‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Interview, and some "The This" reactions


First, here's a link to the long and (I think) interesting Phil Christman conducted with me for his substack. Phil is a good guy, and a really good writer, although, whilst I can't contradict his opening sentence here, I'm not sure it's the entire veritude. But you should definitely read the interview! 

Second, in The This news: there have been some reviews, for instance here at SF Crowsnest, and New Scientist picked it as one of the SF books to look forward to in 2022. Over on Amazon there are (presently) 59 customer reviews, 59% of which are 5-star and 82% of which are either 5- or 4-star, which is pretty good going I think. Still, it's not a novel for everyone (click to embiggen):

On the other hand, Jessie Lethaby at the Times chooses The This as one of the best SF titles of 2022 so far, which is very good.

For myself, I only note that the official release date of the novel was exactly one hundred years, to the day, after the publication of Ulysses. I have decided to treat this fact as tremendously auspicious.


  1. It looks like you have another new title that you didn't tell us about:


    1. Will I get the royalties, though, eh? I fear not.

    2. I once did a short piece for BBC Radio 5: the fee (agreed in advance) was £50, the Beeb picked me up in a car, drove me into Broadcasting House and dropped me home afterwards. When the cheque arrived, made out to "A. Roberts", it was for many thousands of pounds. They'd confused me with Conservative historian Andrew Roberts, who'd done a whole bunch of TV work for them. Rachel said "bank it! not your problem!" but I didn't feel I could, so I returned it. But I do like to think of that day, when Andrew Roberts presumably opened his envelope and found a cheque for a measly fifty quid inside.