Newsletter #27

Newsletter #27

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

May Day 2021


It’s nearly time for my new book WILLIAM BLAKE VS THE WORLD to be released into the world. The pandemic has meant that normal book launches aren’t possible, but we’ve come up with an alternative which is, I think it’s fair to say, pretty damn special.

The online launch will be on May 27th at 7:30pm, and is hosted by the British Library. It features me being interviewed by Robin Ince, readings from Salena Godden as the Voice of Blake, a look at original Blake manuscripts with the British Library curator Alexandra Ault, and an extra special reading from the shining soul that is the poet, rapper and President of the Blake Society Kae Tempest.

If that’s not enough, there will also be contributions from those imagination-soaked authors Neil Gaiman (in New Zealand) and David Keenan, talking about what Blake means to them.

When you are dealing with Blake there is always the pressure to go the extra mile and make something worthy of his name. As online book launches go, this is something well worth your time and I hope you’ll join us. It’s free for British Library members and people who buy the book, and a fiver for everyone else. You can book tickets and find more details here.

The day we spent filming all this at the British Library was an absolute joy for many reasons, and being able to see Blake’s notebook was certainly one of them. This is the book that originally belonged to his beloved late brother Robert, which William went on to use for three decades. It contains sketches and versions of some of his most famous poems. It’s one of the treasures of the British Library – and indeed the world, as I see it. I love this rare self portrait, alongside the sentence ’23 May 1810 found the world golden’.

And look, it also includes a little sketch by Blake which appears to be a man taking a piss:

It was a wonderful day and fortunately things didn’t get out of hand, unlike that other time I had access to Blake originals.

Huge thanks to Jon Fawcett at the British Library for making all this possible. The online launch is on the original release date of May 27th, although printer-woes have meant that the book itself is delayed. Only by 5 days, though, so it will be with you on 1st June. I can’t wait for you all to see it. I’ve been blown away by early reactions to it – here are some of the quotes you’ll find on the back:

It’s available for pre-order here and if you read it, it would help massively if you talked about it, shared it on social media or left an Amazon review – anything like that would be hugely appreciated, you hero.


OTHER EVENTS AND STUFF

An online launch is all well and good, but an important aspect of Blake’s philosophy was people getting together and having a jolly. So there’s another event planed in Sheffield in July in order to do just that. It’s a day called Blame Blake, and here’s the poster with all the details:

There’s also an event in the Brighton Spiegeltent on June 15 to look forward to. This is with Jennifer Lucy Allan, whose book The Foghorn’s Lament is a delight. It is, as the name suggests, a book about her obsession with foghorns. So Brighton folk, come along to an evening of foghorns and Blake – it’s so right it hurts. As the event promoter David Bramwell has pointed out, “no-one else is doing Foghorns and William Blake, we’re well ahead of the curve.”

There’s more events coming – including an online Blake Society talk on June 16th. When there are links for these, you’ll find them on the events page on my website, so keep an eye on that.


AND FINALLY
Another book which is highly recommended is Richard Blandford’s new novel, Whatever You Are Is Beautiful, a terrific novel that heartily embraces the absurdity of superhero culture. It’s ebook only but only 99p for a brief period, so well worth a punt.

My evil friend Shardcore – who you may remember being behind the AI-generated version of The Future Starts Here – has finally got access to the GPT3 text generation AI, and he naturally asked it to generate the story of The KLF as if it was written by William Blake. Now, I realise that AI-generated Blakean KLF histories is a bit of a niche interest, but I also know that if there are people out there who are into this, then they subscribe to this newsletter.

So I’ll leave you with this – hope you can make it to the launch and that you’ll have the book in your hands soon. Until next time!
jhx

The story of The KLF by William Blake

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

And he answered, “I am the First and the Last. I am He who liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

And with these words came a great light. And as it grew brighter still I beheld two figures standing before me. One was robed in white, shining like a star in a cloudless sky. The other was robed in black. His face was hidden from me by a mask fashioned from a human skull. In his hand he held an object that glowed like fire but gave off no heat. It seemed to be made from gold but it was not gold. It seemed to be made from glass but it was not glass. It seemed to be made from crystal but it was not crystal. It seemed to be made from stone but it was not stone. It seemed to be made from water but it was not water. And yet it did seem to be all these things at once…and more besides!

“The time has come,” said the man in white robes, “for you to choose between good and evil.”

“The time has come,” said the man in black robes, “for you to choose between life or death.”

“Choose wisely,” said both men together as they turned their backs on me and walked away into the darkness beyond my sight…

Newsletter #26

Newsletter #26

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

Spring equinox 2021


Hello all – here’s hoping Sping is twitching wherever you are.

I’m recording the audiobook of William Blake Vs The World next week. This will involve travelling by train and going into London – my first ‘work’ travel for over a year. Being active again is a strange thing to contemplate – during the long weeks of this last lockdown, it felt like spring would never come, and that the world would never open up again. But suddenly the day arrives when it’s time to come out of your chrysalis and there’s nothing you can really do about it except see how your wings look.

If you were of a mind to pre-order this audiobook before it is recorded, that would make it all the more worthwhile. It’s up on audible now.


Something I wrote for the Big Issue years ago, and which I had completely forgotten about, resurfaced on my Twitter this week. I won’t lie, when I saw the headline I did laugh. The article was light and jokey, because the basic idea was seen as outrageous back then. It was not the sort of notion that was allowed out in polite society. I was just being a mischievous cheeky fella, really, as is sometimes necessary.

I think it’s the inclusion of the word ‘just’ that makes the headline.

If you have a minute, it’s worth a quick read. It’s my argument for a maximum wealth law. I was joking, sort of, at the time. Looking at it again, I realise I was unfairly harsh on Albania and Yemen. But I won’t lie, even with the benefit of hindsight I am not able to find fault with the argument. I wonder now how this idea strikes people a few years later, here in 2021.

Here’s why I ask – For all the woes associated with the networked world, one of the great things about it is that people who have traditionally been denied a voice are now being heard. This has been most evident through campaigns like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, as well as giving a voice to the trans community.

But there is another group, beyond gender and race, that has not yet broken through or been heard. This concerns issues of privilege and wealth, and the extent to which society is structured to favour the haves over the have-nots. If deeper awareness of this did become the next big wave of cultural change, demographics alone dictate it would be massive.

