long punctuated war with stalag fiction and over in the universe next door the Lovecraft thing threatens to crowd out the polymorphous perversity of a mad mad mad mad world, which here in LOEG we know as the fonts of creation that straddle the south pole like a tiger lily, mother of us all.
(I keep wanting to abbreviate as LOEXG even though as Mina says only an American would do that and, as we apparently know, there is no X in the Moore oeuvre. "X"-cept in its deliberate and persistent erasure.)
The world of the spies, the primal crimes that spin out the fake regime of Big Brother and all the deep state unpleasantness that generates LOEG units: for Moore at this time, original sin tends to manifest as the exploitation of children: the dragon in Smax, what the Justice League got up to at the end of Top 10, strange talk of the "grooming" of proto spies over here in a book that otherwise revels in the erotic applications of people who do not technically exist. Go Ask Alice. It's a strange complex in the aggregate. Arguably it still drives his world behind the screens of Hogwarts going into the brexit. Fake news!
"Cousins." What drove the Famous Five into these circles of intimacy and deceit? How do cases like Jimmy Savile and X-Men impressario Bryan Singer feed into the tight clubs that form around charismatic teachers who may or may not have ulterior agendas? Maybe getting caught up on the other side of the Spanish Civil War from the Cambridge Spies in their impressionable youth is the easy way out.
I suspect Greyfriars closed permanently under the weight of the Missa Luba "Sanctus" and a whole lot of firepower just before 1969, the year Jean Grey's modeling career took off and Maggie Smith became immortal. My own school, the infamous "greeting card factory" and art mafia spawning ground, was busy acknowledging women as people as the ancient frat complex wound down, melted into the crisp highland air that we breathe(d).
Ilvermorny with all its retroactive bullshit. Camden / Hampden.
Old heads on young bodies, the inverse of the Princess Langwidere complex. Where do the young heads go? New mutants, shadow kings, demon lords of "limbo." Jean as psychic confidante, having to help him fake his own death and lie to the others about it. Jean making that deal with god and then keeping it when the dream got too vivid to sustain under concerted telepathic pressure. Oh, which reminds me, this came out. Miss Martindale practically swept under the rug. Suddenly I wonder where she is now.
|Sunday, February 19th, 2017|
|Song As Old As Rhyme or Suffragette City
"That was unexpected!" - Kylie Hastings
As the Big Questions (what is to be done) germinate the Aristasian ultra-telluric rhodovision screens start pinging up a storm as a few of the very small number of people with a window on this hidden world (jardin clos) get a bee up their bonnet on "the problem of Crowley." Usually in these situations I keep my head down but this one is hilarious in context of other discussions. Alan Moore. Fashion Beauty, Fashion Beast. What late installments of Extraordinary Gentlemen tell us about the ends to which he applies his apparatus -- what he wants -- and what he rejects. These are not empty topics beyond our fannish ken but real matters of tactics and taste. Nemo versus the moonchild politics that project an Ayesha. Brian Jones versus Turner. P.L. Travers versus J.K. Rowling. North versus South.
Beauty versus Beast? It depends on where you draw the boundary of Aristasia as it recedes behind the fields we know. Unlike Jack Kirby, he did extensive work on at least two Moultons, one of whom was a screen for the other. Where Moore habitually loses patience is with his Gibsons, subliming almost immediately back to the firelight in the back caves. And of course by the time the Extraordinary Gentlemen reach around to catch up with us here in the now, they are all women, like the dear old lady in France who is my only remaining live contact to the Solazaref "filiation." Not filius; filet. Ozma is indeed a strange name.
|Sunday, February 5th, 2017|
|An "Idea" Of North
Accurate. We've all shouldered past endless efforts to carpetbag the core OZ mystique -- the journey of the P.I.N.H.E.A.D. continually recapitulates itself through the ozmotic cycle, like the land breathing -- but in six weeks this one has mostly threaded the needle between commercial imperative and recombinant myth. Beyond the ideological realignment playing out on top the questions that keep surfacing for me revolve around the nature of history in this theoretically immortal fairy country. Successive recent encounters with us have brought them closer to time, sexuality and death, which some may see as a pollution while the process is useful to others. Arguably the realm itself always resists external desire -- retroactive continuity falls from the sky like a house on a chthonic witch -- but this is the first time I'm really aware of the process being practically self conscious. If nothing else it sheds new light on the land's efforts to insulate itself from additional contact, the "deadly desert" experiment et alia.
