WELCOME TO MY WEBSITE
Its principal purpose is to help you find out what I have written and, in some cases, to make it available to you here. Some of it is academic, some of it as popular as I can manage, and some hovers between the two.
In this context my biography is not important. For anyone curious, however, here is the basic plot so far. I was born 1951 in Winnipeg Canada but have now lived in London for more than thirty years. I am divorced with an adult son and step-son and a daughter aged twenty-four. I am a lay Buddhist (Soto Zen) whose teacher was Kobun Chino Otogawa, Roshi. My activities include travel, music, photography and poetry, and I also hold a black belt (1st Dan) in karate-kickboxing, as taught by Sensei Dwyer Evelyn.
I gave a paper on 'The Enchantment of Learning and the Fate of Our Times' at a conference on 'Re-Enchanting the Academy' in Canterbury on 25 September 2015. You can read it here – or listen to the audio here:
There are two new items if you are interested in Tolkien:
- A short talk on the question 'Is The Lord of the Rings a great book?' given in Oxford on 29 Oct. 2015. You can read it here – or listen to the video here (I'm on at 9 minutes into the clip, and during the questions from 41 minutes on):
- An interview I conducted with the great Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, which you can read here.
I hold a B.A. (University of California at Santa Cruz, 1978, in Psychology, with highest honours), M.Sc. (L.S.E., 1980, in Logic and Scientific Method), and Ph.D. (University College London, 1987, in the History and Philosophy of Science).
From September 2006 until September 2009 I was a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Kent (Canterbury), where I taught in the MA programme on the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination. From 2002-2006 I was a Lecturer at the Sophia Centre, Bath Spa University, where I co-taught the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astronomy. I am currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Wales, Lampeter.
I have reviewed books for History Today, New Statesman, The Guardian, The Independent and (most often) the Times Literary Supplement; appeared on two television programmes; and taken part in two programmes on BBC Radio Four. I also appear in interviews of two of the three extended New Line DVD’s on The Lord of the Rings.
One of my teachers who really was a teacher was Gregory Bateson. I was lucky enough to take his final classes in 1978. His influence on me was, and remains, profound.
What It’s About
My work has so far addressed astrology and divination, Middle-earth, ecological philosophy and now enchantment. It’s taken me a long time to realise that there is a thread running through this apparently odd assortment. They are all subjects that have been marginalised by, and within, mainstream modernity.
Not coincidentally, they were also deeply impressed on me as a young man in the late 1960s – one of those brief historical periods in which that dominance was contested. But temperament and personality play a role too, of course.
The upshot, in a nutshell, is an attempt at rigorous Romanticism. I am trying to think about what is ineffable and write about what is indefinable, with ‘the maximum of emotion compatible with a classical sense of form’ (Cyril Connolly).
Why? Because it makes me happy, to be sure, but also because I believe we urgently need to realise, appreciate and defend such ideas and values. What cannot be calculated, controlled, or bought and sold is at the heart of what makes us human and makes life worth living. And in the empire of modernity, it is under assault.
By ‘modernity’, I mean the triple rule of capital, technoscience and the state – big business, big science and Big Brother – whose banner reads, in various versions, ‘One Truth, One Way, One People’. Or, simply, ‘Progress’. And if you hear talk of ‘development’, ‘efficiency’ or ‘modernisation’, you have been warned!
My current ongoing project concerns something very different: enchantment. A fundamental human experience, it gives our lives much of their meaning. (Or rather, it is the meaning.) Enchantment reaches into and runs through all kinds of places: nature and place itself, myth, love and erotic communion, art of all kinds, spirituality, food, sport… I want to follow that course and try to understand it better, the better to appreciate and honour it.
In life as it is actually lived, we are embodied, embedded, and utterly interdependent beings, not only with each other but many, many nonhuman others. In other words, we are everything the modernists want to forget, destroy or ‘transcend’. Strictly speaking, therefore, the contrary condition of modernity is not pre-, post-, counter-, or even non-modernity. It is humanity.
Enchantment is an experience of that condition, and a reminder of its truth.
© Patrick Curry 2013