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.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Pallid Giant

 A few years ago, at a going- out- of- business sale at a bookstore contained in an older house, in Portland, Oregon, I purchased The Pallid Giant: A Tale of Yesterday and Tomorrow (1927), by Pierrepont Noyes.The book is a curious novel, with some disorienting leaps in pacing and style. The initial parts take place in Europe, during and after the post-World War I peace conference in Paris.  The book has different elements and tones (including a section, ostensibly a translation of a manuscript from a group of humans in an ancient epoch)  which are inconclusive, and which never cohere. The opening chapters contain some engaging narrative, including an account of an exploration of a cavern in the Pyrenees, along with the discovery of enigmatic artifacts. The unnamed narrator, together with other characters, including Grudge, Professor Gribbon, and the local woman Mraaya, have some suspenseful and enthralling adventures on their quest for new knowledge. The novel loses momentum with its tale-within-a tale, with coined words, names, and disquieting elements of eugenics; but the author does loosely, and correctly, anticipate a future of cataclysmically destructive weapons. 





Sunday, August 29, 2021

Roman Scott: Painter (Video)





Recently I watched again this video (in its original VHS format, from 1997), featuring interviews with Roman Scott, and related images and sequences. The director, who did a stellar job, left his name out of the credits; and some searching by me has not yet revealed his identity. With material such as clips from Taxi Driver (one of Roman's favorite movies, for its painterly qualities, as he explains), intersecting with his art; and an appearance by a work including the Twin Towers, the videocassette has an atmospheric and spectral feel.  As Roman stated, it's a mysterious thing to create something out of nothing.

Here's a link to the production, digitized by, and posted by Todd Mecklem, in 2015.





 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

13 Year Anniversary

 

A digital collage I created recently, to mark the 13th anniversary of this blog, Adalbert. The background for the collage was a photo I took in 2004. 


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Digital Collage

Occultation; a digital artwork I made; 7/7/21. 

 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

KKEY: Talk Radio Echoes from the 1980s

 I recall residing in the forest with dad, 1983-84, listening on a battery-powered radio to Portland talk radio station KKEY (a favorite station of his). The station (at least the version with those call letters) is long defunct, passing the way of all phenomenona, transitory and evanescent. (Talk radio was especially important in those days before the internet was accessible; and this was also in the heated context suggested by the Talk Radio film.)   I recall from memory walking past the station's singular, small corner office on Burnside street, in downtown Portland, Oregon. The bellicose Dave Collins; Lee Evans (a laid-back host, a retired lawyer), Jerry Dimmitt, Henryne, Mary Pierce, Jim Lindsay, (no doubt some, or all were assumed names) and others fielded phone calls, and discussed political, domestic, and quotidian topics. The hosts held a range of political views, moderate, left, right; or in same cases, they avoided partisan matters completely. The late, controversial religious leader/former mesmerist, Roy Masters, showed up occasionally on the station, in those days; I even called in and asked him a question, once.  


At that time, the station only held a license to broadcast during daylight hours. I recall those twilights, when the station faded early off the air; especially haunting in fall or winter's dusk. 
I have been unable to locate any audio recordings from the station, online or elsewhere. A number of callers were regulars -- one nervous guy seemed to be from the local red cell. His calls always culminated with something about the greatness of the Marxist bloc... "uh... uh...Communism...". My father and I pictured another frequent dialer, as a sort of Captain Willard (from Apocalypse Now) figure, with a pack of smokes, a bottle of pills, and a .45 with a live chambered round; tightly wound and chattering fast. "Caller, you're on the air..."


Casual web-searching indicates few traces of this phantom, in the data record; a photo or two, and a few brief references. It might exist chiefly through recollection.... The nearest thing I have encountered since was Art Bell's radio broadcasts, which a friend drew my attention to around 1998; but Art retired, quit, and flamed out in different ways, before his final passage... 



Digital collage by JF, May 2021 (including an image of the 1983-84 camp; and the same camper, on a 70s slide photo).

Sunday, May 9, 2021

42nd Street Precognition


 A photo I took; NYC, 10-17-19. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Lace-Maker

 The Lace-Maker 

June 30, 1987. Beverly Beach, Ore.


 The leather of the sole must be half-an-inch thick when in glass cupboards for leprous dolls which lace-like stumps probe.

"Right now!" Triangular lenses look belligerent 'neath black-belt eyebrows. He waves his hand: Five stub-ends. 

