About Me

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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870. The "xothique" portion of the web address is a nod to Clark Ashton Smith's fictional continent of Zothique.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Hieroglyphics, by Arthur Machen

In 1987 or 88, in Eugene, Oregon, I once met an individual, a poet, through friends in common. He mentioned Arthur Machen's Hieroglyphics as one of his prime sources of inspiration. I had read a fair number of Machen's stories by then (and later read his visionary novel, The Hill of Dreams), but Hieroglyphics remained unavailable.  (No doubt if I'd made the effort, I could have checked out a copy, courtesy of interlibrary loan, or found a way to order the book; even in that time when the early incarnation of the World Wide Web was limited to a few military and university channels.) I ultimate procured a copy in recent times, & soaked up the words.  In Hieroglyphics, Machen referenced a range of works, including Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, Cervantes' Don Quixote, Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel (and figures such as William Wordsworth, Bach, Jane Austen, Poe and others also appear); "... should Mr. Pickwick's overdose of milk-punch prove, ultimately, a clue to the labyrinth of mystic theology." (Hieroglyphics, p. 119) George Eliot, William Thackeray and others, appear unfavorably as examples of didactic or conventional literature. "...I may say at once that to the literalist, the rationalist, the materialist critic, the problem is quite insoluble."  (p. 115) In a period after photographers such as Vivian Maier and Garry Winogrand, Machen's thoughts on cameras and film (incorporated into some literary points), are at times questionable (yet nuanced): he states, for example: "... the end (of photography) is to portray the surface of life, to make a picture of the outside of things." (p. 73)

 Present, sometimes in subtle form, was a sort of mysticism I expected from The Hill of Dreams, in which Lucian Taylor enters a enraptured state, by merely reading single lines or phrases of Coleridge's or Poe's poetry. A singular, discursive work, Machen threaded an effective case for an ecstatic literature, throughout Hieroglyphics. -- JF

Source for quotes: Hieroglyphics: A Note Upon Ecstasy in Literature, by Arthur Machen. London: Martin Secker, 1912.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Thing Who Goes There

Cover art by Hannes Bok; edition from Shasta Publishers, 1948.

Digital Collage by JF 

 I recently perused John W. Campbell's 1938 novella Who Goes There?, which has germinated three films to date (all of which I also watched/ rewatched lately). Campbell wrote the tale not long before the start of WWII in Europe; but the writing feels fresh as the thing in the ice itself (an earlier version, Frozen Hell, predated Who Goes There?). It has a few parallels to Lovecraft's short novel At the Mountains of Madness. These include the location in the Antarctic, and the uncovering of prehistoric and alien discoveries in the polar wastes (at the same time, there are great differences in development and atmosphere). 

Who Goes There? has a surgically minimal, yet poetic style. Campbell's characters frequently have outsized qualities. "Moving from the smoke-blued background, McReady was a figure from some forgotten myth, a looming, bronze statue that held life, and walked." In contrast with the careful assemblage of background and details in At the Mountains of Madness, the following line almost symbolized Campbell's approach: "There is no need for details."  The novel also has vague echos of the Antarctic destination in  Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; and its portentous albatross, feels like a harbinger out of Coleridge. Campbell's terse novella, with its replicated physical forms, and terrifying transformations, is a powerful read. (And the other stories in the collection are also superb.)

Friday, May 1, 2020

Plague Stew

Lately I've made a stew for these days, which I never formulate precisely the same way, each time I cook it. The emphasis is on nutrient density; the ingredients might include beef liver (or substitute a vegan course, such as seitan), beets, potatoes, turmeric root, Brussels sprouts, beech mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, water and broth; or replace with edible ingredients, based on your own decisionsInfuse with, say, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, salsa. Bringing to a slight boil (or to a temperature hot enough for food preparation standards), then simmering for an hour or so, refrigerating, and repeating the next day, subdues and melds the strong flavors, in a sort of alchemical process. "Wouldn't help, wouldn't hoit." 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Chthonic Survivals: Donald Wandrei's The Web of Easter Island

