George Walker’s Neo Neocerebellum
Sometimes one can nag a friend.
And I remember beginning to nag in June 2015 when my husband Michael and I visited George and Michelle Walker in Toronto and all four of us became fast friends. That trip was the result of the January 2015 ART I SEE post I wrote on Book of Hours, George’s 2010 wordless narrative in wood engravings. (See http://www.scottponemone.com/george-walker-wordless-novelist/) My nagging was about something George hadn’t done: namely issued a limited printed-from-the-blocks edition of his 2007 book Images from the Neocerebellum. That required a good bit of chutspah on my part to nag a guy who has displayed the Herculanean physical and creative energy to author wordless narratives in 2010 (Books of Hours), 2011 (The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson), 2013 (Conrad Black) and 2014 (The Wordless Leonard Cohen Songbook). And when we visited, George was working on Trudeau: La Vie en Rose, published that fall.
But there was collector’s logic to my nagging. I found something in the images for Neocerebellum that seemed largely missing in his other books. First some illustrations:
When I bought the Book of Hours from George, he included in his package four propectuses of three other novels in wood engravings plus one from Neocerebellum. Because the images like those for Conrad Black served an historical narrative, they tended to be rather literal and hint at a photographic antecedent. But those for Neocerebellum had a Surreal energy as if the swirls created with dremel power tool transmitted electrical force to the image. This Surrealistic charge was fully intended since in Neocerebellum George’s images were inspired by his dreams. As you can see from the prospectus for Neocerebellum, across from the image is a verbal recall of his dream.
In short, beginning with our visit to Toronto I started nagging George to produce a limited edition of Neocerebellum. Then when George and Michelle visited Baltimore in the fall of 2015, I noodged again. And when we shared a spring week in New York in 2016, the topic came up again (not even by me). The Walkers liked the idea from the start. The issue was finding all the blocks from 2007.
Then this summer, Michelle announced work had begun.
Work in Progress
On August 9 Michelle send this email: “George is working hard on Neocerebellum, I’m folding pages constantly! How would you like the in-progress photos sent to you for your blog?” On August 24 Michelle started sending images one at a time until I had 27. With this cache of images on hand, I though an in-progress blog was indeed appropriate. So I asked George to do a quick email interview.
Despite the fact that I’ve been egging you on, why are you doing a limited edition of Images from the Neocerebellum?
I wanted to revisit this project and make some changes to the introduction and replace some images I wasn’t happy with. Many of the blocks I used in the original edition were modified or missing and I hadn’t had a chance to properly edit all the images to my satisfaction. Your push to get me to print the Neocerebellum in a limited edition was just the kick I needed to create the fine edition of this project.
Has this project provided you with an interregnum in the production of wordless narratives which has included Trudeau: La Vie en Rose, 2015; The Wordless Leonard Cohen Songbook, 2014, and Conrad Black, 2013?
Yes! I’ve been trying to get out of the habit of making biographies. I wanted to explore some other avenues such as mythologies and other forms of story that might work as a wordless narrative. This project gave me a chance to revisit an earlier work where I was headed in a different direction with my subject matter. Perhaps this will be the start of a new direction.
Will the limited edition of Neocerebellum include the dream texts? If not, why not?
It will have my introduction but not text to match each image. I rarely wrote in my dream diary when I started it in the 1980s. It was all about getting an impression of the dream in a single picture. I wanted to restore this project to the original intent, which was the visual impact of the dream without explanation.
Did you find all of the blocks used for the original trade edition from 2007? If there were any missing blocks, did you recut them? Did you add any new images?
No, some blocks we were unable to find. I did recut images I was still attached to and I added new images that I thought were better compositions and reflections of my dreams as I remember them.
You’re quite number conscious in sizing your editions. How many will there be this time and how did you determine the number?
This edition is 28 copies. This number is half my age as of September 16th, 2016. In May of 2017 the Porcupine’s Quill edition of the book will be a decade old. 2+8=10
When do you expect this version of Neocerebellum to be ready for sale?
December! I was trying for September—but I was side-tracked by other work.