Snapshots of Museum Experience – Elee Kirk

I’m really pleased to be able to announce that I’ve just received the contract from Routledge for Dr. Elee Kirk’s forthcoming book Snapshots of Museum Experience — a study of children’s experiences and photography in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. It will be published in their Routledge Research in Museum Studies series.

As many of you know, Elee was my long term partner and collaborator, and she died of breast cancer last August. Elee had planned to refashion her PhD thesis into a book herself, and we had worked together on a plan for the rewrite. As things with Elee’s illness developed far more quickly than we had hoped or anticipated, she didn’t get a chance to do the work herself. So I will be working on a rewrite in accord with the plan that Elee and I agreed together.

It will be an interesting and perhaps somewhat difficult writing challenge, working with somebody else’s book and somebody else’s voice. But if the final book won’t be quite the same book that Elee would have written, it is an nevertheless an honour to work on it. Elee’s research was so interesting, so well-informed, and so enjoyable to read about that I am delighted that it should be finding its way out into the world in book form. I hope that I do it justice.

Highbrow Philosophy!

I’m delighted to announce that my introductory philosophy course, “What Is Wisdom: An Introduction To Philosophy”, has just been launched over on Highbrow. It’s a ten-day email course which covers a whole range of philosophers — Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, Confucius, Zhuangzi and the Buddha. The course explores what the philosophers have said about what wisdom is or might be. Visit Highbrow’s website to find out more.

You may have looked at the names above and thought that there is a suspiciously high number of Persons With Beards on the list. This will be remedied in my next Highbrow course on Women Philosophers, which is currently work-in-progress. But when it comes out it will be guaranteed 100% beard-free.

The Rocket Dog is Launched!

Today is the official launch date for Lucy and the Rocket Dog. 🚀🐶🎈🎊🎉

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I think it would be an excellent thing if you all went and bought a copy.

If you like any of the following, there’s a chance you’ll like it: space, rockets, dogs, space-dogs, space-rabbits, love stories, Einstein, time dilation, girl scientists, jokes about philosophers, and unexpectedly happy endings.

This page has links for you to buy from evil and non-evil outlets, in the UK and US, according to your preference.

Forthcoming – Stealing with the Eyes

I’m delighted to be able to announce that my anthropological-memoir-of-sorts, Stealing with the Eyes, is due to out from Haus Publishing next year. It is a tale of possession, exorcism, gods, ancestors, anthropologists and unpaid debts, drawing upon the research I did into the wood-carving industry a quarter of a century ago (!) in the Tanimbar islands of Indonesia. I’ll post more closer to the time. The title, incidentally, comes from the Indonesian curi mata — a nicely succinct summation of the anthropological enterprise that was put to me by one of my Indonesian friends…

Ready for Lift-Off (and a review)

I’m very excited that my middle-grade novel, Lucy and the Rocket Dog is on the launchpad, and almost ready for lift-off. The launch date in the US is 15th August. It should also be available in the UK from around then, although a UK edition (with ‘Mom’ duly replaced by ‘Mum’, and any sidewalks — if there are any — converted into pavements) may be a little way off.

There’s a nice advance review on Lisa Maucione’s Literacy on the Mind blog. I’ll post more reviews as they appear.

Glitches and Gremlins has been down for a few days, due to a twitchy problem with the configuration of the server. It is now back up and running, so apologies for any interruption of service.

I’m hoping in the next couple of months to give this website a bit of extra love and some much-needed updates. Things are busy over here in Yangon, and internet is less reliable than I would like, so I’m a bit behind. But hopefully the gremlins, demons, bugs and glitches from the last few days will remain squashed.

Goat Music Review

I was delighted a couple of days ago to stumble across a review of Goat Music, my reinvention of the tale of Apollo and Marsyas, over on The Letterpress Project.

“The gods are largely spiteful, arbitrary, self-centred and generally driven by shabby motives…This is indeed a story of incautious hubris but in Buckingham’s hands its also a tale of the arbitrariness of power.”

The review, by Terry Potter, is also mirrored over on the Everybody’s Reviewing blog.


Those who follow my other blog will already know that I am currently in Myanmar, where I’m spending several months teaching a course on global cultures as a part of an exciting new initiative. Whilst I’m away, I’ll be posting more essay-like updates about life in Yangon and beyond over on WaywardPhilosophy, and continuing to use this blog for news about writing and other projects.

A Couple of Book Chapters

Just a quick update to announce the recent publication of two new books to which I’ve contributed chapters. The first is Catalin Partenie’s In Fiction We Trust. My contribution to this one is called “Lies in Which Not Everything is False: Levinas, Philosophy and Fiction”. However — and here I must offer my apologies to English-speaking readers — this one is only in Romanian.

I may look into publishing the English version somewhere else, and if I do, I’ll make an announcement here. For the time being, however, here’s a quick passage from the conclusion.

This plea to read philosophies as stories (and perhaps stories as philosophies) is one that acknowledges that philosophers of Levinas’s calibre are always worth listening to. But it also is one that reminds us that when it comes down to it, they are not wholly to be trusted. If philosophy is a set of lies in which not everything is false, this is not to dismiss philosophy. Instead, it is a call to responsibility. It is to suggest that when it comes to listening to the philosophers, we should remain alive to their artfulness, heedful not only of the question of what may or may not be true in what is said, but also of their tricks and ruses and sleights of hand, or to their blind-spots, the things that they are incapable of seeing or saying. If philosophy truly is a kind of storytelling, this implies we need to listen to it even more carefully, more imaginatively, more artfully — and perhaps also less reverentially. In this way, it might be possible to develop a richer sense of how we might think about our lives collectively and individually, whilst maintaining a commitment to truth, keeping a proper humility about the limits of argument, and holding out for new, unthought possibilities. It is a subtle balancing act. But we owe it to each other.

You can trust me on this. Because this, too, is a lie in which not everything is false.

The second chapter is in Irene Brown and Christian Mieves’s collection Wonder in Contemporary Artistic Practice, now available from Routledge. My chapter here is called “Wonders Without Wonder: Divining the Donkey-Rat”. This grew out of my interest in what might be called the moral imperative to wonder, the idea that — whether in science, in religion, in education, or in the arts — wonder is something that we ought to cultivate. So this chapter takes a strange tale of an ancient Chinese diviner, Guo Pu (郭璞), to explore the possibility of thinking about strangeness without this moral imperative to wonder.

Wonder in Contemporary Artistic Practice

Sofia International Literary Festival

It was a pleasure to be back in Sofia last week for the Sofia International Literary Festival, which must be one of the friendliest festivals I have ever been to. I was interviewed by the wonderful journalist Beloslava Dimitrova. I always like events that are not scripted in advance — it is good to think on your feet. So the resulting conversation was wide-ranging. We talked about my book The Descent of the Lyre (in Bulgarian Произходът на лирата), creative writing teaching, the connection between writing, travelling and staying put, and the strangeness of literary festivals.


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