- 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, May 11, 2019
Saturday, April 20, 2019
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.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
A digital collage I made, based on a cutting with a review (by Bob Hicks) from The Oregonian, of a reissue of Abel Gance's silent film Napoleon (1927), and other elements. I attended the film with the family, at the long-defunct Movie House theatre in Portland, Oregon. Based on the profusion in the ads of films from 1981 and 1982, this event must have been in 1982 or 83. I could stand to see the film again; the triptych sequence at the end, and dizzying camera work throughout were intense.
Friday, March 29, 2019
Saturday, March 16, 2019
I first became cognizant of Enid Starkie's beefy biography and critical study of the sui generis French poet Arthur Rimbaud in the mid 80s, when a friend of mine at that time had the tome; and displayed a copy to me. I have a memory of him and another friend conversing about Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell; with regards to synesthesia. While this is indeed a reasonable take on his lines about the colors of vowels; when I finally purchased and consumed the tome, my understanding of the writer and adventurer exponentially expanded, with this and other matters. She linked the words, inspired by a French primer, with Rimbaud’s study of alchemy.
I ultimately spotted a copy of the tome at a bookstore on Hawthorne Boulevard, in 2018, in Portland, Oregon. The store filled the lower rooms in an older home; inviting a leisurely survey of the shelves. For a sum not more than a few U.S. dollars, I left with a liquidated 1947 edition of the critical biography, (along with some other books); with its jacket weakened and bleached by stray sun rays over long years; but still perfectly readable.
Absorbing its densely rewarding pages; I found a deep presentation of Rimbaud, with intensive coverage of his relations with his mother and siblings (his father dropped out of home life at an early date), his literary stirrings during the violence and uncertainty in the era of the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune (which he apparently only witnessed briefly, if at all); his frenetic relationship with Paul Verlaine, analysis of his poetry, and a detailed account of his years traveling and living in Aden, Harar, and other locales. Curiously, Starkie left most of the poetry untranslated (and my one year of high school French didn't help too much in this regard, although I read many of the works she referenced in translation, elsewhere); but she translated the examples of correspondence, in the biography. Enid Starkie’s Rimbaud is an extraordinary study of the poet, his life and influence.
Below; an analog/digital collage I made, combining elements of paintings from 1872 by Arnold Böcklin and Fantin-Latour.
Friday, March 8, 2019
Saturday, February 23, 2019
I've been revisiting Los Angeles and surroundings for a bit. Today: The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. Below, spectral glyphs from comic actor Joe E. Brown, at Grauman's Chinese Theater (Joe E. Brown appeared often as a sort of totemic spirit in Oddities and other related zines); and a revenant jest from Humphrey Bogart.
I originally posted this on 2/20/19, but the text and photos manifested as an unintended work of glitch art (merging two posts), also below:
Thursday, February 14, 2019
The first two pages from a paper, dated March 7, 1993, I composed for a seminar on Melville taught by Professor Michael Hollister, at Portland State University. The class involved some lively, intense discussions in our small group. Also: a collage piece I constructed in the far-off year of 2005.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Hamm-Charleville Special: To the Adalbert Falk Denkmal
I had appeared, standing by the Adalbert Falk monument, in Hamm, Rhine-Westphalia, Germany; in what was formerly west Prussia. Adumbration of the return of Charles Dexter Ward or Osiris, a rigorous journey spanning several generations. He was a tough guy, beard neat, per archive photos. Verdigris hand tucked Napoleon-style in coat, on the shadowed pedestal. There it was, in the abyss of time. His house is no longer present; cool tiles of the courthouse, his portrait stern in the supreme court building. I retrieved from the stack a letter from my late uncle, Roderick Falk, mailed to the City of Hamm offices in the late 1970s; as in the denouement of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out of Time, it was like finding a letter in my own writing, or at least the writing of someone I knew; a shock to expectations. It was 1/365th of a solar year, a deceptive percentage, outsized in recollection, somewhere in time’s arrow. I quickly emerged from the yellow-brown 70s GDR-feeling sport coat I had bought from a flea market vendor in canal-threaded Amsterdam, the shadow of the statue and its plaque soaring from a period anterior to the Cold War, before World Wars One and Two (though the conflict which would have most imperiled the monument, would have been WWII; with its air campaign). I knew someone who visited Hamm first, and send me some resultant photographs.
Your mystery lies: Black A, in the abyss's bowels; been WWII; with its air campaign. Black A, white E, blue O: you vowels. Someday I'll tell the tale of where of time anterior to the Cold War, to World Wars One and Two (though the conflict which would have most imperiled the monument, would have been the sport coat I had bought from a flea market vendor in canal-threaded Amsterdam, a jacket formed of hairy, shiny flies, the shadow of the statue and its plaque soaring from depths); it was 1/365th of a solar year, a deceptive percentage, red I, green U outsized in recollection, that buzz among harsh stinks, somewhere in time’s arrow. I quickly emerged from the yellow-brown GDR-feeling.
