It’s been a book filled month, so rather than a ‘book of the month’, there seem to be several!!
Excuse me if I begin with my very own: the second edition of my ‘biographies’ of Ralph McTell. Revised and Expanded, it took a lot of work editing, with which I was ably supported by John Beresford, editor of the ‘Ralph, Albert, Sydney’ fan-site, who has, I might say, a quite extraordinary knowledge and appreciation of Ralph’s work.
Anyway, the new edition has a lot more refinement of my quest to integrate a scholarly narrative within and about a popular vernacular. John also came down from Manchester and we recorded an interview with me talking about the origins and content of the book.
Then I was given a copy of the recent reprint of articles from the Systematics Journal 1962-73. More about Mr Bennett and his ideas from my own Esoteric section of this very site.
Rupert White’s book on Cornish Art, Modernism and Earth mysteries and the like finally came out. It was originally entitled ‘Magic and Modernism’, but seems to have been re-titled at the last moment as ‘The Re-Enchanted Landscape’. He certainly has collected together an interesting set of individuals who were based down in Cornwall at various times, drew inspiration both from the landscape and Pagan traditions there, and expressed these in various forms of creative output.
Then, there is The Tryst:
Written by the well-known author Monique Roffey, it is really inspired by the Lilith myth – the woman who predated Eve for Adam’s ‘affections’. It is a racey read and a kind of celebration of rampant femininity. She certainly writes in a convincing and beguiling manner. My only complaint was that the man in the story is pretty much a dupe and putty in the hands of the main female character – Lilah. But, then again, that is probably in the nature of the story of what happens in the ‘empire of the senses’. The conclusion is a little like ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ – that they are lucky to survive the encounter.
Music wise, I got to see probably ‘the’ exponent of traditional German Music Hall/ Cabaret style, Ute Lemper – a ‘master’. ‘er, sorry, ‘mistress’ of the genre. She really managed to create an atmosphere of sleaze and decadence, as well as romance and heroism faced with affairs of the heart in a challenging world. She also included some favourite French chanson: Léo Ferré and Jacques Brel.
Also, caught up with Ralph McTell – one of the sets he has been doing with Wizz Jones, who was the one who invited him down to Cornwall in the first place – see my book for fuller account!! A good evening with a retro look at their separate and joint song repertoire.
Art wise, I was able to get to the beautiful exhibition of Church panel paintings from the late Medieval period (14th century); as particularly exemplified by some new acquisitions at the National Gallery in London of the Italian artist Giovanni da Rimini.
Somewhat in total contrast, I was also in Venice for this year’s Biennale: always a lot of fun, and some pretty wild art in settings, which never fail to intoxicate me. All very different.
The British artist Damien Hirst also has a two venue installation show there, under the title Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable . The story is that a ship went down in ancient times, the wreck of which has only just been discovered. What was on show pretty much looked like authentic archeological finds, ranging from statues that were several meters high to gold coins and jewellery. Just to make a point (?), there was also the odd shell encrusted Micky Mouse and Goofy thrown in for good measure. Well you have to admire his audacity.
Quite a remarkable show on at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum as well by the American artist Mark Tobey (1890-1976) – a precursor of American Expressionism.
All this activity, and I have not been listening to that much music. Some recent Russian CDs, about which, more next month, but in between, I have been working through the complete pieces by Mahler as CD of the month. A good selection, although it just shows what a wide range of interpretations of Mahler there is.
Otherwise, the last days of summer as autumn closes in….Clevedon…