“Some of the one-paragraph stories I wrote before the novel took weeks of revision. I’d go mad with concern over semicolons. Conjunctions ruined my sleep. I wanted no needless sound in my sentences. I hated to use adverbs because of the ‘ly
’ endings. They seemed like sloopy trailers. They made the sense mushy and weak and artificial. I didn’t want to mean anything beyond what could inhere in the particular limited aural sensation. Idea and sound had to be exactly the same length, or the same density, as if a word could be flesh. That used to be my idea of real writing. Sculptural.” —Leonard Michaels
“I took little snippets of text and ideas from some of my favorite authors, and let the words be a springboard for an illustration. The illustrations incorporate and interact with the text and hopefully add up to something that engages the mind as much as the eye.”
Back when the English language was still young and impressionable, a London-born physician who took up the pen as a gentleman’s hobby made quite a dent, fathering a dictionary page’s worth of words we still use and tend to think of as ageless—“medical,” “suicide,” “exhaustion,” “hallucination” and “coma” among them.
The handful of books and tracts in which these words first appeared was even more remarkable than the coinages, a body of work as strange and unclassifiable as any in English literature.
That this doctor’s name—Thomas Browne—no longer keeps company, at least in America, with those of Shakespeare, Chaucer and other architects of the language would have come as a great disappointment to a multitude of other authors who revered Browne and passed his writings along, generation to generation, like a kind of formula for the philosopher’s stone.
This track was taken from Steven Wilson’s Grace for Drowning tour. It has not been released as part of a studio album yet (It will feature on his upcoming, third solo album). This video was recorded in Mexico city earlier this year and will be part of his new live blu-ray Get All You Deserve.