Our current situation is best illustrated by Netflix’s big hit series Bridgerton. This takes 21st century attitudes to race and gender and paints the eighteenth century with them, to great success. To the young generation it is aimed at, the way it deals with female agency and diverse casting makes complete sense. In terms of attitudes to wealth and privilege, however, there have been no changes made at all. There is no thought for the servants toiling away while the main families live in luxury. The issue of how those families obtained their wealth is never questioned. It is assumed that the audience will identify with the protagonists, when in all likelihood our great-great-great grandparents were those working away below stairs. As such, Bridgerton is, more or less, a fair summation of how cultural attitudes in the twenty-first century have developed, so far.

There is a huge amount of research which shows the negative impact inequality has on society – I won’t rehash these arguments there, but suffice to say they seem pretty convincing. So far, this hasn’t translated into a mass awakening of privilege-based awareness. I wonder, though, if we might be seeing the first shoots of one? The Wall Street Bets/Gamestop saga last month was interesting in this respect. As you’ll recall, a bunch of individual investors ganged up online in order to buy Gamestop stock, with the intention of ruining major hedge funds that had massively bet against the company.

If you’re read my Future Starts Here book (currently only £1.99 on Kindle!), you’ll probably recognise the metamodern way this was done as a joke, whilst simultaneously also being perfectly serious. But more interesting, perhaps, is that those attacking the hedge fund included both right-wing libertarians and left-wing anti-capitalists. Both groups were aware of how the system is structured to favour big investors over little ones, and saw this as unfair. In all the drama, no-one spoke out in support of the hedge funds. No-one attempted to justify their existence or what they do. The left and the right joining together to attack big finance was clearly something new.

Whether this will be the start of something larger, I don’t know. But it might not take much for wealth and privilege to join race and gender as major issues in the great ongoing cultural realignment.

The worldview of the 20th Century was largely Lovecraftian – people were powerless isolated individuals at the mercy of incomprehensible cosmic forces. Lovecraft was famously so racist that he managed to other the entire universe. This made sense to people raised passively in front of television, but it makes little sense to the generation raised online. They understand that they are a valid part of a huge self-regulating network, and as a result feedback loops and consequences make immense inequalities hard to hide and impossible to justify. Those whose privilege does harm to others can expect a reaction. Perhaps all that it will need is for a clear memeable notion to spread – such as the idea that to be a billionaire is unforgivable, or that to hoard excessive wealth is shameful.

As I write this, the following tweet from mighty Lisa Lovebucket of the Teesside Arts Lab just flashed up:

There is a shift in perspective in that tweet that is hard to argue with.

At the moment, elite schools seem to be a flashpoint – Netflix’s docudrama series Operation Varsity Blues about the US Universities admissions scandal is about to launch, and the accounts of rape culture at Westminster and far too many other English public schools are making harrowing reading. It’s getting increasingly difficult to deny the extent to which these elite schools are churning out pupils emotionally unfit for the 21st century.

Whether all these things find the right story to coallesce around and become a mass movement is another matter, of course. But it’s worth keeping an eye on this subject over the next year or so – we’ll see if anything grows.


On April 25th I’m doing an online Journey to Nutopia event, in which I’ll talk about my next book with Michelle Olley and others – there’s no online link for this yet, but hopefully there will be one soon. Tomorrow’s Journey to Nutopia event should be unmissable – RAW Power, a Robert Anton Wilson night with Daisy Campbell and Rasa from Hilaritas Press.

One of the unexpected things I’ve been sent since the last newsletter was a 7″ single by Dreihasenbild – dark ambient Finnish folk, from Texas. I feel that a good number of subscribers to this newsletter have room in their lives for dark ambient Finnish folk (from Texas), so I’ll leave you with this – Verikuu sulkavan yli

Until next time!

jhx

Newsletter #25

Newsletter #25

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

Imbolc 2021


THE RETURN OF THE KLF: A BLAKEAN ANALYSIS

I was as surprised as anyone when The KLF released a ‘best of’ compilation on Spotify and YouTube on New Year’s Day. This, I thought, was a promising start to the year. It made their music readily accessible to new generations. We could now see their videos remastered after years of putting up with rips of dodgy VHS copies on YouTube. It came with the promise of unheard outtakes to come and, most importantly, those songs still sound fantastic.

But I could understand why some felt a little let down. What the KLF had done seemed to be against the spirit of everything they stood for. Surely they were the Kopyright Liberation Front, eternally at war with the music industry? From their deletion of their back catalogue in 1994 to their refusal to use the name ‘KLF’ or reissue music when they returned in 2017, they stood apart from the music industry and refused to play by its rules. It wasn’t clear what had caused them to back down now. Did signing up to the industry’s standard distribution channels weaken their myth in some way?

When we speak of the KLF’s myth, we tend to talk of their wild magical Discordian capers or their principled war on copyright. But these shenanigans were the path they took – they were not their intended destination. That destination was a place outside of rational understanding and language, and as such it could only be referred to by metaphor. The KLF’s preferred metaphor was The White Room, a place they hoped to reach by boarding the Last Train to Transcentral. All of this was up front and centre in their work – it was hardly hidden.

Another metaphor they used was ‘Eternity’ – they signed a contract with Eternity and sang of the timeless moment they called 3AM Eternal. This was also a favourite metaphor of William Blake’s. When he wrote of holding ‘Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour’, he was talking about the same experience of being outside of time that The KLF spoke of in 3AM Eternal. Much of Blake’s work can be interpreted as an instruction manual in how to reach this awareness.

Blake and the KLF have a lot in common. A fundamental concept from Robert Anton Wilson and the Discordian mythos that the KLF adopted was an understanding of reality tunnels – how our minds construct a limited mental model of the world outside our skull, which we then confuse with reality itself. The key lesson here is that it is important not to believe your own model or Belief System – or to put it simply, to not fall for your own BS.

This is also a Blakean idea. Blake personified the act of mentally creating a world, and then mistakenly believing that the limits of this world were all there is, with a character he called Urizen. Urizen is rational and insecure and desperate to believe his own BS. He is blind to how limited his mental abstractions are, and he cannot see anything beyond them. Like all of Blake’s characters, he exists in all of us. He is useful and we need him, but we also need to recognise how limited he is.