But unpacking the wizard's carpet bag takes more time than I personally have right now and it's only the fact that nobody else is stepping up that brings it to us today at all. I do like the way he resolves the north/south tension in the text though by associating the missing compass point with wherever [the] Glinda is not. There is a "south" and I'm sure it is fantastic. One day it will rise again, but for now the regime requires it to remain fallen. The Canadians would undoubtedly produce Glenn [sic] Gould. Across the ocean, of course, the magic magnet swings 180 degress around, so there it's th' north that feels the shadow.
This of course brings us back to the great work of time that Alan Moore presents. It's actually almost trivial to resolve his early (1980-4) efforts into their component Chris Claremont molecules, up to and including Swamp Thing. It makes sense. The proto-wizard simply wanted to cash some checks and have a little fun, and the Claremont method was the most obvious route for an ambitious outsider to emulate, first in small techniques and then writ large. And Claremont himself had his hidden contacts, sure. But scroll up a decade and you've got the wizard giving Simon Dwyer's people his next quarter century fully formed like a statue hidden in the block:
I feel a different sense of time. I now understand time to be a "solid" in which past, present and future all happily coexist . . . time can be seen just as effectively one way as another. The Dr. Manhattan material was a "memory" of the state I'm in now in 1994 -- a "memory" which persisted until 1985. When you've seen time as something which is not focused on our unidirectional, constantly moving NOW but as a vast constant solid through which our conscious perception moves.
Now this quote was rarely discussed even though it clearly "foreshadows" his more recent explicit outworking of the theme in places like Providence, Jerusalem and especially Cinema Purgatorio. In fact, before this very blogpost the Rapid Eye interview was a pure googlewhack appearing in exactly one moldy old alt.comics.alan-moore post archived on forgotten servers. And yet until someone crosses over between Alan Moore country and Rapid Eye country, it drops out of sight into latency like a stereogram in reverse.
But here it is at last, shifting the thought cloud up and down the timeline like a recombinant gene, the mutation that fulfills and also recasts its own prophetic unresolved significance. From a certain angle, the time solid is fixed in a Nietzschean perpetual occurrence. Perhaps we call that angle "north" here. The point is that revision opens up other notional angles in which apparent evolution emerges and new stories are told, fables are malleable enough to support reconstruction. Alan Moore keeps rubbing the same time solid, but under different lights and in different patterns to generate an "experience."
Perhaps coincidentally, this particular Rapid Eye compilation also contains Grant Morrison's gloss on Maya Deren as well as the Gilbert & George profile, which if Moore champions a psychic "north" over there they are clearly hierophants of the "south" and especially the east end of that geographic centre of gravity. Dazzle ships, prefigurations of Milo. George says he contracted HIV in the early '80s in that one, which is still a true googlewhack, I can't find any confirmation or even reference to that one anywhere else. A compass needle for the camel's eye, waiting for witches' thread to sew it up and send it home. Houses of hidden light (q.v.).
|Saturday, January 7th, 2017|
|Mongoose in a Bottle
"And so finally here we are, at the beginning of a whole new era." We hit the ground running in the gap to get out from under a few macro scenarios. It's not the weight, it's the turns, but I for one am looking forward to the year of the firebird coming. Finally whistled down Avallaunius 11, the Butterworth fill-in with the Coulthart portfolio, which sends me back on the Savoy trail and the real seeds of "chaos magic." Infinitely obvious now where Universe B was swiped (secret origins of Moorcock's ire) but what's funny is that those guys are maximum rockabilly so the implied soundtrack changes. But we're not here to talk about that today. The imaginary mongoose of the Isle of Man is worrying at the world again.
