the devilrides out

He could never spell properly, had a poor literary style and committed howlers. His editors weeded out most of these, but one story still made Copenhagen the capital of Sweden. What he provided were superb plots, designed to build and release tension expertly, in wave-like patterns. His characters, though stock, were vivid, the settings luxurious and the historical and cultural backgrounds usually carefully researched. He published on an industrial scale, completing two new books per year in the first half of his long career and one thereafter. His experience of business enabled him to excel at marketing them, and though they never earned him honours from the literary world or the nation, they did make him rich. Baker argues plausibly that, in his range of subjects and the associations that his name evoked, (Dennis)Wheatley was the greatest non-literary writer in twentieth-century Britain.

Ronald Hutton
TLS review of The Devil Is a Gentleman, Phil Baker’s biography of Dennis Wheatley

men were the answer

November 24, 2017

Women were brought up to believe that men were the answer. They weren’t. They weren’t even one of the questions.

Julian Barnes
A History of the World in 10½ Chapters

distracting, but rewarding

November 18, 2017

lovers1

It was about 10 when I finished reading the books. I had turned on the film “Young People Fucking”. I’ve reviewed it before so I won’t go into it, but the film is delightful. It delivers exactly what it promises with its title, and is really fun. It made for wonderful reading (and writing) sounds. There are some segments that require me to watch the screen (they all involve Diora Bailes) and they’re distracting, but rewarding.

Christopher J. Garcia
Claims Department #11

Just fear me

November 11, 2017

Labyrinth

Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.

I may have thought about this offer a bit over the years. Yes, yes, all right: I’ve spent hours of my life on it. I know from talking to other women who first saw Labyrinth in their mid–teens that I’m not alone.

Sarah, on the other hand, didn’t think about it at all. She didn’t even listen, reciting her memorized lines instead. I couldn’t forgive her for that. It’s been nearly 30 years since I first heard those words, and I’m still angry, though no longer at her.

With the benefit of some growing up and some time spent writing fiction, I realize it isn’t really her fault. The movie was never set up to let her consider the question. Jareth’s love was never going to be more than the framing story, the necessary element to set the plot in motion, the final obstacle for Sarah to conquer. That doesn’t make me any less angry that the offer was made and thrown away.

Let me say right now that I don’t think she should have accepted the bargain — probably. Even without goblins, there’s a lot to consider in that statement. What kind of fear are we talking about? Does it have to be real, or does everyone have their roles to play? What do you want me to do, and what are you willing to do for me?

Stephanie Zvan
In the Hands of the Goblin King

Lost Highway - david-lynch

WITHIN THE PAST EIGHTY YEARS, the dialogue between American and European cinema gave birth to various interesting fusions of Hollywood’s ‘commercial aesthetic’ with the more European concept of ‘cinema as art’. While many European and then later also American independent film-makers turned away from their art-film origins in order to adjust their ability to a capitalistic comprehension of art, David Lynch, who had proven already to be capable of producing entertaining mainstream cinema, decided with Lost Highway (1997) again to turn his back on a successful goal-driven narrative conception; the conception that characterises Hollywood’s history, valid for its early films of the classical period and still present in most of todays blockbusters.

Lost Highway offers an impressive self-reflexive example of an American filmmaker implicitly questioning his own background and cultural basis. An attitude that would be more closely related to Jean Baudrillard’s post-modern discussion of America as a ‘hyperreality’ and supporting in parts perspectives of European scepticism towards America. In the independent filmmaking sector of the United States, the influence of British, French and German art-cinema is apparent. This short study is concerned with an interpretation of Lost Highway‘s non-linear elements and what I see as its cinematic critique of a fundamental contradiction at the heart of Western capitalist countries: on the one hand, the immaculate realm full of possibilities and, on the other hand, the ground for distorted existential nightmare and profound anxieties.

Its combination of both sceptical deconstruction and overcoming of scepticism, undermining and questioning the central notion of progress in America’s history and culture, is constructing the discourse of Lost Highway. David Lynch’s $15m production enjoyed more success in Europe than in his home country and one reason for that is definitely Lost Highway’s textual deconstruction of cinema as pure entertainment that can easily be consumed by the modern spectator. Lost Highway is offering ‘onto-logical’, European style art-cinema, questioning man’s existence itself, in presenting a pessimistic and much more challenging screen experience.

