Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Cover artwork by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

The Catapult of Desert, René Magritte, 1926

 
 

Booklet

 
 

 Rind, M.C. Escher, 1955

 
 

LP featuring alternate artwork inspired by M.C. Escher

 
 

Tales of Mystery and Imagination Edgar Allan Poe, is the debut album by the progressive rock group The Alan Parsons Project, released in 1976. The lyrical and musical themes – retellings of horror stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe — attracted a cult audience. The title of the album is taken from a popular title for a collection of Poe’s macabre tales of the same name, Tales of Mystery & Imagination, first published in 1908 and reprinted many times since.

Musicians featured on the album include vocalists Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown on The Tell Tale Heart and Terry Sylvester of The Hollies on To One In Paradise. The complete line-up of bands Ambrosia and Pilot play on the record, along with keyboardist Francis Monkman of Curved Air and Sky.

The Raven features actor Leonard Whiting on lead vocals, with Alan Parsons performing vocals through an EMI vocoder. According to the album’s liner notes, The Raven was the first rock song to feature a digital vocoder.

The Prelude section of The Fall of the House of Usher, although uncredited, is inspired by the opera fragment La chute de la maison Usher by Claude Debussy which was composed between 1908 and 1917. The Fall of the House of Usher is an instrumental suite which runs 16 minutes plus and takes up most of Side 2 of the recording.

Critical reaction to the album was mixed; for example, Rolling Stone’s Billy Altman concluded that it did not completely accurately reproduce Poe’s tension and macabre fear, ending by claiming that “devotees of Gothic literature will have to wait for someone with more of the macabre in their blood for a truer musical reading of Poe’s often terrifying works”.

Nevertheless in July 2010, the album was named as one of Classic Rock magazine’s “50 Albums That Built Prog Rock”.

In 1987, Parsons completely remixed the album, including additional guitar passages and narration (by Orson Welles) as well as updating the production style to include heavy reverb and the gated reverb snare drum sound, which was popular in the 1980s. The CD notes that Welles never met Parsons or Eric Woolfson, but sent a tape to them of the performance shortly after the album was manufactured in 1976.

The first passage narrated by Welles on the 1987 remix (which comes before the first track, A Dream Within a Dream) is sourced from an obscure nonfiction piece by Poe – No XVI of his Marginalia (from 1845 to 1849 Edgar Allan Poe titled some of his reflections and fragmentary material Marginalia.) The second passage Welles reads (which comes before The Fall of the House of Usher (Prelude), seems to be a partial paraphrase or composite from nonfiction by Poe, chiefly from a collection of poems titled Poems of Youth by Poe (contained in Introduction to Poems – 1831 in a section titled “Letter to Mr. B———–“; the “Shadows of shadows passing” part of the quote comes from the Marginalia.

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The Actual Walrus

 
 

John Lennon received a letter from a pupil at Quarry Bank High School, which he had attended. The writer mentioned that the English master was making his class analyse The Beatles‘ lyrics (Lennon wrote an answer, dated 1 September 1967, which was auctioned by Christie’s of London in 1992). Lennon, amused that a teacher was putting so much effort into understanding the Beatles’ lyrics, decided to write in his next song the most confusing lyrics that he could.

The genesis of the lyrics is found in three song ideas that Lennon was working on, the first of which was inspired by hearing a police siren at his home in Weybridge; Lennon wrote the lines “Mis-ter cit-y police-man” to the rhythm and melody of the siren. The second idea was a short rhyme about Lennon sitting in his garden, while the third was a nonsense lyric about sitting on a corn flake. Unable to finish the ideas as three different songs, he eventually combined them into one. The lyrics also included the phrase “Lucy in the sky” from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band earlier in the year.

 
 

The Walrus and The Carpenter as illustrated by John Tenniel

 
 

The walrus is a reference to the walrus in Lewis Carroll‘s poem The Walrus and the Carpenter (from the book Through the Looking-Glass). Lennon later expressed dismay upon belatedly realising that the walrus was a villain in the poem.

The final catalyst of the song occurred when Lennon’s friend and former fellow member of the Quarrymen, Peter Shotton, visited and Lennon asked Shotton about a playground nursery rhyme they sang as children. Shotton remembered:

“Yellow matter custard, green slop pie, All mixed together with a dead dog’s eye, Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick, Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick.”

Lennon borrowed a couple of words, added the three unfinished ideas and the result was I Am the Walrus. The Beatles’ official biographer Hunter Davies was present while the song was being written and wrote an account in his 1968 biography of the Beatles. Lennon remarked to Shotton, “Let the fuckers work that one out.” Shotton was also responsible for suggesting to Lennon to change the lyric “waiting for the man to come” to “waiting for the van to come”.

 
 

The Beatles in costume filming Magical Mystery Tour

 
 

Lennon claimed he wrote the first two lines on separate acid trips; he explained much of the song to Playboy in 1980:

“The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko… I’d seen Allen Ginsberg and some other people who liked Dylan and Jesus going on about Hare Krishna. It was Ginsberg, in particular, I was referring to. The words ‘Element’ry penguin’ meant that it’s naïve to just go around chanting Hare Krishna or putting all your faith in one idol. In those days I was writing obscurely, à la Dylan.”

“It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles’ work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, ‘I am the carpenter.’ But that wouldn’t have been the same, would it? [Sings, laughing] ‘I am the carpenter….'”

