The Illustrated Nietzsche

caricatures, illustration

This is a project that was going to be a book – an illustrated life of Nietzsche – perhaps someday still may be. It was inspired by the great Ralph Steadman’s wonderful illustrated life of Freud. Anyway, I may add the odd illustration here and there. Available as prints and merchandise.

Incidentally, you can support this and other personal projects through Patreon.

The Golden Age by Pedrosa and Moreil

reviews

Buy via Comixology

The Golden Age (vol. 1, pt. 1), by Cyril Pedrosa and Roxanne Moreil

Europe Comics, 2018

113 pages

The Golden Age is a multi-part graphic novel written by Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa, and illustrated by Pedrosa. The story concerns Tilda, daughter and heir apparent to the recently departed king, who on the eve of her coronation is dramatically usurped by her younger brother (himself a child), in league with the Machiavellian Lord Vaudémont. On route to exile, she is rescued by the loyal knight Tankred and childhood friend Bertil, who help her escape into the forest, where they eventually happen across a community of warrior-scholar women. And that, essentially – without more spoilers – is the set-up to part 1.

However, in addition to the medieval political intrigue, there are other elements which give the story a more unique flavour, and tantalise what is to come in later parts. First, there is a mystical or supernatural element: the forest into which Tilda and her companions have escaped is rumoured to be cursed and haunted by fairies and other weird beings, and Tilda herself seems to succumb to bizarre visions whilst there. The second distinguishing element is philosophical: the community of women warrior-scholars debate the nature of society – calling to mind the old philosophical disputes found in Locke, Rousseau and Hobbes about whether society must take its current form, or whether a more idealised ‘Golden Age’ is possible (the title of the story itself is also shared by a mythical book whose existence is rumoured). As such, The Golden Age promises more than a well-crafted medieval political story of adventure and romance, but also a speculative exploration of feminist, political and philosophical themes.

The intriguing and well-written narrative is complemented and augmented by Pedrosa’s wonderful art. Pedrosa’s style is whimsical and full of quirky beauty, whether he is crafting lush and detailed natural backdrops or depicting the social gamut of characters that people the story’s world. The method used to produce the art is itself interesting (especially to an illustrator such as myself), and it’s worth spending a little time here exploring it.

Pedrosa first produces all the artwork in black and white, using traditional ink on paper, which is then scanned and coloured digitally. This in itself isn’t unusual now – I am reminded especially of Yuko Shimizu – but Pedrosa’s manner of doing this is quite distinctive. Firstly, as the original images are black on white, there is little tonal range – the black is not diluted in any way to produce gradations or shades – and so the resulting images are quite flat. But these black lines are then coloured in such a way that often transforms them from the original in surprising ways – in fact, as the impressionists would themselves no doubt have approved of, there is almost no actual black in the book (aside from text maybe). And so, a black line can be inverted, a white space take on a dark colour, and in some cases this produces quite startling and beautiful results. For instance:

Image courtesy of Galerie du 9ème Art (originals for sale)

If I’m honest, this doesn’t always work, and occasionally, with some high-contrast and unusual colour choices, it can be difficult initially to work out what’s going on:

Or sometimes the colour choices provide a lack of contrast – for instance:

However, that said, such examples are relatively infrequent, and the odd less-than-successful experiment is a price worth paying for the outstanding beauty of the rest of the book, where it’s clear that there is always an attempt to use colour expressively. As a result, some pages are deeply moody and beautifully atmospheric:

While others are delightfully subtle:

Actually, the above page shows two additional techniques that offset the flat colourisation: the occasional use of digital layers to add shadow and depth (as in the shadow of the window panes on Tilda’s blanket), and the use of digital patterns (on the blanket itself). The latter technique, also sometimes used on clothes and carpets, etc, are applied flatly (where the pattern is not contoured to the object, but runs through the lines, so to speak), thereby providing another instance of the obvious influence of Japanese art. Both techniques are apparent in this delightful page:

On the whole, therefore, as well as setting a very high standard in terms of storytelling, The Golden Age is a visual joy, and I very much look forward to reading future instalments.