The very inner circle of each stump has never healed, & was wont to discharge clear fluids, especially when his limbs mimed karate motions, kind of iridescent & glowing like stupid monkey heads strung on tree- leaves. This was ever so far away from a "do not drink the water" warning, on the 20th floor of a worn city building, a bit like a beacon against poor posture & conterminous with the museum. Dull mahogany cabinets, I bet you fellows haven't seen anything like that before. And just as his cataract-laden eyes winked with victory, a wax-plastic figure (based on that of a wooden dummy) showed a glittering smile. 

J. Falk, R. Scott

A collaborative poem I wrote with Roman Scott, after a visit to the now-defunct Lacey's Doll Museum in Lincoln City, Oregon (we then traveled to the Newport area, where we created these works). My family also dropped by the place a number of times, stretching back to the early 70s. 




A drawing by R.Scott and me; from the same day as the poem. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Plain's End (prose poem)





Plain's End, a prose poem/freewrite of mine, based on impressions of Japan, and South Korea (and contents/cover) of Sunflower: A Literary Journal for Freewrites, 1st quarter, 1994, Berkeley, CA. Art/editing:Myeongsuk Jeong. A few web searches found almost no traces of the magazine (or the editor); which had its run right around the first glimmers of widespread internet availability (although one of the queries found this previous post of mine, from 2013).


 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Torn-edge Collage


A collage I created, circa 1985. I gathered some of the images from medical books.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Anomalies of Surgery and Snake-Handling

Mixed-media work of mine (ink/collage), early-mid 1980s. 


 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Dreamland Brings Memories of You


A collage, including some poetry, I made; 1980s.
 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Visiting Newave Artists in Nebraska, March, 1985

 Visiting Newave Artists in Nebraska (March, 1985)

I had the fortune recently to meet two artistic spawn of the horizontal corn-hell known as Nebraska. These two young self-publishers, Marc Myers and Clark Dissmeyer, may provide their state's first chance to redeem itself since the time it spewed S. Clay Wilson into the world. 
As a life-long denizen of the great & mountainous west, the trip itself was a weird experience for me. Departing from Denver at 9:00 PM (on a Trailways bus), and traveling wide-awake through alien towns such as Brush, Otis, and McCook (where Clark once worked briefly as a rabbit-shit shoveler), I felt I was entering a land of no-return. The farmers and grain elevators and endless fields of wheat convey a sense of the sinister as well as of the earthy and mundane, perhaps the very awful sterility of the landscape & people turns the vision inward, to the point where parades of hallucinatory images march by as in a collage of Marc's. At any rate, time has fossilized in its tracks here since the 1950s or before...
Arriving in Grand Island not long after 7:00 AM the next morning, I ate at the nearest fast food slophouse, after which I phoned Clark; awakened from his slumbers, he promised to be out shortly. As he and a relative (his stepfather) traversed the 40 miles from Fullerton to G.I., I sat in the bus depot and meditated on the game shows the attendant, the only other person, watched.
An hour or two later, a tall figure clad in denim entered; of course, I knew instantly the identity of the person. Dragging on a generic cigarette, with curly longish hair, a day or two of stubble, Clark took me out to the car and we departed for Fullerton. 
His cohort Marc still in Omaha (where he now resides), Clark and I talked about everything from the mystical composer Scriabin, to Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. The ride from G.I. to the farming hub of Fullerton covers extremely boring territory, the only objects I noticed being the rotting husks of barns & concrete grain elevators. We compared our respective territories, I expounding on the colour & variety of the "far west," Clark trying to picture this while looking at the center of Nebraska. 
Fullerton is an isolated town of 1,500. As we first drove through it I had a strange, peaceful impression which didn't cease as we arrived at Clark's house around noon. After spending time with his folks, the artist and I descended to his basement hermitage, there to talk, listen to tapes and look at books and comix. After the noon meal, we went on a walk, to the "old dam" long since disused, and by the gigantic grain elevator, where we were unexpectedly blasted by hot air coming from a tube, something to do with preparing grain, I imagined. I'd also noticed a few long swivel-headed stares from the locals, no doubt stemming from my status as a stranger and reprobate. 
That night Marc Myers, creator of Stick and countless other publications, arrived from Omaha, and we met him at his turn-of-the-century house. He took us up to his small upstairs room, where for a couple of hours the three of us scanned his remarkable paintings and surreal notebooks, observed abstract and multi-layered slides, exchanged a few gifts, and spoke. 
We finished the night by visiting the town's graveyard, the celestial vault reeking with unimaginable beauty. After heading to Myers' Appliance, we ended up at Clark's place, played an incoherent game of ping-pong. Having been in a state of waking consciousness for around 40 hours, I finally fell into bed, falling asleep within a few seconds. That night I dreamt of Marc nonchalantly carrying a blood-spattered corpse in his arms. 
An odd incident occurred the night before I landed in Fullerton -- a person named Schreck (same as the mysterious actor who portrayed Count Orlok in the silent masterpiece Nosferatu), was crushed to death by a pin-setter in the town's bowling alley. I couldn't help thinking that this might have been intended as a signal to me, from who knows who or what? At any rate, an assortment of photos were taken of Clark, Marc, and me in front of the alley where the death took place.
The morning after my arrival I awoke fairly early. Clark still slumbered, but after deliberation on the subject of early rising by his stepfather the artist was awakened, and appeared sleepily in the kitchen. Some trouble had arisen the day before, as Marc had come from Omaha to Central City, about twenty miles away, in honour of my visit. He was unable to contact his parents & was contemplating hitch-hiking, but C. finally managed to locate M.'s mother & the problem was over. 
On the second day, we ate some bread, miso, & seaweed (after I ate a traditional breakfast of eggs) -- on the first day, as Clark and I walked down railroad tracks, someone in a passing school bus shouted at us "smoke a doobie for me!" 'Twas on day two or three, I'm not certain which, that we went on a fairly long walk, M., C., and I. Walking through the town, we came out on the highway, hiking along the pavement for some distance, evidently came to some prearranged spot, and crossed a barbed-wire fence & walked through a farmer's field. Cow manure dotted the ground but no cows could be seen.  
The ground was hard and irregular, covered with dead, brown grass. Barren trees always in the distance. After walking for about twenty minutes, we spotted a white-tail deer crashing away from us, about two hundred feet in distance. 
After we took several different pictures, Clark made the remark: "Maybe someday there'll be an Arkham House book with these pictures of us out here." He also made reference to the future book of "Dissmeyer/Falk correspondence." I did my famous impression of the redneck old-boy whilst out on these solemn wastes. We eventually came to a gradually rising stretch of land; Clark at one point ascended before us and tossed cow pies, hard & white, for great distances. At the top lay our objective -- "The Leap!" Actually, we weren't immediately at this much discussed spot; "The Leap" does not come until the end of the great arm of land we stood upon. 
(And there the piece suddenly ended. One memory I didn't include, from my time in Fullerton, was of a drunken electric guitar performance by the three of us, in Marc's father's shop. I also met several of my friends' former teachers.)
-- Jonathan Falk


