pseudopodium
. . . Tuesday Weld

. . .

A long survey of recent celebrity stalkings has been added to the Web's own encyclopedia of crime, including a note on recent legislation that "makes it a federal crime to cross state lines with the intent of harassing someone." Bon chance, Michael Moore!

In related news, reports at the last Kokonino shareholders' meeting indicate that our Tuesday Weld neighborhood still receives more than ten times as much traffic as the Vertigo or Samuel R. Delany pages.

. . .

Special Gossip Crossover with the Tuesday Weld pages

Pinchas Zukerman is divorcing Tuesday Weld, officially for lack of interest in his career.

He quotes her as saying: "Why do I need to go to another concert when I've heard the piece before?"
Going Steady A reasonable question. One possible answer is, "To meet new people." And after all these years of musical disinterest, proceedings seem to have followed fairly quickly upon the dual appointments to the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Zukerman as director and Amanda Forsyth as "sexy blond cellist." Ontario sources have commented before on Zukerman's attachment to the upper-crusty Forsyth, acclaimed as a "leggy 29-year-old with luxurious blonde hair" who "adds a touch of glamour to the stage."

Bonus Robot Wisdom Crossover

In his Robert Stone page, Jorn Barger advances the theory that Children of Light "is based on Tuesday Weld, who was in the Dog Soldiers movie. It's about a talented starlet whose glittering surface barely hides her serious schizophrenia...."

And so, if you need any more evidence of Weld's skill for driving writers mad....

. . .

And for results, we're proud to announce the acquisition and sharing of:

Why? Because I (and David Pille and Jack C Stalnaker and TFUL282) am (are) a river to my (our) people!

. . .

My favorite story of the holiday season (from jamie.com) goes beautifully with my favorite email of the holiday season (from Douglas Hawes):

Dear Mr. Davis,

This morning while working in the front lobby of this Santa Clara hi tech firm, I checked out the site on Tuesday Weld. It took me a while to find out how to respond to the creator of the site, but I ultimately found your e-mail address...

I have been studying Tuesday Weld for about 12 years. Right now I am hoping to set up an interview with Ken Anger, who knew her intimately, through [...] the owner of the Silver Screen Hollywood memorabilia shop, which is located in Manhattan. He is a friend of Anger, and I have a friend in Santa Cruz who is an associate [...] And I happen to have a young niece who is an aspiring journalist who is transferring to New York University this spring semester, where she will study journalism...

Over the years I have met a number of people who were aware of the remarkable behind the scene aspects of Tuesday Weld's life and influence. The manner in which you present your information on your web site suggests that you are aware of some of these hidden things as well...

The friend of mine in Santa Cruz [...] talked at length with Ken Anger at the Silver Screen years ago about Tuesday Weld's hidden influence in the realm of underground occult activities. Another figure I know, a New Age teacher (now deceased) with widespread Sufi/Masonic/Rosicrucian contacts told me that Tuesday was involved in the promotion of a certain grand master to the leadership of the AMORC Rosicrucian order in San Jose back in the eighties... A Vietnam veteran I knew in Santa Cruz who was a political activist said he had attended a ritual in the Santa Cruz mountains in which Weld officiated (it didn't involve anything scandalous). He once got up in a political meeting I attended in Santa Cruz and said that Weld was doing all she could to help the cause....

I could tell other stories as well... The hidden life of Tuesday Weld has largely been undisclosed in the media, and remains one of the great undisclosed stories of the sixties and seventies. The only major reference to her that discloses her occult connections, but only in a discreet way, is a long forgotten book, "Popular Witchcraft," which was published by Bowling Green University Press in 1972. In it Anton LaVey in an interview says that his book "The Satanic Bible" was partially dedicated to Tuesday because "she was the embodiment of the goddess," and was "part of the ritual." LaVey's remarks reflect a close personal acquaintanceship with Weld, and hints heavily on her involvement in his ritual activities. So why the coverup?

Anyway, I await your response.

You Do It To Them

My response:

Pants Off Thanks for the note -- I'm glad you're enjoying the site.