You also might want to check out the following two short videos: an interview with Pedrosa and Moreil, and a fascinating insight into Pedrosa’s technique.

[This review was based on a complimentary PDF edition supplied by the publisher. All images from the book are used with the permission of Europe Comics. Thanks also to Galerie du 9ème Art in Paris for permission to use the image of the black and white original artwork from their website (where originals by Pedrosa and many other great comic artists are available for sale.)]

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Jericho Writers Review

publishing, reviews, writing

Disclaimer: I was given a free year’s trial in return for publishing a frank and honest review on this site.

I first came across Jericho Writers when searching for information on agents. For a number of years I’ve been tinkering with a sci-fi novel, and this recently reached a point where I had a draft I could send out on submission – which is why I first came across JW’s Agentmatch. You have to be a member to access this, but there are free trials available, and so I signed up. At some later point, I noticed that they were also offering a free year’s membership in return for an honest review – and so here we are!

There are various sites that provide lists of agents, but Jericho Writers’ Agentmatch is by far the most comprehensive and easy to use – you can search by genre, country (UK or US), the agent’s experience, who they represent, and a host of other handy criteria. There are however some minor downsides: there are some typos and formatting issues (lots of the text looks like it’s been cut and pasted from agent websites, etc); some of the information is out of date (I’m still listed under my old agent, for example), and as a consequence, I wonder how meticulously and frequently it’s updated (a huge task, really, but then this is a paid service). Ideally, it would be nice to combine this with something like Querytracker, where writers can get slightly more feedback on agent response times, the feedback they provide, etc (Querytracker is free, although there are agents on Agentmatch which I can’t find on Querytracker). Overall, however, it’s a very handy feature.

Another feature I’ve found useful is the forum (‘Townhouse’). It’s not a busy place – nothing compared with AbsoluteWrite, for example – but responses do come eventually, and they tend to be thoughtful and helpful, often provided by other would-be authors, professionals or JW employees.

A lovely feature of JW is the Cinema, which is a collection of videos of varying length that focus on different aspects of writing and publishing: the Feature videos, between 30 and 60 minutes long, contain interviews with leading agents, publishers, writers and other literary professionals; Spapshots focuses on a range of specific topics (cutting ties with an agent, writing unlikeable characters), and tend to be less than 10 mins; and then there are a few longer, in-depth interviews with various professionals working at the publisher Orion (which are fascinating). Although there aren’t a great number of videos in the Cinema (though more are being added), they are all high quality (in terms of sound, audio and general production values) and well worth working through.

Aside from this, JW members receive access to various instructional videos. These range from Masterclasses with professionals (dealing with diverse topics), Conversations (live events – such as agents going through their slushpile, or plot doctor livestreaming), to the more structured Video Courses, which help writers acquire the necessary tools of the trade, or handhold through the steps towards publication (or self-publication – which there’s lots of good information on). Many of these are fascinating and insightful, and in the few months I’ve had access, they have yet to exhaust my interest.

In addition to this, there are a similarly diverse range of text-based resources (in the Library), signposts to various JW public events, and a selection of personally tutored online writing courses (the latter are not free, but members are eligible for a discount). Among the other paid services are editing, manuscript assessment and copy-editing, which, judging by the roll call of industry professionals, is something that might be well worth paying for (for those who can afford it).

I’m sure there are other features that I haven’t mentioned here – there is a lot on there which I’ve yet to work through – and I doubt anyone who signs up will be disappointed by what they get. In terms of the site’s credentials, its driving force seems to be Harry Bingham, a successful author in both traditional and self-publishing terms, and someone who can speak authoritatively about all aspects of a professional writer’s life. The site also seems to be well connected and regarded (judging by the people that submit to interviews, etc) and any prospective member should have no qualms about the legitimacy of the enterprise.

