Author Archive | JoeNolan

Wallace Berman’s Kabbalah Cinema

Wallace Berman was born in Staten Island, New York in 1926. While he was still a child, he correctly predicted that he would die on his 50th birthday. He was hit by a car in 1976.

During those five decades, Berman became a pioneering assemblage artist as well as one of the cornerstones of the post WWII California art scene. Berman became associated with the Beats and his self-published magazine Semina combined his own collage imagery with writing by luminaries like Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, David Meltzer, Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jean Cocteau. In addition to his groundbreaking, multimedia assemblages, Berman made the short film Aleph. The artist’s only experiment with moving pictures,Aleph reveals both Berman’s love of collage as well as his interest in the Kabbalah.

Here is what www.jewishmuseum.org has to say about the film:

Aleph is an artist’s meditation on life, death, mysticism, politics, and pop culture.Read the rest

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Hunter S. Thompson: A Day in the Life

I couldn’t find a date on this AP article (above) which chronicles a day in the life – and in the cups – with Hunter S. Thompson. His love of Chivas on full display, Thompson also stresses the importance of a big breakfast – what else would one expect from a proud son of the Bluegrass State?

I found this through Julia Segal’s Tumblr.

There is definitely a drinking game spin-off begging to stumble through this impossible-seeming itinerary.

While you’re at it, check out this cover letter a young Thompson wrote to the Vancouver Sun in 1958,

Stay Awake!

Joe

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Happy Halloween from William S. Burroughs (Remix Video)

William S. BurroughsOnce upon a time, there were witches ... in this classic remix, the silent film Haxan is wed in an unholy matrimony to the laconic snarl of William S. Burroughs narrative aplomb. For those of you with a big appetite, we've got a special sweet hidden away. Check out this great little recitation of Poe's "The Red Death" — also read by William S. Burroughs — at Joe Nolan's Insomnia.
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The Occult, Alchemy and Black Swan

black-swan-dvd-2I received a strange knock on my afternoon door earlier this week, followed by the sound of something hitting the wood floor in the hallway and hurried footsteps fading down the stairs. Opening the door, a large white envelope stared up at me, the unblinking red postmark stamp as omniscient as the eye of Solomon.

I grabbed the package, closed the door and locked it. The new Black Swan DVD had arrived.

Darren Aronofsky’s tale-within-a-tale, Black Swan was one of last year’s best films. Many are familiar with the Oscar-nominated flick’s re-telling of the Swan Lake ballet to create a psychological horror flick that explores the perils of artistic perfection.

The movie has rightly earned it’s place among genre classics like Rosemary’s Baby and Carrie and — like the former — Black Swan is rife with occult symbolism and references that add weight to the scary-movie-cliches, making this bloody ballet one of those unique films that define a genre at the same time that it transcends the limits of that genre’s conventions.… Read the rest

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Fresh Angles On John Dee’s Angels

EnochianThe good people at Destiny Books/Inner Traditions recently sent on a new volume that finds some of magic’s most mysterious writings collected in one book for the very first time. With Decoding the Enochian Secrets: God’s Most Holy Book to Mankind as Received by Dr. John Dee from Angelic Messengers, author John DeSalvo, Ph.D. offers up the complete writings and Tables of Enoch that Dee and Edward Kelley received from the angels.

If you’re already confused, this book isn’t for you. This is not a biography of John Dee or an in-depth examination of the events that found the 16th-century mathematician, scientist, occultist, and the astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I seemingly contacting angels and receiving what may be the most important divinely-channeled communication of all time.  If you are interested in finding out more about Enochian Magic, start with Benjamin Woolley’s excellent tome The Queen’s Conjurer: The Science and Magic of Dr.Read the rest

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Graham Hancock Sees The Future In The Past

Lost Knowledge of the AncientsThe good folks at Bear and Company recently mailed us a new release that’s been keeping us up nights.

Lost Knowledge of the Ancients: A Graham Hancock Reader is a collection of essays curated by Graham Hancock at his website. This volume gathers these contributions together in print for the first time and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

A book of essays by various authors certainly encourages grazing more than cover-to-cover reading, but no matter where one begins or ends this exploration of possible histories, one finds unexpected connections.