I'm sure you know much more about Weld-the-person than I do, and you're bound to know still more much after dipping into Kenneth Anger's pool -- everything I've learned has been through letters and packages sent to me by kind readers of my initial essay. Her biography turned out (very unusually for an actor!) to be a suggestive match to my critical interests, and so I've been glad to pass the second-hand knowledge along to my web audience. But I can't claim to have been thoroughly taken by the biographical impulse myself.

Similarly, my only personal interest in the occult is as a distance-and-direction-estimating narrative-generating parallel to other ineffective-yet-compelling pursuits, such as art-making and emotional outbursts, that I feel closer to.

But if you find the idea of a dilettante leech appealing, please feel free to pass your findings along!

. . .

As Jean Teasdale has pointed out, "we should pursue the distractions that make our lives fulfilling and worthwhile, because life is not about getting angry over things you cannot control, but pleasing yourself."

It is thus my duty to report that the September 1959 issue of Coronet that supplied today's cover girl also contained many disturbing exploitive photographs of not-quite-sixteen Tuesday Weld: bookish, anguished, winning, odd, painting, and reading.

. . .

Goodbye, Judy Tuesday

Best-tailored eBay auction ever?

"Thanks for looking."

. . .

"He's a goof! He's a mook!" - Canadian fan, 1957

"And he was a nice fellow, shy. His face was so pretty, so soft." - Fats Domino, 2002

Those who think rock is about the frenzied masturbatory rhythms of the teenage male prefer Little Richard; those who think it's about being an asshole redneck prefer Jerry Lee Lewis; those who think it's about white boys impersonating black men why the fuck should I care what they prefer, let 'em wait for Eric Clapton. Most experts of the time agree that the true King of Rock and Roll was Fats Domino, who maintained rhythm and groove alike with magisterial ease, who crossed race categories, who chicks dug, and who was (unlike some people I could mention, and although Billy Lewis sure tried) inimitable. (Elvis's "Blueberry Hill" is one of his weakest '50s recordings: stripped of hokum, he sounds shrunken, pale, pathetic, lost.)

The thing is -- this presumptuous and cumbersome thing is -- with all my denials and hedging, I do think there's a way Elvis Presley divides the world into before and after, a way in which he originates the "rock music" genre, and that in a way (and in the way) it connects to American racism. It's just not a straightforward way.

Elvis's own straightforwardness misleads us. As cultural critic Tuesday Weld says:

"... he didn't wear it on his sleeve. You didn't see that he was complicated. You saw great needs."

. . .

Advertising Supplement

Jake Wilson resolves one old issue:

  I considered writing to you a couple of months ago when you were looking for sources of the Rotwang/Dr Strangelove archetype. I was going to suggest that one source might be the Poe tale The Man That Was Used Up, but then from your phrasing I wasn't sure if you'd already made that connection.
That damned phrasing stuff trips me up every time! I responded:

  That was, in fact, the grotesque that I vaguely thought might be Poe or (if post-Civil-War) Twain or even Crane. (When I browsed through Poe collections, I became distracted by "Maelzel's Chess-Player".)

And to balance things out, Jake Wilson introduces one new issue: Senses of Cinema No. 26, with excellent background on the Hong Kong woman warrior, a Stan Brakhage tribute appropriately split between formal and personal concerns, enticing overviews of Ned Kelly stories and Italian movies that I'd probably hate, a pointer to the near-future sf film None Shall Escape, and the usual much much more.

My other favorite web-based movie periodical, Bright Lights Film Journal, has also served up a fresh batch of fine reporting, reviews, and meditations. But would you think badly of me if I admitted that my favorite part was the Holly Woodlawn interview? 'Cause if you would, I admit nothing.

Elsewhere on the web, Dr. Justine Larbalestier has provided a preview of "A Buffy Confession," her spirited defense against (and equally spirited surrender to) nattering nay-Slayers. "For those who haven't seen the finale yet don't read the coda at the end."