A good illustration of this is Blake’s painting Newton – in which the scientist becomes a representation of Urizen. Here we see Isaac Newton in a strange, atmospheric, organic and shapeless world, which we interpret as the bottom of the ocean until we notice that Newton and his scroll are dry. Newton is blind to the larger world in which he sits because he is focused on his work and the rational abstractions that he mistakes for the wider reality. Rational abstractions like this are, in many ways, brilliant and useful, but they are also the ‘mind-forged manacles’ that keep us locked inside our flawed, limited reality tunnels. They prevent us from seeing beyond ourselves – the place for which the White Room is as good a metaphor as any.

What is the solution? Blake stresses that we need forgiveness to escape – if only briefly – from those mind-forged manacles. As he tells us, ‘Mutual forgiveness of each vice / Such are the Gates of Paradise’. To forgive is not to allow an aggressor to avoid punishment, but to free ourselves from resentment. True, forgiveness is not always easy, especially for those suffering from repeated attack. But it still remains a goal to aim for because, if we let our grudges linger, they become part of our identity, trapping and defining us like unwise tattoos. In A Christmas Carol, Marley’s spirit is trapped in chains of greed, but we can equally snare ourselves in chains of resentment.

To experience Eternity, Blake tells us, we need to be able to be able to slip lightly out of our identities and look beyond our sense of self. Then we can streak naked through the White Room. But resentment, blame, and the extent to which injustice can come to define us acts like a heavy overcoat that we struggle to remove. In this context, what exactly was the purpose of The KLF’s one-sided war with the music industry? It certainly didn’t affect the industry in any way. Was it a useful act of integrity, or were they defining themselves by decades-old grudges that were comfortable and self righteous but ultimately limiting?

The mental model that Urizen creates is constructed out of opposites – light and dark, warm and hot, us and them, and so on. As a result, there can never be a complete utopia or dystopia, only the tension between these ideas. We will always live in an imperfect world, and we will never be done attempting to improve it. We will always be trying to work out what is fair and what works. This can seem exhausting and overwhelming at times, but it is a burden that is much easier to bear when you have moments of transcendence in your life. Your inner Urizen will try to tell you that transcendence is self-indulgent or a denial of suffering. It is neither of these things. Transcendence is fuel.

The KLF’s abandonment of what they used to stand for can be seen as the dropping of their own mind-forged manacles and a return to the limitless liberation that their music was always about. As the overall title they’ve given their re-release programme tells us, the intended journey is ‘Sample City Through Transcentral.’ That title makes most sense, perhaps, during their now re-released track It’s Grim Up North, when the white noise and techno eventually gives way to the sunrise of Blake’s Jerusalem.


ME, GABBING

On Weds 10 Feb I’m joining Robin Ince for his online Reality Bites show, in which he promises to examine “the issues that arise from living in a probabilistic universe, the shortcomings of our brain for perceiving reality, the importance of doubt and the Exegesis of Philip K Dick.” Tickets and more details here.

I had a lot of fun on the Quietus subscribers’ Low Culture podcast, in which I attempted to convince people that there is a lot more to Eddie The Ed, Iron Maiden’s undead mascot, than meets the eye.

It was also fun rambling away to the Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler on his new Ideaspace podcast – there’s lots of good ideas about building a better future in Yancey’s work, have a listen.


ELSEWHERE

Kind readers sometimes send me gifts, but none has been as unexpected as when I recently received a small patch of land in Tasmania. This is a brilliant idea – a crowd-funded rewilding scheme, in which the more people come together and support it, the more land is left alone. A perfect gift for those awkward aunties and uncles, perhaps. For more details, visit the website of the Helsinki Foundation.

If you’re thinking of making a few small changes that might improve your life, can I point you towards the lastest book by my wife Joanne Mallon? Change Your Life In Five Minutes A Day is a small, beautifully designed gift book that will have a big impact.

You’re too late if you want to the film rights to Salena Godden’s brilliant debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death – Idris Elba has already nabbed them. But the good news is that the book is now in shops, and I heartily recommend you don’t miss it.

Among the too-long list of those we lost last year was Dave Mounfield, best known for Count Arthur Strong. Last Orders at the Shoulder of Mutton is a tribute to him from his friend David Bramwell – and all proceeds go to Martlets Charity. Have a listen here.


That’s all for now. By the time you get my next newsletter, there will be flowers opening and sunlight on your face. See you then!

jhx

Newsletter #24

Newsletter #24

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.Winter Solstice 2020


Hello fellow inmates – I hope you are hunkered down and prepared for the duration. It’s amazing what people will vote for, isn’t it?

Here in the UK, at the darkest day, things aren’t going too well. But take heart – 2020 is nearly over and I can exclusively reveal what next year has in store:


PREDICTIONS FOR 2021

JAN – Heartbreaking scenes of overcrowded migrant boats in the English Channel as untold thousands flee from Kent.

FEB – The “Tis but a scratch” Monty Python Black Knight promoted to Foreign Secretary.

MARCH – A patch is finally released for Cyberpunk 2077 which replaces all the 20th century attitudes with 21st century ones.

APRIL – The first newspaper columns wistfully nostalgic for 2020 arrive.

MAY – The UK achieves a world first, becoming the only nation ever to score minus points in the Eurovision Song Contest.

JUNE – In an attempt to bring healing to the vicious inter-generational warfare, Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift duet at Glastonbury. Macca’s version of Shake It Off divides critics, but Taylor’s Frog Chorus is a revelation.

JULY – Donald Trump realises he hasn’t seen Melania for months, and starts to wonder.

AUGUST – Untold savagery and bloodshed as Conservative MPs finally bring down Boris Johnson. He is replaced as Prime Minister by Bob Mortimer’s Train Guy.

SEPT – The world has a moment of clarity twenty minutes into the fifth episode of Disney’s The Falcon And The Winter Soldier when it realises it is totally over the MCU.

OCT – The ‘It’s a Royal Knockout’ episode of The Crown series 5 results in the House of Lords branding Netflix a terrorist organisation.

