'Carrots, Elves and Aliens'
'Carrots, Elves and Aliens' by John Francis Callaghan
2004, Cabasa90, £16
Unexpectedly, this is a book of poetry. Well, a mixture of poetry and symbolic art. Each page offers a poem accompanied by illustrations of a challenging, profane, and often highly erotic nature. Much of the poetry is anti-Establishment, and centres upon the loss of personal faith and subsequent journey deep into the dark side of alternative science. Gentle readers should be prepared to be very, very shocked by this book; the imagery employed explores several perversions and depravities, often with a iconic religious theme.
The front cover of John Francis Callaghan's book shows an ancient Mesopotamian artifact depicting the Sumerian trinity of Sun, Moon and Nibiru, various constellations, and partly encircled by the Cosmic Serpent. This juxtaposition of religious and sexual imagery seems to be a running theme throughout the book, enhanced further by various plays on words in the poems themselves.
Personally, I found the bizarre layout of the poems and the wild, wild illustrations more interesting than the poems themselves. But that might be because poetry itself isn't really my bag. Symbolism, however, is, and this book is loaded to the hilt with it. The author explores the theme of inhibited sexual desires fully in his illustrations. He also loads the pages with religious iconography; orthodoxy mixed with blatant sexual themes; heretical, alternative imagery jumbled together into a Gnostic collage. He also attacks the mediocrity of modern society; the banal and superficial nature of consumerism. This poet seems engaged in a deeper struggle, with emotions and desires, mythical archetypes and hidden knowledge.
For fans of the Dark Star Theory, there are numerous Winged Discs set on one page alongside a poem entitled 'Where's my Mummy' (!). Emerging from the classic Winged Discs (one or two of which must have come from this site) we discover an evolution towards Nazi, Austro-Hungarian and American Eagles as symbols of all-conquering power. There's a thought...
Then there's the Nibiru/Planet X page, entitled 'No Boundaries', and formatted in quasi-Cuneiform text, opposite a rather scary looking naked priestess! I'll reproduce the first couple of verses of this poem to give you a flavour of the poetry, the format of which can be a little repetitive:
Languages from the past
Spring from thought this day last
Sophistication before time
Something lost inna rhyme.
Cuneiform tablets clay
My true thoughts gone astray
Translate this in the now
Only guess why and how.
(From 'No Boundaries' by John Francis Callaghan, 2004)
I find myself recommending 'Carrots, Elves and Aliens' to open-minded, inquisitive folk with a reckless interest in heresies...and religious porn. (I'm reminded of the infamous Bishop of Bath and Wells in 'Black Adder'). The catch is that the book, at £16, is quite pricey.
Book review by Andy Lloyd, 28th September 2004
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