To Hell With It – How we imagine the evil afterlife

Since reading Orwell’s 1984 I’ve often thought about the climax in Room 101 and the idea of somebody using my worst fear against me. The idea is fascinating, because a fear can manifest itself in so many forms, but can be so particular to the individual. In the novel the malevolently regulated Ministry of Love have stockpiled information on citizens of Orwell’s dystopic world and use this information to discover a person’s deepest fear. They then use that fear against the individual to finally make them submit.

A photograph of a dark grill with light coming through, representing a prison

This vision of unleashing a person’s deepest fear to take away their humanity reminds me a lot of hell. The idea of hell has been something of a fascination of mine for some time. It all started when watching Nick Cave live, where I swore that the ground was opening up beneath me (anyone who has seen Nick’s recent tour will probably understand). Hell and fire, eternal torture, and the underworld are all connected. But where did this notion of “underworld” come from, what form does it take, and why does it go down into the earth? Continue reading

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Filed under writing: etymology, writing: opinion, writing: philosophy, writing: place

Exquisite Explosions – The fine art of destruction

One of the first rules of writing is to open with a catchy line, and never with a technical topic. So I’m going to blow that one right out of the water and start by writing about entropy.

A Gif animation of a cup falling and shattering

Entropy is a theory in thermodynamics (yes, I’m doing it!) that has also crossed over into the fields of astrophysics and philosophy. It is used to describe a sudden change that causes erratic and chaotic events, often leading to the creation of entirely new objects. Entropy always moves forward with time, and creates events that cannot be undone. A good example is the collapse of a star, folding in on itself and becoming (perhaps) a black hole. Stephen Hawking describes the idea of entropy nicely in A Brief History of Time when he refers to how an “intact cup on the table is a state of high order, but a broken cup on the floor is a disordered state.” (p 161) Continue reading

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Filed under art: conceptual, art: contemporary, travel: time, Words, writing: opinion, writing: philosophy

Fadó, Fadó – An adventure through space and time

Fadó, fadó in a world not unlike our own, a group of people embarked on an amazing journey through the stars.

Our journey, as Homo Sapiens, started approximately 400,000 years ago. Like all stories, there is of course a long history to our arrival at the start of this journey, but this story is about our collective selves and how we have travelled. Before the castles and the aqueducts, before we farmed animals or spliced atoms, our collective protagonist (we) was about to embark upon one of the most astounding journeys ever taken through the stars.

A long exposure photograph of stars in the night sky

At a running start our adventurers have swept around the sun 400,000 times, and the vast Milky Way (that the sun is a small part of) has travelled around 16% of the way around the centre of the universe Continue reading

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The Taking Part – Why I love the process of travel

I love travel. Not just travel itself, but the process of travel.

There are many methods that can be taken. I am going to recount some of my personal favourites below.

Fly, sail, propel

By Plane

I had my first long-distance air flight in April 2012 on a flight from Dublin to New York. I was heading to Vermont to take part in an artist residency, and chose to detour through the metropolis. The compelling thing about air travel is the series of strange experiences associated with it. For example, the process of moving through an airport requires manners and behaviours that are bizarre in normal circumstances. Unlike other forms of public transport, arriving at an airport two hours before a flight is common practice, even when the flight itself will last less than 2 hours. Security checks, long cups of coffee, window-shopping for nothing in particular – each flight involves these unusual rituals Continue reading

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Broadening The Mind – Flying machines and art

In Ancient Greek literature sudden and vast travel occurred regularly. As the nomadic and expansive ideas of the writers of that era sought to understand their world through travel they often created mystical methods of transcontinental journeying. Great waves tore Odysseus and his crew from his homeland, and the wings that Daedalus built helped him soar to freedom from his island prison. Airplane travel in the 20th Century led to unprecedented opportunities for travel and communication that mimic the adventurous nature of these fictional tales. If travel should broaden the mind then broader travel may have stretched the mind even further. The concept of travel has been broached across the arts, culminating in works in the late 20th Century and early this century that create a reality from the myth.

Sunset photograph of clouds from above, taken from an airplane

Visual artist Franz Ackermann has made a career from his indefinite nomadism, developing an exciting collection of paintings, photographs, drawings and installations that reflect the idea of skipping to and from urban locales Continue reading

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Filed under Art, art: contemporary, Travel, travel: culture, travel: exploration, writing: fiction, writing: opinion