Monday, May 2, 2011


Over the last few days, I've been reading and digging Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist by Phil Baker, a biography about the elusive artist/magus just published by Mark Pilkington's increasingly formidable Strange Attractor Press out of London. It's a remarkable book—one which I plan on commenting on at length, soonish—but I wanted to share the following tasty bit right away. From page 92:

Spare devised another graphic system he called the Sacred (or Atavistic) Alphabet, or the Alphabet of Desire, where each character supposedly corresponded to a "sex principle."

The idea of a primordially-rooted language, where signs would correspond more fully to the nature of things, is perennial: Giordano Bruno writes in De Magia of a "language of the gods," last glimpsed by mankind in the form of Egyptian hieroglphyics (still undeciphered in Bruno's day) and Ezra Pound put his faith in the pictorial basis of Chinese ideograms. In the 1960s Ted Hughes and Peter Brook attempted to develop a language called Orghast, effectively a magical language where words would have "a more inevitable relationship to reality."

Ted Hughes did what? A minimum of investigation brings us to this book...

I just ordered my copy.

More soon...

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