NOV – Following a disappointing foxtrot, edgelord events manager Dominic Cummings is voted off the first episode of Strictly.

DEC – The bestselling book of the year is post-Brexit cookbook Nigella’s Turnips.

…or something like that, anyway. That can’t be far wrong, surely?


QUICK NEWS AND BLATHER UPDATE

I’ll keep this newsletter short as you will want to be out in the fields absorbing the ‘Christmas star’ Saturn and Jupiter solstice conjunction. But before you head out, here’s a few things you might like:

Issue 1 of VALA, the new journal of the Blake Society, is available for free download online. Amongst many other good things it contains a piece by new Blake Society president Kae Tempest. There’s also an article by me about Blake in lockdown.

Paul Duane’s latest documentary Welcome To The Dark Ages is now online to rent or buy. This is the story of why The KLF became undertakers and are attempting to build a brick pyramid in Totexth, and I pop up in it briefly.

I was thrilled that my book Watling Street was chosen by Lucie Green on Radio 4’s A Good Read – here she is talking about it with Alexander McCall Smith and Harriet Gilbert.

I wrote a few words about Tim Arnold’s latest album, the lockdown-created When Staying Alive’s The Latest Craze, which is well worth a listen.

I know I’ve linked to the annual Future Crunch list of 99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About before – but given the nature of 2020, you’ll forgive me if I do so again. This is all the stuff which your news service of choice keeps quiet about, but which you need to be aware of if you are to have a balanced view of the state of the world.


Here comes the end of 2020 – you’ve made it! The strange little sound effect you just heard was your experience points levelling up. We will have to be extra vigilant next year looking out for those around us who are isolated or who lose their livelihood – a habit we should keep always, of course.

The turning of the seasons on the shortest day does not mean that spring has arrived – it means that spring is inevitable. There will always be cold and rain, but they will be increasingly balanced by the warmth of the sun. Likewise, the defeat of Trump and the arrival of vaccines does not mean that things are better now, but it means that we’re getting there. Hold the line.

Nadolig llawen! Look after each other, pilgrims.

jhx

Newsletter #23

Newsletter #23

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

Hallowe’en 2020


Happy Hallowe’en all you living, dead, and undecided. May all the critters that jump out at you be welcome. Tricks can be treats, you know – don’t accept the divisive framing.

My big news is that the paperback of The Future Starts Here is now in shops – and as I mentioned in the last newsletter, it contains a new afterword to bring it up to date. If you’ve already read the hardback, then don’t worry, you won’t miss out – you can read the afterword online over at The Social Gathering.

For those of you who have already listened to the audiobook, I’ve recorded the afterword just for you. I’ve uploaded it to YouTube – you’ll find it here.

In the 18 months or so between the hardback and paperback, it’s been gratifying to see so many people moving on from the dead end of kneejerk cynicism and blind pessimism that the book talks about. This article by Cory Doctorow in the Slate is a terrific example, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s new novel The Ministry of the Future looks like a much-needed shot of cold reality and hot ideas.

If you need more of this type of exploratory thinking, the Journey to Nutopia zoom events that have been occurring during lockdown are now online and free to watch. You’ll find them here – there’s tonnes of good stuff to explore and if you scroll down to 5th June you’ll find Pessimism is for Lightweights, the event I did with national treasure Salena Godden – look out for her novel Mrs Death Misses Death in January, I promise you it’s rare gold.


It’s my 23rd newsletter, and just over a week after Timothy Leary’s 100th birthday, so clearly it’s time for a lost 1974 manuscript by Robert Anton Wilson about Leary to ping into the world. Hilaritas Press have just published The Starseed Signals, and it comes complete with a foreword by me. More details and how to order can be found here.

What would Wilson make of the all the Qanon umbrella of conspiracies around at the moment, I wonder? As much as he enjoyed a good conspiracy, I imagine he’d find them pretty depressing and unimaginative. If nothing else, these current conspiracies are profoundly paranoid and joyless.

In the late twentieth century, conspiracy theories told of aliens building pyramids, secret cabals guarding holy treasures for centuries, recovered UFO tech and other wide-eyed wonders. The current crop of Qanon/5G/anti-vax conspiracies etc, in comparison, are all products of fear rather than imagination. They all tell of a vague, grey cloud of terrible undefined evil just over the horizon, forever out of sight but never out of mind. Some people seem to be getting off on this, but I find it hard to see the appeal.

One thing I’ve noticed is that while these conspiracies have been sucking in people from all different corners of society, those who have read Wilson have been pretty much immune to them. I base this statement only on anecdotal evidence, admittedly, but I do know a lot of Discordians and RAW aficionados. While they may be interested in what’s happening, and they may be curious and knowledgeable about it – none of them are prepared to actually believe it.

Wilson’s most famous work The Illuminatus! Trilogy (co-written with Bob Shea, of course) was a satire based on the idea that all conspiracies were true. It’s not a book I usually recommend to those curious about Wilson – it’s very much a product of its time, and not all of it has aged well. It was written by two staff members at Playboy magazine in the years before second-wave feminism broke through, for example, so it’s easy to have issues with it now. But it’s still a powerful thing, in terms of its impact on readers. It can rewire people’s minds to prevent them falling for bullshit – their own, in particular, but other people’s as well.

The Qanon umbrella of conspiracies is not that different from Illuminatus! in certain ways – it too embraces all conspiracies as being potentially true, in order to better game the Facebook and YouTube algorithms and draw in as many believers as possible. How, I wonder, does the impact of all this playing out on a believer’s timeline differ from reading Illuminatus? And more importantly, will it have the same effect?

Illuminatus! is structured to first tease, intrigue and draw you in, before taking you to a place where you are lost, bewildered and see no hope of finding firm ground again. It’s here – in the state of mind that Wilson called Chapel Perilous – that the book works its magic, by forcing you to face up to and accept the limitations of your reality tunnel. For all those Qanon true believers still expecting Trump to round up and imprison the evil satanic liberal deep state – well, November is going to be difficult for them, I expect. That creaking noise you hear is the doors to Chapel Perilous swinging open.

