Thursday 21 December 2017

‘A Sundial on the Moon’ in Marjolijn Dijkman’s Radiant Matter

And you don’t stop…

I just have time to report on one last publication of note before the world shuts down for Christmas. ‘A Sundial on the Moon: Eleven Variations on a text by William Blake’ was written in response to an invitation from the artist Marjolijn Dijkman to write something for her book Radiant Matter, which documents her researches into astronomy, science, perception and spirituality. I chose Blake’s ‘An Island In the Moon’ as a starting point for my essay as his unfinished prose satire pointedly referenced the Lunar Society, a key historical theme in Marjolijn’s work. The eleven variations correspond to the eleven finished chapters of Blake’s original text and are indicated by the eleven major divisions of my essay. The piece, as it unfolds, also examines Kepler’s lunar fantasy Somnium and Aphra Behn’s seventeenth-century Italian farce The Emperor of the Moon. ‘A Sundial on the Moon’ was written over the summer and autumn of 2016 while I was completing work on The Space Oracle, my next book for Strange Attractor Press, which is due to come out through the MIT Press in the Spring of 2018.

The Space Oracle is a fractured history of astronomy that brings stories of astronauts and spies, engineers and soldiers, goddesses and satellites in close alignment with pop culture references, low-budget astrological divinations and everyday observations. It’s the story humanity wishes it could tell itself about its relationship with the stars. ‘A Sundial on the Moon’, taken together with my essay ‘The Cosmos Is A Work In Progress’, which recently appeared in the Bauhaus volume Space for Visual Research, are extensions of the original research for The Space Oracle and should be seen as independent supplements to it.

This fourth and final publication in December should mark a brief hiatus before The Space Oracle makes its transept across the Vernal Equinox of 2018. Keep watching the skies for more information of this new title as it comes up. In the meantime my warmest wishes to everyone on this dark winter solstice afternoon – have a restful and happy time wherever you are and however you may celebrate the end of an old world and the beginning of a new one.

Marjolijn Dijkman’s Radiant Matter is available to order from Onomatopee in Eindhoven – find more details here.

Thursday 14 December 2017

‘In Praise of Wrathful Deities’ in Satori Issue 2

But wait…there’s more! I have a third new piece of writing in the second issue of Satori, a beautiful and still very young magazine that is really worthy of your support. It is wonderful to find my work presented in a publication dedicated to the proposition that ‘When you see death, things change.’ Too often we are encouraged either to look away from death or to treat it as a wholly negative and destructive force in our lives. Sometimes to contemplate life in terms of its sudden disruption can be a positive and liberating experience – as I know only too well. My essay ‘In Praise of Wrathful Deities’, looks at traditional Tibetan burial customs, the book of the dead as a literary genre, angry gods and the experience of reality. Along the way we encounter Aldous Huxley, Tim Leary and Thomas Mann, and I also include some of the night thoughts and journal entries I wrote down in my notebooks while recovering in the cancer ward at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital – still one of the most extraordinarily joyful periods of my entire life. 

Satori is on sale now and you can find out more about the issue and where to buy it by clicking here. The magazine’s publishers, Duncan Woods and Seb Camilleri, have this to say about their latest issue:

Issue two of SATORI – The Issue of Change, features over 100 pages of original content from acclaimed writers including Pico Iyer, Anita Moorjani, BJ Miller, Jill Bolte Taylor and Ken Hollings and an amazing selection of art and photography from Sara Sandri, Adam Goodison, Daniel Castro Garcia, Phil Hewitt and Tommaso Sartori to name but a few.

So go buy it – and help make sure that there’s an issue three.

Friday 8 December 2017

King Ludwig’s Gallery of Beauties in Noon AW17

I am also happy to announce that I have continued my longstanding relationship with Noon magazine into their AW17 issue dedicated to the theme of Excess. My seventh essay for this wonderful publication is dedicated to King Ludwig II of Bavaria – someone who, as regular readers of this blog might know if one of my heroes. The piece is called ‘King Ludwig’s Gallery of Beauties (This is Story about Horses)’ and is destined to be part of a larger work that I am currently sketching out. The AW17 issue of Noon is available from Claire de Rouen books - more information on Noon and its distributors can be found here.

As a small footnote, I would like to thank everyone who called or emailed me about my appearance talking about the life and mysterious death of Ludwig II in a recent cable TV documentary – thanks for viewing and for letting me know. The subject remains a constant source of surprise and inspiration for me – the last great aesthete of the nineteenth century still has so much to teach us about culture, technology and taste in the twenty-first. Ludwig’s existence has the form and impact of a lost science-fiction story on the human quest for paradise – which is appears to us as a pale reflection in the theme of excess.

Monday 4 December 2017

The Cosmos Remains A Work In Progress

I have a lot of new work coming out in print at the moment – and, as is typical, it is all coming out at once. First up is Space for Visual Research 2: Workshop Manual and Compendium, which contains an essay I wrote over the summer at the request of Anna Sinofzik, one of the volume’s editors and a former student of mine. The work contained in this fascinating collection represents an extracurricular graphic design laboratory at the Bauhaus University Weimar, and I am particularly proud to have been invited to contribute – it feels to me as if a tradition is being carried through from the early twentieth century into the twenty-first. My best wishes go out to all who are involved in this enterprise.  

My essay is called ‘The Cosmos is a Work in Progress: Astronomy as Communication Design – A Guide to What You Are Missing’ and is based on a lecture I gave at the Royal College of Art earlier in the year – details on that particular talk can be found here .

For more information on the publication, which is available from Spector Books of Leipzig, please click here or here.

There are two more new essays of mine that have just gone into print, and I will get to them in successive posts. Each deserves to have its own entry as each is very different. Bear with me while the blog adjusts itself.