Sunday, December 19, 2010

Following the Heard - 2010

Put it all out on 8tracks for you to enjoy: the music heard in 2010 I found most worth listening to again. The cover's above and the links are below:

Part A
Part B

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Black Cat

"This is a tricky house," says the honeymooning husband, Peter, no apostle, but a mystery writer (or should I say "writer of mysteries"?) hunkered down in Hungary in the house redesigned, rebuilt, upon the remains of a fortress lost in great battle and the thousands of bodies given up their lives in the loss -- a stage manufactured in all senses by the Bauhausian engineer Hjalmar Poelzig. Peter comes to his tricky conclusion without having yet experienced the lower levels of the tower. Before the aforementioned battle the tower served as gun turret, now it holds the strange scene you see at the top of this posting.

What for the huge piece of graph paper attached to the wall – used in guiding the missiles? How floats the woman? Why does Bela (call him here “Dr. Vitus Wedergast” though you could never pronounce it in just the same perfect way the former count can when first we meet him in this film) Lugosi recoil in horror? Is it the woman? The shadow of the cat? Or, is the reaction no acting but a real revulsion toward Karloff, who plays Poelzig, who gets top billing though he’s only the heavy. (“Here comes the heavy,” he reportedly would say during the filming before he made each entrance.)

The scene always lingers somewhere in my mind, in the place reserved for favorites: My favorite Bela Lugosi vs. Boris Karloff film, possibly because it was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer -- who had a scary story of his own, which I will relate some time soon. To view the entire film above in a larger frame, go to the Internet Archive where this admittedly-murky print is housed.

Nothing really here to see of Edgar Allen Poe's original story, except perhaps for the spirit of perverseness... or in honor of Poe and this particular story I should most definitely type PERVERSENESS.
"Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart -- one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a stupid action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself -- to offer violence to its own nature -- to do wrong for the wrong's sake only -- that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morning, in cold blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree -- hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart -- hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence -- hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin -- a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it -- if such a thing were possible -- even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God."

Click this here underlined phrase to hear "The Raven" album by Lou Reed -- a peculiar and sometimes-difficult piece of work, Reed putting to music his interpretations and sometimes rewritings of Poe. Much of the blocked quote above is used in "I Wanna Know (The Pit and the Pendulum)" and the spirit of PERVERSENESS made more convincing with backing vocals by the Blind Boys of Alabama. Listen to it at the link above and come back when you can.

While you are gone: What you've seen so far in this posting remains rough and I will keep coming back in your absence with additions, with new thoughts to smooth out the inconsistencies. A new way of doing things here, but perhaps just another example of what we call PERVERSENESS.