Seen in the Magical Mystery Tour film singing the song, Lennon, apparently, is the walrus; on the track-list of the accompanying soundtrack EP/LP however, underneath I Am the Walrus are printed the words ‘ “No you’re not!” said Little Nicola’ (in the film, Nicola is a little girl who keeps contradicting everything the other characters say). Lennon returned to the subject in the lyrics of three of his subsequent songs: in the 1968 Beatles song Glass Onion he sings, “I told you ’bout the walrus and me, man/You know that we’re as close as can be, man/Well here’s another clue for you all/The walrus was Paul”; in the third verse of Come Together he sings the line “he bag production, he got walrus gumboot”; and in his 1970 solo song God, admits “I was the walrus, but now I’m John.”

 
 

To watch the clip from Magical Mystery Tour, please take a gander at The Genealogy of the Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r52ZBx0KMI

Home of the Eagle

“…the world has never seen–and…unless through some series of accidents goading the noblest order of mind into distasteful exertion, the world will never see–that full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer domains of art, of which the human nature is absolutely capable.”

“…from the violation of a few simple laws of humanity arises the wretchedness of mankind–that as a species we have in our possession the as yet unwrought elements of content–and that, even now, in the present darkness and madness of all thought on the great question of the social condition, it is not impossible that man, the individual, under certain unusual and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy.”

Edgar Allan Poe
The Domain of Arnheim
1847

 
 

From the series The Domain of Arheim, by René Magritte

 
 

The Domain of Arnheim (the word is German for “Home of the Eagle,”) is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s lesser-known stories. The critics have taken little notice of it, and when they do, it’s generally interpreted in vague terms of death imagery, or as a treatise on gardening. It is actually one of Poe’s most profound and beautiful works, and one of the very few where we are given a glimpse into his true inner self.

On the surface, The Domain of Arnheim is a tale of a fantastically wealthy man the unnamed narrator calls only “Ellison,” who desires to express “the true character, the august aims, the supreme majesty and dignity of the poetic sentiment.” He achieves his goal through creating “Arnheim,” a castle and landscape-garden of supreme loveliness. As Ellison says, man can’t affect the “general condition of man,” but must be “thrown back…upon self.” The first half of the story is a discussion of Ellison’s philosophies about man and nature, the second a detailed description of Arnheim itself.

The story is, in brief, Poe acting as our tour guide through the human mind and soul. The unprecedented beauty and serenity of Arnheim–the domain of the soaring eagle–is accessible to each individual who follows the path Poe blazes within the realm of imagination. He states that “in landscape arrangements alone is the physical nature susceptible of imagination.” These landscapes, as we see them in nature, are all susceptible to improvement. Ellison explains that “there may be a class of beings, human once, but now invisible to humanity, to whom, from afar, our disorder may seem order–our unpicturesqueness picturesque; in a word, the earth-angels, for whose scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death-refined appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array by God the wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres.” Man, by improving the arrangements in nature, in a way that “shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or superintendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to humanity” can create “nature in the sense of the handiwork of the angels that hover between man and God.” Perfecting these landscapes in our eyes–thus being able to see them as the angels do–brings us closer to these higher beings.

Poe uses the physical description of Arnheim as an analogy for what human beings can do in their mind’s eye. By creating a mental “domain,” by using meditation to create an inner “landscape-garden,” one grows closer to the world of the spirit. The visitor’s lengthy journey to Arnheim in the story’s closing paragraphs is a journey to the higher recesses of the mind. The traveler who reaches that destination has achieved a genuine meditation–found Nirvana. Upon departing for “the Paradise of Arnheim,” the visitor is “bidden to be of good cheer–that the fates will take care of him” as he finds the true expression of the “poetic sentiment” among the seeming “phantom handiwork, conjointly, of the Sylphs, of the Fairies, of the Genii, and of the Gnomes.”

 
 

To read Poe’s short story, click on the next link: http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-domain.htm

Death to Van Gogh’s Ear

Emilia Fox, Arielle Dombasle and Annabel Brooks in Hideous Man (John Malkovich, 2002). Dresses by Bella Freud. Shoes by Christian Louboutin

 
 

