Public Monograph: Day 9

UFOs, Conspiracy Theories and the New AgeSo it’s crunch time. I am due to submit this week, but there are still a few things to do and little time to do them in. I have finished checking the references, and will make the changes to the bibliography on friday when I have access to a PC with a recent copy of Word. I need to sit down with my various folders of journal papers and bring some references up to date. I have also lost the dedications I wrote, so I’ll have to do that again. And I’ve been putting off adding a couple of paragraphs to chapter 6… Can I do all of this by 3:30 on friday? I can try!

Then I got an email saying that the Bloomsbury had put the book’s web page online. And when I saw the cover, I felt very proud of myself.

Public Monograph, Day 8

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. The truth is that a lot of little hings have been taking up my time and preventing me from getting a full day’s work on the book. Rather, it’s been stolen half-hours, like this:

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Hellish, eh? But today I managed to (almost) clear the decks, and managed a solid day. And at the end of it, I have a full draft, with each chapter formatted and separated into its own Word file, along with some front matter and a the bibliography. I got to chapter 5 in checking the references, so I will need to finish that at some point over the weekend.

I also have permissions for a couple of the images I want to use, but a couple of them are asking for money. Now, I have no budget from Bloomsbury, and with a print-run of 600, I don’t really blame them. So now I have the tricky decision – do I pay out of my own pocket? Replace the images with different ones? Or just delete? Probably, the answer is a mixture of all three.

Another thing still to do is to go through my many folders of papers and bring some of the references up-to-date. But that will be more fun than it sounds. All told, it’s still possible for me to submit next week…

Public Monograph: Day 7

After submitting the manuscript to After World Religions last week, I had to finish my chapter for a forthcoming INFORM/Ashgate volume on New Religions and uncertainty. It was curious: having been asked to supply a short draft of around 3000 words, I was then meant to submit a version closer to 6000. The problem was that I’d kinda done what I wanted in 3000 words… I handed it in short. I like it as it is. And there’s no point in padding.

I put it down to experience. If I’d have written that 5 years ago, it’d have been 7000 words.

Then I turned forty at the weekend. Instead of a party, I invited a couple of my oldest friends for a recording session. In 10 hours, we recorded a version of Dogs by Pink Floyd and two new songs of my composition. I was too tired to record finished vocals, so I won’t share the recordings here yet, but here is visual evidence:

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And yes, that’s a box of Carlsberg.

On monday morning I had two fillings.

So I’m back to the book this morning, happy, but tired. I had an hour or so of sending out emails asking for permission to reproduce various things. Then I went through chapter 6 for about 3 hours, finding an alarming number of typos. Chapter 6 was the chapter I’d had most problems with when I wrote my PhD, and so is the one I’m most concerned with improving. But also the one that’s most daunting.

Two weeks to go.

Public Monograph: Day 6

A good, solid day’s writing, if unremarkable. Managed about three and a half hours, and got to the end of chapter 2. This is good progress, as most of the rewriting is in those two chapters. There’s bits and pieces to add or change throughout, and the whole thing needs worked over for readability, but those were the biggest challenge.

On top of this, I have been powering through the other projects which have been taking up my time, and I think I’m in good shape all round. The BASR Bulletin is done, pending proofing; the problems with the IAHR are resolved; and After World Religions awaits a couple of signatures before full submission. Tonight is also the first class in my new Alternative Religions night class. I have some extra time this weekend, so I intend to power through the current draft to the end, and then put it aside for a week or so. During that time, I’ll be finishing off an overdue chapter for another book, and will try to get on top of the more mundane aspects – clearing the photographs and newspaper stories, and contacting a few of the people who are mentioned in it. This will also give me time to think what else the final draft needs.

Talking of After World Religions, I took delivery of the artwork this week:

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Public Monograph: Day 5

What’s the real difference between conspiracists and a popularized, that is a teachable version of social critique inspired by a too quick reading of… Pierre Bourdieu…? … in both cases again it is the same appeal to powerful agents hidden in the dark acting always consistently, continuously, relentlessly… I find something troublingly similar in the structure of the explanation, in the first movement of disbelief and, then, in the wheeling of causal explanations… it worries me to detect… many of the weapons of social critique (Latour 2004, 229-30).

I spent the morning dealing with other thing which demanded my attention, and I managed to get about three hours on the book in the afternoon. I went back to the start of the book and started working through it on a micro level. And today felt like hard work for the first time in the process. After the big structural changes, I am working through sentence-by-sentence, word-by-word, and each little change seems to spread out and require other changes before or after it. Other paragraphs don’t seem so neccessary any more. Reducing one section changes the balance of the overall composition. But I can see it starting to take on a different character now.

But frankly, its been a shitty week, and I’m burned out. Instead I went to toast my friend Ethan Quillen having submitted his thesis. I was supposed to go back to work after that, but I couldn’t be bothered and went to see Mad Max: Fury Road instead. It’s really something.

 

Public Monograph: Day 5

My first of two full days of work for this week. I got a flurry of emails yesterday and this morning regarding my IAHR panels, the journal issue I am guest-editing and the BASR Bulletin which I needed to deal with straight off this morning. But at 1PM, I managed to sit down at last to hash my way through the draft for the first time. I did all of the big structural changes needed, and worked my way through the comments I’d noted down as I read through. To be completely honest, it took me a good while to get going, and I skipped a good number of the text-level changes at the beginning, but I will pick it up there on Friday. I stopped then to do some work on my Alternative Religions class for Wednesday, and to practise for my Birthday recording session in two weeks (more on that later).

I thought you might like this, from the concluding chapter:

Millennial and alternative archaeological narratives present sweeping accounts of the present—as framed by the ancient past and anticipating a prophetic future—unavailable to those of us informed only by our socially-constructed knowledge, lacking the channelled, synthetic or experiential knowledge they have access to. For the conspiracist sees subjects inside history and society as constructs of ‘alien’ information systems in which thoughts, values, and beliefs do not originate with the subject. In contrast to the limited and impoverished ‘everyday subject’, the metaphysical conspiracist is constructed as “a perfect autonomous subject who, despite being one of the majority outside the conspiracy’s elite, remains unaffected by the conspiracy’s operations and untouched by its disinformation—unlike the rest of society” (Maton 2003, 28).

However, the accounts of Strieber, Wilcock and in particular Icke ascribe a remarkable lack of personal agency to the majority of individuals, who are constructed as a sleeping, aquiescent majority whose every thought and action is determined by the conspiratorial agents. The irony then, is that these discourses simultaneously seek to empower the individuality of the subject while disempowering the masses. In claiming to address disempowerment, they in fact remove agency from the majority and restrict it for a special class: an epistemic elect.

Now go watch David Icke on Alex Jones yesterday: