Darkness: A Cultural History – review

“The Romantics expanded this limited understanding, effectively arguing that the ‘deep, dramatic contrast of light and shade has long been a means of suggesting depth’ – that is to say, spiritual beauty … Edmund Burke and his veneration for the incomprehensible in relation to the Divine; Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his love of the poetic supernatural; Emily Bronte and her stark and sweeping landscapes of darkness, literal and figurative.”

– from my new review in The Weekend Australian, out today.

Sex in the World of Myth // David Leeming

“Rather than as what Leeming calls ‘an instrument of love or even procreation’, the erect penis has always been perceived by misogynists as a weapon, something with which to hurt or assert dominance over the female. Size thus becomes synonymous with masculinity, cruelty and power, a world away from the sexual template of the mutual, integrated pleasures depicted in Sumerian myths or the Song of Songs.”

– from Patriarchal Passions, by Antonella Gambotto-Burke

The Waterless Sea

“To the layman, cities in ice, horizons suspended as a shimmer above the earth and mountains of spectral beauty may appear complex, but the science is relatively simple. Light bends as it plunges through different air densities or temperatures. Similarly, the water ripples in desert mirages and heat haze shimmer are simply by-products of the volatility of the heat gradient. Such atmospheric optics are, however, the least interesting attributes of the mirage. Pinney’s fascination rests in the complicity at the heart of the mirage. As he points out, ‘the act of beholding involves an erasure of this distantiating knowledge.’ In short, the mirage cannot exist without the visual, cultural and epistemological template of the onlooker, whose interpretations invest magic into pretty, if otherwise meaningless, refractions of light.”

– from my review of The Waterless Sea: A Curious History of Mirages (reprinted)

Pitch Festival / Kent, England

I will be speaking about the romance of intimacy and attachment at one of England’s coolest and fastest-growing family-friendly music festivals, Pitch. Three days, 30 bands, 10 DJs, workshops, happenings, camping, solar showers, water, parking and kids under 16 free!

Dates: 17 to 19 August 2018

Buy your tickets soon as they’ve almost sold out – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pitch-festival-2018-tickets-42797931766

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BroadstairsLit / Meet the authors

September 27 2018 – mark it in your diary! If you’re in London, hop on a coach (madly inexpensive) or grab a cheap train ticket for a day on the beach. I’m on with a number of fabulously funny and intriguing other authors – and a band, Shedness – so you are guaranteed an eclectic and madly stimulating evening. Oh, and I’ll be signing books. Antonella x

To book a place (gratis): BroadstairsLit

BroadstairsLit

The Waterless Sea: A Curious History of Mirages / Christopher Pinney

“And yet it is in this glamour or promise that Pinney locates the mirage’s transhistorical ­appeal: ‘A delusive persuasiveness that even men of science could not deny.’ This willingness to be duped by a beautiful delusion has its roots in that which Joseph ­Addison called ‘the pleasures of the imagination’. In the First World, the closest most of us come to a mirage is through unwise love, the illusion of union where there is nothing other than the refraction of hope.”

– from my review of Christopher Pinney’s “The Waterless Sea: A Curious History of Mirages”

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Tziporah Malkah / Antonella Gambotto-Burke

“’He’d been masturbating,’ she says, her throat thickening with disgust. ‘At first, I didn’t quite know what it was – I kind of did, but wasn’t sure. And I gasped, shocked. I cried, ‘Gross! You’re gross! That’s disgusting!’ And he said, ‘Kiss me!’ He just kept coming for me. I left. It was only a short walk to the model’s apartment. I remember going home and saying, ‘He just put something on my face!’ One of the older girls – and by ‘older’, I mean 17 or 18 – we were all living together in a bunk room – said, ‘That’s his sperm.’”

– from my interview with Tziporah Malkah aka Kate Fischer in The Neighbourhood today.

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Fairies: A Dangerous History / Richard Sugg

“Were fairies, say, a species of half-life ­perceived only at a certain frequency in half-light, there would be no place for them in today’s gridlock of manufactured — and brain-altering — electromagnetic waves. Context, then, may be said to determine ­perception. Presenting mythology as a blanket in which cultures wrap themselves, Sugg writes: ‘This, then, was a natural world with few, if any, blank or meaningless spaces.'”

– from my review of Fairies: A Dangerous History

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#ibelieveinfairies