Is it worth signing up? Membership options range from £30 a month, or a discounted annual fee of £195. The former option would allow a person focused on submission to get the most from some of the site’s most useful features (Agentmatch, agent submission preparation) for a month or two, and would I think be money well-spent. The latter option would perhaps appeal to someone more dedicated to working on aspects of their craft over a longer period. That said, both options are competing with the deluge of free information that is available elsewhere, and while signing up would take the legwork (and guesswork) out of assembling information useful to a writer, it certainly can’t be said that comparable and equally useful material does not exist in a free form.

One final observation would be that, whilst its scope is broad – all genres of children’s and adult fiction and non-fiction are considered, even screenwriting – the primary focus of the site is on the commercial aspects of writing: producing saleable manuscripts, finding an agent, getting published, etc. This is fine; publishing is, after all, a business, and most aspiring writers want to earn a living, which is probably what will draw them to the site. And of course, many of the considerations and techniques discussed here are applicable to both commercial and literary writing. Occasionally, however, in advice relating to plot and character, and other technical aspects of writing, I do feel that this is skewed slightly by this commercial focus, whereas more literary aspirations are sometimes humorously disparaged (in a tongue-in-cheek way) – such as the fact that Robert Musil’s literary doorstop, The Man Without Qualities, was never finished, is more often bought than read, and its author died in penurious despair (ha ha). All of which does make me wonder slightly whether advice that focuses chiefly on getting published, on considerations of what the market wants or what agents are looking for – as sound and well-informed as this is – is for every type of writer. I also worry that its ultimate effect may be to narrow the market itself, and the type of books that are considered worthy of being published – or in fact written. But this is a minor gripe. Jericho Writers is a valuable resource, professionally put together, a reasonably priced investment for the seriously committed, and well worth checking out.

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Lost Connections by Johann Hari

reviews
Lost Connections, by Johann Hari
Bloomsbury, 2018
261 pages

Depression and anxiety are now so widespread that it is tempting to see them as by-products of modern society itself, as the necessary price we pay for the techno marvels of our media-saturated, super-connected and fast paced world. Of course, as attested by the melancholia of the ancient Greeks, the demonic possession of medieval times, or the various strains of Freudian psychopathology, the basic mental categories involved are far from new. Some of us, it seems, have always suffered in these ways, and (as a consequence of human nature itself, it is often implied) will no doubt continue to do so.

But if there is something that distinguishes the modern phenomena of depression and anxiety, it is their scope. As Hari points out, around 1 in 5 US adults is currently taking some form of psychiatric medication. More specifically, recent figures suggest that around 13% of the US population now take antidepressants, with the UK not far behind – and the figures are rising. But why is this? Are the inhabitants of modern societies getting more anxious and depressed? Or is there some other reason? And, more importantly, what can we do about it? Lost Connections is Johann Hari’s attempt to answer these questions, which, as a long-term user of antidepressants, he would also seem to be in a good position to ask.

Hari’s account of his experience on antidepressants will no doubt resonate with many fellow sufferers: the initial revelation (depression is merely a chemical imbalance in the brain), the relief (this imbalance can be redressed by medication), followed by the familiar pattern of diminishing returns, as the initial effect is short lived (the initial dose must be increased, then increased again, then swapped for another brand, then that at a higher dose, then switched again for another drug… and so on). But Hari’s book is not a misery memoir; the personal experiences he recounts are not cries for sympathy or a need to share, but each is rather carefully chosen to illustrate key points and to underline his own sincere investment in the answers to the questions he seeks. As such, while it is in one sense a very personal book, it is also a keenly critical investigative journey. So, what does he find?

The biggest and most controversial of Hari’s claims comes at the very beginning: the drugs don’t work. Or rather, they work in the short term, and for a small minority of people. What’s more, as his investigations shockingly reveal, the ‘science’ behind antidepressants’ effectiveness is curiously weak. The notion that depression and anxiety are caused by a chemical imbalance or a lack of serotonin is debunked by a number of respected authorities, one of whom calls it frankly ‘a myth’. More digging reveals that the clinical trials that are meant to confirm the efficacy of antidepressants basically reveal them in most cases to be no more effective than a placebo; and even those cases where there is some effect, this is shown to be tiny. But can this really be the case? Would a tenth of the population be as well or better off on sugar pills? Throughout the book, Hari hedges his assertions and qualifies his findings, encouraging the reader to further investigate these obviously contentious topics (discussed and signposted in the endnotes). However, despite this modesty, it seems to me, Hari’s investigation is very even handed, often playing devil’s advocate to his own and other’s findings. Either way, Hari has done a huge public service in brining this potential scandal to wider public attention.