Poet is Priest
Money has reckoned the soul of America
Congress broken thru the precipice of Eternity
the president built a War machine which will vomit and rear Russia out of Kansas
The American Century betrayed by a mad Senate which no longer sleeps with its wife.
Franco has murdered Lorca the fairy son of Whitman
just as Mayakovsky committed suicide to avoid Russia
Hart Crane distinguished Platonist committed suicide to cave in the wrong
America
just as Million tons of human wheat were burned in secret caverns under the White House
While India starved and screamed and ate mad dogs full of rain
and mountains of eggs were reduced to white powder in the halls of Congress
no Godfearing man will walk there again because of the stink of the rotten eggs of America
and the Indians of Chiapas continue to gnaw their vitaminless tortillas
aborigines of Australia perhaps gibber in the eggless wilderness
and I rarely have an egg for breakfast tho my work requires infinite eggs to come to birth in Eternity
eggs should be eaten or given to their mothers
and the grief of the countless chickens of America is expressed in the screaming of her comedians over the radio
Detroit has built a million automobiles of rubber trees and phantoms
but I walk, I walk, and the Orient walks with me, and all Africa walks
And sooner or later North America will walk
Einstein alive was mocked for his heavenly politics
Bertrand Russell driven from New York for getting laid
immortal Chaplin driven form our shores with a rose in his teeth
a secret conspiracy by Catholic Church in the lavatories of
Congress has denied contraceptives to the unceasing masses of India.
Nobody publishes a word that is not the cowardly robot ravings of a depraved mentality
The day of the publication of true literature of the American
body will be day of Revolution
the revolution of the sexy lamb
the only bloodless revolution that gives away corn
poor Genet will illuminate the harvesters of Ohio
Marijuana is a benevolent narcotic but J. Edgar Hoover prefers his deathly Scotch
And the heroin of Lao-Tze & the Sixth Patriarch is punished by the electric chair
but the poor sick junkies have nowhere to lay their heads
fiends in our government have invented a cold-turkey cure for
addiction as obsolete as the Defense Early Warning Radar System.
I am the defense early warning radar system
I see nothing but bombs
I am not interested in preventing Asia from being Asia
and the governments of Russia and Asia will rise and fall but
Asia and Russia will not fall
The government of America also will fall but how can America fall
I doubt if anyone will ever fall anymore except governments
fortunately all the governments will fall
the only ones which won’t fall are the good ones
and the good ones don’t yet exist
But they have no being existing they exist in my poems
they exist in the death of the Russian and American governments
they exist in the death of Hart Crane & Mayakovsky
now is the time of prophecy without death as a consequence
the universe will ultimately disappear
Hollywood will not rot on the windmills of Eternity
Hollywood whose movies stick in the throat of God
Yes Hollywood will get what it deserves
Time
Seepage of nerve-gas over the radio
History will make this poem prophetic and its awful silliness a hideous spiritual music
I have the moan of doves and the feather of ecstasy
Man cannot long endure the hunger of the cannibal abstract
War is abstract
the world will be destroyed
Monument to Socco & Vanzetti not yet financed to ennoble Boston
Vachel Lindsay Secretary of Interior
Poe Secretary of Imagination
Pound Secty. Economics
and Kra belongs to Kra, and Pukti to Pukti
crossfertilization of Blok and Artaud
Van Gogh’s ear on the currency
no more propaganda for monsters
and poets should stay out of politics or become monsters
I have become monstrous with politics
the Russian poet undoubtedly monstrous in his secret notebook
Tibet should be left alone
these are obvious prophecies
America will be destroyed
Russian poets will struggle with Russia
Whitman warned against this “Fabled Damned of nations”
Where was Theodore Roosevelt when he sent out ultimatums from his castle in Camden
Where was the House of Representatives when Crane read aloud from his Prophetic Books
What was Wall Street scheming when Lindsay announced the doom of money
Where they listening to my ravings in the locker rooms of
Bricksford Employment Offices?
Did they bend their ears to the moans of my soul when I struggled
with market research statistics in the Forum of Rome?
No they were fighting in their fiery offices , on the carpets of
heart failure, screaming and Bargaining with Destiny
fighting the Skeleton with sabers, muskets, buck-teeth,
indigestion, bombs of larceny, whoredom, rockets, and pederasty,
back to the wall to build up their wives and apartments, lawns,
suburbs,
fairydoms,
Puerto Ricans crowded for massacre on 114th St. for the sake of an
imitation Chinese-Moderne refrigerator
Elephants of mercy murdered for the sake of the Elizabethan birdcage
millions of agitated fanatics in the bughouse for the sake of the screaming
soprano of industry
Money-chant of soapers – toothpaste apes in television sets – deodorizers on hypnotic chairs –
petroleum mongers in Texas – jet plane streaks among the clouds –
sky writers liars in the face of Divinity–fanged butchers of hats and shoes,
all Owners! Owners! Owners! with obsession on property and vanished Selfhood!
and their long editorials on the fence of the screaming negro attacked by
ants crawled out of the front page!
Machinery of a mass electrical dream! A war-creating whore of Babylon
bellowing over Capitols and Academies!
Money! Money! Money! shrieking mad celestial money of illusion!
Money made of nothing, starvation, suicide! Money of failure! Money of death!
Money against Eternity! and eternity’s strong mills grind out vast paper of
Illusion!

Allen Ginsberg

A Quick Killing in Art

By Phoebe Hoban

“If you had only twenty-four hours left to live, what would you do?”
“I don’t know. I’d go hang out with my mother and my girlfriend, I guess.”

 
 

 
 

Friday, August 12, 1988. On the sidewalk outside 57 Great Jones Street, the usual sad lineup of crack addicts slept in the burning sun. Inside the two-story brick building, Jean-Michel Basquiat was asleep in his huge bed, bathed in blue television light. The air conditioner was broken and the room felt like a microwave oven. The bathroom door was ajar, revealing a glimpse of a black and tan Jacuzzi tub. On the ledge of the tub was a small pile of bloody syringes. There was a jagged hole punched in the bathroom window. Beneath it was scrawled the legend “Broken Heart,” with Basquiat’s favorite punctuation, a copyright sign.

Kelle Inman, Basquiat’s twenty-two-year-old girlfriend, was downstairs writing in the journal that Basquiat had given her. He usually slept all day, but when he still hadn’t come down for breakfast by midafternoon, Inman got worried. When she looked into the bedroom to check up on him, the heat hit her full in the face, like a wave. But Basquiat seemed to be sleeping peacefully, so she went back downstairs. She and the housekeeper heard what sounded like loud snores, but thought nothing of it.