Manuel Dries
David Lynch’s Lost Highway: Perpetual Mystery or Visual Philosophy

Wednesday_scream5_evil-dead

I’ve mentioned several times that I have the fantasy of retreating to a cabin somewhere, watching an egregious amount of horror films (though I wonder how many one has to watch as I’ve already seen around 200), and writing a book called Thinking Horror (named after the fourth issue of Collapse which has had such a huge impact on my thinking on horror. While I want to study horror in a more abstract sense, in terms of philosophical frameworks (horror in terms of its ontology, epistemology etc) I do not want to disregard so much of the work that has been done on the social aspects of horror (quite a bit of which has had a feminist focus). But I do not think that these are diametrically opposed: in fact I think addressing what horror is (outside of the cultural constraints) can allow it to be employed in ways which move beyond them (as long as the cultural problems with the original films is not forgotten). It’s tempting to use Hegelian language here, to suspend the cultural baggage of horror in order to overcome it (not to forget it or pretend it was never there). In fact, the very form of horror (which so often relies upon an initial trauma) allows for this: the formative horror of the killer (here I am limiting myself to slasher films) provides the back story for the film.

Ben Woodard
From Last Girl to First Woman: Blood, Psychadelics, and Pink Dresses

absorb my whole nature

October 7, 2017

I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself.

Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Jean-luc Godard - Alpherville

When most people are writing over a period of years, what they think they are writing about and what they believe in is a continuum; it’s not “specktic.” I’ve been publishing fiction since 1966, and I’ve changed a lot in the way I approach the world and in the way that I organize the world.

Heroes and Villains was quite an important book for me. One of the quotations in the front is from the script of a film called Alphaville, made by Jean-Luc Godard. It was a favorite film of mine of the late sixties; there’s a computer in Alphaville that says the thing that’s quoted in the front. [“There are times when reality becomes too complex for Oral Communication. But Legend gives it a form by which it pervades the whole world.”] In these times myth gives history shape. When I wrote that novel in 1968, this was a very resonant theme that I am not so sure of now.

I think that Godard was using the word myth in the same way that Barthes is as well. The film Alphaville uses one of the greatest gangster heroes of French cinema, but it projects a sort of trench-coat, Philip Marlowe character into some sort of antiseptic city of the future, and I really think that he was meaning myth in the terms of somebody like Bogart or Philip Marlowe. You know, you try things out and you try things out, and you figure out after a while when they’re not working or they stop working or maybe you no longer think it’s true. I just became uninterested in these sort of semi-sacrilized ways of looking at the world. They didn’t seem to me to be any help.

Angela Carter
Interview with Anna Katsavos published in The Review of Contemporary Fiction (Fall 1994)

Still, however desexualized, minimalized, and distanced, the crime is a rape, and the question is why – what, in other words, the male viewer’s stake might be in imagining himself reacting to that most quintessentially feminine of experiences. The answer lies, perhaps, in the question: it is precisely because rape is the more quintessentially feminine of experiences – the limit, care of powerlessness and degradation – that is such a powerful motivation, such a clean ticket, for revenge. I have argued that the center of gravity of these films lies more in the reaction (the revenge) than the act (the rape), but to the extent that the revenge fantasy derives its force from some degree of imaginary participation in the act itself, in the victim position, these films are predicated on cross-gender identification of the most extreme, corporeal sort.

Carol J Clover
Men, Women and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film

19th July

“Roses are red
Violets are blue
Vodka is cheaper
Than dinner for two…”

Sitting here, a solitude surrounded by humanity. All I can do is recite…nonsense!

But thank God, the new Doctor Who is a woman. Perhaps she’ll visit Inter Minor, that planet rich in technological innovation visited once before by the doc? It’s a deeply insular plant with a paranoid population; it severed all links with other worlds after the Great Space Plague, didn’t it? Yes, a planet ruled by grey-skinned humanoids, referred to as ‘the official species’. Each one a potential Philip Hammond look-a-like, they are bureaucratic, officious, without humour or true humanity. And they rule over the ‘underclass’, the workers called ‘functionaries’ who are little more than slaves.

‘Oh, if only,’ sighs Mrs Maybe. ‘But where do they get these stupid ideas from?’

And the inhabitants of Inter Minor positively hate ‘outsiders’: see them as a threat to their lifestyle and culture where art, especially drama and comedy, are outlawed –

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She has always had her head in a book, ever since we first met.

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Hospital again today to discuss percentages and dates –