Monday, 26 November 2007

4EVA fin de siècle

I feel like I'm betraying a lover or a trusty old friend when I say this, but--the internet has been really boring lately. I am at my wits' end. At the moment my attention span is vehemently anything intellectual, lengthy, or physically active, which basically leaves me with nothing really satisfying except drinking, sleeping and reading 200 word sarcastic recaps of the past week's events online. But you can't drink, sleep, or read 200 word recaps ALL THE TIME. At least not when most of your dreams for the last few nights have involved friendly rats, contagious cancer boys, and Britney Spears and no one else you know has magically turned into a compulsive drinker. Actually, to be honest, the friendly rats dream was pretty good. I wish those guys were here RIGHT NOW. They could teach me all kinds of rat knowledge like how to befriend posh eccentric rodents--you know, something that could really aid in me in my navigation of the London garage rock scene. (See illustration below.)

It's like Brideshead Revisited without the alcoholism and "Lost Generation" quest for spiritual fulfillment!

As I was desperately trawling through the murkiest depths of the internet this weekend I realized that this sort of malaise would never have been able to exert such a force over my daily routine had I only been around for the belle epoque. Sure, this would probably be because a) there was no internet and b) I probably would have died from bronchitis before reaching maturity. These things are true, but it is also true that during the fin de siecle there was never a dull moment! Imagine the sheer excitement of attending the ultra gross death-y theatre of the Grand Guignol, drinking absinthe with Rimbaud, Degas, and JK Huysmans, or watching your back for mysterious stabby dude Jack the Ripper!

But just because there was nonstop dissoluteness and awesome clothes doesn't mean that our 1890s friends didn't recognize the importance of constructing wonderful architecture and creating some truly dark and bizarre literature. Did you know there is art nouveau in Namibia? Did you know where Namibia was? BAM! Now you do! And seriously dude, click on that lick and you can check out art nouveau doors, windows, and villas in places both obvious (Vienna!) and not so much (Timisoara, Romania!)

If your attention span is currently doing better than mine, then head over to the lovely Violet Books website. The lady behind the page posts literary essays, bibliographies of "forgotten" authors, and some fantastic art nouveau book covers as well as original art from her selection of decadent, Victorian sci-fi, "Lost Race", and old school adventure novels. For real, this lady is seriously cool. Most of these books are looooooong forgotten and you know they totally have that kind of sad/kind of awesome old book smell.

And if your attention span actually functions long enough to make it through an entire work of fiction, then there's the Gaslight page. This site has bibliographies and--this is the incredible part--a freakishly large amount of full-text short stories written b/w 1800 to the 1920s in the genres of "mystery, adventure, and the Weird". There's your usual selection of luminaries (Thomas Hardy, Edith Wharton, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness in the original, serial form) as well as some of Violet Books' long-lost decadents and Victorian exposés on spiritualists.

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