However, Hari is not content with casting doubt on the efficacy of antidepressant medication, and looks firstly at what – if not brain chemistry – might be causing the current epidemic of depression and anxiety, before going on to suggest some possible solutions. In a nutshell, Hari argues, we are depressed and anxious because the world is depressing and anxiety making. We suffer because we are lonely; we live in isolated pockets, cut off from family and the wider community. Our work life is boring or stressful, and we are denied the meaning and sense of self-worth that a genuine task would provide. Stuck in dead-end jobs, in rigid hierarchies under uncaring bosses, we are denied status and a sense of purpose. We are cut off from the natural world, from the solace and sense of group belonging that evolution has programmed us to seek. As the impersonal machine of modern capitalist society churns on, it also ignores the cries for help that its inhumanity generates, failing to deal with childhood trauma and abuse, bereavement or other common negative experiences simply because the other cogs in the machine don’t have the time or energy to listen. Interestingly, Hari also largely dismisses the genetic causes, arguing that in depression and anxiety genes play at most a triggering role, making some of us merely more likely to develop symptoms under certain circumstances – and which in turn can be addressed best by social or psychological means. In summary, Hari concludes, depression and anxiety are determined by how people treat each other; their cure is therefore to change or redress that – to get a more meaningful job, to reconnect to each other and nature, to expand your sense of self through a sense of community, to give people a sense of security (perhaps through a universal basic income), or to break through the restrictions of the ego (through meditation, even perhaps micro-doses of magic mushrooms!).

For those suffering from anxiety or depression, some of these solutions may seem platitudes which ignore the seriousness of their condition. “Get some fresh air!”, “Go to the gym!”, and other well-meaning if misdirected advice, will be familiar to many sufferers. But Hari is not offering such platitudes. Faced with the reluctant conclusion that the drugs don’t work, his answers are not the bland prescriptions of someone with no empathy, but rather the tentative suggested steps of a fellow sufferer that he himself has begun to take. In this sense, the book’s humility and lack of dogma is one of its key strengths. It does not provide simple, clear cut answers, and the ones it does suggest imply a monumental task – that it is society that needs to change, not just the individual. However, it is an important and inspirational book, one which will hopefully inspire you to seek your own solutions, while providing intelligent and intriguing signposts to where you might possibly find them.

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Limited Edition by Aude Picault

reviews

Buy via Comixology

Limited Edition, by Aude Picault

Europe Comics, 2018

152 pages

Limited Edition is a graphic novel by French artist and writer Aude Picault. Although Picault’s work is well-known in France, she has yet to achieve the recognition in English speaking countries that she deserves (something that this translation of one of her most recent works will hopefully begin to redress).

Picault’s graphic style is simple, closest to that commonly seen in newspaper comic strips. Limited Edition also employs a very limited colour palette – primarily yellow, of various shades, with the occasional judicious use of blue or pink (see samples below). This stripped-back approach leaves nowhere for an artist to hide, but Picault is such a master of her craft that the minimalism simply serves to showcase her wonderful skills for characterisation, humour and composition. There are no generic faces in Limited Edition; even characters whose appearance is limited to a single page or panel are distinct individuals, whilst those with recurring appearances are clearly differentiated and consistently depicted. Expression and posture are beautifully observed and often humorously conveyed. Visually, the work is a deceptively simple joy.