A few hours later, Basquiat’s friend Kevin Bray called. He and Basquiat and another friend, Victor Littlejohn, were supposed to go to a Run-D.M.C. concert that evening, and he wanted to make plans with Jean-Michel. Kelle climbed back up the stair’s to give Basquiat the message. This time, she found him stretched on the floor, his head Jean-Michael on his arm like a child’s, a small pool of vomit forming near his chin.

Inman panicked. She had never seen anyone die, although Basquiat’s drug binges had made the scenario a constant fear. Now it seemed like the worst had happened. She ran to the phone and called Bray, Littlejohn, and Vrej Baghoomian, Basquiat’s last art dealer.

“When I got there,” recalls Bray, “Kelle said she had called an ambulance. She took me upstairs. Jean-Michel looked like he was comfortably out cold. He was on the floor, lying against the wall, as if he had fallen down and didn’t have the strength to get up, and was just taking a nap. There was a lot of clear liquid coming out of his mouth. We picked him up and turned him over. We shook him, and we just kept trying to revive him. It took a long time for the ambulance to arrive. But for a while, after the guys from the Emergency Medical Service came, we thought he was going to be okay. They were giving him shocks and IV treatment. Victor had to hold Jean-Michel up like this so the IV’s would drain,” says Bray, stretching his arms out in a cruciform.

Bray couldn’t take it anymore. He went downstairs, where Inman, and two assistants from the Baghoomian gallery, Vera Calloway and Helen Traversi, were trying to stay calm. “We tried to take his pulse. His skin was so hot,” says Calloway. Baghoomian called the studio just as the paramedics arrived. He was in San Francisco and Helen was forced to act in his stead.

“It was almost like it was some sort of business transaction,” says Bray. “They put a tube in his throat and they brought him downstairs. They wouldn’t tell us whether he was dead or alive and they took him outside. He had this beautiful bubbling red-white foam coming out of his mouth.”

“We all hoped some miracle would happen,” recalls Helen, who begins to cry at the memory. Outside on the pavement, a small crowd had gathered in horror and fascination. “I was about to leave on vacation with my wife,” says filmmaker Amos Poe, who was a friend of the artist. “We watched as they loaded his body into the ambulance. I saw his father pull up in a Saab. I kept saying to my wife. `Jean-Michel is dead.’ He really lived out that whole destructo legend: Die young, leave a beautiful corpse.”

Basquiat was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn five days later. His father invited only a few of the artist’s friends to the closed-casket funeral at Frank Campbell’s; they were outnumbered by the phalanx of art dealers. The heat wave had broken, and it rained on the group gathered at the cemetery to bid Jean-Michel goodbye. The eulogy was delivered by Citibank art consultant Jeffrey Deitch, lending the moment an unintentionally ironic tone.

Blanca Martínez, Basquiat’s housekeeper, was struck by the alienated attitude of the mourners. “They were all standing separately, as if it were an obligation,” she says. “They didn’t seem to care. Some looked ashamed.” People began to leave the cemetery before the body was buried. Ignoring the objections of the gravediggers, Martinez tearfully threw a handful of dirt onto the coffin as they lowered it into the grave.

Basquiat’s mother, Matilde, looking dazed, approached Baghoomian to thank him for his help to her son during his last days. Gerard Basquiat later admonished his former wife not to talk to the art dealer. The scene was already being set for a bitter battle over the estate of the artist.

The following week, appraisers from Christie’s set to work taking inventory of the contents of the Great Jones Street loft: finished and unfinished paintings, other artists’ works (including several dozen Warhols and a piece by William Burroughs), a vintage collection of Mission furniture, a closet full of Armani and Comme des Garcons suits, a library of over a thousand videotapes, hundreds of audiocassettes, art books, a carton of the Charlie Parker biography Bird Lives!, several bicycles, a number of antique toys, an Everlast punching bag, six music synthesizers, some African instruments, an Erector set, and a pair of handcuffs.

There were also a number of paintings in warehouses: following Andy Warhol‘s advice, Basquiat had tried to squirrel some of his work away from his ever-eager art dealers. According to Christie’s, Basquiat had left 917 drawings, 25 sketchbooks, 85 prints, and 171 paintings.

Artist Dan Asher walked by his old friend’s loft and was astonished to see a number of Basquiat’s favorite things in a Dumpster: his shoes, his jazz collection, a peculiar lamp made out of driftwood, Sam Peckinpah‘s director’s chair. Asher salvaged a few items; he sold the chair to a collector.

It would be another year before Gerard Basquiat ordered a tombstone for his son. But for several weeks after the artist’s death, he was commemorated by a small shrine some anonymous fan had placed by his door. Shrouded in lace, it held flowers, votive candles, a picture of Basquiat, some carefully copied prayers, and a Xerox of a David Levine caricature of the artist, complete with a caption: “In an age of limitless options and limiting fears, he still makes poems and paintings to evoke his world.”

A formal memorial service was finally held at Saint Peter’s Church in Citicorp Center, on a stormy Saturday in November. Despite the rain, wind, and bleak gray sky, several hundred people crowded into the church. Behind the pulpit hung a portrait of the artist as a young man, superimposed on one of his faux-primitive paintings. One by one, his former friends and lovers remembered Basquiat.

Gray, the band with which Jean-Michel had played at the Mudd Club, performed several songs. John Lurie played a saxophone solo. Ingrid Sischy, editor of Interview magazine, read a eulogy. Ex-girlfriends Jennifer Goode and Suzanne Mallouk tearfully read poems. And Keith Haring, AIDS-thin, reminisced about his friend. “He disrupted the politics of the art world and insisted that if he had to play their games, he would make the rules. His images entered the dreams and museums of the exploiters, and the world can never be the same.”

