On Sinéad Morrissey
Many years ago, I had a treasured book – a history of scientific ideas – and what I liked most about it were the illustrations of various models and contraptions. Ptolemaic spheres! Arabian water clocks! Alchemical cucurbits! I tried to account for my fascination with these objects. Was it artisanal appreciation? The visual appeal of things in an age of signals and circuits? Or was it a species of vanitas? I worried that my atavistic fondness for stanzas might be somehow related – a stanza being, in Joseph Brodsky’s words, ‘a self-generating device’, and one whose original mnemonic purpose has, for the most part, gone the way of the barouche.
The full text of this essay is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.