This Book is part Christian mysticism and part social theory.* It’s about a phantom: a big handed cycloptic ghost that haunts ordinary life in British cities. It’s about how a people begin to see it, revolt against it, and starve it out, by orienting life differently. It’s about what rebellion looks like in a time when everyone thinks they’re a rebel. It’s genuinely bleak, but it’s genuinely hopeful. I’m genuinely hopeful anyway. A scaffoldless hope, as Ivan Illich once said.
The book is close to madness, and my head did collapse somewhat the moment I finished writing it. One of the proof readers has also plunged into a Jungian hole since too, although hasn’t attributed it to the book. One publisher said they felt battered by it, and my friend Duane said it was like being punched repeatedly in the face (weirdly he read it through in one sitting – he’d a metaphysical boxer of some kind. People seem to find the book oddly readable in spite of its unpleasant rattling effect, with most reading it through in one or two sittings). Sometimes I think a shallow and winging sort of criticism of everyday life helps us stay sane in a world where things aren’t quite right – it helps us keep a sense of ourselves and release some of the steam of incongruence. But for a radical re-envisioning of things, that follows issues to the roots and tries to re-imagine an utterly different kind of world… for this, I think a kind of madness might be required. So yes, it is a mad kind of book.
*It’s close to the thoughts of Theodor Adorno and the Frankfurt school, Marshall McCluhan and Paulo Freire… to the theology of Walter Brueggemann, Gustav Gutierrez, and of St Augustine of Hippo (City of God, in particular)… and to the lyricism of Allen Ginsberg, Nietzsche and the biblical prophets.