A piss-poor Fortean, I was ignorant of the creature who haunted Cashen's Gap until a week ago, when I got a minute to pull down The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale and leaf around inside. References to the phantom weasel everywhere. (The casual commentator apparently cannot resist noting that Kneale -- directly responsible for Quatermass, Sex Olympics, Halloween 3 and other works of what Webb calls "rejected knowledge" -- grew up on the Isle of Man and would have been hitting his prime poltergeist years in 1935 or at least impressed by the wave of paranormal carpetbaggers staying in town.)
Then I'm checking the Strange Attractor site as one does to make sure I don't miss anything and they're publishing their own book on the mongoose situation. Naturally I flash back to the shaggy dog story Crowley tells in MTP about the mongoose: was he thinking about the chatty chimera that emerged in the early 1930s? Of course not. Book IV was commissioned by a Turkish phantom bookman in 1911 (the year of Sredni Vashtar) and published two years later, two decades before Gef condenses like dew in Man. As it turns out, the empty mongoose box and the alcoholic brother are already entrenched in American oral culture by 1884, where they first show up in print on a horse-drawn hack. It's a strange beat, nine years before The Jungle Book and on a continent not even remotely known for its indigenous snake-hunting pets. Even at the beginning, the box bearer always needs to explain what exactly a mongoose is to set up the gag, which tells me that even at this point the story is already a transplant, a cuckoo's egg originating in the absolute elsewhere.
But be that as it may! Over the next few decades the buddy act metastasizes, now liberated from geography: here they are on a ferry from Oakland to San Francisco, going to Manhattan from Brooklyn, by 1895 a "Yankee" has carried a perfectly empty box back to Rajasthan. They're rented out as wet fabulism complete with moral ("ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies," or mind your own beeswax), illustrate the Lorentz ether theory (!), round out a Woodrow Wilson punchline. They're always Americans. A generation after Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, they always feel the need to define their terms before launching into their endless routine: where the ineffable is, the mongoose box follows.
Crowley, of course, has met many mongoose in life and in literature. He can't resist a single streamlining flourish, liberating the brother (occasionally "in law" elsewhere) from the alcoholic backstory. There's no explicit organic syndrome here, no grace and no guilt to drive therapeutic narratives: the brother simply has a problem with snakes that aren't real, motherfucking snakes on a different plane as it were. As though accidentally, the details around the container also bulge and thicken in the peripheral vision of the page: usually it's a "basket," but once it's a "bag."
A "bag" of course would presumably hang slack and empty. The contents of a "basket," like some Schrodinger experiment, are harder to determine on the fly. In this version, the bearer does not lift the lid either way. Crowley calls this "a perfect parable of Magick" and it passes in largely this form to Alan Moore's Promethea.
What's in the box, what's the point? Obviously it's in part simply a magician's wink, an appeal to skeptics in the audience to remain complicit for the sake of the trick. We're all in this together, the show must go on. When you punch Harry Houdini in the stomach, you're only acting tough or else the magician dies like buddha on the road. We carry a mongoose box as a gesture to amuse, distract, relieve a sick friend. It's a prop, a bit of the gaffa.
Because there are poisons for which no physical antidotes exist. Any snake we can catch, identify, milk, solve is a "real" snake. Others can still bite unless we bring their natural predators to the table. If God afflicts you with an imaginary cobra, you can buy every mongoose available but the enemy is still going to slither past their perimeter. And if your "cobra" is a disease of mind, a disease of language, a disease of semen . . . you're going to need a talking cure. This too, is astral magick, the box we reach for when we can't find the car keys anywhere else and desire remains unscratched. It's both the last place we look and the first place that works.
Sometimes real snakes are the problem and there's no real mongoose available. Other times you have nothing but imaginary mongoose boxes and everything starts to look like a snake. As usual, execution is where things get interesting. Dreams in themselves are ubiquitous. Development is what makes the muddle. But we digress. And of course any chatter about the "real," the "imaginary" and the bourgeois "symbolic" is only a temporary expedient. That's okay. I prefer expediency to the alternative and it is possible to win in reality & parable alike.