This is a dangerous situation. No-one wants to deal with heavily-armed white supremacists who are battling their own cognitive dissonance and losing. It is better to read Illuminatus! than to live it, especially in the form of a society-wide paranoid LARP programmed by Philip K. Dick. But the overall impact of all this in the long term is as yet unwritten, and there may be many who emerge out the other side considerably wiser. The combination of a lack of human contact during lockdown and greater exposure to social media algorithms has pushed many angry people into very dark paranoid places, but we should not give up on them all just yet.


BOOK CUPBOARD

I’ve re-opened my online book cupboard, which sells signed and dedicated copies of my books, both for those who just want a signed copy and for those who want to give copies to others that are a little bit special. I started this before last Christmas and it seemed popular, so here’s your chance to get signed versions of the new Future Starts Here paperback, plus a few others.

I’ll close it in mid-December, so go have a look now and see what’s for sale.

Have a great Hallowe’en everyone! Don’t let your mask snag on your fangs.
jhx

Gordon Riots

Newsletter #22

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

Autumn Equinox 2020


Happy Autumn equinox everyone. That’s three quarters of 2020 done – only a quarter to go.

The big news from me is that the paperback of The Future Starts Here will be here in just over three weeks, on 15 October. It includes a brand new lockdown-written afterword to bring the story into 2020. (For those that have already bought the hardback or audiobook, I’ll make a recording of this new bit so you won’t miss out – more on that next newsletter.)

If you haven’t read it yet, know that pre-ordering is much appreciated and most helpful. It’s available from Hive, Waterstones, Amazon or wherever you prefer to buy books. I liked this review from RAWIllumination very much.

You might have noticed that the subtitle has been changed from ‘Adventures in the Twenty-First Century’ to ‘An Optimistic Guide to What Comes Next’. Normally I avoid the word ‘optimism’ unless I can clarify the difference between blind optimism and pragmatic optimism. In this instance however, using it seemed significant.

When the book was being put together in 2018, there was no chance of getting a word like optimism on the front cover. It would have been commercial suicide, or so the prevailing wisdom went – such was the general mood and the unquestioned dominance of the only-doom-allowed worldview. So when my publishers suggested putting the word on the paperback, this struck me as important. Many things have got worse in the last couple of years, but the near-total pessimism hegemony does seem to have cracked. Better futures are now being openly talked about. There were certainly no articles like this in the press when the hardback first came out, that’s for sure.

There’s also a Greek-language edition now available from Metaixmio, have a look at this handsome fella.


A COACH RIDE WITH LORD GEORGE GORDON

The current state of politics puts me in mind of something that happened over a couple of hundred years ago.

It was the eighteenth century. George Gordon was the sixth and youngest son of the Duke of Gordon, a family of which Prime Minister Robert Walpole said ‘They were, and are, all mad.’ George Gordon was sent away as a child and bullied at Eton, then entered the Navy where he was considered ‘a damned nuisance wholly unsuitable for promotion.’ A seat in parliament was subsequently bought for him, where he soon became something of a joke.

You might recognise the type. Privileged, damaged, generally mediocre – it is a background that can tip into narcissism. Lacking any genuine talent, the narcissist searches for ways to satisfy their need for attention and praise. For Gordon, the answer was to stoke popular prejudices, claim to be the voice of the people, and care nothing about the coming violence that is the natural end point of encouraged bigotry. As I say, I suspect you know the type.

In George Gordon’s day the popular prejudice was anti-Catholic. He became President of the Protestant Association, and he led a campaign against a Catholic Relief Bill which allowed Catholics to join the armed forces. Gordon organised a protest of around 50,000 Protestants, who marched on Parliament. Here they abused and beat politicians attempting to enter, kicking off a week of the most violent rioting London has ever seen. Catholic churches and the houses of establishment figures were methodically looted, burned and destroyed, while the prisons and breweries were opened and Irish communities attacked. Each night the sky was as red as modern-day California, while hundreds of bodies washed up in the Thames and the army attempted to calm the protests by methodically shooting into crowds.

By the time the Gordon Riots burnt themselves out, at least 850 people were dead. George Gordon hadn’t planned this, of course. But he had caused it. He failed to stop things from going too far because he was getting off on the adulation.

At one point, Gordon was spotted leaving Parliament by a politician called Sir Philip Jennings-Clerke. Fearing the mob, Sir Philip had a bright idea. He would get as close to Gordon as possible, and that would keep him safe from the protestors and allow him to share his coach home. Or at least, that was the plan.

Once the pair were in the coach, a shout of ‘Let’s take Georgie off!’ came from the crowd. People unharnessed the horses and about twenty men began pulling the coach at frightening speed, in completely the wrong direction, deaf to Gordon’s pleas for them to stop. For the next couple of hours, Sir Philip was trapped in the mob’s hellish tour of burning London, fearing for his life.

You couldn’t get away with a scene like this in fiction. It’s too on the nose and too obvious in its subtext. But history is a slutty novelist. History has little shame.

I can imagine Sir Philip’s face at the moment reality hit him. When he first decided to stick close to Gordon, he thought he had made a brilliant act of self-preservation and self-interest. At some point, however, the reality of the situation hit. You can deny reality for a frighteningly long time, but it will win out in the end.

I think about Sir Philip when I see those who choose to stay close to narcissistic, incompetent, populist leaders who are weaponising division, destroying what they will, and marching towards disaster. The British Conservative Party and the American Republicans are the obvious Sir Philips here, but you can cast the net wider to include assorted media faces and even individual voters if you so wish.

I suspect you can guess what happened to George Gordon. He dropped the Protestant cause when it was no longer useful, converted to Judaism and died in jail. All that’s entirely predictable – it never ends well for people like him. The question of what happens to those who take a coach ride with Lord George Gordon, however, has many different answers. As we get closer to the US 2020 election and the end of the Brexit transition period, keep an eye on the faces of all the Sir Philips out there. If you’re lucky, you might just catch the moment when reality hits.


ROUNDUP OF STUFF

I hosted the after-work online drinks for the Social Gathering a couple of weeks back, which resulted in a playlist of hidden gems from the fifty-years of post-Beatle Paul McCartney records. The reaction to this has been amazing, and it seems to have made a fair few people look at McCartney in a whole new light. The Spotify playlist is here and my tweetalong commentary is here.