My hosts and I visited the graves of old Adalbert and his family, a humid west Prussian September sun scorching my closely-shaved pate; and they lowered a floral arrangement on the gravesite; the iron fence which once penned in the gravestones was non-extant – scrap metal for the Third Reich? “He secularized the schools – this was very important.” Maps shewing borders morphing, west Prussia intense as cobblestones, archives and priest’s alcoves in the Hindu temple, the glass elephant by sight from a rooftop. Kulturkampf gloaming. Fantastic carnival moves in the heat beneath St. Paulus Cathedral, the ring of the old city. Lengthy ride from Duesseldorf.
With some slight temporal remove, the evening and day I hung out in Hamm, Germany, have a phantasmal texture, like a sequence from a Werner Herzog film; This is all most extraordinary. Most extraordinary! To off it all top, I sojourned at the Hotel Herzog itself, when there.
Meanwhile, troop needs during the Franco-Prussian War delayed my great-grandfather’s train, on the plains of east Prussia…
By Jonathan Falk
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Wind per East
The obsidian wind with the nostrils of carved rock
roamed and ruffled deep afield, decades in vain.
The house on the road where the trees lined
These totems, marmoreal pruned branches, blue jay spoke,
The scent of petroglyphs patrol in dreams,
brows saurian and wiggling, that was carbon steel,
that was a volcano up there, it didn't try but rain,
Interstellar harmonies, unexamined flames.
Photo by JF, Oregon, March, 1986.
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
The text elements I added to this 1990 Playboy-photo calendar, originated from tweets of El Jefe, and a couple sentences from a text of Dutch Schultz's final testimony, combined and run into an online cut-up machine, or two. Tweak their tweets and timelines.
A friend of mine, at the time, retrieved (and then gave to me) the curiosity from the belt, at a recycling plant where he then worked. Below is a Nepali-import calendar, from later in that now-distant decade.
The site of Jesus Truck Repair, is now occupied by Old Town Music.
Happy New Year! Maybe the 20s will roar again, or rhyme, starting in a year....
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Here is an extraordinary letter from November 1985 my friend, the late artist, Roman Scott, mailed me, when he was an exchange student in Winchester, England. I transcribed and lightly edited his words. Written on a lithograph, the epistle, in its breathless mystery, almost feels like a page from a Mayan codex. The writing, including the section concerning his wrestling with his art's direction, is remarkable. The envelope is a striking example of mail art.
Novr 9, 85
I go through phases here with astonishing speed. One week I’ll believe only in painting, the next, only in sculpture, the next only in literature, the next only in prints, the next, only in comix. For the past week or two I have been in the comix phase & I wonder whether or not it isn’t permanent. I see that comix are irremediably imbedded in my blood, & that nothing gives me greater ecstasy than the times at which I am immersed in drawing them. Likewise, I have seen them regarded as an “high art” (not here in England, but in Holland, Skandinavia, & to some extent Germany & France, though there they are more commercialized & base), so that it is easier to reconcile them, since I have been so indoctrinated with the idea of “fine art.” I spend the good part of the day drawing madly at my table, keeping myself warm with dark coffee. Since the days have lately become fierce & miserable, I am not guilty of wasting my time, since I would be drenched & chilled if I tried to draw anything outside. I have come to a time when my mind wishes only to create, not to see; any trip that I now take is slightly tiring & difficult to absorb, so much I have seen. I have drawn up several scripts for my old character Pete Moss, who is now a wanderer, & have created a new character called L’arteeest, & have continued old Mr. Spleen as well. My “fine art” of prints & painting deal now with comix, which I refer to as “time art,” the back of this sheet being an example. Comix hold an additional appeal now simply because they are not an academic art – the students in this school are so horribly academic, seeming to be continually performing autopsies on Matisse, always the same old buttery, huge canvases with designer colours splashed around, a chess game on the canvas, the solution of which (composition & colour harmony) is the sole reason for the painting. To hell with solving composition & colour – there are art forms of other cultures which have no idea of colour harmony (as Indian music has nothing to do with harmonics) or the balance of composition. (the above entry, written in a somewhat depressed state.)