And another of our favorite doctors, Josh Lukin, brings us the welcome news that paper-based periodical Paradoxa is finally unleashing FIFTIES FICTIONS: Chester Himes! Patricia Highsmith! E.C.! Richard Matheson! Samuel R. Delany! Judith Merril! People I don't even know! Get your order in early; you know how ephemeral paper-based periodicals are, and this looks like the best issue of Paradoxa yet. (I'd say "the best issue yet of any magazine ever," but I can't be sure till I track down a copy of that Vanity Fair with the picture of Tuesday Weld in the back. [Update: That Vanity Fair issue stunk.])

Yeah, I kid the academy (those nuts!), but when its component parts are given half a chance, the combination of publishing venues, deadlines, and job reviews can be mighty productive. Out here in the boonies, I've been blowing hot air about "doing something" on Highsmith for more than a dozen years; with sharp and decent folk like Lukin and Earl Jackson Jr. on the case, the world might live long enough to see some results.

. . .

Credits

Hair styled with Bumble and Bumble Hair Thickening Spray, Gloss Spray, and Hair Powder in White; Ray Allington for Magnet All makeup products by Chanel; on her face, Vitalumiere Creme Foundation in Clair; on her eyes, Basic Eye Colour in Argents and Intense Eye Pencil in Noir with Extracils Super Curl Lengthening Mascara in Noir; on her cheeks, Irrèele Blush in Secret; tear by Hollywood; on her lips, Precision Lipdefiner in Nude and Infrarouge Lipstick in Showgirl; Susan Sterling for Chanel.

. . .

In Other Consumer News

With disarming directness, Jack Fritscher reports:

In the 2005 edition of the now legendary book POPULAR WITCHCRAFT: STRAIGHT FROM THE WITCH'S MOUTH written by gay San Francisco author Jack Fritscher, Tuesday Weld is mentioned glowingly by Satanic High Priest Anton LaVey in terms of her mesmerizing blond presence in the classic interview Fritscher extracted from the enthusiastically cooperative LaVey who spoke to the ages. Book is endorsed by Magus Peter H. Gilmore, current High Priest of the Church of Satan. Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, March 2005. Available at Amazon.com

. . .

Kubrick, Critic

(Written for The Valve)

The first time I watch a Stanley Kubrick movie, I'm thrilled by its ambition and clarity.

The second time, the anticipated moments of humor, beauty, and shock re-arrive precisely in order, but thinner, like an anecdote that's outlived the memory it tells. Actors who'd conveyed life in other roles are played like tokens. My laughter and startles are a bit forced, as though I'm trying to put a lecturer at ease.

The third time, after the first ten minutes or so, there's no more movie. Just an idea I already know.

Only two Kubrick movies have interested me past that point. Both are literary adaptations, and in both, the ideas are formal. I watch them as literary analysis. With a 100-to-1 shooting ratio.

+ + +

"How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?"

Well, Lolita is a story of European guile in crass America. To make a highbrow book of it, European artist Nabokov told it guilefully. To make a commercial movie of it, American "they" told it crassly. In Nabokov's medium, Humbert Humbert takes advantage of a decadent tradition of ambiguously angst-riven confession. In Kubrick's medium Hollywood film, c. 1960 if you wanted to show middle-aged men lusting after girls, you made a leering sex comedy. And so that's the movie Kubrick made: The Twelve-Year Itch.

The logic is undeniable and, for me, anyway, irresistable. And James Mason makes an ideally sophisticated Tom Ewell, although Sue Lyon seems better suited to play the good-humored attractive wife than the drool-bespattered fantasy. (Tuesday Weld turned the role down after playing a similar part in a less prestigious movie and before playing similar parts in less prestigious movies.).

The problem is that Kubrick, as heir to Stroheim's flesh-loathing joylessness, isn't good at sex comedy. Even within the esoteric sub-sub-genre of leer noir, Lolita was bettered by Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid.

Maybe if they'd gotten Tony Randall for Clare Quilty?

+ + +

What most rewards me with pleasure viewing after viewing is Barry Lyndon.