I very much enjoyed talking to the American comedian Young Southpaw on his Etcetera Etc podcast – topics covered included Robert Anton Wilson, supernatural James Bond, Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie and other random rambling. Fun times!

The exciting news of evidence of life on Venus prompted Tim Arnold to release one of the songs he wrote for my pandemic-scuppered play HG Wells & the Spiders From Mars – if only for the next few weeks. I explain the whole thing here, but it seems a good way to welcome our potential cloud-living neighbours. Enjoy!

Until next time!
jhx

Life on Venus – the song

Life on Venus – the song

It’s exciting to hear that evidence has been found for extra-terrestrial life – not on Mars as most assumed, but in the clouds of Venus. This was a plot point in my Edwardian Glam Rock musical HG Wells & The Spiders From Mars.

Poster by Slim Smith

HG Wells & the Spiders From Mars was a one man play which was to star Oliver Senton as Wells. He was to act alongside an invisible man, or possibly a ghost, or possibly a figment of his imagination. Or – just possibly – alongside the transgressive liberating spirit of Ziggy Stardust, who fell to earth 70 years too early and found the wrong boy genius from Bromley.

The play was due to be directed by Daisy Campbell and performed at the Cockpit Theater in London in April. But the pandemic happened and, as you can imagine, all plans were scuppered.

Oliver Senton as HG Wells. Photo from producer Kate Alderton

Composer Tim Arnold, however, had already written music to my lyrics, and the song ‘Life on Venus’ was recorded before the whole thing was cancelled.

In the play, Wells has come up with a brand new idea, one never before put to paper – an invasion from an alien planet. The invisible spirit of Ziggy, however, knows that the first story of inter-planetary contact will frame mankind’s thinking about such things for centuries to come. As such he is adamant that Wells’s aliens should not come from Mars, the planet of war, but from Venus, the planet of love. The sexually-liberated Wells is tempted, but he ultimately doesn’t think his late-Victorian readership could accept an encounter with a planet of love, and all that entails. For the sake of decency and his career, he chooses fear over love, and the split with his muse begins.

That’s the background for the song ‘Life on Venus’. So you can imagine how hearing evidence of alien life from Venus rather than Mars, in this context, sounded like a positive omen of… well, something or other. It was welcome, put it that way. To celebrate our cloud-based Venusian neighbours Tim Arnold is putting the song Life on Venus online. You can stream it now on his Bandcamp page. We’ll leave it up for 23 days, and if you do want a permanent copy, there’s a Pay What You Want option available.

Art by Slim Smith

Welcome to the neighbourhood, Venusians!

Newsletter #21

Newsletter #21

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

Lammas 2020


STANDING ON THE VERGE OF GETTING IT ON

Those of you with long memories may recall a little book I put out in 2014 called 2000TC: Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On. This was a biography of the almost mythical band TC Lethbridge who, being monolithically slow, famously took 20 years to record an album. It was written to mark their first ever gig, 23 years after forming, at the Cosmic Trigger festival in Liverpool, and it is a story about the impact – both good and bad – that creative projects can have on your life. I suspect TC Lethbridge are the only band to have a biography written about them before they played their first gig.

For reasons that made sense at the time, the book was limited to 111 copies, was 111 pages long, and was 111mm wide. The story features characters who appear in my Timothy Leary and KLF books, so it acts as a jigsaw piece that connects the two. To this day, people still give me grief about not being able to get a copy.

The band were named after the radical archaeologist TC Lethbridge who, in the 1950s, wandered the Gogmagog Hills near Cambridge searching for evidence of long-rumoured Neolithic hill figures. By inserting rods into the ground to determine when the chalk beneath the turf had been last uncovered, and then mapping the results, he uncovered on Wandlebury Hill what he thought was an extraordinary piece of landscape art.

The wider archaeological community were not having this, however. Lethbridge’s methodology made no sense to them. As they saw it, there was no reason to believe that the figures had ever existed before, so they were promptly covered up. All of which raises the question of where that design comes from. If it had never existed before, then it emerged somewhere between the geology of the hill and the mind of Lethbridge.

Enter Flinton Chalk of the band TC Lethbridge (and also, of Badger Kull). He is currently trying to get the figures unearthed again – not with any claims about them being authentic Neolithic designs, but simply as a piece of extraordinary landscape art. Part of this process requires an environmental survey of the hill’s insect life, and to get money to pay for this he’s been hassling his record company. Mark Sampson of Iron Man Records tells that story here.

To help fund this – and also to guilt trip the band into finishing the new single they have long promised – we’ve printed a second run of the book, again limited to 111 copies, 33 of which I have secured and which are now available for sale to you newsletter readers in my online shop at £8 each. The only difference is that instead of being signed like the first edition, these have been stamped with Gog in purple ink. Oh, and a sticker changes ‘first edition’ to ‘2nd edition’, which is classy.

If you read this newsletter too late and those copies are gone, then all is not lost. Keep an eye on Iron Man Records, and the bulk of this run will shortly become available there.

https://ironmanrecords.net/

www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords

https://twitter.com/ironmanrecords

Incidentally Iron Man were also involved in the recent audiobook version of Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger II, read by Oliver Senton, which I know a lot of you will enjoy.


BLATHER

Forgiveness is a rare concept indeed these days. In the world of social media, an idea like forgiveness is deeply unpopular. It’s just not how social media works. Bad people need to be exposed, and their crimes need to be held up to horrify us all. In The Future Starts Here, I noted that although we were becoming a more emotionally aware culture, these were usually the emotions of childhood – more mature concepts like forgiveness were notably absent.

As the online world sees it, people mustn’t get away with what they have done. From this perspective forgiveness can seem like a cop out – a failure of karma and retribution. But forgiving is not forgetting, and neither does it require covering up bad behaviour. Forgiving is stepping away from the system of abuser and victim, and psychologically refusing to be involved. It is to learn from a situation, rise above it, and move on.

Leaving behind the guilty/victim perspective is a rare thing at the moment. Algorithms reinforce our inbuilt need to see ourselves as good guys and victims. No matter where you are on the tree, there’s always some bastard above whose fault everything is. Defining yourself as the victim is so widespread now that even the billionaire President of the United States does it.

