September 7, 2007
[Cover: untitled woodcut by Heinrich Stegemann (1921)]
The Golden Bomb, like Black Letters Unleashed, was edited and translated by Atlas Press editor Malcolm Green. Published in 1993 by Polygon, copies are still available! Find them at the Atlas site.
The German and Austrian Expressionists of the first two decades of the twentieth century constituted one of the truest and most energetic avant-garde movements of the last hundred years. In little more than fifteen years they brought about lasting and fundamental changes in the fields of dance, drama, painting, film, typography and, all too often overlooked, in writing. Concentrated in the years preceding the First World War, the movement burned like a magnesium flare, short-lived but intense, and very much in keeping with the tempo of modern city life which was its chosen backdrop. Much of the writing, as assembled here for the first time in this anthology, belies the gaunt, grainy, slice-of-life demeanour that is the movement’s traditional image. Instead we find dandyish despair, slapstick horror, and black humour, visionary speculation, linguistic experimentation, the arcane and the capriciously grotesque - in other words, the dreams and dementia that fed into Dada, that served as the true precursor of Surrealism, and inspired the “Vienna Group” in the 1950s.
This anthology, originally put together for Polygon of Edinburgh (then sold at £9.95) and now available exclusively from Atlas Press, incorporates several of the movement’s illustrious forerunners, such as Franz Held, Oskar Panizza, and Paul Scheerbart; a large number of the early Expressionists, whose writings are especially astonishing for their absurdism and archness of tone, such as Albert Ehrenstein, Hans Arp, and Gottfried Benn; and concludes with the early Dada and Surrealistic speculations of Hugo Ball, Wieland Herzfelde, and Kurt Schwitters.
Writers included: Franz Held, Oskar Panizza, Albert Mombert, Paul Scheerbart, Alfred Döblin, Albert Ehrenstein, Carl Einstein, Gustav Meyrink, Georg Heym, Ferdinand Hardekopf, Wassily Kandinsky, Mynona, Hans Arp, Alfred Wolfenstein, Paul Zech, Else Lasker-Schüler, Georg Trakl, Alfred Lichtenstein, Theodor Däubler, Heinrich Nowak, Gottfried Benn, Hans Flesch-Brunningen, Hugo Ball, Conrad Felixmüller, Heinrich Schaefer, Wieland Herzfelde, Kurt Schwitters, Franz Kafka, Iwan Goll, Robert Musil, Hermann Ungar. Plus short biographies of all the writers, and an introductory essay by Malcolm Green.
The 1989 Atlas Press book Black Letters Unleashed: 300 Years of 'Enthused' Writing in German (Atlas Anthology No. 6; Amaz link) has become way too scarce. I used to give away copies of it to friends (to paraphrase Gabriel Zaid "giving a book is like giving an obligation"). Full contents and an excerpt from the intro coming soon.
3/28/2014 update (only 7 years late), the Contents:
September 4, 2007
Adding this is really an excuse to plug an upcoming cd curated by Ian Nagoski. Here's the press blurb:
Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Musics 1918 - ca. 1955
On the Dust-to-Digital label. Contact Ian's Baltimore record store The True Vine.
24 recordings from the first half of the 20th century of music from Syria, Bali, Scotland, Thailand, Ukraine, China, Camaroon, India, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Japan, Poland, Greece, Java, Portugal, Laos, Sweden and Burma, all newly transfered and mastered from 78 rpm discs, at least 18 of which never issued before on CD.
Each performance is a gorgeous manifestation of outrageous virtuosity, religious devotion, heart-stopping ebullience and/or worshipful ache, just as they reflect a moment in the personal trajectories of the individual performers and their now generations-past historical contexts, elucidated to a great degree by record collector and compiler Ian Nagoski's notes.
Drawn from the best of Nagoski's vernacular 78 collecting, Black Mirror began two years ago as a high-falutin meditation on love, death, social class and divinity. In its finished form, it's one of far too few overviews of peak human music from the period when the performance was the record and that was that.
1. Naim Karakand - Kamanagah Syrian
2. Thewaprasit Ensemble - Phleeng Khuk Phaat, pt. 2 Thai
3. Gong Belaloewana Bali - Kebyar Ding, I Balinese
4. Pipe Major Forsyth - Malorca Northumbrian
5. Thiruvazhimilalai Subramanian Bros. & Needamangalam Meenakshisundaram Pillai - Manasa Sri Ramachandra South Indian
6. Paul Pendja Ensemble - Ngo Mebou Melane Camerounian
7. Cyganska Orchestra Stefana - Cyganske Vesilia, pt. 4 Lemko-Hungarian
8. Zhehongyi with Nendi Zhaoguan - Mother's Uproar Fouzhou-Chinese
9. Patrick J. Touhey - Drowsy Maggie Irish
10. Hutzl Ukrainian Ensemble - Welsisni Melodyi Hutzl-Ukrainian
11. Neriman Altindag - Soyledi Yok Yok Turkish
12. Lata Mangeshkar - Aayega Aanewaala Indian
13. M. Nguyen van Minh-Con - Nam Nhi-tu Vietnamese
14. Edwin Fischer - Handel's Chaconne, Teil I. Swiss / German
15. Marika Papagika - Smyrneiko Minore Greek
16. Petar Perunovic-Perun - Narodne Saljive Pjesme Serbian
17. Nji R. Hadji Djoeaehn - Tjimploengan Sundanese
18. Niño de Priego - Envidia yo no Tengo Nadie Spanish
19. Prof. Lucas Junot - Fado de Passarinhos Portuguese
20. Sathoukhru Lukkhamkeow - Nakhone Prayer Laotian
21. Christer Falkenstrom - Baklandets Vackra Maja Swedish
22. Representatives of the Democratic Youth of Indonesia - Djanger Balinese
23. Sinkou Son & Kouran Kin - Songs in Grief Japanese
24. untraced Burmese muscians - Yein Pwe Burmese
Jean Painleve is the surrealist Jacques Cousteau. He was literally associated with the first wave of French surrealists before embarking on his career as a documentary filmmaker. In the age of dvd, youtube, and the Discovery Channel, I cannot figure out why he hasn't been properly introduced to America. He could even be marketed as the "Jacques Cousteau for Stoners"! Yo La Tengo did their part by playing music live behind his films.
Here's a scan of the book Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painleve, released by Brico / MIT Press a few years ago. I don't know why there's a book about him in English, but no DVD available for sale in America.
Here's a postcard for the book:
October 07 update: you can now purchase a DVD set of his movies in the UK. Here's a link. (The set is "region 2," so check that your dvd player can handle it.) A US version is hopefully in the works from Kino or a similar dvd company. The UK set seems to be a compilation of the two French dvds which were produced over the past few years.