In terms of story, Limited Edition covers a few years in the life of Claire, a neonatal nurse in her thirties living in France, disappointed in love and feeling increasing social pressure to find the right man and settle down. As such, it is not a tale of high drama – there are no murders, family scandals or political intrigues – but a keenly observed account of typical, everyday concerns: relationships, friendships, family, work. These are all presented in realistic frankness (sex and nudity feature relatively frequently (both visually and in conversation), but are depicted honestly and in context, often humorously, not salaciously or gratuitously). However, these common life experiences are not taken at face value, but scrutinised through a distinctly feminist lens. Unless there should be any doubt as to this, the book also contains a ‘short bibliography’ where readers are directed on to the works of Virginia Woolf, Germaine Greer and a host of other feminist authors. In fact, the book is quite systematic in its coverage of feminist topics: the beauty myth, the stereotypes of mother and wife, the traditional expectations of monogamy, differing attitudes to raising male and female children, among others. As interesting and important as these issues are, this didacticism might be annoying in a less talented author, but Picault skilfully and subtly weaves these concerns through Claire’s story in a way that adds and not detracts from it. The characters and situations are not simply a vehicle for the issues, but are fully realised things that the issues raised cast in a new light.

Regarding the edition itself (originally published by Dargaud), I found no issues with the translation, which has been skilfully rendered into colloquial English. I do, however, wonder about the title: Limited Edition translates Idéal Standard, which – although I’m not a French speaker – would seem to lose something (that Claire is faced with a socially imposed ‘ideal standard’ that she must live up to). But perhaps the publishers have their reasons. Picault’s original hand-written text is neatly replaced with a similar, handwriting font, and in all other respects the book is beautifully put together (that said, I can only comment on the digital (PDF) copy that I was given for review). The translated edition doesn’t yet seem to be available through Amazon, but only as a digital edition through Comixology.

In summary, Limited Edition is a beautiful, visually delightful, funny – yet serious – take on the sort of pressures faced by the average contemporary Western woman. As such, while its subject matter might traditionally attract more female readers than male, I would hope that it can be enjoyed and appreciated by both sexes, and help Picault to gain the wider English-speaking readership she so richly deserves.

[This review was based on a complimentary PDF edition supplied by the publisher via Net Galley]

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Unbound by Christopher Osborn

reviews

Buy On Amazon

Unbound, by Christopher Osborn

Arcadia Books, 2017

189 pages

The dream of immortality is an ancient one, but it is only in comparatively recent times that the means of its realisation has shifted from a religious and spiritual concern to a secular and technological ambition. Its current incarnation is transhumanism, a broad term covering the various ongoing attempts to free humanity from its mortal limitations through scientific innovation. These range from the relatively plausible (altering DNA through genetic engineering), to the more conjectural (cryogenic ‘freezing’ of brain/body for future scientists to resurrect), to the frankly outlandish (‘mind-uploading’ of your digitally scanned brain states to a computer).

That Christopher Osborn’s Unbound focuses on the more conservative of these possibilities, however, makes it no less a work of science fiction, for we are arguably no closer to ‘fixing’ the tendency of our cells to degenerate overtime than we are to curing cancer. In fact, as pointed out by molecular biologist Dr Victor Zimmerman (Osborn’s narrator), the two quests may be closely interrelated. The obstacles to biological immortality relate to telomeres, the structures that cap off the end of our chromosomes rather as those little plastic tips stop our shoelaces from unravelling (to borrow Osborn’s neat simile). As our cells die and are replaced, these telomeres shorten, until eventually they start to break down, and, like old shoelaces, the composite threads of our DNA start to fray, giving rise to errors in cell replication that cause genetic malfunction, disease, and ultimately death. The key to reversing this is telomerase, an enzyme that regulates the length of telomeres. If this could be ‘switched on’ in normal cells, then the little plastic tips would forever be maintained in pristine condition, and our shoelaces need never fray; we would be biologically immortal. The problem, however, is that telomerase is also a key enzyme in cancer cells, where it is by default switched on (which is what makes cancer cells such efficient self-replicators). The problem, therefore, is to switch on immortality in healthy cells, but not to encourage cancer. Tricky.

Although still currently unfeasible, the relative plausibility of this solution to the problem of mortality makes for a strong premise, allowing Osborn to bring a subtle, literary focus to what is most interesting to him about this scenario without the distractions of the more far-fetched trappings common to other sci-fi. In doing this, Osborn engages with that which transhumanists and sci-fi writers alike often struggle with, and some even completely ignore: namely, how such fundamental changes would impact on our psychological and emotional life, our day to day relationships, and our sense of identity.