In an environment infested with imaginary snakes, psychic diseases, what the thunder said, cannibal parables, fake news, it is expedient to become a trainer of mongoose. We do not deny the existence of water and wood, but any model for living in which wood will not float in water is not sustainable. You yourself may outlive it. It starts with that "perfectly" empty box, because you need to make sure that's actually an imaginary mongoose in that bag and not some other figment pulled from the monster manual. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi protects the children of the house. So, in his way, does Sredni Vashtar. Gef, the ineffable third, mediates.
You know all this but today it can be new to me. Mongoose? What's that? What's in the box?
|Monday, December 26th, 2016|
|"...and fashion beasts"
The problem of evil -- disappointment, regret, unrequited love, missed connections, failures of the sign, mourning, sin, busted gnosis, skinned knees & bad throws -- takes on an aura like camp in the foundational works of new-aeon funnybook mythology. But while 99% of the modern villains crumple like hand puppets under the holographic authorial eye, revealed as more-or-less pragmatic concessions to the genre or at worst dad acting erratically, a few narrative poisons are more organic and even virulent. When pushed to the ropes, Moore reaches for sexual regret and a little masochism, the anguish of missing the party until it's too late: Fashion Beast published a generation after it would have been relevant, the mysterious box in Belle De Jour stops buzzing and starts rattling once Tinkerbelle flickers out. A ruined secret origin, the ghosts of lost girls. Virgin Suicides, the grand sacrifice of generations of youth of perfect intelligence on the altars of fandom. Why couldn't we have had the nice things when we wanted them? Oh, to quote the Bauhaus, to be the cream.
Morrison reaches for Claremont, which is interesting, don't you think? Because what is Claremont really but a long nightmare diary, days & nights of future past, all the things that terrified and intrigued before we either put the books away or didn't. As I snap the hidden pieces of the Claremont scene together, it never really adds up to all that much in the objective sense, no labyrinthine secret history of the modern world, no skeleton key to gamergate. But on the inside, to the people who grew up within the twisting corridors of that mansion addressed by the magic name Greymalkin, it grows with them like the hand inside the puppet. Tic-tock tic-tock, cried the zombie Patriot who Prodigy made out with and got to go away. It was a cruel thing to market to children but it sold so well and the outer forms were so readily reproduced.
For me, I solved the basic narrative problem -- where to find new villains -- long ago and just need to execute. The remainder, those moments where dad acts erratically and the imaginary cobra can spit, are what occupies 99% of my free time now, where the apologist gets stumped. And I think it's what has occupied Moore for decades, which is another place where they differ. Morrison's funeral for dad is "The Fire in Which We Burn," the oedipal murder of Watchmen. Nobody is talking about it now, much as Hamlet had a daddy but will never have sons. We hear less and less about Morrison's secret origin as the watchmaker recedes. Mystery Plays, Lovely Biscuits plowed under because they contain the syllables of what amounts to a true name.
|Wednesday, September 9th, 2015|
|Yr Cigarette Traces a Ladder
"Occulture" in solution. You worry at a thing for 20 years, finally it's going to chew. We needed to reincrudate "thee" invisibles anyhow, so imagine that dream in its original state, liberated from the vagaries of the publishing schedule and anxieties of influence. How each issue wanted to go before time got in its way. See old friends from the countercanon fill the panels incognito: Lord Horror, Simon Dwyer, Colin Wilson. Genesis, Mr Sebastian, Moorcock, undoubtedly others once you turn the skeleton key. Famous and just fellow travelers. It's only the mirror image of a scene, a blind item gossip column in a fanzine almost nobody will ever read again except for archival purposes. Lipstick traces.
Now project yr powder backward from that point. The abortive Walpurgisnacht music festival, 1971. And so on.
|Saturday, December 21st, 2013|
|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|