In 1594 Elizabethan satirist Thomas Nashe published ‘The Unfortunate Traveller’. This picaresque novel, the first of its kind in Britain, was set on the continent and followed its protagonist’s adventures through a string of European towns. In graphic descriptions Jack Wilton, a court page, testified to the “wonderful spectacle of bloodshed” that 16th-century Europe had become and doing so allowed Thomas Nashe to expose the religious and political hypocrisy of his days. William Levy, who has been familiar with the works of Nashe since the 1960s, has now coined a collection of his erotic stories ‘The Fortunate Traveller’. In that way Levy’s tales, published on various occasions over the years and now compiled by Moloko Plus, form a loose but in content and style coherent series of picaresque adventures with the author himself as a horny protagonist. While picaresque novels traditionally use frog’s perspectives, low viewpoints from the fringe, to present readers with distorted and hilarious images of the higher layers of society, Levy’s perspective is rather outside-in. Levy offers the reader glimpses of bedrooms that he shared with attractive women in Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Ohio, Baltimore and Vilnius, at the same time satirizing the incrowd, the “haute riff-rafferie of the demimonde“, among whom several figures of the counterculture. “History without gossip is a dry biscuit”, Levy once explained. And that is very true: his latest erotic picaresque novel is not only to a large extent autobiographical but sheer voyeur’s and eavesdropper’s delight to boot. More →
In the summer of 1999 German poet Bert Papenfuß and musician Rex Joswig spent a holiday together in Feldberg, Germany. They didn’t do much work, according to Papenfuß, but Rex Joswig asked his friend to write a text for him to put to music, ‘something with the Bible’ Roswig added. Papenfuß didn’t feel like working from Bible texts but revived an older idea of his to rework the ninth-century poem ‘Muspilli’, an incomplete and apocalyptic Old High German text which is kept in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich.
Last year Bert Papenfuß combined his 1999 ‘Muspilli special’ and his earlier political rap ‘Rökrökr’ into a ‘Muspilli Rökrökr Mashup’ and added footnotes to the new poem so extensive that they formed a text in itself. That same year Papenfuß’s poem was read by Ines Burdow, Rex Joswig and Bert Papenfuß himself, recorded in a studio in Berlin and set to music by the Berlin bands Tarwater and Herbst In Peking. These two pieces now make up the opening tracks of the CD and double-LP that Moloko Plus has devoted to the ‘Muspilli Rökrökr Mashup’ project, followed by the full text of Papenfuß’s footnotes read by Ensemble Sockenschuß, who are again Ines Burdow, Rex Joswig, Bert Papenfuß plus Jule Böwe. Collaborations of Papenfuß and the bands The Same (Helmar Kreysig and Rex Joswig), and Duo Elektrokohle (Rex Joswig and Frank “Trötsch” Tröger) complete this fantastic release. Muspilli Rökrökr Mashup. A modern Book of Revelation. Save your soul or learn about its doom!
Moroccan storyteller and visual artist Mohammed Mrabet was invited for the 5th edition of the One World Poetry festival in Amsterdam in November 1982. Away from the festival Mrabet, mainly known in the West for his friendship with Paul and Jane Bowles, was interviewed by Beat scholar Jaap van der Bent and Coen Pranger at the Amsterdam Island International Bookstore, which served as the Dutch import centre for Black Sparrow Press, at the time Mrabet’s publisher. The recording of that interview has now been released by Counter Culture Chronicles on cassette with additional information in English and Dutch included in an envelope. Deeply rooted in Moroccan tradition and culture, Mrabet does not always hold positive views of the Westerners that he encountered in Tangier. His friendship with Paul Bowles was ambivalent but genuine, but most of the Beats that landed in Tangier in Bowles’s wake were held in low esteem, most of all William Burroughs, whom Mrabet viewed as the leader of a criminal gang. Some of that awkwardness and clash of cultures is also felt on the CCC cassette, not in the least because of Mrabet’s poor command of the English language. But Mrabet’s memories of Paul and Jane Bowles, his explanation of the Moroccan tradition of storytelling and the role of the supernatural in those, his comments on smoking kif, fishing, publishing and making art make this tape a valuable document. The conversation with Jaap van der Bent and Coen Pranger at Henk van der Does’s bookstore is a compelling and multilayered story in itself. “A tongue tells a thousand truths”, Mrabet once said, “but you always only want to hear one”. Read More & Order →
At the invitation of the ACE (Association for Consciousness Exploration) Timothy Leary and his friend and collaborator Robert Anton Wilson visited Cleveland in 1989 for a public discussion entitled The Inner Frontier. The recording of the event has now been re-released on cassette by Counter Culture Chronicles. The cassette, 90 minutes in length, comes with two separate J-cards, one showing a photograph of Leary, the other a portrait of Wilson. Identity is a shaky notion with high-profile psychonauts like these.
In the late 1980s – the days of George Bush sr and the fall of the Berlin Wall – futurists Timothy Leary (1920-1996) and Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007) were exploring the possibilities of computer technology and cyberspace to expand human consciousness. Leary proclaimed in those days that “the PC is the LSD of the 1990s” and in the Cleveland talk Wilson can be heard to say that “we have an infinite number of brains, like computers changing software”. Much of their meandering and entertaining discussion, in which members of the audience hesitantly join during the second part of the event, deals with new developments in that field. Leary predicts that in the near future computers will be worn as suits, as changeable identities in cyberspace, and Wilson claims that “we all have a Beethoven in our brain”. The Inner Frontier, the theme of the discussion, is then a pre-conditioned frame of mind that should be torn down (“people will always climb over the gates”, Wilson adds) and computer technology can help us open up the unlimited possibilities of the unfettered human brain. Counter Culture Chronicles aptly named their release ‘Predictions: Hits and Misses’, as some of Leary’s and Wilson’s speculations have become outdated in the course of time while others have proven to be spot on.
Inspired by Baudelaire and his translations of Edgar Allan Poe on the one hand and Friedrich Nietzsche and early expressionism on the other, Heym’s tales in ‘Der Dieb’ are supremely grotesque and dark to the extreme. And all of them written in an evocative style that builds up to absurd climaxes and erupts in apocalyptic scenes of violence. ‘Der Dieb’ – first published posthumously in 1913 – consists of seven tales: ‘Der Fünfte Oktober’, which is a wild ride on mob sentiments, ‘Der Irre’, a psychopath’s celebration of freedom, ‘Die Sektion’, a sigh of love from the autopsy table, ‘Jonathan’, the ecstacies of pain during a hospital romance, ‘Das Schiff’, a cat-and-mouse thriller with the Black Death aboard, ‘Ein Nachmittag’, the first dagger of love in a young boy’s heart, and ‘Der Dieb’ itself, in which a religious and mysogynist maniac triggers his personal apocalypse. All of them ruthless and beautiful tales, combined with nine of Schot’s drawings, wrapped around the tales to fit them in atmosphere rather than illustrate them. Read more & order →