I realize this reaction isn't universally shared. It's not, however, unique. I've watched the movie with others who've enjoyed it I even remember one very successful pan-and-scanned commercially interrupted viewing on late-night television. And maybe it's helpful to see it in such irreverent circumstances: I laugh pretty much all the way through, but acolytes seem to find (or seek and not find) a different experience the fresco series of sadness described by Mark Crispin Miller.

Although I admire Miller's argument, do I really care about Barry's sad fate? Or the sad fates of all who surround him?

Of course not. It's a Kubrick movie. I don't care about these characters any more than I cared about the fates of the Haze females, or HAL's or Alex's victims, or all life on Earth. And, in this case at least, Kubrick's coldness is no betrayal of his source material.

William Makepeace Thackeray attempted at least four simultaneous goals in The Luck [or Memoirs] of Barry Lyndon, Esq.:

This was an extraordinarily ambitious combination for a second novel. It was also kind of a mess.

In place of Thackeray's stew, being more a pastry chef, Kubrick neatly separated each ingredient and layered them in a tidy pattern.

First, to resolve the mix of fictional conventions, his movie splits down the middle. Its first half, naturally enough, is assigned the eighteenth-century: painlessly ironic misadventures of a young man, fairly good-hearted but amoral and far from bright, attractive through sheer boisterous health. This picaresque story ends in the hero's ascension to landed prosperity and a good marriage.

After an intermission, we enter the nineteenth-century: domestic melodrama, the horrors of class mobility, cross-generational tensions building and snapping, tragic accident, and villainy brought down, with lingering regret.

The problematically unreliable narrator was resolved by relocating out-of-character quotes from Barry into the omniscient third-person voice of Vanity Fair or Trollope's novels. The feeling of unreliablity was maintained by persistent discords between the dismissive tone of the "author" and the evidence of screen and soundtrack.

This solution kept Barry's character inarticulate and opaque, well within the scope of Thackeray's original blundering creep (or Ryan O'Neal's acting), and able to inhabit both halves of Kubrick's new scheme without dissonance. The new narrator was similarly at home, perhaps a bit more detached and worldly in the first half and a bit more censorious in the second.

Other techniques help bind the two halves. Kubrick's slow zoom-outs begin scenes as formally as the chapter titles and introductory paragraphs which were common to both centuries. Natural lighting, location shooting, and period costumes push material reality forward, while the meticulous care lavished on them reinforce the abstraction of pre-naturalistic style. As with Barry's character, so with others: Kubrick tones down Thackeray's vicious caricatures (which, photographed directly, might give us something more like Fellini's Satyricon or Welles's Don Quixote than like Richardson's Tom Jones) and adds flaws to Thackeray's more admirable (but almost blank) figures, resulting in fairly even affect.

The result, I admit, is cold and schematic but also intellectually engaging and very funny. It even induces, yes, a pleasant melancholy.

Not directly, though; not through parodic extravagances such as The Death of Little Bryan, with its "sad music" (that one piece of sad music, used whenever "sad music"'s needed), its angelic pain-free child, and its bravely tear-choking parents. That scene is pure clip art, like the Spooky House, Soul-Shattering Perversity, and Horrors of War sequences in other Kubrick movies.

No, the sadness is one uniquely suited to Kubrick's abilities. It's the sadness of distance. The distance between these dehumanized figures, each forever their own framed portrait, nailed to the wall, untouched and untouching. The distance between them and us, separated by time and telling. The implied identity with ourselves, and our own distances.

Even the voiceover dies as we watch, and a printed epilogue emphasizes the point:

It was in the reign of George the III that the above named personages lived and quarreled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now.

"... and [to complete the quote] do not the Sunday papers and the courts of law supply us every week with more novel and interesting slander?"

. . .

Tuesday Weld Downdate!

Last night I listened to the commentary track on the UK DVD of Pretty Poison and was not surprised to hear that

  1. Weld and the director disagreed as to how her character should be played.
  2. The director (wrongly) believes he won the argument.