Fab 5 Freddy, who knew Basquiat from his old graffiti days, “interpolated” a poem by Langston Hughes. “This is a song for the genius child. Sing it softly, for the song is wild. Sing it softly as ever you can–lest the song get out of hand. Nobody loves a genius child. Can you love an eagle, tame or wild? Wild or tame, can you love a monster, of frightening name? Nobody loves a genius child. Free [sic] him and let his soul run wild.”

After the service, everyone went to M.K., the bank-turned-nightclub on lower Fifth Avenue. Owned by Jennifer Goode’s brother, it was one of Jean-Michel’s favorite places. In fact, it was his last destination the night before he died. He had come to the club looking for Jennifer. Now people stood around the big television set, sipping champagne and watching a flickering black-and-white video of Basquiat. A photographer from Fame magazine snapped pictures of the known and not-so-known: the jewelry designer Tina Chow, and her sister, Adele Lutz, David Byrne‘s wife. Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. It was the perfect send-off for the eighties art star; part opening, part wake.

An Invisible Man

“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

Ralph Ellison
The Invisible Man

 
 

Photograph by Duane Michals

Sprinkled With So Many Coincidences

Peter Sellers plays Claire Quilty, a pompous hipster playwright, the alter ego and nemesis to James Mason’s lustful professor, Humbert Humbert. Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962)

 
 

The novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is sprinkled with so many coincidences that it is hard to tell when coincidence stops and fate begins. In this work, coincidence and fate are fraternal twins. Whether the reader picks up Lolita for second, third, or three hundred and forty-second reading, hidden little treasures of coincidences and connections spring out from their carefully selected hiding places.

Humbert Humbert has a first love experience when he is young with Annabel Leigh. (the character was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe‘s poem, Annabel Lee). It is a strange coincidence that  Humbert and his Annabell  also have their first romantic encounter by the Mediterranean. After her young tragic death, Humbert cannot get over his infatuation with young girls. However, it is not just any kind of young girl that he pines for. It is a strange breed, the breed of nymphet. When Lolita, the very embodiment of nymphets, first enters the scene, she peers over her sunglasses at Humbert. The sunglasses are a strange connection between Lolita and Annabel Lee. “Half-naked, kneeling, turning about on her knees, there was my Riviera love peering at me over dark glasses” . Lolita is a reincarnation of Humbert’s first love.

In Lolita, the name is used in reference to Mr. Clare Quilty, the man who takes Lolita from Humbert. Carmen and Clare being both male and female names, Lolita uses them to deceive Humbert into thinking he is a woman and no threat.

Several times throughout the novel, Humbert refers to Lolita as his Carmen.
“O my Carmen, my little Carmen!
Something something those something nights,
And the stars, and the cars, and the bars and the barmen-
And, O my charmin’, our dreadful fights.
And the something town where so gaily, arm in
Arm we went, and our final row,
And the gun I killed you with, O my Carmen,
The gun I am holding now”

This song that Humbert recaptures here sums up his relationship with Lolita: their fights, car rides, men looking eagerly at her, and finally the gun that Humbert uses to kill Quilty.

There are a host of more passing literary allusions in Lolita, but they decorate rather than determine the death bound tragedy set by Poe, Proper Mérimée’s Carmen with other tales of love and revenge, and doppelgänger stories.

A Tale of Ratiocination

Cabinet of Curiosities, Domenico Remps, 1690s

 
 

The Gold-Bug is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story is often compared with Poe’s “tales of ratiocination” as an early form of detective fiction. Poe became aware of the public’s interest in secret writing in 1840 and asked readers to challenge his skills as a code-breaker. Poe took advantage of the popularity of cryptography as he was writing The Gold-Bug, and the success of the story centers on one such cryptogram.

Poe originally sold The Gold-Bug to George Rex Graham for Graham’s Magazine for $52 but asked for it back when he heard about a writing contest sponsored by Philadelphia’s Dollar Newspaper. Incidentally, Poe did not return the money to Graham and instead offered to make it up to him with reviews he would write. Poe won the grand prize; in addition to winning $100, the story was published in two installments on June 21 and June 28, 1843, in the newspaper. His $100 payment from the newspaper may have been the most he was paid for a single work. Anticipating a positive public response, the Dollar Newspaper took out a copyright on The Gold-Bug prior to publication.

The popularity of the story also brought controversy. Within a month of its publication, Poe was accused of conspiring with the prize committee by Philadelphia’s Daily Forum. The publication called The Gold-Bug an “abortion” and “unmitigated trash” worth no more than $15. Poe filed for a libel lawsuit against editor Francis Duffee. It was later dropped and Duffee apologized for suggesting Poe did not earn the $100 prize.Editor John Du Solle accused Poe of stealing the idea for The Gold-Bug from Imogine; or the Pirate’s Treasure, a story written by a schoolgirl named Miss Sherburne.

The Gold-Bug was republished as the first story in the Wiley & Putnam collection of Poe’s Tales in June 1845, followed by The Black Cat and ten other stories. The success of this collection inspired the first French translation of The Gold-Bug published in November 1845 by Alphonse Borghers in the Revue Britannique under the title, Le Scarabée d’or, becoming the first literal translation of a Poe story into a foreign language. It was translated into Russian from that version two years later, marking Poe’s literary debut in that country. In 1856, Charles Baudelaire published his translation of the tale in the first volume of Histoires extraordinaires. Baudelaire was very influential in introducing Poe’s work to Europe and his translations became the definitive renditions throughout the continent.