And yet, if there’s one thing that Black Lives Matter, MeToo and the climate movement have shown us, is that we all carry some guilt – if only by being part of the systems we were born into. This is a different level of guilt to that of predators and the intentionally cruel, of course, but it still needs to be reckoned with. Deep down we all believe we are the good guys, so it causes a lot of cognitive dissonance. Perhaps the growing visibility of this guilt, and the growing cognitive dissonance it causes, is part of the reason we are all so desperate to display our victim status these days. It’s not easy to see yourself as both guilty and innocent at the same time.

When we self-define as a victim we can’t walk away from the guilty/victim dynamic, and the result is the general lack of forgiveness you see around you. All of which brings me, like a stuck record, to William Blake (no surprises there). While working on William Blake Vs The World, I was surprised by the importance Blake put on forgiveness – this is an aspect of him that is rarely highlighted.

For Blake, forgiving is not just desirable, but absolutely necessary. To be unable to forgive is to eternally imprison yourself in ‘mind forged manacles’, forever suffering from the acts of others. To be able to forgive, in contrast, is liberation. In Blake the act of forgiveness is everything. Being forgiven, in contrast, is an irrelevant side effect.

Perhaps his most extreme account of this occurs in Jerusalem. Here he writes about the biblical Mary and Joseph, at the point Joseph realises that Mary is pregnant with a child that is not his. Joseph, naturally, is not happy, but Mary is pretty damn unrepentant. She argues that Joseph should be grateful, because she has given him the opportunity for forgiveness. With this, his soul can be free. Without it, he would be damned. Fair play to Mary, that was one ballsy argument in the circumstances.

Now, no-one is saying that forgiving is easy, or popular, or always possible. There are things that will never be forgiven. But as the 2020s develop, keep an eye on whether or not forgiveness returns. People who are increasingly capable of seeing themselves as guilty and innocent at the same time – as Blake could – would be a promising development indeed.

Until next time,
jhx

Newsletter #20

Newsletter #20

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

Summer Solstice 2020


I made a flying visit to Bristol yesterday – how strange it is to go anywhere these days. There was a particular empty plinth I had to visit.

For those who haven’t been following British news and politics, this was the plinth of a statue of the seventeenth century slave trader Edward Colston, who was pulled down, dragged through the streets and dumped in the river. And not the closest part of the river either, it got a further dragging along the waterfront before going in opposite the Arnolfini Gallery.

In my book Watling Street, I talked about how different languages lack words for certain ideas and concepts. In particular, I wrote:

Perhaps more importantly, there is no English equivalent to the German word Mahnmal, which means a monument to national shame. Lacking this concept in their mental operating systems, English speaking cultures have a notable problem discussing aspects of their own history, such as the treatment of aboriginal cultures in North America and Australia or the worst excesses of the British Empire and the Atlantic slave trade. English-speakers can get quite angry when these subjects are raised, which contrasts with the Germanic willingness to discuss the two world wars.

We may not have that word, but we now have this empty plinth, and it is doing the same job. Since the toppling of the statue the darker parts of our history have been brought into cultural focus like never before. This is a process that is painful but necessary – just as Carl Jung stressed the importance of bringing our shadow into light, or the Temple of Apollo at Delphi advised us to ‘Know thyself’.

An interesting question caused by the toppling of the Colston statue was, why was it still up? When the vast majority knew it was wrong, why had the lengthy campaign to have it removed not succeeded? This question shows the power, in normal times, of inertia and tradition. These are not normal times however, and inertia and tradition have faded, as I talked about in my last newsletter. Suddenly, many necessary changes which have been held back by the dead hand of inertia are now possible.

We know that the world is heading for a major recession and mass unemployment. Thankfully, there’s a distinct lack of economists claiming that austerity will solve this. Instead, the recommendation is that governments take advantage of record low interest rates and spend to create jobs. Wonderfully, there is broad agreement among economists that the solution we need is a Green New Deal. If you’re looking for shovel-ready projects that use tested and existing technology and which will create many jobs, it’s pretty much the only option on the table. This could well be the single most important outcome of the pandemic.

Protesting about current injustice and problems is hugely important, and acts that resonate symbolically can be extremely powerful. But it’s important to recognise that this is a different process to actually creating something better. For that, you need a goal. Without a clear vision of a better future, those rare moments when inertia fades – and change can occur – can be squandered. I did an online ‘Journey to Nutopia‘ talk with Salena Godden and Michelle Olley a week or so ago, and I was delighted that it was advertised with this quote from Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

From where we are now, it’s entirely possible that within a year the ongoing decarbonisation of both the EU and Joe Biden’s America could be a reality. The significance of this is impossible to overstate, because it offers us a future, and that future is the stage on which a more just society can be built. Of course, this decarbonisation is currently far from certain. In situations like this you always need to factor in vested interests, corruption, greed and assorted fuckwits. You need to keep the pressure on.

Any ideas about how to distract these people while the future falls into place are welcome. Personally, I’m going to install 5G masts inside statues. This should keep both the ‘protect statues’ and the ‘burn 5G towers’ mobs distracted, if nothing else.

This is graffiti on the road near to where the statue was. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that you didn’t get graffiti like this a year or so ago. It seems like there has been a shift in the writing on the wall.

Those who read what I wrote about rewilding at the Knepp estate in The Future Starts Here might enjoy seeing this news report. Storks have now hatched chicks at Knepp, the first storks born in that landscape for six centuries. If you want a symbol of the new world being born right now, it’s hard to think of a better one.

Eyes on the prize, everyone, eyes on the prize.


MEANWHILE

This exists now. It’s quite a thing.

It’s not out until next May, so I won’t go on about it too much now. Suffice to say, it is totally worth your time and if you are already convinced that you need a copy, pre-ordering early would be a kindness to the booksellers and publishers who could do with your support this year. Your local independent bookshop would be very glad of your pre-order.

Sadly hive.co.uk, who support local bookshops, haven’t picked it up on their systems yet, but Waterstones are there for you and there’s always you-know-who with their pre-order price drop guarantees and stuff – all pre-orders are gratefully received.


EVERYWHERE, MUSIC

Any folkies out there will enjoy this, Wondrous Love, a new song from the legendary Shirley Collins. Much of the video was shot in lockdown in our street, so look out for a socially distanced cameo from me, my wife and son at 45″ or so.