In many respects, Osborn’s doctor is the stereotypical ‘mad scientist’, driven by his own egotism, professional ambition and zeal beyond the boundaries of morality and social convention. In this, its exploration of life and death, and the confessional memoir format of its narrative, there is no little debt owed to what many would cite as the first sci-fi novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a link perhaps explicitly acknowledged by the shared forename of the two novels’ protagonists, as well as suggested by the title itself, referencing the myth of the Greek titan Prometheus, whom Shelley’s husband, the poet Percy Bysshe, famously liberated in his verse drama Prometheus Unbound. Sentenced by Zeus to be punished for all eternity for stealing fire from Olympus as a gift to humanity, Prometheus was the great human benefactor, and may therefore stand for science, technology and human knowledge in general. As the poet Shelley envisaged him set free from the yoke of divine punishment (for which, read ‘science and humanism turning its back on orthodox religion’), rejuvenated by his drug telo, Osborn’s Victor finds himself similarly ‘unbound’ from traditional religious and moral restrictions. However, in addition to this liberation, Victor notices that he is ‘unbound’ in a more subtle and disquieting sense, from the very ties that bind us together as human beings.

It is this, I think, that represents the most intriguing aspect of Unbound. In losing his fear of ageing and death, Victor also suffers the decay of empathy, compassion and moral conscience. What is it that makes us treat others as ends in themselves, and not means to our own satisfaction? As Hume argued (and Kant later disagreed), the basis of morality is not respect for another’s reason or autonomy, or any other rational standard, but the mere fact that we feel. It is our recognition of our fellow human beings’ capacity for suffering or happiness, a mirroring of our own, that ultimately underpins all moral judgements. As such, what we feel in recognising our common mortality is the most fundamental bond we can have with another human being; but remove this, and what are we left with?

Victor’s new self is therefore curiously adrift, as the promise of eternal youth begins to cast a fresh light on his relationships and values: his marriage begins to break down, old friendships sour, even his professional integrity is jettisoned. And so, a battle ensues between the old, compassionate, sentimental Victor, and the new, unbound Victor, a Nietzschean Übermensch that wants only to delight in strength, vigour and mastery. Love becomes weakness, as like frightened children holding hands we seek companionship only to assuage our terror of our inevitable advance towards decrepitude and death. Illness, old age and disease no longer invite his pity or empathy but rather repulsion and contempt, for Victor is now of another order of being entirely. And yet it is this very difference (as he sees it) that now creates distrust in others and fosters his isolation. Ironically, as his youthful libido returns, and he is driven to seek out casual sex at a swinger’s club, the ageing attendees shun him, preferring their comfortable habitual couplings from the advances of the haughty stranger who seems more concerned with admiring his rejuvenated reflection in the mirror. His new detachment also leads him to seemingly arbitrary acts of cruelty: sharing a train journey with a travelling student, they enjoy a convivial conversation, but while the young man sleeps, Victor hides his shoes, then pretends to aid the student’s panicked search before leaving him to disembark in his socks.

Yet the superior coldness and cruelty depicted here is a caricature of Nietzsche’s ideal—whether the author’s or the narrator’s is difficult to tell, for it is a distortion that remains prevalent in popular culture. It is true that Nietzsche emphasises ‘cruelty’ as a necessary ingredient of spiritual and cultural growth, but it is a quality that he turns as much against himself as others: it is by hardening ourselves against the buffetings of life, by accepting and not seeking to ameliorate their effects, even celebrating them, that we ultimately become ‘more’ than human. The sort of transhumanism that Nietzsche advocates is therefore not one that tries to escape mortality, nor even to make life more comfortable, but one that celebrates life in spite of death and suffering—it is the conquest of self, not of death, that makes us stronger. In fact, it is this temptation to escape suffering that he sees as the root of delusion. In this sense, Victor’s desire to live forever—for ‘Victory’ over death (the nickname a scientific colleague gives him)—is no less a consolation than the belief in reincarnation that he mocks in his colleague.

