Friday, 14 June 2013

Interesting magical stuff

A quick roundup of some brilliant articles and things to enjoy I've been looking at recently.

Tomorrow I am excited to be going on a Summer Tree Walk on Hampstead Heath (ahhh, Hampstead. My spiritual home... apart from Glastonbury and Cornwall, that is...okay, and Haight Ashbury) faciliatated by my friend and occasional creative collaborator, crimson-haired Aries beauty Laura Daligan, and Zoe Hind - who I haven't met before, but I read her excellent astrology blog here. To get an idea, here's a video of the last one they did. Basically we will be wandering around the Heath and learning about the magical properties of trees; the Ogham system, how to recognise certain trees, and learning about the mythology behind those trees. Awesome. And also RESEARCH. For something yet to be conceptualised. Probably.

Next, a fabulous article in The Believer with favourite initial-sharer Alan Moore. On his book, Jerusalem, currently in the writing:

" What I was trying for here is something which is quite a long way away from conventional narrative. I think it’s very readable, but the structure, the story, and the subject matter, all of these things make it very difficult to define. Parts of the books are frankly brutal social realism set in a wholly underprivileged neighborhood, and there are also chapters of outrageous fantasy dealing with ghosts, fairies, angels, and all sorts of other phantasmagoric creatures. And yet this is in a context of, largely, a social realist novel which is looking at this impoverished neighborhood and the people who pass through it over the years. So it’s a strange beast. I’ve been thinking of calling it “scientific fiction,” but that is largely out of perversity, mainly to annoy people who have a too-rigid definition of what science fiction should be.
Pretty much all of the book is predicated upon the assumption, which seems to be implicit in the work of most modern physicists since Einstein, that we inhabit a universe that has at least four spatial dimensions. There are the three dimensions that we are conventionally aware of, and there is the fourth dimension, which is also a spatial dimension, but we don’t perceive it as that. We perceive the distances of the fourth dimension as the passage of time. If I understand it correctly, I believe our entire continuum is at least a four-dimensional solid in which time is not passing, where every moment that ever existed or will exist is suspended, forever unchanging, from within this immense solid of space-time. And therefore the passage of time is an illusion that is only apparent to us as we move through this huge solid along what we perceive as the time axis.

.... which sounds pretty awesome. HIs interviewer, Peter Berbegal, is apparently author of Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock ’n’ Roll, out soon. Brilliant title anyway.
Last, I've just got the agenda and abstracts through for the Great Writing conference at Imperial College at the end of this month, and am excited by:

Amy Lee Wai Sum, Hong Kong Baptist University - How do I qualify to be a witch? A personal reflection on Salem, the Trials, and the Fictions

For a couple of years now, I have put “witchcraft”, “fictional witch stories” as my research interest in documents submitted to the university for my annual review exercise. I was first attracted to the study of witch trials by the postcolonial rewriting of Tituba in Maryse Conde’s postcolonial fiction, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1986), and later became more interested in the trials and subsequently the fictional outputs using the historical event and the personalities.

The fact that the Salem Witch Trials and the people involved directly and indirectly are still very much current in the popular fictional outputs seems to me that there is something in the event that we find difficult to let go. Therefore apart from reading the continuous publications of popular fiction that advertise a link with the centuries old Witch Trials, I went to Salem the town and stayed for two weeks last summer to see for myself some remnants of the historical event and how present day Salem fashions itself for the world.

The presentation is a personal remembrance of a two-week stay at the historical witch town, and a creative reflection on the changing meaning of witchery and how it impacts on real life practices in a generally secular modern community.

I will report back.

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