Cover art by Audrey Johnson

Donald Wandrei's The Web of Easter Island was a curious novel, with a story of cosmic terror and revelatory dread. The book was uneven. At times, moments of wondrous poetry and weirdness appeared:
"A fiery sun was setting in a coppery sky. The roofs of buildings and the tops of trees glowed with a dull flame." The passages which involved Easter Island, and "Carter E. Graham, curator of the Ludbury Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology" were initially promising.  Other parts contained awkward phrasing, and the work spun into episodes that unraveled, under the weight of overreach. The writing had a few more overtly racy passages than appear, for instance, in much of the writing of Wandrei's associate, and correspondent, H.P. Lovecraft: "The narrow areola around each nipple clung like the budding heart of a blood rose aganst the tan of her skin." (P. 55, TWEI). (Although one can counter that with this selection from a letter from H.P. Lovecraft to the singular poet and writer, Clark Ashton Smith: "I need not say how enormously grateful & delighted I am at receiving the MS. of 'Solution.' It is a haunting, fascinating thing, which makes the reader involuntarily look over his shoulder as if fearful of beholding long lethal visions of primordial ooze peopled with gnarled, sentient, & cyclopean trees that watch perpetually & wave black slimy branches in unholy orgasms." (From Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, ed. by David E. Schulz and S.T. Joshi; Hippocampus Press, 2017).  (In 2011, Centipede Press issued an edition containing an earlier draft of the book, Dead Titans Waken!.) (Bobby Derie has written extensively on erotic elements in Lovecraft, and many other authors.)

Ultimately, The Web of Easter Island does not "correlate its contents" and conclude in a satisfactory way, in contrast with, for example, H.P. Lovecraft's masterful short story, The Call of Cthulhu (1926).

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Lovecraft at Last: The Master of Horror in his own Words

Lately I finally absorbed Lovecraft at Last (Cooper Square Press: 2002), by Willis Conover, decades after reading the other two Lovecraft-related books, also released in 1975 (Lovecraft: A Biography, by L. Sprague De Camp, and Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside, by Frank Belknap Long; as mentioned by S.T. Joshi, in his introduction). Conover's work, which he constructed brilliantly with letter excerpts, photos, and other visual material, and his own reflections, is a touching account of his friendship-from-afar, with H.P. Lovecraft.  Conover conveyed the tragic nature of the closing of their fleeting correspondence, in admirably understated ways, mostly letting the letters provide their own testimony. The book is a stellar achievement.
H.P. Lovecraft's friend and correspondent, Robert H. Barlow, famously had a link, as his teacher at Mexico City College, to novelist William S. BurroughsWillis Conover's life -- he became a prominent broadcaster, for the Voice of America, also had some unexpected outcomes.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Autumnal Empires (Super 8 Film)

Autumnal Empires is a film (made from combining two originally-untitled film reels), which had languished unviewed for decades. I only lately arranged for a digital conversion; having previously only seen it once or twice, via a movie projector; and experienced a curious sensation, of the resurrection of times past. The cut-up of bursts of television imagery, created a mini-story all its own. Atmospheric glimpses of a mostly long-vanished industrial past in northwest Portland, Oregon, charged past; along with juxtaposed objects and scenes partly inspired by surrealist and Dadaist films (I might have seen a handful of such by then, such as those made by Hans Richter, Maya Deren, and others). I filmed part of the first section at Crown Point, and on a snowy day at Oneonta Gorge

Below are some stills, which give a different perspective on the movie. Depicted, starting from the top down: Roman Scott, me, NW Portland (as visualized by Ted Serios), Todd Mecklem, NW Portland, eye. 

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Twilight of the Narrators

The Twilight of the Narrators

The willows wailed in the box office. The revenant hovered hierophant beak telepath since the facts precluded an aardvark sliver metamorphosis of Gautama Buddha; 

cremains lotus mandala homunculus satori stupa resplendent in the cedar light of shrunken shrines, lotus petroglyph sunset notes. 

by Jonathan Falk

A detail, from Der Alte; painting in progress

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Trances of Twilight, & The Howler

Two stills from The Howler (with Roman Scott, wearing the beret, and me, below, encountering a wall); a Super 8 movie we made in 1987. The film originated with an H.P. Lovecraft poem, from his Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet cycle.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Enter the Neo-20s

Happy New Year, and return of the 20s!

