Jim Woodring & Voyage to Arcturus

Legendary artist and cartoonist Jim Woodring has illustrated a new beautiful edition of the Gnostic allegorical head-trip, “Voyage to Arcturus.” Obscure while being influencial on some of our greatest creators (C.S. Lewis, Alan Moore, Clive Barker,) “Voyage to Arcturus” is like nothing else and only the master Woodring could illustrate it. Listen in as we talk about this bizarre Gnostic book as well as discuss Jim’s take on art, religion, and creativity.

Pre-order it at https://beehivebooks.com/illuminatededitions/a-voyage-to-arcturus-illustrated-by-jim-woodring

Take in more Jim through Google images https://cutt.ly/ybF0FfO

Jim Woodring’s homepage is https://www.jimwoodring.com/

This is part of our bonus “Black Iron Prison” series where we talk to creators and thinkers who might be outside of the Gnostic world or academia about Gnostic themes that show up in their work.

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The opinions expressed in this show do not necessarily reflect those of the Gnostic Wisdom Network, the Apostolic Johannite Church, or any other organization. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

One thought on “Jim Woodring & Voyage to Arcturus

  1. I was giving Woodring the benefit of the doubt in his criticism of this difficult, often nightmarish book…until he admitted that he doesn’t even know what “Gnosticism” means. This reveals a lot about why he failed to make sense of the book and why he completely ignores the ending, which is transparently Gnostic (and also explains much that Woodring insists is unexplainable, like Maskull’s violence). It also indicates that he probably didn’t try too hard to understand it. Harold Bloom (a famous literary critic at Yale, who considered himself a Gnostic in his personal beliefs) lionized this book as a Gnostic text decades ago and even wrote a quasi-sequel to it, so it’s not like the Gnostic underpinnings are a big secret.

    This new edition is the first one since 1920 to reproduce the original text of Arcturus without errors, so it’s a shame that they hired an illustrator who not only doesn’t get the novel but actively dislikes it. On the pages I’ve seen, Woodring’s lysergic/schizophrenic squiggles and the blacklight-poster book design make the text very hard to read. It’s reduced to a stoner coffee table book. What a waste.

    I can see why the publisher thought Woodring would be a good fit — his own surreal and symbolic work is just as esoteric as Lindsay’s. In fact, many of his criticisms here (like “spinning fantasies” as an approach) seem to apply just as much to Frank as to Arcturus. At times he seems peeved that the book is based on something other than Vedanta. I bet his publisher was pretty unhappy with this performance.

    Neither one of you guys finished the novel, right? You managed to have a purportedly Gnostic podcast about A Voyage to Arcturus without even mentioning Shaping or Crystalman, the demiurge figures, and the revelation about souls on Earth and Tormance. I know it’s strange reading, but you’re missing out. Read the book!

    At least you repeatedly called Vedanta “Advanta,” which sounds like an acid reflux med — hope that gave Woodring heartburn.

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