Responses

Also confirmed: The dull prologue and epilogue were added in fear that the public's intelligence might have been overestimated. And Anthony Perkins was a mensch.

Previously unguessed at: In those pre-wireless days, cramped location shooting led to our leads being miked through wires which ran up their clothing. Perkins's odd little hop and pirouette early in the matricidal sequence was motivated by his need to untangle the cord before walking back across the room.

. . .

Summa contra juxta Gentiles

  1. Feminism's face-shove into repressed works and lives seemed pure good to me, as did similar redirections by other scholars in and out of the academy. No one had burnt Milton or Dickens or Hemingway; Dead White Heterosexual Guys were as eagerly available as ever. Only on the preset battlefields into which conscriptees were force-marched, canon to right of them, canon to left of them, were losses incurred.
  2. Barthes's groundskeeping didn't (and can't) erase the irrepressible notion of motivated utterance, or bar citation of a writer's, publisher's, director's, or performer's conflicting reports of intent. It simply made room.
  3. I kept "my" poststructuralists for their apparently inimitable expressions of previously unexpressed experiences. I never felt an impulse to layer their crazy clown costumes over my own or interpose them like Tom Snout's Wall in front of other peculiar personal expressions.
  4. In 1993, I began catching up with contemporary (post-behaviorism, post-expert-system, post-my-youth) cognitive sciences, and have followed them since, always with an eye to aesthetics.

    Long before 1993, I'd thought of art(-in-the-most-generalized-sense-possible)-making as a human universal, and since I don't believe homo sapiens was formed de limo terræ on the sixth day by that ginormous Stephen Dedalus in the sky, I must perforce believe the inclination to have evolved(-in-the-most-generalized-sense-possible).

    But scientists' applications of neuroscience, neural nets, and comparative zoology to art were sheer inanity, and with a few very welcome exceptions the "neuro-aesthetics" and "evolutionary turns" which migrated to humanities journals and popularized books catered no better fare. As Paul Bloom put it in a recent issue of Critical Inquiry:

    Surely the contemporary human's love of literature has to have some evolutionary history, just as it has a cultural history, just as it has an instantiation in the brain, just as it emerges in the course of child development, and so on. Consider, as a concrete example, the proposal by the English professor Lisa Zunshine. She argues that humans have evolved a taste for stories because they exercise the capacity for social reasoning or theory of mind. Suppose, contrary to my own by-product view, Zunshine is correct. Why should this matter to your average Jane Austen scholar (to use a common synecdoche for English professors everywhere)? It would seem to be relevant in exactly the same way as finding that stories are processed in a certain part of the frontal lobe that is, not at all.

    While literary critics can safely ignore those interested in theories of the origin and nature of stories, the converse isn't true.

  5. Like generations of analytic sensualists, I've mapped, diagrammed, and sought patterns in bare lists without forsaking delight in prior arrangements.
  6. And, like generations of readers before me, I've felt no compunction about deploying historical anecdotes against an artifactual field. Looking into Sir Thomas Bertram's slave trade connections hardly violates the spirit of the novel ("I was in hopes the question would be followed up by others"), and hardly necessitates casting protagonist or author as villainous collaborators or heroic liberators. What it must do, I think, is deepen our ambivalence toward Fanny's fallout-shelter reward. And if ambivalence doesn't sound appealing, you're denied access to far more than Mansfield Park.

To a published-or-perished team-player, my little biographia literaria may sound naïvely promiscuous: tacking to each newly prevailing wind without a glance at the charts, discarding yesterday's party allegiance in the face of today's confident campaign ad.

I swear, however, this ever unrulier tangle springs from one integrated ground, albeit of well-manured soil rather than bedrock: a faith born at pubescence in the realization that mumbling through Shakespeare's King John was a different thing, a different incarnate thing, than speed-reading Isaac Asimov or Ellery Queen; a faith which developed through adolescence and reached near-final form by age twenty.

