Author Archive | Peter Bebergal

Kevin Ayers 1944-2013

When we think about the psychedelic 60s we often fall back on the folk-jam stoners like The Grateful Dead, the guitar theatrics of Jimi Hendrix, and the ubiquitous “White Rabbit” of Jefferson Airplane. All of them important in their own right, and of course there are dozens of others who’ve inspired generations of musical psychonauts: Cream, Pink Floyd, The Zombies, The Beatles. But the one band that gets overlooked time and time again is Soft Machine, in my estimation one of the most important and influential of them all. Soft Machine, under the leadership of Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt, hammered out a grammar that innumerable musicians would be using for their own musical language. Soft Machine combined jazz and noise into a smart but heady psychedelic stew. Ayers left Soft machine in it’s early years to craft some terrific and whimsical albums that blended pop with avant garde.

From the Guardian obituary:

“I would have made a very unlikely star with a voice like mine,” he told the Guardian in 2003.

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Uncanny Interviews: A Conversation with (the late) Arthur Machen

English: The House of Souls by Arthur Machen (London: Grant Richards, 1906), with cover designs by Sidney Sime (1867–1941)

The Welsh writer Arthur Machen, whom I recently channeled for Weird Fiction Review, has been receiving some renewed interest these days.

Last year Penguin Classics reprinted a number of his proto-weird tales in The White People and Other Weird Stories. Weird fiction is becoming more popular, mostly due to the efforts of people like Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, and many readers unfamiliar with this genre are rediscovering the early influences, Machen being one of the finest examples. This month, in the Evangelical Christian magazine Christianity Today, the writer Jonathan Ryan made a distinction between the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft and the sacred terror of Machen. Matt Cardin over at The Teeming Brain takes issue with this:

Cosmic horror and sacred terror don’t have to be set up as opposites.

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Heavy Teenage Cannabis Use Linked with Anxiety Disorders in Late 20s

Photo: Burning joint, Czech Republic (CC)

Newly published findings by the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne and published in Addiction show that heavy marijuana use by teenagers is likely to result in later adult anxiety disorders.

From the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia’s site:

Those who used frequently in their teens and continued to use on a daily basis at the age of 29 were three times as likely to have an anxiety disorder compared with non- or infrequent users. Those who used minimally in their teens but became daily users in their late 20s were two and a half times as likely to have an anxiety disorder. But the really striking finding say the authors is the persistent association between frequent teenage cannabis use and adult anxiety disorders up to a decade after cannabis use has ceased. The relationship between cannabis use and anxiety disorders was present even after the researchers took into account other possible explanations such as mental health problems in their teens or other drug use in their twenties.

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The 2012 Esoteric Book Conference

Seals from Clavicula Salomonis manuscript (PD)

If you can make it to Seattle on Sept. 15th and 16th, get a ticket to the 4th annual Esoteric Book Conference, available now.

From the conference Web site:

The Esoteric Book Conference is an annual international event to bring together authors, artists, publishers and bookmakers working in the field of esotericism. In addition to presentations by notable authors and scholars, the conference opens it doors to publishers and booksellers showcasing new & used books as well as rare and hard-to-find esoteric texts. For two days the conference hosts the largest selection of esoteric books under one roof. Contemporary esoteric publishing, finepress book arts and antiquarian texts are offered to augment the libraries of readers, scholars and collectors alike.

And here’s an interview with the conference’s founder and the editor of the terrific Ouroboros Press, William Kiesel at Occult of Personality.

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Arik Roper Q&A

I interviewed the artist Arik Roper for the 2011 book Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood (Soft Skull Press). The wonderful HiLobrow.com, curated and edited by Joshua Glenn, recently ran the entire transcript of my chat with Roper:

Illustration and visionary art have long been kindred spirits. Many artists belonging to the Symbolists and Decadents (art movements heavy with occult and esoteric flavor) started off as illustrators or graphic designers and many continued to incorporate these techniques into their work. This tradition continued into the twentieth century with artists such as Ernst Fuchs, H.R. Giger, and — more recently — Mark Ryden and Amanda Sage. In the Sixties, this commingling of visionary states and illustration crossed over into pop culture by way of comic books and album covers. Some of Jack Kirby’s cosmic landscapes and other-worldly machinery are as mind-altering as any Symbolist painting, and the ethereal floating islands on a Roger Dean album cover convey a similar sensibility.

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