An instant I caught, from a Chinese New Year lion dance, Portland, Oregon, 1993. Note the sign for the defunct strip club, Magic A Go-Go, near the center of the photo.  (As to when the 20s, or any decade, century, or millennium, start, that is open to differing views, as with the big odometer roll-over in 2000. At least 2020 starts a nominal decade, which has some psychic reality.)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Chancellor's Disunity: Jonathan Steinberg's Bismarck: A Life

A photo I gathered, at nightfall, at the Bismarck Memorial, Berlin, April, 2015. I strolled about the monument, while visiting the nearby Siegessäule (which I first became aware of through its appearance in Wim Wenders' film, Wings of Desire). 

Jonathan Steinberg's Bismarck: A Life (2011), which I read not long ago, has for its cover a photo of the chancellor, with his severe mien; and a blurb from Henry Kissinger. I am not clear that a recommendation from a chief planner behind Nixon's Cambodia and Vietnam strategy, is a good thing. Nonetheless, the meaty biography successfully evoked the life and spirit of Bismarck, the chief figure behind the unification of the German states, in 1871; drawing on the statesman's own writings, and the impressions of many of his contemporaries. A few sentences could have done with some tighter editing.  Here is an example: "Vain, irresponsible, a stock exchange speculator, Arnim certainly was, but Bismarck used the courts to accuse him of treason, drove him out of the country, and to an early death." (pp- 342-43) I remember advice from my 18th Century Literature professor, who once said, just write short, shitty little sentences if you have to.

 I was nonplussed at the absence, from the index, of Adalbert Falk. Despite this odd omission, he does appear, in the text, on page 321 (and elsewhere). "The pious, very Christian von Muhler was replaced with a formidable liberal lawyer, Adalbert Falk, whose name came to symbolize the Kulturkampf. Falk came from a Protestant pastor's family in Silesia. A child prodigy, he entered Breslau University at 16 to become a lawyer..." 

 Bismarck materialized in the book as a conflicted, neurotic, and brilliant individual, with a situational disregard for most other people. Steinberg barely alluded to Bismarck's late, landmark creation of social support systems (which came about incidentally, to take away momentum from more radical programs). Nevertheless, the book is an excellent, enlightening read. It provided a vivid, full portraiture of the Iron Chancellor. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Vintage Reveries, Porterville, California

Real photo postcard, Porterville, California. One can see the driver's hand, but where's the face?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Dual Weird/Horror HPL Events

Director Richard Stanley (with Brian Callahan), Q and A, after a showing of Color out of Space, closing night, H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, 2019. The movie presented a contemporary take on HPL's masterpiece; remaining mostly faithful to the bleak cosmicism of the original (with pathos, and a bit of humor, and scenery-chewing, from Nicholas Cage).   During the question session afterward, I offered a question about the appearance, in the film, of a copy of Algernon Blackwood's The Willows. 

Robert Corman and Victoria Price, talking about Vincent Price, filmmaking, and other matters, after a showing of The Haunted Palace, at the 2019 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. I also saw Robert Corman (with Andrew Migliore) in a discussion after a showing of X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (the first time I'd seen the film; he revealed, among other things, that Don Rickles was nervous at first, since it was his first movie).

I also took in Shorts Blocks 1 & 3, & the audience-involved Dark Adventure Radio Theatre production of HPL's The Lurking Fear, among other events.

Cody Goodfellow, reading at the Lovecraft at the Lovecraft (Bar) event, 10-19-19 (he appeared, along with a number of other performers, writers, and poets). Also pictured: John Shirley (who fronted the Screaming Geezers, appearing as a sort of punk preacher of chaos, and Adam Bolivar, who put on a grimly compelling marionette show).

John Shirley and the Screaming Geezers

Sarah Walker reading at the Lovecraft Bar (with John Shirley, and Wendy Wagner watching on the right). Jason V. Brock, and Nathan Carson, also read.

A trip I recently took, to Colorado, Nebraska, and New York City (and running into some traces of past voyages/stays in those places), had for bookends these two H.P. Lovecraft-inspired festivals/events. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nicholas Roerich Museum

Today I spent a couple hours meditating over the paintings, objects, and art in the Nicholas Roerich Museum, in New York City; I had wanted to visit the place a long while. I first was alerted to his timeless, numinous artwork, through a reference in a letter I read by H.P. Lovecraft, to James F. Morton (one of the last letters he wrote; he mentioned the artist other times as well).

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


I am revisiting Colorado; after a long interval.

