( the facebook page - @MarkHaddonAuthor
is run by vintage books / doubleday
i don't have any input
and i don't see any of the comments...
predictably it has far more visitors )

  digital prints

i held off from making digital prints for a long time. 'real' printing, surely, was about pressing ink onto - or into - paper. it was three-dimensional. if you held a 'proper' print up to the light you could see something sculptural - indentations, protrusions, variations in texture... Moreover i dislike the way that digital reproductions of non-digital artwork (drawings, paintings, etchings...) are increasingly sold as 'limited edition prints'. of course, it's great for poorly-paid artists. and it's great for non-rich people who want to buy art. but digital prints are just posh posters and there's something dishonest about pretending they're more than that. plus, i've been in a few galleries where it's hard to tell whether certain prints are screenprints or 'digital prints' and the staff have been unable, or unwilling, to say.

but, but, but... i've finally had to admit that using a mac to create and manipulate images feels as natural as using a paintbrush or a scalpel. i've also been hoarding bits of discarded artwork and taking semi-abstract, not-quite-art-in-themselves photographs over the past few years for reasons i could never quite articulate.

finally, i know how to use them.

if you're interested, the two prints here contain, among other elements, a photo of the bottom of a swimming pool and a photo taken at gweek seal sanctuary.


  the case for god

crap cover, crap title, but a rather wonderful book (by karen armstrong. and I'm speaking as an atheist here. it's emphatically not (despite cover and title) a riposte to dawkins and hitchens (she agrees with many of their arguments). on the contrary it’s an attempt to reassert the primacy of the apophatic tradition in all the major world religions; religion not as an inert set of ideas to which believers subscribe, but as a set of communal practices (meditative, ceremonial…) which help us come to terms with our place in this profoundly and impenetrably mysterious (and therefore ‘sacred’) world, a world from which most of us feel alienated in one way or another.

here's a pivotal passage:

"The word translated 'faith' in the new testament is the greek 'pistis' (verbal form: 'pisteuo'), which means 'trust; loyalty; engagement; commitment'. jesus was not asking people to 'believe' in his divinity, because he was making no such-claim. He was asking for commitment. he wanted disciples who would engage with -his mission, give all they had to the poor, feed the hungry, refuse to be hampered by family ties, abandon their pride, lay aside their self-importance and sense of entitlement, live like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and trust in the god who was their father... when the new testament was translated from greek into latin by st jerome (C.342-420), 'pistis' became 'fides' ('loyalty'). 'fides' had no verbal form, so for 'pisteuo', jerome used the Latin verb 'credo', a word that derived from 'cor do': 'i give my heart'. he did not think of using 'opinor' ('I hold an opinion'). when the bible was translated into english, 'credo' and 'pisteuo' became 'I believe' in the king james version (16ll). but the word 'belief' has since changed its meaning. In middle english, 'bileven' meant 'to prize; to value; to hold dear'. It was related to the german 'belieben' ('to love'), 'liebe' ('beloved') and the latin libido. So 'belief' originally meant 'loyalty to a person to whom one is bound in promise or duty'... during the late seventeenth century, however, as our concept of knowledge became more theoretical, the word 'belief' started to be used to describe an intellectual assent to a hypothetical- and often dubious - proposition. Scientists and philosophers were the first to use it in this sense, but in religious contexts the latin 'credere' and the english 'belief' both retained their original connotations well into the nineteenth century."


boom! will be published on 3rd september.

here's the book's introduction which pretty much explains everything:

"this book was first published in 1992 under the title ‘gridzbi spudvetch!’. it was  a ridiculous thing to call a book. no-one knew how to pronounce it. and no-one knew what it meant until they'd read the story. as a result only twenty three people bought the book. actually, that's an exaggeration, but not much. it rapidly it went out of print.

it would have stayed out of print, but over the years a string of people got in touch to say how much they loved the book. on several occasions my publishers asked whether i wanted to update it for a new edition.

it certainly needed updating. it was full of references to floppy discs and Walkmans and cassette players. but it needed more than that. there were numerous little holes in the plot. much of the writing was clumsy. and i couldn't read it without thinking ouch! on almost every page. a new edition would need major rewriting. Rewriting takes time, however. and i didn't have much.

towards the end of 2007 i got a letter from ss philip and james primary School (aka phil and jim's) in oxford. alison Williams said that she had been reading the book to her pupils for years and it was always guaranteed to entertain them. to prove her point she included a sheaf of letters from her Lilac 4 class, and they were kind and funny and very complimentary.

i was finally persuaded. i put aside some time and returned to gridzbi spudvetch! armed with a scalpel and a red pencil. i cut large sections and added new ones. By the end of the process i'd changed pretty much every sentence in the book one way or another.

i'd also come up with a new title. it means something even if you haven't read the story. and everyone can pronounce it."

it was hard work. much harder work than i expected (reworking books is always harder than you expect). but i heard it being read to a group of kids (and a couple) a few weeks ago and it seemed to go down pretty well.

if you are so minded you can go to the david fickling books website and read the book in 4 weekly chunks online.


  fourth plinth

between 1 and 2pm on tuesday 15th september the admirable vincent creelan will be on the fourth plinth. among other things he will be reading some poetry by owen sheers and some poetry by me. this is a portrait taken by his partner.



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