I originally wrote this (recently-slightly edited) account around April or May, in 1985. This was shortly after my first visit to Nebraska (at that time, the furthest east I'd been), in March, 1985. 



Marc and Clark, photo by me; visiting Fullerton, Nebraska, in August, 1986, a year and five month after my first trip there. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Meeting with Allen Ginsberg, April 12, 1985, Boulder, Colorado

 A (lightly edited) journal entry of mine, covering a meeting with Allen Ginsberg, at the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colorado, on April 12, 1985. 

Written on April 15, 1985 (Boulder, Colorado). Monday. Saturday (April 12), R. arrived. We stayed in the Trident Coffee House for a while, then sat out on the courthouse lawn and snapped pictures of each other. At 5:30, we went to the Boulder Bookstore and met (Allen) Ginsberg; talked to him around ten or 15 minutes, interrupted only by people who wanted their books signed. We told him a little about Oddities, our philosophies (?) and so on. In the books which he signed he stamped two Tibetan symbols, of which he explained the meanings. One, I believe, indicated a Boddhisatva. Ginsberg asked Roman what kind of camera he had; R. explained it was an 'idiot' camera. Upon which we saw that Allen had a similar one himself! He asked us to buy film for him; we agreed, but were unsure of a near location. Another guy bought the film in the end. 

G. snapped a picture of me, also one of a man holding a Blake/Dante book. I was grinning idiotically. We finally left through nervousness and because larger crowds were gathering about the poet. He seemed friendly and courteous as well as cryptic. Also I saw a reading he gave at the Naropa Institute on Wednesday. Quite an exuberant reader. Yesterday we saw The Wicker Man... 
-- JF 



Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Aquarian Visions: Algernon Blackwood's The Promise of Air

A letter attached to my copy of The Promise of Air. 

