'After reading any of Patrick Curry's pieces life seems more worth living, and for that I am especially grateful.' (Zygmunt Bauman)

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.

I was born in Winnipeg Canada but have lived in London for more than forty years. I am divorced with an adult son and step-son and a daughter aged thirty. I have a long relationship with Buddhism (Soto Zen), my main teacher being Kobun Chino Otogawa. I am lucky enough to be able to do quite a lot of what I love best: thinking, writing, reading and teaching (mostly informal). However, I'm also into music, visual art, and photography, and I have a black belt (1st Dan) in karate-kickboxing which has now segued into tai chi.

What's New

Here's what I've been doing recently, some of which may interest you.

  • On 6 March 2020, I gave a keynote lecture for a symposium on 'Enchanted Environments' at the University of Worcester. It was entitled 'The Experience of Enchantment and the Sense of Wonder', with particular reference to philosophy. It has now been published in Green Letters 24 (2021) and you can access it here...] - or online here.
  • In September 2022, I gave a talk at the Pari Center, Tuscany, entitled 'What is Enchantment, and What Follows?' See paricenter.com/what-is-enchantment-and-what-follows
  • I recently published a paper entitled 'Enchantment, Place and Space: Implications for Cultural Astronomy', forthcoming in the journal Culture and Cosmos. You can read it [here ...]
  • A revised second edition of the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien was recently published. My contribution, a chapter on 'Critical Responses to Tolkien's Fiction', now includes a Postscript' (starting on p. 15) addressing the issue of racism in Tolkien's work. You can read it [here ...]
  • Back in 2021 I gave a talk on enchantment for the Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. You can hear it here: https://www.youtube.com
  • There are still a few copies of my most recent booklet of poems, Desire Lines. See www.brookgreenbooks.co.uk
  • Finally, Brook Green Books has just published Camp Life, a deeply nostalgic account of boyhood in the Lake of the Woods in Canada in the 1920s, with a Foreword by me. Anyone who finds the search for lost time compelling, and in particular lost paradises, will enjoy it. Just send me £8/ $10 through PayPal, using my email address, and email me separately with your name and address.

Breaking news: my new book Art and Enchantment: How Wonder Works will be published by Routledge in early 2023!

There's also a new issue of The Ecological Citizen out here:

For Desire Lines and Camp Life please go to http://brookgreenbooks.co.uk/

With thanks and all good wishes,

Patrick

Background

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 a Tutor in the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Trinity Saint David. I am the Editor-in-Chief of the online journal The Ecological Citizen (https://www.ecologicalcitizen.net/). I am also a member of the Expert Advisory Group of the campaigning charity Population Matters.

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.

In 2019, I became a Companion of the Guild of St George, the educational charity started by John Ruskin.

What It’s About

Considering my work as a whole, there are several different streams of study: (1) divination, including astrology; (2) the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien; (3) ecocentrism, including ecological ethics, eco-republicanism and eco-feminism; (4) the metaphysics of metaphor; (5) the spiritual and therefore incalculable dimension of life; and (6) enchantment or wonder.

There is a thread running through this apparently odd assortment. They are all subjects that have been marginalised by, and within, mainstream modernity. The project of modernity has been defined (by Val Plumwood) as the rational mastery of nature, including human nature. (Those very words radiate a cold, arrogant and fantastically misplaced pride.) It is therefore contemptuous of the wellsprings of life and its enchantment in the bodymind, the female, and the Earth. Its ultimate expression is probably transhumanism, whose ‘success’ would turn us into Ringwraiths.

What I write out of, on the contrary, is ‘radical nostalgia’ for what modernity mocks, marginalises, mimics and sometimes murders but which was good and worked, and (what is left of it) still is and still does. This, not reaction, is true conservatism of the kind espoused by Ruskin, say. What is wild and mysterious – 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 plus big science (including big data) plus Big Brother. Its banner reads, in various versions, ‘One Truth, One Way, One People’. And, of course, One Ring. At very best, the result is what Chesterton called ‘progress without hope.’

My current ongoing project concerns enchantment as a fundamental human experience which gives our lives much of their meaning, or rather, 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, religion, food, sport… I want to follow that course and try to understand it, the better to appreciate, honour and defend it.

We are all embodied, embedded, and utterly interdependent beings, not only with each other but many, many nonhuman others – in other words, everything the modernists want to forget, destroy, or ‘transcend’. Strictly speaking, therefore, the contrary condition of modernity is not pre-, post-, or even non-modernity; it is the fullness of life. Enchantment is an experience of that condition, and a reminder of its truth.

© Patrick Curry 2019