Kodak Mantra Diaries – Iain Sinclair

Kodak Mantra Diaries Iain Sinclair

Kodak Mantra Diaries, Iain Sinclair’s cult record of his time with Allen Ginsberg in the London summer of The Congress on the Dialectics for the Demystification of Violence in 1967 – has just been given its first hardback edition by L.A. publisher We Heard You Like Books some 45 years after Iain first published it through his Albion Village Press. Interestingly the book also includes new texts continuing Sinclair’s fascination with the Beats. And having loved American Smoke, this alone makes it worth buying a second copy of this previously hard-to-find classic.

Here’s how We Heard You Like Books describe Kodak Mantra Diaries:

For two weeks in 1967, London’s Roundhouse hosted The Congress on the Dialectics for the Demystification of Violence, a counterculture happening showcasing R.D. Laing, Gregory Bateson, Emmett Grogan, Stokely Carmichael and Herbert Marcuse. The event’s acknowledged star was Allen Ginsberg.

As he pronounced to radical England, Ginsberg was followed by a young filmmaker with a commission from West German television to produce a documentary on the poet. That filmmaker’s name was Iain Sinclair.

Four years later, Sinclair gathered his notes and photographs of the experience and published Kodak Mantra Diaries on his own Albion Village Press. Wrestling with his brush with the poet and 1960s radical politics, Sinclair produced an astonishing prose debut, setting the template for his later works of non-fiction.

We Heard You Like Books is pleased to present the first hardcover edition of this little seen classic, accompanied by new texts which track Sinclair’s continuing fascination with the survivors of the Beat Generation, and record random encounters in the years that followed his initial engagement.We Heard You Like Books

Spirit Roads

Spirit Roads Paul Devereux

“There was an almost universal and abiding belief of great antiquity that spirits cannot cross flowing water, and that rivers were boundaries between the realms of the living and the dead.”

– from Spirit Roads by Paul Devereux

I find two pages of notes inside my copy of Spirit Roads by Paul Devereux. The yellow American size paper dates the notes to sometime around 2010-11 when I was occasionally making work trips the U.S. It’s a fascinating and compelling book, Devereux a key earth mysteries researcher for many years.

He writes about the ‘cognised landscape’ – the mapping of mindscapes that were projected onto the physical landscape in past times.

“Any worldview is dependent on the context to which it belongs”. Belief systems projected into the landscape as “invisible mental structures”.

Countryfolk, Devereux tells us, believed they shared the land with spirits – the Church preached that the spirit left this plane altogether for another, non-physical realm. There was a clear link between ghosts and locality that the Church denied.

Stiles were said to be the favourite perches of ghosts – if you sat there through ‘stile divination you could interrogate passing ghosts’.

“the virtual spirit paths traversing the folk mindscapes of old Europe”.

A Walk in Victoria Park with Travis Elborough

It was the hottest day of the year (so far) when I joined author Travis Elborough for a stroll around the eastern half of Victoria Park in Hackney to talk about his book A Walk in the Park. The heat caused dogs to wallow in the Burdett-Coutts drinking fountain like furry urban hippos.

Travis is a wealth of information and the walk drew not just on the fascinating history of Victoria Park – London’s first purpose-built public park – but on the broader history of what Travis refers to as a “people’s institution”.

a walk in the park elborough

We visited the monkey puzzle tree which links back to Victorian plant hunting expeditions to South America, and the corner of the park once known as Botany Bay – apparently as it was the hideout of criminals. We dropped for a chat at the Bowling Club and baked in the English Garden and had to resist the temptation to jump into the Model Boating Lake.

Listening to Travis explain how modern parks had evolved from the fenced hunting enclosures of Norman barons to the public spaces of today – now under threat from government cuts – it seemed apt that our chat took place in the shadow of the large green fenced area of the park reserved for a series of musical festivals.

I can’t recommend this book strongly enough – a fascinating stroll through the cultural history of these beloved open spaces that we all too often take for granted.

New notebook

Notebook

Cracked open a new notebook in Mayesbrook Park on Friday – always a great moment, peeling back the cellophane, cracking open the spine, scrawling name and address + reward if found on the facing blank page. I’m trying to move on from uniform black Moleskine/Ryman pocket books so picked up this orange number in Book Warehouse on Southampton Row (I uncharacteristically dispensed with the manufacturer info in the park bin) but only once peeled did it reveal a sparkly gleam to the cover and an unsettling textured finish. It started to bother me as I took it out of my bag to make notes on the hoof. This wasn’t good – when trying to distill the essence of an experience of place or the overheard conversations in a Wetherspoons toilet cubicle I don’t need to be distracted by the sound of my fingers vinyl scratching across the cover of my pocket book. It needed masking. I ransacked the leaning tower of product boxes in my work cell till I came up with this combination – the final touch applied in the Red Lion, sealed with a libation of Butcombe’s Haka Bitter. It will also be a constant reminder for the next 3 months to find a use for the footage that I sent off to be processed at Super 8 Reversal Lab.

The death of a Naturalist

Last night I was enjoying a read of a 1948 edition of The London Naturalist and was particularly impressed by a detailed survey of the regrowth of bombed areas of Epping Forest.

I then flicked onto the next page, which just happened to be the obituaries. My night time calm full of thoughts of Holcus mollis and Argrostis tenuis was destroyed when I read:

‘The tragic death of Percy J. Hanson at the hands of burglars at his place of business deprives our Society of another of the dwindling number of members of the old “North London” period.’

So tonight I might target my reading more precisely.