 
 

Eyed Click Beetle Alaus oculatus

 
 

The actual “gold-bug” in the story is not a real insect. Instead, Poe combined characteristics of two insects found in the area where the story takes place. The Callichroma splendidum, though not technically a scarab but a species of longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae), has a gold head and slightly gold-tinted body. The black spots noted on the back of the fictional bug can be found on the Alaus oculatus, a click beetle also native to Sullivan’s Island.

Poe’s depiction of the African servant Jupiter is often considered stereotypical and racist from a modern perspective. Jupiter is depicted as superstitious and so lacking in intelligence that he cannot tell his left from his right. Poe probably included the character after being inspired by a similar character in Sheppard Lee (1836) by Robert Montgomery Bird, which he had reviewed. Black characters in fiction during this time period were not unusual, but Poe’s choice to give him a speaking role was. Critics and scholars, however, question if Jupiter’s accent was authentic or merely comic relief, suggesting it was not similar to accents used by blacks in Charleston but possibly inspired by Gullah.

The Gold-Bug includes a cipher that uses a simple substitution cipher. Though he did not invent “secret writing” or cryptography (he was probably inspired by an interest in Daniel Defoe‘s Robinson Crusoe), Poe certainly popularized it during his time. To most people in the 19th century, cryptography was mysterious and those able to break the codes were considered gifted with nearly supernatural ability. Poe had drawn attention to it as a novelty over four months in the Philadelphia publication Alexander’s Weekly Messenger in 1840.

The Gold-Bug inspired Robert Louis Stevenson in his novel about treasure-hunting, Treasure Island (1883). Stevenson acknowledged this influence: “I broke into the gallery of Mr. Poe… No doubt the skeleton [in my novel] is conveyed from Poe.”

From a Fairy-Land

Dim vales-and shadowy floods-
And cloudy-looking woods,
Whose forms we can’t discover
For the tears that drip all over!
Huge moons there wax and wane-
Again-again-again-
Every moment of the night-
Forever changing places-
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces.
About twelve by the moon-dial,
One more filmy than the rest
(A kind which, upon trial,
They have found to be the best)
Comes down-still down-and down,
With its centre on the crown
Of a mountain’s eminence,
While its wide circumference
In easy drapery falls
Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be-
O’er the strange woods-o’er the sea-
Over spirits on the wing-
Over every drowsy thing-
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light-
And then, how deep!-O, deep!
Is the passion of their sleep.
In the morning they arise,
And their moony covering
Is soaring in the skies,
With the tempests as they toss,
Like-almost anything-
Or a yellow Albatross.
They use that moon no more
For the same end as before-
Videlicet, a tent-
Which I think extravagant:
Its atomies, however,
Into a shower dissever,
Of which those butterflies
Of Earth, who seek the skies,
And so come down again,
(Never-contented things!)
Have brought a specimen
Upon their quivering wings.

Edgar Allan Poe
Fairy-Land

 
 

There is Love in You

 
 

Der Rabenkönig (The Raven King)

 
 

He Loves Me…He Loves Me Not

 
 

Weltenwanderer

 
 

Little Sister

 
 

A Light in the Dark

 
 

Digital artworks by Christian Schloe

A Crush on Lolita

Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, written in English and published in 1955 in Paris and 1958 in New York. It was later translated by its Russian-native author into Russian. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle-aged literature professor and hebephile Humbert Humbert, is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. “Lolita” is his private nickname for Dolores.

In April 1947, Nabokov wrote to Edmund Wilson: “I am writing … a short novel about a man who liked little girls—and it’s going to be called The Kingdom by the Sea….” The work expanded into Lolita during the next eight years. Nabokov used the title A Kingdom by the Sea in his 1974 pseudo-autobiographical novel Look at the Harlequins! for a Lolita-like book written by the narrator who, in addition, travels with his teenage daughter Bel from motel to motel after the death of her mother; later, his fourth wife is Bel’s look-alike and shares her birthday.

Some critics have accepted Humbert’s version of events at face value. In 1959, novelist Robertson Davies excused the narrator entirely, writing that the theme of Lolita is “not the corruption of an innocent child by a cunning adult, but the exploitation of a weak adult by a corrupt child. This is no pretty theme, but it is one with which social workers, magistrates and psychiatrists are familiar.”

The novel abounds in allusions to classical and modern literature. Virtually all of them have been noted in The Annotated Lolita edited and annotated by Alfred Appel, Jr. Many are references to Humbert’s own favourite poet, Edgar Allan Poe.

Chapter 26 of Part One contains a parody of James Joyce‘s stream of consciousness.

Humbert Humbert’s field of expertise is French literature (one of his jobs is writing a series of educational works that compare French writers to English writers), and as such there are several references to French literature, including the authors Gustave Flaubert, Marcel Proust, François Rabelais, Charles Baudelaire, Prosper Mérimée, Remy Belleau, Honoré de Balzac, and Pierre de Ronsard.

Vladimir Nabokov was fond of Lewis Carroll and had translated Alice in Wonderland into Russian. He even called Carroll the “first Humbert Humbert”.

