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decision tackle right – A Fluxus-style chance poem
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I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir. – David Bowie Quotes

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, “Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.”

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“Fame itself … doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant.”

“I think Mick Jagger would be astounded and amazed if he realized that to many people he is not a sex symbol, but a mother image.”

“Make the best of every moment. We’re not evolving. We’re not going anywhere.”

“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.”

“Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them.”

“Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.”

“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.”

“You would think that a rock star being married to a supermodel would be one of the greatest things in the world. It is.”

“Talking about art is like dancing about architecture.”

“The only real failure is trying to second-guess the taste of an audience. Nothing comes out of that except a kind of inward humiliation.”

The Shocking Work of Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was one of Britain’s greatest painters, deliberately creating pieces to shock and disgust people. His images often included blood and meat, or at least colours which would remind us of them, as well as bruises and violence.

Living somewhere between decadence and the gutter, Bacon was well-known for having a brutal, less than happy lifestyle; drinking to excess, partaking in violent activities and losing his partner to suicide. Bacon made use of Dyer’s death in his art because this stupendous painter’s only ethos was his belief in painting itself… In his later paintings, Bacon shows people enacting brutalities on one another in a terror that never ends.The Guardian.

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Not being in the same state of mind that Bacon was (and I hope I never will be), I find his pieces very emotional and filled with sadness, sometimes with a hint of euphoria. His paintings take my breath away. It seems that each image is so personal that the viewer doesn’t need to be able to relate to the circumstances. He let us in to his mind and soul far more than any other painter has.

Francis Bacon: final painting found in ‘very private’ collection. This piece instantly became my favourite Bacon painting when it was revealed recently. I had the same feeling looking at this as I had when I listened to David Bowie’s Black Star after he had died. It’s a strange mixture of acceptance, fear and relief.

In contrast to the bleakness of his art, this starry-eyed chronicle shows the painter could be genial, generous and waspishly funny... a brilliant talker whose wit and bons mots still crackle through the language. – a review of Michael Peppiatt’s book Francis Bacon in Your Blood.

The Picture in the House – H. P. Lovecraft

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I decided to start my weekend by reading H. P. Lovecraft’s The Picture in the House, one of his shortest shorts. It’s a great little story which plays with one of society’s greatest fears… not just being killed, but what will happen to your body once your spirit has gone? It’s always fascinated me that people will dwell on this to such an extent.

Above is the page from Thomas Huxley’s Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature, which features heavily in The Picture in the House and describes the Anziques as cannibals, although Lovecraft references Pigafetta’s Regnum Congo. The engraving is by Theodor de Bry and is apparently not even close to being one of his most disturbing images (see heading picture). His interesting and indeed creepy work has been reproduced many times since the 16th century.

They have shambles for human flesh, as we have of animals, even eating the enemies they have killed in battle, and selling their slaves if they can get a good price for them; if not, they give them to the butcher, who cuts them in pieces, and then sells them to be roasted or boiled. It is a remarkable fact in the history of this people, that any who are tired of life, or wish to prove themselves brave and courageous, esteem it great honour to expose themselves to death by an act which shall show their contempt for life. Thus they offer themselves for slaughter, and as the faithful vassals of princes, wishing to do them service, not only give themselves to be eaten, but their slaves also, when fattened, are killed and eaten. It is true many nations eat human flesh, as in the East Indies, Brazil, and elsewhere, but to devour the flesh of their own enemies, friends, subjects, and even relations, is a thing without example, except amongst the Anzichi tribes. 

– from Chapter 5 of Regnum Congo

Today, the Anziques are known to be called the BaTeke and the claims of cannibalism are in some considerable doubt.

Anyway, back to The Picture in the House!

In the doorway stood a person of such singular appearance that I should have exclaimed aloud but for the restraints of good breeding.

-from The Picture in the House

Throughout the story I am amused by the snobbery of the narrator, commenting on his own “good breeding” and becoming seemingly bored by the old man once he realises that he possesses a child-like intelligence.

I’ve said before on this blog that I like a horror story which reaches the senses. My favourite parts of The Picture in the House are those which describe the surroundings, making me feel as though I can touch and smell the walls, books and other objects surrounding the narrator.

Inside was a little vestibule with walls from which the plaster was falling, and through the doorway came a faint but peculiarly hateful odour.

I love to be in an old building where the slightest touch causes bits to crumble from the wall, and smell is always my favourite sense to read. If anyone knows of a book or essay in which the portrayal of odour in fiction is discussed, please leave a comment! I must admit that I haven’t yet searched for it myself.

This 2009 well-made amateur film is a fun adaptation of the story and was an official selection of the American H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival of the same year. It’s nice to see short stories kept short when put on the screen and they’ve managed to produce an excellent, effective old-film feel. An Indie film for an originally Indie author!