21 Nov I was glad to have gotten your last lettre. Your assertion that I must live in a dream world is fairly accurate; as a matter of fact, I have many dreams now directly influenced by England; stone passageways in fog-choked meadows of dark colours, usually ultramarine blue & viridian-type colours. Indeed, my unconscious assimilation of a given sight is often more important than the sight itself, which is the same for all people. I take every opportunity to travel; last weekend I spent four days in the North: Newcastle (as far as the Romans got), where all the great John Martin paintings are displayed, including The Bard, and Belshazzar’s Feast, Durham (the most massive of all English cathedrals), & York, with its impressive cathedral, & an interesting recreation of life in Viking times, when York was called Jorvik (thus, New York should really be New Jorvik, if not New Amsterdam). Winchester is like the spot at which all blood vessels & nerves converge in an eyeball’s retina: though the center of the town may be somewhat unpleasant because of all the automobiles, virtually any direction one chooses out of town leads to wonderful, peaceful places: ancient, seemingly forgotten Saxon-like churches, rolling fields divided by small woods, & even occasional stately homes surrounded by incongruous trees, the houses chimneys now clogged with growing shrubs, reminding me slightly of an Edward Gorey story. I’ve eaten a number of kidney pies which are strong-tasting. Apropos to Ravi Sankar: I recently went to South Hampton to hear a lecture/concert by Vijay Rao, a main shisya of Shankar, who has a bearing not dissimilar from that of Ginsberg or Seidel; the moment I entered the auditorium he seemed to look through me, nodding to me, for I was the first to enter. The music was amazing – I need not even describe to you what it did to me. Likewise, his description of the structure of his music & its goals brought me to an unknown world. If you have about 4.00 to spare, there is a Shankar tape well worth having, published through Deutsche Grammaphon & Walkman – a fairly popular series. It is two albums worth of some of the best music I’ve heard. Englishmen tend to have rather rough-looking mouths – broken or missing teeth, & prominent, gleaming crowns. This is no wonder: their food is dangerous. Recently damaging a molar on a damned pebble embedded in a chicken, I was today greeted by a horrible crunching, tingling sound of another piece of grit, this time within a Swede I had just cooked. I hope I have escaped damage, for this was close to the other casualty. Tomorrow I head into London to see a show on German art, a comprehensive exhibition at the Royal Academy, after which I will attend a two-day seminar on “The Nazification of Art,” an in-depth examination of film, painting, music, & architecture during the Nazi era, paid for by this art school. Yes, I shall be home for Christmas, though only for about 10 days; definitely we should schedule a visit. Your Dali dream struck me with an odd pang: it recalls a similar dream which I had years ago: Also in a supermarket (at the same time a giant stadium), Dali walked in a frozen-food section, seeming to defy gravity as the aisle was on the ceiling’s curve. I shall be interested to see yr. pan pipes. Oddly enough, I also bought some in Cambridge. I have no ability in playing them, however. Yes, I remember every scene of that divine Leone film as if I saw it just yesterday. I would kill to be able to witness such a poignant film – no, such a life – for the first time, as you just did. It is good that I am writing this, for if I tried to speak of the film, my mouth would sputter my eyes brim with tears, remembering such greatness as that. Your stamp-laden card could not be verbalized – it is so ingrained into truth; I tried to read it out-loud, but broke into spasms, at reading of the Cyclopean thing. I wonder how the English would regard your interpretation of England.
Yr. Obt. Servt.,
H. Hauser (sic)
Thursday, November 8, 2018
“It does seem slightly bizarre that two of Britain’s greatest writers of supernatural fiction, Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, should be connected by dried milk.” (Ashley, p. 120).
I am immediately on board, with any book which included this sentence. Mike Ashley’s Algernon Blackwood: An Extraordinary Life (New York, Carroll & Graf: 2001), which appeared in Great Britain as Starlight Man, is an engrossing, profound portrait of Algernon Blackwood, writer, traveler, adventurer, spy, and mystic. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I first ran across Blackwood's short story The Willows in a Scholastic anthology, at the age of 11 or so; and even then the numinous prose stuck with me. Recently, I read Episodes Before Thirty, Blackwood's own memoir; a good baseline for regarding Blackwood’s outlook. Mike Ashley’s book further, and extensively, illuminated Blackwood’s history – doing outstanding work, especially considering the gaps in the paper trail from the author’s life.
Seemingly, the author knew everyone, encountering such disparate figures as P.D. Ouspensky, Rainer Maria Rilke, Lord Dunsany, Gurdjieff, and Sir Edward Elgar, among others. With a life starting in the Victorian Age, running through two world wars, and then ending in the atomic age (in fact, as Ashley detailed, Blackwood was a frequent contributor to radio, and pioneering television broadcasts as well). The only minor concern I have with the book is that the discussions of various works (of which I still have many to read) include frequent spoilers. A rewarding and worthwhile adventure.
-- by Jonathan Falk, November 2018