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Friday, January 18, 2008

NORTH #2: 2500 MILES ON THE NORWEGIAN COASTAL STEAMER

Well, I enjoyed writing this so much that I've been gagging to do some sort of follow-up.

Copped a copy of this the day before the Polar mags:



Now, this was printed in Norway in English and I think it's meant as a tourist-guide to accompany cruises on the Bergen Line in the Sixties, tho my copy has a hand-written date of 1972 on the inner-cover and the name 'Margaret C. White.' There are some beautiful photographs of Norway in the 60s that make me want to drool and weep at the same time...for, surely, these places have since no doubt been bespoiled and genericised like everything else seems to have been. I hope they haven't.

I confess my favourite bits are the marvellous prints dotted thru-out the book that are blessed w/ a sort of stylised reductive beauty that you don't see any more...well, at least not in this era wh/ seems so hung-up on so-called 'realism'. They give an unexpected glimpse of a seascape possessed by a rare, mythic beauty; a land very much alive with ancient spirits and accreted meaning:







Plenty of so-called 'hauntological' ammo present here...but why am I so fascinated by The Unknowable, the Unreachable...why should I take spiritual comfort from photos of 1930s Norwegian herring fleets or old fishermen repairing nets in dreary waether conditions...I tried free-associating and the phrase 'a less complicated era' kept coming to mind, which might quietly speak volumes about my own mentality or state of mind. Has the Past now become some vast teddy-bear for me to cuddle, a thumb to suck.

Yeeesh.

Still, for me, the nicest bit about buying this was the sweet lady in the shop (in her 60s) who asked me if I'd ever done this cruise...I told her I'd hadn't, but it certainly looked wonderful and I tried to explain (without sounding too weird) that I'd been quietly possessed by an unassailable desire to visit places and times that I knew I could never reach...but I quite fancied visiting Finland LOL. The years peeled away from her as she told me that her daughter had gone on the internet and was trying to sort out a Norwegian Coastal Cruise for her, as it was something she'd longed to do her entire life.

That, for me, was worth the price of the book alone. And I hope she soon gets the chance to fill in her own personal version of this:

INTERSTICE #3

Many thanks to Mase Escasi for sending me the latest ish of Interstice magazine:


(Click to enlarge the cover - it'll help give ya a flavour of the contents)

And, wow, is it a great read or what! Loving this new wave of old-school lo-fi almost fanzine-ish publications like Savage Messiah, etc...tho hard to pinpoint or describe exactly what Interstice is (always a pleasure tho when I can't entirely place something, y'know): it's kinda esoteric with a smidge of surrealist whimsy...it feels like it comes from somewhere outside of Now, from another era or as if it's accidentally slid sideways outside of time. The nearest thing I can think of is maybe the work of Peter Blegvad, from Slapp Happy; particularly the original graphics and sleeve-notes of Blegvad and John Greaves "Kew Rhone" album.

The current ish is guest-edited by "renowned poet and raconteur John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester." By some weird chain of coincidences, Wilmot ended up as a background character in my proposal a few years ago for a action/adventure/occult comic-book series called Solomon Gommorah which blended real-life historical characters with fictional characters in the public domain...Wilmot was a bit of a card, by all accounts; a bawdy, drunken bisexual poet and man-of-letters responsible for such works as "Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery". I may have imagined it, but I could have sworn I read somewhere he was also a spy or an intelligence-agent on the side who had links to the world of alchemy and hermeticism. At one point he set himself up as "Doctor Bendo", a quack physician, and I've often wondered if he might have been the proto-model for Burrough's Doctor Benway character.

I asked Mase if he'd put the whole thing together himself as it reeked of a particularly twisted personal vision, and he confessed he had: "I'm trying to get contributors together, particularly for the features, but, thus far, I've often ended up doing much of it myself. Most people find it too esoteric and take an 'er, yeah, manana...' attitude. There have been a few contributions, most notably a weird story about a pop starlet illustrated with pics of Britney Spears in Issue 2.

There's only been 3 issues so far, covering about a year.

As far as underground music goes, I'm hoping to include something on or by Thumpermonkey next issue. "

Anyway, if you like an interesting left-field, lateral-thinkin' read, then Interstice comes recommended!

No website or nuffink, but if you would like a copy then email Mase at interstice3 [aaaaaaat] yahoo [dott] co [dott] uk and tell him I sent ya. But be real nice to him and maybe send him some money for postage or summat as this is a real labour of love, and labours of love don't usually make their creators v. rich.