Seeing as it’s the summer solstice, it’s time to look forward to Burning! Burning!, the fire-based forthcoming new album from Oddfellow’s Casino, who you’ll recall did a song based on my book Watling Street. Here’s a taster, the mighty Marian Marks.

We are spoiled by the amount of music that has been created during this lockdown. For example, Rob Manuel of b3ta became obsessed with The KLF’s Chill Out, and wondered what it would have been like if it was based on British longwave radio instead of American. He then created exactly that, under the name Longwave, and it is pretty damn great.

National treasure Salena Godden has been recording with Anna Phoebe and they have produced the frankly magnificent lockdown confession And The Moon Don’t Talk To Me Anymore. If you require further empathetic understanding of the lockdown struggle, try Tim Arnold’s Weird Now. (Before all this began, Tim was writing the music for my now-kaput play HG Wells & the Spiders From Mars. Ah well!)

And if you prefer something bleak, you can always rely on The Private Sector to keep mining their preferred seam of dead-end toxic nihilism. Their new single Quarantine Age Kicks is out today, to darken the longest day.

There may be no Glastonbury this solstice, but the outpouring of music and writing that’s happening now is making up for it. More!

Oh, and one last thing – keep an eye out for events around July 23rd celebrating Robert Anton Wilson – details of this year’s Maybe Day should appear here.

Until next time!
jhx

May Day 2020: Newsletter #19

May Day 2020: Newsletter #19

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

May Day 2020


Have the birds always been this loud?

Maybe they seem loud because there is less traffic noise to drown them out. Maybe shifting patterns of food availability are causing them to reassert themselves, as different species compete in new niches – I’m certainly hearing new bird calls in the air. The sudden loudness is probably a combination of both these things. But sometimes, it sounds like they are singing in celebration of the less polluted skies, like they can’t believe their luck.

I know, I’m projecting here.

I’ve not done anything publicly since my last newsletter. I’ve turned down all requests to take part in these online streaming things that are springing up, even for people I would normally do anything for. My excuse is that I’m head down finishing my next book, which is true enough. But this doesn’t feel like the right time for an introvert like me to be broadcasting. It feels like a time to be quiet, and listen. There’s a lot to process, both rationally and emotionally. I even considered skipping this newsletter, but I’ve committed to eight a year and eight a year there will be.

If you’ve read my book The Future Starts Here – written in the unimaginable distant past of 2018 – you’ll hopefully appreciate how weird I’m finding this. There are many attitudes and ideas about a sustainable future in there which seeemed wildly radical at the time but which are suddenly being discussed casually. The argument for a Universal Basic Income has never been stronger, given the coming levels of unemployment, so it is wonderful to hear people as different as the Pope and the SNP calling for one. Even better, Spain will be the first country to actually implement such a scheme (more or less). The Dutch approach to rebuilding is also superb, because a Green New Deal has to be central to the coming reconstruction. Much that was dismissed as radical or utopian is now looking necessary and practical.

If you can forgive spoilers for the end of that book, it argues that there has been a shift to an increased focus on our relationships and local networks, following the realisation that the idea that we are self-contained isolated islands was a delusion of the last century. That, surely, is an idea that is becoming normalised now.

It reminds me of something I talked about in Stranger Than We Can Imagine, my book about the twentieth century. Although the great modernist works appeared after the First World War, all the key ideas behind those works had been developed before it. The war removed the cold dead hands of inertia and tradition, and suddenly all these new ideas and values were free to run wild. I wonder if we will see a similar thing now? Will those previously existing but resisted ideas become mainstream after the pandemic?

Is this likely? After the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were grand schemes to rebuild the city in a smarter, saner, more elegant fashion. Christopher Wren thought London should be rebuilt like this:

These fine-minded plans came to nothing. Londoners couldn’t wait for the planners to design this improved city and immediately rebuilt roads and buildings in the chaotic way they were before, more or less. This is certainly a danger now. When lockdown is lifted, people will rush back to the things they used to do, because of all the pent-up demand. But initial reactions aside, will things then continue as they were before?

Most people, those under 60 and in good health, are putting their lives on hold and facing huge financial uncertainty not because they fear the virus themselves, but because they recognise they have responsibility for their actions and the impact those actions have on others. This is new. This is very different behaviour to how the majority have voted and acted in the past. The population of every country has unexpectedly gone on a lengthy monastic retreat and values and priorities are being examined like never before.

It’s not that everyone will emerge wiser and more compassionate, of course, but in a divided democracy it only takes a small part of the population to change their minds – say, 5% – to tip the country onto a new path. The idea that people are entitled to make multiple foreign flights every year and that not doing so is unthinkable, to give one example, used to be widespread. It will be far less convincing after this.

This is an intense period of death, grief, anxiety and financial woe. We are being drenched with far more than a normal year’s worth of darkness, because we’re getting the pain of years that have yet to come. The people now dying would have lived longer, and the grief being felt for them was not yet due. The coming global recession is frightening but, unless you believe that infinite growth on a finite planet is possible, you will have feared that something similar was coming. Much of the hurt we’re suffering from now was always going to happen. Of course, this is not the case for frontline and NHS workers dying for lack of PPE – a reckoning for that situation must come. Criminal negligence aside, however, much of this hurt is future darkness that has time travelled back to hit us too soon.

Are we also seeing some of the future light also? I know that when this is over I will miss the cleaner air, the lack of traffic noise and the empty skies devoid of planes. I appreciate the reduction in adverts and spam emails. Wildlife has been on a roll and bullshit has been in decline, assuming you’re not actively seeking it out. I have never been sent so many poems, essays and videos and, while I confess I can’t keep up with them all, I am delighted by this surge of creativity. I hope the birds do not go quiet again.

Of course, I miss pubs and gigs and cinemas. I certainly won’t miss all that future loss and grief. But our current clarity about what is of value, what is important and what matters is something I hope doesn’t get drowned out when the crowds return. If we can’t learn from this, then what can we learn from?

Tell you what – I won’t go back to the old world if you won’t.

I’ll start popping up and doing public things in a few weeks. When you see this, you’ll know it means that William Blake Vs The World has been submitted to the publishers. Until then!

jhx