Lolita contains a few brief allusions in the text to the Alice books, though overall Nabokov avoided direct allusions to Carroll. In her book, Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin, Joyce Milton claims that a major inspiration for the novel was Charlie Chaplin‘s relationship with his second wife, Lita Grey, whose real name was Lillita and is often misstated as Lolita. Graham Vickers in his book Chasing Lolita: How Popular Culture Corrupted Nabokov’s Little Girl All Over Again argues that the two major real-world predecessors of Humbert are Lewis Carroll and Charlie Chaplin. Although Appel’s comprehensive Annotated Lolita contains no references to Charlie Chaplin, others have picked up several oblique references to Chaplin’s life in Nabokov’s book. Bill Delaney notes that at the end Lolita and her husband move to the Alaskan town of Grey Star while Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, set in Alaska, was originally set to star Lita Grey. Lolita’s first sexual encounter was with a boy named Charlie Holmes, whom Humbert describes as “the silent…but indefatigable Charlie.” Chaplin had an artist paint Lita Grey in imitation of Joshua Reynolds‘s painting The Age of Innocence. When Humbert visits Lolita in a class at her school, he notes a print of the same painting in the classroom. Delaney’s article notes many other parallels as well.

In chapter 29 of Part Two, Humbert comments that Lolita looks “like Botticelli’s russet Venus—the same soft nose, the same blurred beauty”, referencing Sandro Botticelli‘s depiction of Venus in, perhaps, The Birth of Venus or Venus and Mars.

In chapter 35 of Part Two, Humbert’s “death sentence” on Quilty parodies the rhythm and use of anaphora in T. S. Eliot‘s poem Ash Wednesday.

Many other references to classical and Romantic literature abound, including references to Lord Byron‘s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and to the poetry of Laurence Sterne.

After its publication, Lolita attained a classic status, becoming one of the best-known and most controversial examples of 20th century literature. The name Lolita has entered pop culture to describe a sexually precocious girl. The novel was adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne. It has also been adapted several times for stage and has been the subject of two operas, two ballets, and an acclaimed but failed Broadway musical.

 
 

Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1992)

 
 

Bert Stern worked as a photographer on Lolita and shot the publicity photographs of Sue Lyon.

 
 

The Crush (Alan Shapiro, 1993)

 
 

The plot of The Crush was based on an actual incident involving the neighbor of Shapiro.

Photographing Poetry

Elsa Dorfman’s Influences:

Richard Avedon, an absolute genius. Mary Ellen Mark. Bill Cunningham, another genius whose work looks sooo simple and it surely isn’t. See him in every Sunday in New York Times style section. Photojournalists. Diane Arbus of course, Sanders, Lee Friedlander, a real hero of mine. He keeps on going. I adore photography books and looking at images on the web. I go to galleries as much as I can, considering my hermit tendencies. I look at everyone’s portraits. I also like architectural photographs. Of course I think they are portraits… just of buildings not persons.”

 
 

Elsa Dorfman and the Giant Polaroid Camera

 
 

“I picked up a camera, a Hasselblad, on my job as an assistant science teacher in 1964.  I was taught by a wonderful gifted teacher George Cope who had worked with Berenice Abbott. So there was some romance and a science of history in the air.

“Photo” offered me a path to the world. I was 27 and till then cdnt figure out what I would do, how I would live, who I would be friends w. I was very soulful and very confused. Typical for that time in history. I was ambitious. But ambitious about WHAT? I learned that I had great curiosity. That I had a sense of narrative.  That I had empathy. And that I liked a certain amount of adventure.”

 
 

Self-portrait

 
 

Jorge Luis Borges

 
 

Borges photographed by Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon respectively

 
 

Bob Creely

 
 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 
 

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso

 
 

“Allen and Peter, who I knew better than I knew Gregory, always made me feel I could do things, that I could / should try things. In the early sixties in the US women didn’t have much opportunity and they didn’t believe in themselves. I know that is a trite expression.  Anyhow, I was very conventional, or at least I felt I should be conventional. And they made me feel I was OK and could be the way I felt like being, whatever that was. So I tried things. And the camera was what I stuck with.  But I do love to write.”

 
 

Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky

 
 

Ginsberg and Orlovsky by Richard Avedon

 
 

“I started using the polaroid 20×24 on feb.8, 1980. The studio was in an old building at 20 Ames Street in Cambridge. The bldg is now the site of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology art museum. I visited the studio the day before to see what the set up was and to get a sense of the camera. Poets Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky were visiting me and Polaroid allowed me a free session on the camera in exchange for my giving them a few original prints. I was allotted ten shots and I went over the allotted number because I got so caught up in the excitement of the camera. As Allen and Peter and I were leaving for the studio I grabbed a red amaryllis that my husband had bought me and brought it with us for the session. I had no idea how I would use the amaryllis. Here are three images from the session.”

 
 

Dorfman met Ginsberg in 1959, when she was a secretary for his publisher, Grove Press.  He “never doubted he would be a great man,” she recalls. “And he had the feeling that all his friends were equally genius.”

 
 

Ginsberg and Bob Dylan

 
 

“He (Dylan) asked me if I knew where Poe was born in Boston, and I didn’t. He had an idea where it was and wanted to go there. Amazingly right now, fifty years later or so, Boston is putting up a statue at Poe’s birthplace. Also, the security guards had taken my camera. But when Allen and I told Bob that I would love to take a picture of them together but I didn’t have my camera, Bob asked his security guy to get my camera!  I have Bob to thank for that picture.  And I gave Bob a copy of the Housebook.”