Friday, September 20, 2019

In the Hall of the Flatirons: Letter from Boulder, Colorado, October 22-23, 1984

Here follows the (lightly edited) text of a letter I wrote, in October 1985, to family members; during my stay in Colorado, through parts of 1984 and 1985.

I've tried to call about 6 times or more the past 3 days, but with no luck. I realised then that you are probably in California. Otherwise, I would've written sooner.
(Switching to ink -- that ball-point is hard on my hand.)

I went to Roman's last week-end and stayed for 4 days. The 1st day he served me frog legs, seaweed and noodles, a most exotic dish. His apartment is nice, tho' the furniture is rather broken down, and he has no bed (we slept on mats on the floor).

The first night we viewed a great film directed by Luis Bunuel, Viridiana. We spent a lot of time painting and wandering about in Denver.
On the 3rd day it snowed 2 feet; we went to downtown Denver, as he had no classes, and ate at a Russian cafe; on the way back a car smacked into the side of our bus, and the bus drove over the sidewalk & smashed into a 'phone (sic-- with power lines) pole, which broke off and slammed on the roof with tremendous noise, causing people to scream; everyone thought he was done for. Several wires lay across the roof of the bus, so everyone on board (about 20) had to wait for quite a while whilst police, fire trucks, power officials and so on showed up. Finally, the power was shut off, and we could leave; the incident was on the news a couple hours later.

Oct. 23
As soon as the bus had come to a stop the driver screamed "Don't anybody move! Don't anybody touch anything!"
I got back here alright, as most of the streets were clear, tho' they were like rivers from the melting snow. It seems to snow more in Denver than here for some reason; only about 1 foot of snow fell here.

I feed the 3 horses 2 bales of hay every day, and break the ice off the tanks. The temperature has been in the 20s and 30s, which is unusually cold for this time of year.

There was an earthquake about a week ago, centered near Casper, Wyoming, which rattled Colorado, Nebraska, and a couple other states, registering 5.5 on the Richter Scale. I was sitting on the couch, and felt it shake, but I thought it was the cat playing until I heard later about the 'quake.

Thanks exceedingly for the birthday presents; I did not expect them. I'm wearing the long-sleeved shirt right now. 

-- Would you send me, please, the address of the U of O School of Musick?

Clark Dissmeyer and Marc Myers called a few weeks ago, comprising the first time I've talked to Clark, tho' we didn't get much said, it being difficult to talk to two people at once.
    As always, your oblig'd and obt. servant,


A sample from the letter, and one from the envelope: and a photo of me, Boulder, 1985.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

"I am considering moving Into one of those lofts around Union Station:" Letter from Roman Scott, 1988

The following is a letter to me, from Roman Scott, detailing a period in his life when he moved from Sandy, Oregon, to Portland (as things transpired, he initially dwelled in an atmospheric apartment building, with shared bathrooms, in the Lair Hill district, instead of the "lofts near Union Station"). After about a year (also including a stint living in the attic of the Pythian Building) in Portland, he headed to New York City, where he spent the next 12 or so years; as artist, student, and teacher.


 9.7.88, Sandy


Dreamt of an impossible large old factory building, so huge it would dwarf the largest of the pyramids. Inside it was built an entire old city, known for ages, with odd & forgotten streets build on many levels.


My mom came into my room, & I realized with horror that her face was that of an old Indian.

Lately I’ve been getting my airbrushes back in working condition as I have an illustration job which requires the technique. I’ve taken to a British canned airbrush propellant called friskair; the stuff is 8.00 a bottle, but it lasts a good while, & is infinitely more enjoyable than that damned compressor hammering away. It took two days to repair the more expensive brush, the company of which, incidentally, has gone out of business, taken over by a New Zealand firm. I bought it for $60; now it would cost $200.

Sent some Hollandse Zigarren to the Meck for his birthday.


I am considering moving into one of those lofts around Union Station; actually, they are not in Union Station, but on Everett & 6th, closer in. & they will be quite fancy (Casablanca fans, high ceiling, a living loft above, & a kitchen/bathroom space below. Even with the subsidy I wonder whether I could afford it. Yet it would be in the best location. I would call it “Gallery Roman” perhaps. I have till Nov. to decide. 


Today commenced “Sandy Mt. Days.” I am doubtful that I have the strength to confront it again.


