Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Poetry by individual poets
Trim Size
216 x 140mm

The Imaginary in Geometry


The instruction for this new volume was to write poems with no autobiographical content – going straight to personal myth. The Imaginary in Geometry is named for a book by a legendary Russian priest and mathematician martyred by the Bolsheviks. It means that any theory involves idealisation – but also how something imaginary takes on shape and dimensions in the artistic act. Breton wanted to change Malraux’s definition of modern art, as what develops a series of images into a personal myth, into the discovery of a collective stock of images, rooted in the unconscious. Such a return of archaic worlds to light would have to pick its way through the debris of myths wished on us by the agencies – Anglophilia, a Romance of the Docks is a lingering exploration of the lost world of mid-century propaganda, the alluring stories of a leisure class in ideal clothes. Photographs open onto a beckoning space of generosity and inauthenticity, a glittering demon world which engulfs us we say yes to it. How indeed would we reconstruct the Past once we discard these pop images with their discreet divinities? More fundamental than a mythic narrative is the fabric of the space in which it takes place as a momentary series of high points. Symbolic space is something non-finite which can be built up by finite steps. On the Beach at Aberystwyth is a journey in another geometry, the Western Seaways as the routes along which Celtic culture spread. It answers the question, what is social structure?

Early preoccupations with Socialist Realism and technophilia are continued here by poems about the inventor of double-tracking and a Spiritualist clergyman who constructed a machine of unknown purpose at the command of spirits.

Praise for this Book

‘Andrew Duncan writes a poetry of possibility. To read The Geometry of the Imaginary is to stumble into the richness of things, to be thrown, startled, into exhilarating new vistas. It is a pleasure to glimpse Marrakesh from the beach at Aberystwyth. Try this book. Explore it.’ —David Herd

Ilm al-hay’a: elastic scattering is a diffractive process, largely determined by an imaginary amplitude calculated from the sum of all possible production-channels. Many of these are presently so jammed or damaged that polarisations change signs and then change again: there are dips and wiggles in angular distributions, ‘the documentation that has to be delivered.’ For the last thirty years, Andrew Duncan has patiently traced alternative wavelengths, to and from the unevocable, irreconcilable and the impossible. The Imaginary in Geometry asks how the substitution of an ideal nature for the ‘prescientific’ field-theory of sense-perception throws up figures. Some of these are nameable, as ‘Galileo’, ‘Kubrick’, ‘Tallents’ etc. Others enshade the buildings and parkways like nuclear silhouettes. In tagging them, we too become Algebra.’ —Kevin Nolan