Exploring the Extraordinary

I'll be speaking at the fifth 'Exploring the Extraordinary' conference in York this September.

'Exploring the Extraordinary' is:

"an interdisciplinary  network  for those  engaged/interested in research into the 'extraordinary' - topics often regarded as paranormal, supernatural, religious, transcendent, ecstatic, exceptional, mystical, anomalous, magical, or spiritual."

The organizersDr Hannah Gilbert and Dr Madeleine Castro have put together an excellent network of researchers, artists and practitioners interested in their stated remit. Check out their website for more information. 

You can also see the conference programme and the list of abstracts

I'll be giving a paper on William Burroughs and tape recording. Abstract below: 

Playback Hex: William Burroughs and the Magical Objectivity of the Tape Recorder

This paper considers the status of the tape recorder as a magical object in the creative praxis of William Burroughs. Taking as a starting point the infamous instance of his attempt to 'curse' the London Moka bar in 1972, this discussion will look at the manner in which Burroughs simultaneously used the instrument as a practical device, a compositional tool and literary motif. In essence, my paper seeks to think through, and to a degree, synthesise the overlapping layers of biography, imaginative investment and textual practice 
that surround Burroughs's work. Academic criticism of his writing often seeks to separate these levels. My point will be that an understanding of the particular significance Burroughs invests into the tape recorder provides a means to conceptualise the creative and strategic matrix he establishes between specific material objects and a wider imaginative project.

Note: For more on the Moka Bar see here and here


  1. Sir, Is your 'Playback Hex' article online anywhere? I would really like to read it.

  2. Hi there,

    At the moment the article is not online as it was written as a conference paper. I will be reading the paper at another event soon and I believe there might be some form of publication happening in the near future. Will let you know. Thanks for your interest. I've just had a look at your site: very interesting. Would be good to discuss various things in more detail at some point.



  3. Dear James, Thanks. Your site is very interesting also. Am happy to speak further in future at some point if you want to e-mail me. Best regards, Mark.