Some time not long past, I found a copy of Algernon Blackwood's novel, The Promise of Air; which I recently read. 
The book has moments of resonant poetry and originality. At times, the tone is breezy and light, perhaps to an excess. The darker currents threading through some of Blackwood's strongest works (such as his short story The Wendigo, or his memoir Episodes Before 30), are mostly absent from The Promise of Air. With its Aquarian Society, and proclamations that all are one, the book anticipated some trends that appeared much later -- in the 1960s, for example. "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius," indeed. References to birds, as symbols of liberation and transcendence, pepper the novel. The chief character, Joseph Wimble, and his ethereal daughter, Joan, gravitate toward a life of spontaneity and freedom (while his son and wife are, at least on the surface, more earthbound and conventional). One compelling scene revolved around a family night at the movies, in their days of silent glory and novelty: "The cinema frees and extends the consciousness, restores the past, and sets distance close beneath the eyes. Only the watching self remains -- pregnant symbol! -- in the darkness." (p. 168). Despite the novel's flaws, its themes are timeless and significant.

-- JF, 2020

 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

2016 Trip Journal

In September 2016, I took a car trip through parts of Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, and Montana. I followed this excursion with time spent in Washington, D.C., and Providence, Rhode Island. I took the journey in part to mark the 30th anniversary of a cross-US railway voyage I made (Todd Mecklem published the resulting journal in 1990, through his imprint, Terata Publications). Following are the published version of the trip journal cover, by Roman Scott, a variant, unpublished cover he drew; and a lightly edited transcript of the 2016 notes. 


Original cover, by Roman Scott


Variant cover, by Roman Scott

A Trip Journal: 2016
by Jonathan Falk

September 11, 2016, Sunday
This day I drove out to Dry Lakes State Park, Washington State. The Missoula Floods have enthralled me for some time. The wind shrieked constantly in my ears as I hiked around Umatilla Rock -- like a paranoia-critical monument rising from talus. The ghost of J. Harlan Bretz played antique tunes. Soft reeds. Lonely hawks sailed in the draft. Austere -- bleak -- forbidding bluffs, the beds of the former ice age falls. 
From now & then, Trump-Pence signs rise on the sagebrush range. 
I am in Ephrata, WA for two nights, one day.
Long drive here. Stopped briefly in Toppenish, WA, which my mother visited as a child. Drove by an otherworldly viewpoint, faerie lava peaks and a paleaogean valley. 
15 September 2016. 
Dream last night in Hamilton, Montana, of a man/subway/interdimensional penny farthing. 
I am in Coeur d'Alene now. 
Today in Wallace, Idaho, gunning down mountain slopes at 80 MPH. Apparently I was there as a child.
Mining museum, scale models of mining shafts, mine bicycles, mine wars, the big burn of 1910.
Other part of my dream: A pit bull locked jaws on my throat.
I visited my aunt & uncle in MT. We went to the Daly Mansion, game room glittering glass eyes of gazelles and black bears, yellow screeching wallpaper & the bed where Mrs. Daly breathed her last
And Fort Missoula yesterday vegetable cellar cool as a ship burial. Hello at a chapel like the nave at a stave church. Ripple marks of glacial Lake Missoula a celestial shore seen from an observatory tower, over high grounds
18 September 2016 in Washington DC for the first time today. Humid air and crickets and birds shrill over Andrew Jackson in horse stride. Panhandlers near the White House. Sniper atop the Corinthian-columned facade. And a henna-bearded guy holding an Arabic scroll and calling prayers. Bomb scare, bulky secret service agent yelling whose camera bag is it. (Someone caused alarm, by abandoning a camera bag.) We were ordered to the other side of the street. The agent found the bag was empty. Shone his flashlight through it. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Truman, a bucket of warm spit, marchers from 1960s stride by.
Last day driving home in Gorge, Biggs Junction, Brother Speed bikers ahead of me. Shot through a red light. Yakama nation license plates handed food to homeless man. Feathery plangent sunset. 
At rest area, crickets voices swelled, twilight wind filled shore branches, navigation lights rang green and blue. 
Way behind on journal. This is written September 22, 2016, Thursday evening. 
In Warwick, Rhode Island. First time back in R.I. since August 1986, with dad. Previous three and a half days I was in Washington DC, first time. Steam drumming against vents -- walk by business women & men -- Peruvian chicken devoured in moist shape. Studded with mosquito bites on my arm,  bunks to coed hostel like Dana or Whitejacket, Hostel Manager asked me how I liked DC, MLK statue at golden sunset hour ferrous with night, excited cicadas in unseen blends.
The Washington Pillar rakes the music of the spheres, symphonic gloaming bars of the reflecting pool in the tragic rumples of the Gettysburg address writer's jacket, crepuscular mirrors of Vietnam Vets slabs, Jefferson Memorial an island of sagacity -- A kid screamed: "There's TJ." FDR Memorial, a maze supernal at night. 
24 September 2016 Derangement of the Senses -- Providence RI  This trip is almost over, as all trips shall be -- 
I found this is more about understanding my 1986 self & honoring & bidding farewell to those who are lost -- Today (or rather the 23rd) was a comedy in part of misadventures. Two bus drivers yelled at me -- one for putting a day ticket (in the slot he pointed at) in the wrong place. The other looked like Joe Piscopo, and screamed when I boarded -- the back door was broken, and I was supposed to know this.
I visited Lovecraft's grave, arriving by bus, then trudging through the hot sun rays. A pond nests in the cemetery, shaded and gardened. A security guard drove up to me and asked me what I was doing. He directed me to the grave and hung around, telling me no photos.. Where are you from? Oregon. "That's way out there." and he informed me of HPL cons, and "an HPL website."  The slab is angular midst Whipple, Robie, Susan and Winfield, trampled grass, bare ground. I paid honor to the ones and to the author of the Shadow out of Time, and left. 
And I walked to 65 Prospect Place, formerly 66 College -- Faint light within, Fanlight crowning, ghostly crickets mourning the breezes -- lunch at a bad sushi place -- 
White house, break dancers folding shoulder blades -- lights, inside -- Dreams of relatives faces alternating, Fake beards, woods 
10-17-16 Home, arboreal lava, dead rice