Instead I’ve been lounging around making cassette tapes. Last night I finally made a recorder take two different inputs, recording internally. This tape, the final product, I will call Het Ij.

Recorded a good, though expurgated Burroughs reading on Kaboo (KBOO).

The stamp & envelope of this letter are compliments of Anne Hughes’ coffee room, which sent it to me so that I would feel inclined to buy a spendy 10.00 ticket for one of their performances.



St. Pangrass

Friday, August 2, 2019

Evocation of Algernon Blackwood

A painting I completed of late; Episodes Before 82: Algernon Blackwood.  (And July 27th marked the 11th year since I started this web log.)

Saturday, July 20, 2019


A postcard, and photo (I have posted the portrait before), from Liège, Belgium. I bought the card in Amsterdam.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Angelo Muscat Film Festival

Digital collage by JF

A poem I wrote around 1978-80, tangentially about actor Angelo Muscat:

Angelo Muscat Film Festival

The man-hero poured the drink directly into his brain.

I said that's what you are deeply thinking. Puce scapegoat grace, a walnut reminiscence of timeless misouts. Reference 1: I refer you to my Uncle Charlie, who last knew his source 15 years ago, smothered in that cake of which he sowed nothing.
a poisonous dripping Grim Reaper taking us all to task, hovering over the soap mix bowl.  

--- JF

Saturday, June 15, 2019


My earliest calculator; mid 1970s.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Sketch of Boulder Book Store, April 1985

Here's a study I did; based on my recollection of a photograph (or based on an amalgam of several photos) captured of Allen Ginsberg, by Roman Scott, April, 1985; at the Boulder Book Store, Colorado. We spent twenty or thirty minutes conversing with the poet... The series of photographs vanished, alas, as I have mentioned elsewhere. Ginsberg also snapped a couple pictures of me, Roman, and others who were there. I have examined the images from that period in the Allen Ginsberg collection, in the Stanford University Library digital archives  -- but if the photos survived that he took at the signing, I was not able to locate them (there are a couple sheets of Ginsberg photos from April 12th and 13th, 1985, in Boulder -- the same visit).

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Velvet Underground: Springer's Hall, 1969

A dressed-up version of the flyer (incorporating an earlier image with Andy Warhol) for the performance of The Velvet Underground (in a later version of the band, with a different lineup) and The Chapter Five on 21 November, 1969, at Springer's Hall, Gresham, Oregon (I believe at that period the location fell within unincorporated Multnomah County). (Other notable bands also played at the venue, including The Grateful Dead, the Byrds, and others; according to the Rock Archaeology 101 blog post, in the preceding link). I've long been an admirer of the band; since some friends recommended their music in the last millennium. I purchased a copy of the Velvet Underground "banana" album at a thrift store in the 80s (then inexplicably gave away the record a few years later). I later frequented the building in its later incarnation, as Springer's Flea Market, in the 70s and 80s (as mentioned in previous posts). The story of Springer's ended dramatically, with the consumption of the entire edifice by fire. This event happened apparently in August, 1987, according to Roman Scott's comment in the "Rock Archaeology" blog (and from what I remember of that time). I did see John Cale in a solo performance, in the 80s, at the Pine Street Theater in Portland (later La Luna).

I was within a ten or twenty minute drive of the 1969 Velvet Underground concert at Springer's; although would not have quite been old enough to have grokked it, had I attended. Still, there was something in the breezes...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Pyrrhic Alembic (Poem)

Pyrrhic Alembic


The decades plangent, winter’s night, ancient youth; I watched occultation as the sun’s corona snapped; the initial eclipse, revelation by the blackboard, fell during Jimmy Carter’s reality.

Valkyries whirred through marmoreal heights, the aurochs of Christiania, scooped orbs of febrile rocks.

Totems hermitic, thunder eggs of stumbling youth, reincarnations argent.

Past mages’ mouths sealed now with wixtax, sires driving their pickups into the bardo, in the alder woods a hinged homunculus burrowed.


JF – 5/11/19
  A drawing, based on Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I made when I was eight, nine or so.

More info on Springer's musical past:


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Roman's Comics

A short piece I wrote on the artist Roman Scott's comics, in 2016. The impetus was a proposed tribute to some of Roman's early graphic work, which would have appeared in a local publication (unfortunately, the project never materialized). And the cover (ca. 1980) of his photocopied mini, called Flamboody.