Public Monograph: Day 2

9:30 – Took kids to school. Determined to finish marking and get back to the book. Done by 11:15 so edited next week’s RSP podcast to get ahead of the game and did my digital ablutions for the morning, before heading to pick Rex up again. Kind of a hectic start to the day, I know, but I find these intense hours invaluable for getting through my less creative and more repetitive tasks.

2:15 – Back to the book. A flurry of emails and back to the close reading. Started a new Evernote file to become a draft Index – I’ll add keywords to this as I reread and redraft, so the final index will be easier to produce. Ran out of steam by 5. Got to the end of chapter 4, and started to worry how long this is taking. Index is now about 300 words though, which is pretty cool.


6:10 – Moved to main library where for a change I opened a new word document, copied the first draft in, formatted in line with Bloomsbury’s style and made a few global changes. It now seems like a real thing. Went home at 7. Won’t get much done tomorrow because I’ll have the kids all day as it’s a general election tomorrow so the schools are out.

Here’s what we’re going for on the back cover and publicity. Any comments welcome:

Placing UFO phenomena and related conspiracy theories in their socio-religious context, this book is an innovative investigation as to why conspiracy theories became so prevalent in the New Age milieu. David Robertson argues that UFOs formed a bridge between conspiracy theories and popular millennial ideas in the post Cold War period. Through case studies mixing historical discourse analysis with ethnographic fieldwork, Robertson examines the work of three writers: the religious overtones of horror novelist Whitley Strieber; David Icke, who theorises that reptilian ETs covertly control the affairs of the world; and David Wilcock, Ancient Aliens regular and alleged reincarnation of Edgar Cayce.
The investigation reveals that UFOs are a symbol for uncertainty concerning the boundaries between scientific and other strategies for the legitimisation of knowledge, encouraging their adoption in both conspiracist and popular millennial discourses. Robertson argues that millennial conspiracism therefore reconciles the utopian vision of popular millennialism with the apocalyptic critique of modern global society offered by conspiracists. At the same time, metaphysical conspiracism offers millennialists a theodicy which argues that the prophesied New Age did not fail, but was prevented from arriving by malevolent, hidden others.
An overview of the development of UFO subcultures from the perspective of religious studies, UFOs, Conspiracy Theories and the New Age is an innovative application of discourse analysis to the study of present day alternative religion.



Public Monograph: Day 1

Screenshot_2015-05-05-21-18-31Day 1 of the process of putting together my monograph, Millennial Conspiracism: UFOs, Conspiracy Theories and the New Age, was somewhat stymied by a stack of 91 essay papers to mark and printer trouble. But I eventually managed to get started. I made a project in Todoist (on the right), and printed the draft out and started reading. I got a chapter and a half into it (out of seven), but in my defence, these were the parts which require the most rewriting, and I had to make a lot of decisions about how I would deal with terminology and such which will carry on through the rest of the book. I retitled all the chapters to sound less like a thesis. I also took a look at the last book in the Bloomsbury Advances in Religious Studies series, Mika Lassander’s Post-Materialist Religionto get an idea of the referencing, formatting, length and so on.


IMG_20150504_120043Somewhere towards the end of that pint, I paused to reconsider the wisdom of doing this publicly.


3 Things a Writer Can Be Good At

I heard an anecdote a few years ago… it was actually about a well-known comics artist who is famous for never hitting deadlines. Yet he kept getting hired. “How”, it was asked, “Does he keep getting work if he never hands in work on time?”

The reply was that there are three qualities a writer can have that benefit an editor. You can be reliable, personable, and brilliant. But no-one is all three.

This particular artist was brilliant, there was no doubt. His style was so popular that it would not be an exaggeration to say that it had defined the era in comic book art. And the internet is full of accounts of how good a time is to be had with this fellow.

Dig deeper, though, and the answer is there. Sometimes the partying is at the expense of deadlines. The editor knows the work will sell, so they make exceptions; the fans are having fun, so they forgive lateness; but the bottom line is that this artist is not reliable. But they are personable and brilliant.

On the other hand, there are writers or artist you cant help thinking, “How do they keep working?” Well, the answer might be that they that although their work might be uninspiring, they’re reliable and nice to deal with. Just not brilliant.

The story as I was told it ended with the advice, “”If you are two of the three, you can probably make a career as a writer.” But that seems like cowardice to me.