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Seeking the Gravesite of Stanley Fafara

 On June 27th, 2020, I set out to locate the grave of former child actor Stanley Fafara (1949-2003). It marked the first time I had trod the grasses and lanes of Redland Pioneer Cemetery, in a rustic area of Oregon City, Oregon. Driving on rural roads, I stopped, at first believing the gate was locked. I entered the grounds, and quickly homed in on Stanley Fafara's grave marker; only placed in 2016. This was a grave that was easy to sight; unlike, say, the false starts, the disorientation, that might occur, looking for the dead in a large place like Pere Lachaise.  A fence, hedges, and a nursery, with the softened outlines of hills about, border Stanley Fafara's plot; the marker included his birth and death dates (which differ from the dates given in online sources), a cross (a Benedictine cross, according to the "2016" link), and the poignant nickname "Whitey." A mixture of overcast, wind, and occasional bursts of sunlight, defined the day.  

I never viewed Leave it to Beaver, in which Stanley Fafara -- playing the role of Hubert "Whitey" Whitney (a cheerful character, slightly less mischievous than some of The Beaver's other friends); in the seminal mid-century modern, nuclear family show, until a few years back. (The series had some intriguing undercurrents; such as when Ward Cleaver, played by Hugh Beaumont, mentioned that he subscribed to Weird Tales in youth.) Local TV did not broadcast the reruns, during my own youth. Popular TV culture was part of the gestalt in those years; whether absorbing the jarring images, in Green Acres of the ascent to make phone calls on a telephone pole; or seeing the Gomer Pyle show, followed by the unexpected death of Frank Sutton, who portrayed Sergeant Vince Carter. Family lore had it that he "gave himself a heart attack with his crazy screaming." The sergeant himself stated, with eerie premonition, in one episode, we've all gotta go sometime. The Vietnam War, at its height during the show's run, was absent (other than maybe by one or two remote allusions, to jungle warfare and the like), from a program which, paradoxically, revolved around the U.S. Marine Corps.  Frank Sutton's sudden passage was one of the ways in which I learned of the omnipresent essence of death.
Character actor Richard Deacon will forever signal the end of Green Acres, in an inchoate attempt to propel the show in a different direction. Leave it to Beaver will always capture some aspects of a time, from the late 50s to the period right before the assassination of John F. Kennedy; the scrapbook locked in amber. And the revelation of Stanley Fafara's grave, brought to awareness unrealized potentia, redemption, in this rural setting; nestled in leagues of farm and forest.





Monday, July 27, 2020

12 Years of Adalbert




Today marks 12 years since my first entry of this blog. 


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Hieroglyphics, by Arthur Machen



In 1987, 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 ultimately 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

The Davidson Monument, Oregon Caves (postcard)


Vintage real photo postcard. The Davidson Monument, Oregon Caves, Oregon.

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
7-26-19

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?