This chapel's sacrament is aesthesis, sense-perception, rather than "high art":

For it is false to suppose that a child's sense of beauty is dependent on any choiceness or special fineness, in the objects which present themselves to it, though this indeed comes to be the rule with most of us in later life; earlier, in some degree, we see inwardly; and the child finds for itself, and with unstinted delight, a difference for the sense, in those whites and reds through the smoke on very homely buildings, and in the gold of the dandelions at the road-side, just beyond the houses, where not a handful of earth is virgin and untouched, in the lack of better ministries to its desire of beauty.

But honest attention to sensibility finds social context as well as sensation. Words have heft; the color we see is a color we think. And art(-in-the-most-general-sense-possible) wins special interest as a sensible experience which is more or less bounded, shared, repeatable, and pre-swaddled in discourse.

Pluralism is mandated by that special interest. Any number of functions might be mapped into one chunk of multidimensional space. Integer arithmetic and calculus don't wage tribal war; nor do salt and sweet. We may not be able to describe them simultaneously; one may feel more germane to our circumstances than another; on each return to the artifact, the experience differs. But insofar as we label the experiential series by the artifact, all apply; as Tuesday Weld proved, "Everything applies!" And as Anna Schmidt argued, "A person doesn't change because you find out more." We've merely added flesh to our perception, and there is no rule of excluded middle in flesh.

Like other churches, this one doesn't guarantee good fellowship, and much of the last decade's "aesthetic turn" struck me as dumbed-down reactionism. But The New Aestheticism was on the whole a pleasant surprise. Its reputation (like the reputation of most academic books, I suppose) is based on a few pull-quotes from the editors' introduction; the collection which follows is more eclectic. Howard Caygill sets a nice Nietzschean oscillation going in Alexandria, Gary Banham's "Kant and the ends of criticism" nostalgically resembles what I smash-&-grabbed from the display case back in college, and Jonathan Dollimore snaps at ethical presumptions with commendable bloodlust.

The contributors keep their disagreements well within the disciplinary family, however. They cite Adorno, Kant, and Heidegger very frequently, Wilde once, and Pater never, and disport themselves accordingly. After all, Adorno was a contentious fussbudget and respectable role model, whereas Pater was an ineffectual sissy.

Till at a corner of the way
We met with maid Bellona,
Who joined us so imperiously
That we durst not disown her.
My three companions coughed and blushed,
And as the time waxed later,
One murmured, pulling out his watch,
That he must go—'twas Pater.
- "The Traveller" by Arthur Graeme West

Adorno might have been happy surrounded by worshipful li'l Adornos; a majority of such as Pater, "the very opposite of that which regards life as a game of skill, and values things and persons as marks or counters of something to be gained, or achieved, beyond them," would be the heat death of the world. But there's more to existence than procreation, and aesthetes, at least, should appreciate the value of one-offs and nonreproducible results. We can no more say that Derrida "proved" Searle wrong than that Bangs "proved" the Godz brilliant musicians or Flaubert "proved" us all doomed to follow Frédéric Moreau. That doesn't mean Derrida was therefore best when dishing unset Jello like Glas and Lester Bangs was therefore best when writing fiction and Flaubert was therefore best avoiding emotionally hot topics. Every flounder to its own hook.

If false dilemmas and heroic battles against empire or barbarism are what's needed to drag some white bellies to the surface, well, that's no more ridiculous a procedure than constructing imaginary villages with real explainers in them. I wouldn't presume to say it's all good, but it is all that is the case.

Responses

giddy upon the Hobby-Horse

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Aw, come on, horsey! Please, horsey? Please, whoa. Purty please? Doggone it now, horsey! Won't you please whoa?

Has Dollimore gotten less irritating since his days of applying Godwin's law to literature? ("Here essence and teleology are explicitly affirmed while history becomes the surrogate absolute. If we are used to finding this kind of utterance in our own cultural history it comes as something of a shock to realise that these were the words of Alfred Bäumler, a leading Nazi philosopher writing on race." etc etc)

He kicks off with Hesse, so probably not.

Dollimore kicked off Radical Tragedy with Hesse as well! So this is a rerun, I gather.

A preview of the third edition intro, looks like.

 

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.