June 28, 2008

Obscene Post One (Roland Topor and more)

Warning: This post contains explicit content.

Images from A Journey Round My Skull were featured on two great blogs recently: Monster Brains (Aeron Alfrey pulls monster images from all over) and naughty French site Au Carrefour etrange (Losfeld likes anonymous 50s pornographic novels). Losfeld also runs French Book Covers, which I plan to reference here often.

I dedicate this not-exactly-typical-for-me, NC-17 rated post to them.


Hart Crane, postcard from Paris to Samuel Loveman (1929):

"Dinners, soirees, poets, erratic millionaires, painters, translations, lobsters, absinthe, music, promenades, oysters, sherry, aspirin, pictures, sapphic heiresses, editors, books, sailors. And how!"


Above, front cover, Je T'Aime: A Pillow Book by Roland Topor (in English)
Below, detail

I'm now collecting books by Roland Topor; this was the first one to arrive. Quite a wild object.

Above, Back cover
Below, the book itself, under the jacket

Above, detail, perhaps the new logo for this site. Book fetishism indeed.
Below, the man responsible, Roland Topor


Above, Three by Victor Brauner:

1. Illustration for a book by Gellu Naum, 1937 (a design for "Adrianopole")
2. Illustration for a book by Ilarie Voronca.
3. Eventail du Poete


George Grosz, an illustration for a book by "Edgar Firn,"
a pseudonym for the writer Karl Döhmann.



Russian Book Cover


Exquisite Corpse from MoMA


Random Devils

Ronnie Burke, from Ira Cohen's Celestial Graffiti


Three illustrations by Krylov Timorev for a book entitled Fables


Raymond Pettibon: A Reader consists of excerpts from a wide range of sources with Pettibon's images throughout. It's an excellent anthology of often strange texts. For instance:

Catullus, first century B.C.

My love & I are yours to command
with the following 'modest' reservation:
if ever at any time you've held
a chaste good in your mind,
unmarred by whatever desires,
modestly keep this boy of mine in like state.
I do not refer
to the menace of common contacts,
to those set on their business
coming & going in the streets,
it is you
& your punitive penis
I fear--
a threat to all sorts & conditions of youth.
Wag this maleficent instrument
where, when & as much as you may
on whatever occasions occur
outside your domestic circle,
only withhold one item from its attentions....
I present this modest request. But should
a congenital turpitude
take you & prick you into
besetting Catallus's love with pitfalls of seduction
look for the luckless fate of the common adulterer:
he who
with ankles clamped
and door open
feels the horse-radish
(suitably cut for withdrawal)
splitting him,
or the mullet's fins.


Genesis P-Orridge, misc. symbol for a project

Excerpt from "A Children's Story," Genesis P-Orridge, 1995

"Every one of us has within us a dark and heinous shadow child. A child who was certain that these could not be their parents. A child who plotted lengthy executions and paramilitary torture, torch-lit under the covers at night. A child who fired wasps out of guns at photographs of foul and naked bodies..."

Text and image from Painful but Fabulous: The Lives & Art of Genesis P-Orridge


"This book was originally published in 1775 by the artists Nicolas-François and Geneviève Regnault under the title Les Ecarts de la nature ou recueil des principales monstruosités (The Deviations of Nature or a Collection of the Main Monstrosities). For the first time in print, the artists, well aware of the susceptibilities of their readers, exploited the aesthetic beauty of monsters. The prospectus quoted the French poet Boileau: “no monster exists that cannot be made pleasing through art.” Info here. Sorry for the crappy scans, which come from Undercover Surrealism by Dawn Ades.


Illustrations by Andre Masson for books by:

1. Louis Aragon (though anonymous at the time, I think), Le Con d'Irene (I'm not translating that for you, but Creation Books did publish a translation).
2. Robert Desnos
3. George Limbour


Finally, an insane William Burroughs title, The Book of Breeething, with illustrations by Robert F. Gale, 1975. Much of it is told in symbols (more accurately, "penis hieroglyphics"). Once, long ago, I think I actually followed the story.


  1. Will, do you have a copy of An Anecdoted Topography of Chance, a Fluxus/nouveau realiste related book project spearheaded by Daniel Spoerri? Roland Topor did illustrations for that; other contributors include Emmett Williams, Dieter Roth, and Robert Filliou. It started out as a very small book and has grown over time - Atlas did a nice English-language edition a couple of years ago. An old thing I wrote about it is here: http://www.futureofthebook.org/blog/archives/2006/10/finishing_things_1.html though it doesn't go into very much detail . . .

  2. Dan, I do have the Atlas book, which I'll have to break out to see the Topor illustrations, and I'll check out your post.

    I was kind of obsessed with it in college (around the time the Atlas edition came out).

    I made a few friends archive/annotate the items on my coffee table (a la the book), and threw everything into a sealed box, which I wasn't supposed to open, but of course did after just 6 months. Still, I'd never been so fascinated by trash (my coffee table was a health hazard), both while doing the project, and when opening it.

  3. Sorry i missed this post ! A beautiful one. Grosz's illustration especially made my day, and Masson's one for Le Con d'Irene too. Thanks again.