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.

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