First off, let me say thank you and happy new year to the many people who have subscribed to my new website. I appreciate your interest and the trouble you've taken to let me know about it. The aim of this site is to get word of my work out to as many people as possible. Thank you for getting it off to a good start.
This past summer, while I was once again playing music - with Bootleg Blondie, a top-notch tribute band - I put together a limited edition CD of some old tracks from the late 70s and early 80s, 45s, demos, and live performances with my band The Know. Included is "The First One"/"Tomorrow Belongs to You," a 45 I released in 1978; two tunes recorded by Blondie, "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear" and "Scenery" - which appear on the recent Against the Odds box set - and the title track "Amor Fati," a version of which was recorded by me with Blondie in 1996 but never released. Amor fati means "love of fate" and it was the challenging and demanding motto of the philosopher Nietzsche, a powerful influence on me during my years as a musician. The CDs are on sale and anyone interested in getting an idea of what my creative work was like before I became a writer can email me here at email@example.com for the details. And if you want a peek at what The Know were like, check this out.
Also on sale are a few extra copies of two of my books: Turn Off Your Mind: The Dedalus Book of the 1960s and Dead Letters: The Dedalus Book of Literary Suicides. I have six of the first and four of the second, and will be happy to sign copies for anyone interested.
The Dedalus edition of Turn Off Your Mind (2021) has an extra 100+ pages of material not included in the original 2001 first edition and the 2003 US edition. Among other extras is the essay "Murder in the Aquarian Age," which looks at the unfortunate careers of Charles Sobhraj, otherwise known as "the Serpent," who had the indecorous habit of murdering several unsuspecting pilgrims on the Far East hippie trail in the early 1970s, and Ira Einhorn, "the Unicorn," a mover and shaker in the 1970s paranormal milieu and an alleged founder of Earth Day, who died in 2020 while serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend. For a brief time I carried on a correspondence with Einhorn, our point of contact being Colin Wilson, who passed my email address on to him after the Unicorn expressed a desire to write to me following a reading of my book In Search of P.D. Ouspensky
Dead Letters is one of my few non-esoteric books. It has more of an existential character and looks at the very different motivations for and ways of doing away with oneself that writers have engaged in for centuries. More than any other type of artist or creative worker, writers have a depressing tendency to kill themselves. Perhaps the advances offered by publishers can account for that. But then, even very successful writers have taken the plunge into the big sleep, and made that turnoff to the last exit. Why? That would be telling. In the book I look at figures such as Walter Benjamin, Yukio Mishima, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Paul Celan, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf - all of whom pulled the plug on themselves. But I also look at writers who came close but rather than make that full stop, pulled up short and turned their despair into great literature, people such as Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Albert Camus, and Colin Wilson. There are Romantic Suicides, Political Suicides, Surrealist Suicides, Manic-Depressive Suicides and quite a few other categories, all included in what I believe to be the first "taxonomy of suicide" ever published. I'll be giving a zoom talk on the book later this year. You can find the details for this and other upcoming talks on the Events page on this site.
Perhaps after that depressing announcement some good news is in order. Inner Traditions, publishers of The Return of Holy Russia, have accepted my latest book, a biography of the early Jungian turned follower of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll, and will be publishing it, with any luck sometime this year. Nicoll, who attended a lecture by Ouspensky here in London a century ago - remarkable, no? - was so shaken by what he heard that he gave up his prestigious and lucrative Harley Street practice, wrote Jung a "Dear Carl" letter, spent a year at Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Fontainebleau, outside of Paris, and from 1931 until his death in 1953, taught the Work in various different 'off the grid' communal settings in different locations outside of London. Nicoll is one of the less-known figures in the Gurdjieff world, hence the title of the book: Maurice Nicoll: The Forgotten Teacher of the Fourth Way. He is best known for his multi-volume Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, but he also wrote the first book in English about Jung's psychology, Dream Psychology, published in 1920. I'll have more to say about the book as it gets closer to publication. In the meantime here's a link to an article I wrote about Nicoll for Quest magazine some years ago.
And to end, let me mention some other talks slated for this year:
"Imagination as a Way of Knowledge" a Zoom for the Theosophical Society in America, 21 January 2023, 1-2:30 PM CT
"As Above, So Below: Swedenborg and the Language of Correspondence," a talk I'll be giving at the "Swedish Ecstasy" seminar held at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts at the Brussels Museum in Belgium, 15 February. Details to follow.
"The Return of Holy Russia," a Zoom talk for the Last Tuesday Society bas on my book, 9 May 7:30 - 9:00 PM GMT
And again, "Dead Letters: Writers and Suicide", a Zoom talk for the Last Tuesday Society, 6 June, 7:30- 9:00 PM GMT
All the best for the new year.