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 twenty-eight. 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

Hello, and I hope you are all coping with the current challenge.

My new book is of poems composed during lockdown. It is available from the author, by request, at £5 a copy plus £2 postage.

My book Enchantment: Wonder in Modern Life was published in October 2019 – not the best possible timing – but at least it's out there, and I don't accept that wonder is any less important, even necessary, than it ever was. Just the reverse, in fact!

You can find out more here -- https://www.florisbooks.co.uk/book/Patrick-Curry/Enchantment/ -- and here: http://enchantmentinmodernlife.info/ There is also a Facebook page for the book here, and a Twitter page here: https://mobile.twitter.com/inenchantment plus @InEnchantment

I recently had an enjoyable gig speaking about the book for the Swindon Spring Festival of Literature, and you can access that on YouTube here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CDIi36LlA3Q&feature=youtu.be

Plus here are some recent endorsements:

'This is a delightful, not to say enchanting book about enchantment and the possibilities for wonder in modern life in an era increasingly characterised by disenchantment... The text is beautifully woven, with many magical excerpts and episodes from the author's wide reading and extensive experience... A crucial reminder of what represents real quality of life.'
David Lorimer, Scientific and Medical Network
'I found the book thought-provoking while at the same time relishing its clarity and accessibility -- it can be so hard to talk about this subject without delving in to all kinds of abstract or arcane language -- and in the end, uplifting, for I felt it opened a way in for people who might be suspicious of the philosophical and religious sides of this experience.'
Professor John Burnside, St. Andrews University
'Patrick Curry suggests that the opposite of enchantment is not disenchantment but glamour. Like Jung when he stated that the opposite of love is not hatred but power, Curry shows how glamour is a fabricated, false, fake version of enchantment. His demonstration is extremely convincing. Reading him, one feels like opening one's eyes wider.'
-- Ginette Paris, author of The Wisdom of the Psyche
'After reading any of [Patrick Curry's] pieces life seems more worth living, and for that I am especially grateful.'
Zygmunt Bauman, author of Liquid Modernity

There has also been a flurry of publications by The Ecological Citizen which might interest you, including a new issue:

And if I might: although the pandemic is extremely important and sometimes even life-threatening, try not to let it occupy all your head-space and rule your life. As I hope you've noticed, it's Spring out there (in the Northern hemisphere) and in many places the natural world is enjoying a much-needed respite from our relentless impacts. Nature can be a wonder, a solace and a source of sanity, if you let it. And when the clamour for a return to 'normality' starts up, it can remind us that regarding our relationship with the natural world, there are some things to which we should not return. Let's not miss this chance!

Finally and relatedly, I would urge you to withdraw more of your limited and precious attention from a certain President. (Yes that one, although the other one too.) Attention is just what he craves and thrives on, so don't let him have it beyond what you actually you need to know.

Thanks, and good luck with it all,

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