Lost includes essays by Robert Bauval, Mark Booth, Richard Hoagland, Robert Schoch, John Anthony West and Hancock himself. While the book is wide-ranging, covering topics from pole shifts to quantum philosophy to antediluvian history, its real strength lies in the themes that run throughout the book:

* The human race is much older than we think.… Read the rest

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Cyberpunk on the Small Screen (Video)

CyberpunkGood day, Cybernauts. We've been enjoying this endearing flick for some time, but are just now getting around to posting about it. Cyberpunk is a 60-minute documentary from 1990 that serves as a charming bookend to the William Gibson documentary No Maps for These Territories. While Gibson is featured prominently in this doc, it also expands out to illuminate an entire slice of the late '80s/early '90s culture that used to be featured in the late, great Mondo 2000 magazine. Cyberpunk Review offers these insights:
Cyberpunk is a documentary that looks back at the 80s cyberpunk movement, and more specifically, how this has led to a trend in the “real” world where people were starting to refer to themselves as “cyberpunk.” The documentary sees “cyberpunks” as being synonymous with hackers. A number of writers, artists, musicians and scientists are interviewed to provide context to this movement. The guiding meme, as told by Gibson, is that information “wants” to be free. 60s counter-culture drug philosopher, Timothy Leary, provides a prediction that cyberpunks will “decentralize knowledge,” which will serve to remove power from those “in power” and bring it back to the masses. Many different potential technologies are discussed, including “smart drugs,” sentient machines, advanced prosthetics — all of which serve to give context to the idea of post-humanity and its imminent arrival on the world stage.
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Beefheart Doc Salutes the Captain

Me and mine were all saddened last week with the news of the passing of one of the true great originals of American popular music — Captain Beefheart.Captain_Beefheart

The man who was born into this world as Don Van Vliet died on December 17th from complications resulting from his long battle with MS.

Vliet’s music combined an elemental distillation of American Blues with the psychedelic sensibilities of the ’60’s and a fervor for avant garde composition. The result was captivating, invigorating and infuriating at turns – and sometimes all at once. Along with various incarnations of his Magic Band, the Captain cut a path that few have followed, though many –  including Tom Waits – owe large debts to his influence. For the last several decades the Captain hung up his harmonica to concentrate on visual art, becoming a respected abstract painter.

Having sifted through a number of eulogies and tributes, here are some of the best memento mori we could find.… Read the rest

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The Year’s Best-Dressed Graphic Novel

Return of the Dapper Men HC FinalChapter 16 asked me to have  a chat with Jim McCann and Janet Lee in order to get to the bottom of their new graphic novel Return of the Dapper Men. The book has been selling out following a wave of rave reviews and this wide-ranging chat included talk about the Big Bang, the nature of time, innocence, experience and the nature of the relationship between men and their machines:

Can you hear a buzzing sound? No, it’s not Rudolph’s nose on the fritz. This is a holiday surprise that finds two book creators with Nashville connections giving Santa a run for his sleigh with what looks to be one of the season’s hit holiday gifts.

Although their celebrated new book takes place in a fantastical world, Jim McCann and Janet Lee both trace their roots to Nashville. McCann, a native Nashvillian, moved to New York in 2004 to become a successful comic book author, penning pages for X-Men, New Avengers and other Marvel Comics titles.

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Keith on Keith (Richards)

Keith RichardsVia Joe Nolan's Insomnia: Inside the dust jacket of his new book, Keith Richards has left an inscription:
"This is the Life. Believe it or not, I haven't forgotten any of it. Thanks and praises, Keith Richards."
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated rock autobiography ever, Life is the most detailed account we have yet of the legendary guitarist/songwriter. Richards has lived his life in public since his early 20s and he's always lived it in the full-glare of the media — bad publicity be damned. That said, this book is not a confessional reassessment in which a public figure offers explanations — or excuses — for past sins. Richards greatest music and worst behavior are a matter of public record and Life doesn't offer a new version of events so much as it delivers his version, and it's full of crazy wisdom, smirking sarcasm, raspy rambles, heart and soul. While other volumes — like Victor Bockris' excellent Keith — have revealed the man through the eyes of friends, family and Rolling Stones insiders, it's Life's first-person candor that sets it apart. Not only does Richards give us the straight-dope on Keith, he also illuminates the rise of rock 'n' roll and the '60's counter-culture from inside the eye of the hurricane. Life is also about the creative life of one of rock's most important guitarists and songwriters, and the book's rich detail is at least partly due to a life lived on the look-out for the next song, the next riff.
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