At some point you have to put something down on paper. It’s the point for me where the passion can evaporate. When I start a proposal for funding my heart sinks. “What’s it going to look like?” If I already knew I wouldn’t be interested in making it.
I am using a sketch book and doodling down ideas and images and spending a lot of time just looking at Spare’s art. I’m also reading what he wrote and his use of language is like his drawing, the mixture of the down to earth and the esoteric. There’s basic statements but it sprouts words such as ‘exsufflation‘ and phrases like ‘sigilated, instigimated on Time‘ just as when drawing his trees, the fleshy boughs extrude bulbous satyrs and intimations of corporeal protrusions.
Which all reminds me of another wayward artist, Frederick Rolfe, or Baron Corvo as he styled himself, who led a precarious penurious life as a gondolier itinerant in Venice, and went down in a glorious sunset of splendiferous writing and explosions of vengeful spite, but not before producing a novel called The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole, a prime specimen of intoxicated fantastic literary concupiscence. (That notion of the self being divided so that we are all seeking our ‘other half’ is one that Spare delineated himself in his her, maphrodite figures). But to return to purple prose and superfluous adjectives: using the obscure word like placing decoration on architecture is frowned upon these days. A modern architect wouldn’t dream of adding gargoyles to a new church. Which is a damn shame.
The front of the British Library could do with a few gargoyles. On my way I pass the Gothic grandeur of the St Pancras Hotel and then go through what looks like the back of a shopping mall to the usual bit of pavement, bit of shrubbery, bit of brick lozenge. I wish there were a few demons watching me. The library just makes do with CCTV cameras. In Curse of the Demon, Dana Andrews does research on Magick in the British Library Reading Room. Old wooden Dana is skeptical about the occult even though he’s met a character called Julian Karswell whose managed to rustle up a hurricane and destroyed a children’s party. According to legend, rustling up a storm was a trick Spare was a dab hand at.
The one thing I have to watch is to keep my reaction to Spare’s art and life a vehicle to go somewhere else not to make a biography, so research can be dangerous. But I am working my way through books. It’s the little divergences they sometimes take me on, that often become fruitful.
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