Erik Johnson of our favourite psychonauts Wooden Shjips sets sail for a mercury reservoir in the lunar suburbs. As with Bob, that's a silent 'j'.
Somewhat abridged, an excerpt from Mailer's essay 'From Surplus Value to the Mass Media', contained in 'Advertisements For Myself', first published in 1961. How much is our free time worth, and who's paying who for what?
Let me start with a trivial discrepancy. Today one can buy a can of frozen orange juice sufficient to make a quart for 30 cents. A carton of prepared orange juice, equal in quality costs 45 cents. The difference in price is not be found by the value of the container, nor in the additional cost of labour and machinery which is required to squeeze the oranges, since the process which produces frozen oranges is, if anything more complex [...]
What is most likely is that the price is arrived at by some kind of developed, if more or less unconscious by the entrepreneur of what it is worth to the consumer not to be bothered with opening a can , mixing the frozen muddle with three cans of water and shaking.
It is probable that the additional 12 or 13 cents of unnecessary price rise has been calculated in some such ratio as this:
The consumer's private productive time is worth much more to him than his social working time, because his private productive time, that is his time necessary for him to perform his household functions, is time taken away from his leisure.
If he earns $3 an hour by his labour, it is probable that he values his leisure time as worth ideally two or three times as much, let us say arbitrarily $6 an hour, or 10 cents a minute.
Since it would take three or four minutes to turn frozen orange juice into drinkable orange juice, it may well be that a covert set of values in the consumer equates the saving of 3 or 4 minutes to a saving of 30 or 40 ideal cents of leisure time. To pay an extra actual 12 cents in order to save his ideal 40 cents seems fitting to his concept of value.
Of course he has been deprived of 10 actual cents [...] So the profit was extracted by a disproportionate exploitation of the consumer's need to protect his pleasure time rather than an inadequate repayment to the worker for his labour.
Gallon Drunk's collaboration with Lydia Lunch bears further fruit. The band are called Big Sexy Noise, which sounds like something from a John Hughes film. But under the bonnet it's all grimy swamp.
Burial-esque dubstep from a fella called Nocow in Russia. Bunch of warmly woozy tracks with names like 'Ruins' and 'Dispel The Wind' available free on Last.fm. Take it, it's yours.
We are advised that a new edition of John McNaughton's once-controversial and still graphically violent profile of a psychopathic serial killer - he's called Henry - is to be re-released on DVD. Below is a piece I wrote about the last re-release, about five years ago. I remember schlepping down to Soho one sticky August afternoon and sitting through a press screening, half-thinking about the original release, back in 1990, when both the world and I were younger and more innocent. In the wake of Human Centipede, The Woman - even the Saw series and other things advertised on buses - this piece now seems slightly overawed. I was trying to figure out then whether it was purposefully sensationalist or sarcastically desensitising - were we meant to be provoked by the violence, or the boredom? I haven't seen it since, but this is what I thought about it then...
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Completed in 1986 but not released until 1990, John McNaughton's brutal contemporary horror movie loosely based on the confessions of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas endured a troubled history. When it was submitted for classification, the MPAA declared they wouldn't know where to start cutting and granted it an X - commercial death in the States. For some its frank portrayal of psychopathology, its glamour-free violence and Henry's absence of remorse makes it one of the most honest films about murder ever made. For others it's just too much to bear. This version includes around two minutes of explicitly violent footage previously cut by the BBFC and never before seen in the UK.
Opening with a montage sequence in which we see the results of Henry's handiwork - a corpse in a swamp, a glass embedded in a dead woman's face (this being part of the restored footage) - the film follows a simple course. Henry (Rooker) is an ex-con sharing a grimy Chicago flat with fellow parolee Otis (Towles). For no real reason Henry and Otis go on brutal killing sprees, videoing themselves in explicitly depicted acts of murder, rape and torture. There are brief moments of tenderness between Henry and Otis' sister Becky (Arnold), but Henry doesn't experience emotion in any conventional sense and the conclusion, though free of violence, is one of the most harrowing scenes here.
McNaughton's stated intention was to depict real horror in the real world. With its matter-of-fact tone and documentary-style direction it certainly achieves that. There's no humour, no visual flourishes and Henry's character is neither explained nor explored - he's just a brutal blank. To an extent then the film's flatness serves as its own commentary - psychos, it seems to be saying, are basically boring and stupid. A disturbing mix of extreme detachment and extreme violence, McNaughton's film is a character study with a hole where the character should be. It may not be something to which many will wish to return to on a regular basis, but it's a single-minded act of provocation.
Arising in a dark corner of the hive mind is this enormous piece of dub-liminal apocalyptica: Youth's remix of Killing Joke's This World Hell. Thereafter Health's Goth Star, which takes its coordinates from Psychic TV circa Godstar and then actually digs its own, like, tunnel between Suicide and 1990s Wax Trax.
Killing Joke mix available free to Gatherers. Health are giving it away on Last.fm.
Anna Kavan, born Helen Ferguson in 1901 was a very English - and at the same time utterly alien - novelist whose own life took on the quality of an existential mystery.
Praised by JG Ballard and Doris Lessing, drawing on Kafka and anticipating slipstream long before it became a genre in British writing, her novels described eerie states of dislocation; a lifelong heroin user, her prose has a needle-sharp precision but her subject matter was never drugs. Aimless, alienated, lonely and depressed in life, writing, suggests Jeremy Reed's excellent biography A Stranger On Earth, was her home. Like the great American poet Weldon Kees, creator of the enigmatic nowhere man Robinson, Kavan's territory was inner space: subjective states, private drives, places that had no name. Literally, in fact: she deliberately eschewed unnecessary details like names and her final novel, the warped apocalyptic masterpiece Ice, derives much of its power from the absence of specific data.
Kees vanished one day in 1955. His car was found by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but the poet was never seen again. Helen Ferguson also disappeared, or more accurately was edited out of the story by the author herself.
In 1940 the artist formerly known as Helen Ferguson published Asylum Piece, a fractured account of her own mental disintegration, under the name Anna Kavan - a character from her own 1930 novel Let Me Alone. You can imagine that for a novelist such as Kavan, toiling away in unprofitable obscurity, it was a great gesture of empowerment and defiance: her imagination manifested in the real world. She literally made her own name.
Kavan died in 1968 and in his biography Reed persuasively argues that she caught something of the London air during those final years, sympathising with hippy seekers, druggy experimenters and others pioneering the realm of the unreal.
With a pedigree like that, it's strange that musicians have never picked up on Kavan's work. The only reference I can find is to David Tibet, christian-mystic voyager, occult archivist and leader of the neo-folk legend that is Current 23; Tibet named his 2000 album Sleep Has His House after Kavan's book of the same name, and a quick glance through the credits to Reed's biography indicates that he and Tibet are pals.
The frighteningly prolific writer and poet Reed, incidentally, is always worth checking out. My own favourite of his books is a semi-fictionalised biography - or 're-imagining' as we have to say now - of Arthur Rimbaud's life called Delirium, published in 1990.
Here, shamelessly plundered from elsewhere, is one of Kavan's paintings.
PiL (Silver Apples x Jah Wobble ⁿ9) ÷ Hawkwind (1972) + Loop³ (unspooled Can cassette found at bottom of shoebox in neighbour's garage) ≈ The Oscillation.
Organ-disordering experiments in psychedelic shoe-inspection available below. Made, they say in Walthamstow. From the excellent album Veil.