Sime Time

I came across the writings of Simon Whitechapel a year ago after picking up the first twenty or so issues of Headpress, a 1990s ’zine that dealt with the relentlessly grim, the esoteric and prurient. His style was fascinating, coming across as intelligent and well-read and — at least from first reading — subtly ironic.

In fact he must have impressed some other people during this time too as Headpress’ Critical Vision imprint spun his collected articles together for publication under the title Intense Device: A Journey Through Lust, Murder and the Fires of Hell — they have all the typical interests that run through Whitechapel’s work — there is an obsession with numerology, with Whitehouse-style distortion music, with Hitler and de Sade. There are also articles on farting, on Jack Chick and novelisations of TV shows. They are fascinating, written in a scholarly way with footnotes aplenty but never difficult to understand. He also wrote two non-fiction works during the late 1990s and early 2000s that centred around sadism and the murder of women in South America. They are dark.

There are also the works of fiction. To say that Whitechapel is transgressive is an understatement. His writing bleeds. The ‘official’ work The Slaughter King is filled with the detailed descriptions of sadistic murder, beginning with a serial killer murdering a gay prostitute whilst listening to distortion-atrocity music. The plot is schlocky but serviceable, jumping around inconsistently but the images it creates are terrifying. A bourgeois dinner party straight out of Buñuel and Pasolini’s nightmares where guests are served poisons as if they were the finest consommés: they eat bees until their faces swell, dropping dead at the table, finishing with a trifle “made from the berries of the several varieties of belladonna, of cuckoo-pint, and of the flowers of monkshood”. It’s a sinister book, but nothing compared to his second work.

Whitechapel wrote The Eyes. This is clear just from a simple comparison between his texts, the fascination with language, with sadism, with de Sade. The thing is, The Eyes is supposedly written by some guy called Aldapuerta, Spanish apparently. ‘Aldapuerta’ can be written Alda Puerta — ‘at the gate’, a telling description of these short stories, which go past this point many, many times. The tale of ‘Aldapuerta’ himself is too exact to be believed: a young boy with an interest in de Sade, corrupted by the local pornographer, medical-school training that honed his knowledge, then a mysterious death (echoing shades of Pasolini’s own) and finishing with the “and he might be baaaack” closer. But this point isn’t really an issue and it’s understandable that Whitechapel would want to keep his name away from this work. It is also surrealistically brilliant at times: amongst the brutality, the images it creates are unforgettable.

Of course, Whitechapel is a fake name, redolent of Jack the Ripper, and even Simon was taken from elsewhere — a colleague perhaps? He disappeared during the 2000s, no longer writing for Headpress, a few self-published chapbooks pastiching Clark Ashton Smith… where did he go? There are the rumours of prison time — they are convincing to my mind, as they too revolve around different identities, around extremity and anonymity. I wonder though, if true, just how much this individual actually believed in them. His most recent writings, at his tricksy blog, hint at this, as well as make his ‘relationship’ with Aldapuerta clearer but it’s not in my ability to directly connect the personas.

If you want to be fascinated and repulsed, then the non-author Simon Whitechapel is for you.

Lancashire


Elsewhere other-posted:

It’s The Gweel Thing…Gweel & Other Alterities, Simon Whitechapel (Ideophasis Books, 2011)

Mi Is Mirror

I hope that nobody thinks I’m being racially prejudiced when I say that, much though I am fascinated by her, I do not find the Anglo-American academic Mikita Brottman physically attractive. It is her mind that has raised my longstanding interest, nothing more.

Honest.

This is because, for me, Ms B is like a mirror that reverses not left and right, but male and female.

Obviously, we’re different in a lot of ways: I don’t smoke and I don’t have any tattoos, for example.

But there are big similarities too.

We were born in the same year (1956) and we were both keyly core contributors to seminal early issues of the transgressive journal Headpress Journal.

And we have various other things in common, like our mutually shared passion for corpse’n’cannibal cinema, our Glaswegian accents and (at different times) our season tickets for Hull Kingston Rovers.

So it is that, looking at Ms B, I have the uncanny experience of seeing myself as I might have been, had I been born female.

But it’s not just uncanny.

It’s horrifying at times too.

Okay, I’m comfortable with the idea that, born female, I would have been less intelligent and more conformist. So I don’t mind that Ms B is a Guardianista. Not particularly. I can face the fact that I would quite likely have been one of them too, as a female.

But there are worse things than being a Guardianista, believe it or not.

Ms B has a PhD in EngLit.

A PhD!

In EngLit.

It’s not at all easy for me to face the fact that I might have had one too, as a female. It really isn’t. But how can I deny it? I might have. That despicable, deplorable, thoroughly disreputable subject might have attracted me. In fact, it would probably have attracted me.

<retch>

But it gets worse still.

Ms B is a psychoanalyst.

A psychoanalyst.

Ach du lieber Gott!

See what I mean by “horrifying”?

I mean, even if I’d been born female I wouldn’t have sunk to such depths, would I? Would I? No, I have to face facts: I might. But I don’t think so. I have a feeling that there’s more to Brotty’s interest in Freud than her gender statusicity and her key commitment to core componency of the counter-cultural community.

But I’d better say no more. Verb sap.