 
 

Bod Dylan

 
 

Anne Sexton

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Illustration by Frank R. Paul

 
 

“When we realize that this story was written nearly 100 years ago, we must marvel at the extraordinary fertile imagination of Poe. Poe was probably the inventor of “Scientifiction” as we know it today, and just because the story was written almost a century ago, certainly does not make it less valuable. On the contrary, it becomes more valuable as time passes. It is just as applicable to the modern man, who is mostly in the fog about what goes on around him in science today, as his predecessors were a century ago.”

 
 

Uncredited editorial introduction, presumably by Hugo Gernsback himself, to The Thousand-And-Second Tale Of Scheherazade as it appeared in the May 1928 issue of Amazing Stories

A Wreath of Rhymes

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.

Christina Rosetti

Sonnet

 
 

Christina Rosetti and her mother

 
 

My mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart – a heart so large that everybody’s joys found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation.

Mark Twain

Jane Lampton Clemens Mother of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).

 
 

The daughter of Benjamin Lampton and Margaret Casey, Jane was raised in Lexington, Kentucky. As a young woman of exceptional beauty and wit, and a graceful dancer, she was a favorite of many. A young physician from Lexington, Richard Barrett, gained her love, but such were the mores of the time, they found it difficult to see each other. It seems both felt rejected as a result. She would remember him, and even attempt to find him in later life. It has been said that her engagement to John Clemens was more a matter of temper than tenderness, but after their marriage on May 6, 1823, she proved to be a truly loyal, steadfast partner. She married at the age of 20, and bore seven children, outliving all but three.

 
 

Sylvia Plath with her parents, Aurelia and Otto

 
 

“Mother, you are the one mouth
I would be a tongue to…”

Sylvia Plath

Poem for a Birthday

 
 

Alice MacDonald, Rudyard Kipling’s mother

 
 

“If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!”

Rudyard Kipling

Mother O’ Mine

 
 

Balzac’s mother.

 
 

Anne-Charlotte-Laure Sallambier, came from a family of haberdashers in Paris. Her family’s wealth was a considerable factor in the marriage: she was eighteen at the time of the wedding, and Bernard-François fifty. British writer and critic V. S. Pritchett explained, “She was certainly drily aware that she had been given to an old husband as a reward for his professional services to a friend of her family and that the capital was on her side. She was not in love with her husband.”

 
 

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.
Honoré de Balzac

 
 

Mrs. Maria Clemm

 
 

(Born: March 12, 1790 – Died: February 16, 1871)
Poe’s aunt and, after he married his cousin Virginia, his mother-in-law. Poe called her “Muddy.” Although there is some debate as to whether or not she was a positive influence on Edgar, there seems no doubt that she cared for him like a son and that Poe certainly thought of her as a mother. The poem “To My Mother” (first published July 7, 1849) is clearly dedicated to her.

 
 

“Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you-
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.
My mother-my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.”

Edgar Allan Poe

To my Mother

 
 

Naomi and Allen Ginsberg

 
 

“Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I’ve been up all night, talking,
talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
shout blind on the phonograph
the rhythm the rhythm–and your memory in my head three years after–
And read Adonais’ last triumphant stanzas aloud–wept, realizing
how we suffer…”

Allen Ginsberg

Kaddish

 
 

Robert Louis Stevenson with his mother, wife and step-daughter at their temporary residence, Darlinghurst, January 1893

 
 

You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.

Robert Louis Stevenson

To My Mother

 
 

Moorish woman and child with gathered drawers with attached stockings. drawing by Christoph Weiditz.

 
 

“Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother.”

Moorish Proverb

Lines Carved with Passion

Mark Summers is a talented illustrator who was born in Canada. He usually draws by means of the long-established but uncommonly, scratchboard. Scratchboard or scraperboard refers to a burdensome illustrative technique using sharp knives and tools for engraving into a thin layer of white China Clay that is coated with black India ink.
 
It can also be made with several layers of multi-colored clay, so the pressure exerted on the instrument used determines the color that is revealed. Modern scratchboard originated in the 19th century in Britain and France. As printing methods developed, scratchboard became a popular medium for reproduction because it replaced wood, metal and linoleum engraving. It allowed for a fine line appearance that could be photographically reduced for reproduction without losing quality. It was most effective and expeditious for use in single-color book and newspaper printing. From the 1930s to 1950s, it was one of the preferred techniques for medical, scientific and product illustration.
 
There is just something about the balance between black and white tones and the characteristics of the scratched lines that provides well-done scratchboard drawings a exacting appeal. Mark Summers is one of the best modern practitioners of the art.
He has done illustrations for major publications like Time and The Atlantic Monthly and has received three gold medals from the Society of Illustrators and was the recipient of the Hamilton King Award in 2000 and in 2002 he was nominated to David Greenwich Workshop Award.

 
 

marksummers05449112245110485965

A Particular Group of Writers

Homer

 
 

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

 
 

Jonathan Swift

 
 

Herman Melville

 
 

Franz Kafka

 
 

Kurt Vonnegut

 
 

Joseph Conrad

 
 

Charles Dickens

 
 

William Faulkner

 
 

Leo Tolstoy

 
 

Alice Walker

 
 

William Butler Yeats

 
 

Jules Verne

 
 

Louisa May Alcott

 
 

Ann Rice

 
 

Marcel Proust

 
 

Edgar Allan Poe

 
 

summersfrost591a8f029af251061ea181ae372a2c90Robert Frost

 
 

Walt Whitman

 
 

Virginia Woolf

 
 

Illustrations by Mark Summers