Reading Friday 21 December 2012 at Little Acorns Books, Derry

Little Acorns 211212

I’ ll be reading tomorrow night (Friday, 21 December 2012) at Little Acorns Bookshop in Bedlam Market, Derry.

It is part of a whole day of readings from 3pm to 8pm at Little Acorns organised by Jenni Doherty. I will be on in the session from 7 to 8, along with Felicity McCall and Colm Herron.


“I propose now to consider what sort of language a logically perfect language would be.”

I propose now to consider what sort of language a logically perfect language would be. In a logically perfect language the words in a proposition would correspond one by one with the components of the corresponding fact, with the exception of such words as ‘or’, ‘not’, ‘if’, ‘then’, which have a different function. In a logically perfect language, there will be one word and no more for every simple object, and everything that is not simple will be expressed by a combination of words, by a combination derived, of course, from the words for the simple things that enter in, one word for each simple component. A language of that sort will be completely analytic, and will show at a glance the logical structure of the facts asserted or denied. The language which is set forth in Principia Mathematica is intended to be a language of that sort. It is a language which has only syntax and no vocabulary whatsoever. Barring the omission of a vocabulary I maintain that it is quite a nice language. It aims at being the sort of language that, if you added a vocabulary, would be a logically perfect language. Actual languages are not logically perfect in this sense, and they cannot possibly be, if they are to serve the purposes of daily life. A logically perfect language, if it could be constructed, would not only be intolerably prolix, but as regards its vocabulary, would be very largely private to one speaker. That is to say, all the names that it would use would be private to that speaker and could not enter into the language of another speaker. It could not use proper names for Socrates or Piccadilly or Rumania for the reasons which I went into earlier in the lecture. Altogether you would find that it would be a very inconvenient language indeed. That is one reason why logic is so very backward as a science, because the needs of logic are so extraordinarily different from the needs of daily life. One wants a language in both, and unfortunately it is logic that has to give way, not daily life. I shall, however, assume that we have a logically perfect language, and that we are going on State occasions to use it, and I will now come back to the question which I intended to start with, namely, the analysis of facts.

The simplest imaginable facts are those which consist in the possession of a quality by some particular thing. Such facts, say, as ‘This is white’. They have to be taken in a very sophisticated sense. I do not want you to think about the piece of chalk I am holding, but of what you see when you look at the chalk. If one says, ‘This is white’ it will do for about as simple a fact as you can get a hold of.

Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, Lecture II, 1918.

Principia Mathematica Vol I was published in 1910, Vol II in 1912, and Vol III in 1913. Russell and Whitehead had spent most of the first decade of the century working on it and its attempt at a “logically perfect language”.

Ken Edwards’ review of White on his Reality Street blog

Ken Edwards has posted a review of / intro to my novel White on his Reality Street blog.


Reading at the launch of White

Reading at the launch of White

Photo by Karen Dyson

There is no need for you to leave the house.

There is no need for you to leave the house. Stay at your table and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked, it can’t do otherwise, in raptures it will writhe before you.

Franz Kafka

Photos and review of the launch of The Alchemist’s Mind

Short review with photos of the launch of The Alchemist’s Mind, David Miller’s anthology of narrative prose by poets.

On Plot

Plot is for script-writers.

Launch of White at Small Publishers Fair

Reality Street are launching two books this week, The Alchemist’s Mind, the anthology of narrative prose by poets edited by David Miller, and my novel White.

This coming Tuesday, 13 November 2012,  The Alchemist’s Mind will be launched at the Lamb Inn in Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1. Readers will be David Miller, Paul Buck, Brian Marley, Stephen Watts and MJ Weller. Doors are at 7.30 for an 8 pm start in the upper room.

More information about David Miller and The Alchemist’s Mind, including a pdf download of David’s introduction to the anthology, are on the Reality Street page here:

Then on Saturday 17 November 2012, there will be a combined launch by Reality Street of both The Alchemist’s Mind and White. It will take place at the Small Publishers Fair in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1. A Reality Street reading will take place at 4 pm with Robert Sheppard, Johan de Wit, Giles Goodland, and myself.  The reading is shared with West House Books, who will be launching a book by Geraldine Monk.

The Small Publishers Fair runs over Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November and is open from 11 am to 7 pm with admission free. More than 50 publishers will be participating.

Reality Street has more details about both books and both launches on their homepage here:

More details about the Small Publishers Fair can be found on the RGAP (Research Group for Artists Publications) site here:

Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Research Centre has a schedule of Saturday’s readings on their site here:

Reality Street Page for White now up

Reality Street now have a page up for the novel WHITE. The page contains the free pdf download of the first 49 pages. Full tome out in November. See Here:

Representation – a sign of weakness in an artist

“The representative element in a work of art may or may not be harmful; always it is irrelevant.”

“Representation is not of necessity baneful, and highly realistic forms may be extremely [aesthetically] significant. Very often, however, representation is a sign of weakness in an artist. A painter too feeble to create forms that provoke more than a little aesthetic emotion will try to eke that little out by suggesting the emotions of life. To evoke the emotions of life he must use representation. Thus a man will paint an execution, and, fearing to miss with his first barrel of significant form, will try to hit with second by raising an emotion of fear or pity. But if in the artist an inclination to play upon the emotions of life is often the sign of a flickering inspiration, in the spectator a tendency to seek, behind form, the emotions of life is a sign of defective sensibility always. It means that his aesthetic emotions are weak, or at any rate imperfect.”

Clive Bell, Art, 1914.