And here, I think, is another important point (one repeatedly made by the philosopher John Gray): in the hands of transhumanists, science unwittingly fulfils the same function that used to be served by religion. The notions of progress, salvation and liberation that seem to drive the transhumanist agenda are not inherent in the scientific worldview—in fact, a number of philosophers and scientists question whether progress is an objective value, whether we can have a coherent notion of personal identity, or a definition of free will that is compatible with scientific knowledge. Whether or not religion provides false consolation is a separate question, but either way transhumanists seem largely unaware that their agenda is fuelled by the same spiritual urges and inherits many of the same problems.

Though relatively short, there are many other points of interest in the book. As the effects of telo progress, Victor begins to lose his love for music, and consequently, for his wife (who, like Osborn himself, is a concert pianist), recalling perhaps Nietzsche’s own view of music as an emotional, irrational release from the isolated life of conscious suffering that fosters a sense of belonging. There is also of course the problem of altruism, an ongoing controversy in evolutionary theory concerning the question of whether (as Richard Dawkins argues) all apparent acts of kindness must ultimately be interpreted in the light of the dictates of our ‘selfish genes’; or, on the other hand, whether examples of natural cooperation, or the existence of mirror neurons in the brains of both humans and animals, suggest that we are in fact hard-wired for empathy. This is a battle that Victor’s transformation itself embodies—which wins, I’ll leave you to find out.

In summary, Unbound is a subtle, skilful engagement with issues raised by the transhumanist agenda from a personal perspective, and a meditation on what this means for both our inner and social lives. Ultimately, it suggests, in losing our mortality, we also risk losing our humanity; that, in effect, because we are the only creatures that are conscious of this mortality, it is this consciousness, and the emotional and psychological bonds that it facilitates, that provide the basis of identity, community, meaning and moral conscience. Take away that limit—even if that were possible—and we perhaps risk unmooring ourselves in more radical ways than transhumanism recognises.

[The above review was based on a complimentary review copy from Arcadia Books]

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What Would Marx Do?

book covers, illustration, news, original art, philosophy, publishing, sales, writing

My new book, What Would Marx Do?, is now finished, and is due to be published by Octopus Books in March of next year. You can read more about it here. If you’re eager, you can preorder it on Amazon. As well as writing this book, I also illustrated some of it. Some of these pieces are for sale in the gallery, but – understandably – the publishers would like me to keep the other illustrations from public view. However, if you were interested in buying any of the originals, you can contact me so that I can arrange a private digital viewing.

For periodic, brief news updates about my art and writing activities (and discounts and art giveaways), please sign up to my newsletter.

Commissions, Free Art Raffle, and Discounts

caricatures, commissions, news, original art, sales

Hi Everyone,

Some news.

Raffle: everyone who signs up to my newsletter will be entered into a monthly raffle to receive a free A7 sized commission (approx. 3 by 4 inches – see samples below). The first draw will take place November 10th. You can sign up here.

Discount: All newsletter subscribers get 5% on art sales and commissions.

Commissions: At the moment, I am currently OPEN for personal commissions. From now until Christmas, I am offering the following (sorry to mention the C word… Nice pressie idea maybe?):

  • A7 size = £20
  • A6 size = £40
  • A5 size = £80
  • A4 size and up = depends on time and business – please enquire

Please get in touch with any questions, etc.

Thank you!

G.

New: Newsletter Updates

news

Internet marketing genius that I am, 17 years after setting up a website, I now have a newsletter – well, three actually. It’ll be very occasional, very unspammy, and subscribers will get 5% off (off what, exactly, is yet to be decided…). It’ll also be very functional, less “here’s a thinly veiled piece of marketing clickbait masquerading as something interesting” and more along the lines of “Here art here” (to quote ‘Withnail and I’) or “Me book good – you go here”. Stuff like that. It’ll also keep those interested up to date on The Illustrated Book Club. But you can choose what to hear about, and edit your preferences any time.

Anywayroad, go here, and get 5% off … things …