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little worlds: An Introduction to the Murphy Table

Nicholas of HiTchin


LITTLE WORLDS An Introduction to the Murphy Table A classification system for types of deceit & conceit in storytelling

Nicholas of HiTchin Central St. Martins, May 2012

Privately published in 2012 by Nicholas of Hitchin Š Nicholas of Hitchin 2012 The moral rights of the author have been asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise, without first seeking the written permission of the copyright owners and the publisher. A catalogue record for this book is available from the Central St. Martins library. www.nicholasofhitchin.com


A Man may, if he pleases, invent a little world of his own, with its own laws George Macdonald, ‘A Dish of Orts: Chiefly Papers on the Imagination, and on Shakespeare’, 1893

HP Lovecraft’s Arkham

Information Authority Of Japan’s animal islands

LITTLE WORLDS: The Murphy Table

The Murphy Table is an attempt to broadly identify the spaces between deceit and conceit in storytelling: between what is explicit and what is implicit; what is manifestly ‘false’ and what can be understood to be ‘true’; the games people play in the shadows between these ideals; and the welcomes they are likely to receive. Naturally these spaces and shadows are not so easily defined, and some materials will run into others and back again, or dance across the rows of categorisation. But it is a useful place to begin and from which to try to conjure some order. The table begins with the explicit nature of non-fiction and moves through six types of ‘murphy’ before reaching the implicit nature of fiction. The structure of

the table explains why we could include the Information Authority Of Japan’s animal islands but not Milne’s Pooh Corner; why Lovecraft’s Arkham but not Wodehouse’s Blandings; why Borges’ Widow Ching but not Boswell’s Dr Johnson. Fundamentally the table is about types of storytelling. In general terms non-fiction is bought, read and parsed by the reader as an honest attempt at recording explicit fact (but not ‘truth’). Though it may sometimes flirt with opinion, it is never intended as an attempt to deceive, and is assembled in such a way as to wash away unclarified facts and replace them with clean ones. Whether or not the work succeeds at this is moot: the attempt is honest. As readers we understand what has been undertaken and the transactive rules of storytelling have been respected. The A-Type Murphy

An explicit deception or perversion of fact primarily motivated by the agent’s desire for financial or personal gain.

Kujau’s Hitler Diaries

A-Type materials pretend to be fact, but wear it like a cloak explicitly in order to deceive. Konrad Kujau’s Hitler Diaries are

Konrad Kujau

a case in point. Purporting to be authentic, they were in fact entirely fabricated with the sole purpose of extracting money from buyers — something Kujau managed with great success, receiving 2.5 million Deutschmarks for his efforts. Kujau was born in 1938 in circumstances of extreme poverty. One of five children, all of whom spent time in various orphanages, he quickly drifted into petty crime. By his early twenties he had been arrested several times and served two short jail sentences for theft and, notably, forging luncheon vouchers. In the early 1970s he began to illegally import Nazi memorabilia from East Germany, forging their provenance in order to boost their value. Before long he realised that he could radically increase his profits by forging the objects themselves. He began by painting numerous ‘Hitler’ canvases before taking the bold


but brilliant step of copying out Hitler’s Mein Kampf by hand and selling it as the original manuscript. With the sale, purchase or possession of Nazi memorabilia being illegal under German law, the very secrecy in which collectors operated kept him from detection; it was this cloud of secrecy that would help Kujau sell his ultimate forgery — the ‘Hitler Diaries’. Having made Kujau’s acquaintance, and been convinced of his East German connections, a young journalist with a fascination for Nazi Germany named Gerd Heidemann was looking for a scoop. Kujau obliged with a careful game of cat and mouse. Over a period of months Heidemann was persuaded to pay for the diaries (all 62 volumes — no-one could accuse Kujau of laziness) at more-or-less his own expense. Heidemann in turn sold them on to the magazine Stern for 9.3 million Deutschmarks. On their publication in 1983 the diaries were almost immediately proved to be fakes. Heidemann and Kujau were sentenced to four-and-a-half years apiece for forgery. The diaries became a sensational backdrop to the even more sensational story of a Nazi-obsessed journalist being taken in by a brilliant forger. In this type of murphy the rules of storytelling have been baldly abused. It is a hoax – all the purchasing parties have been explicitly deceived to the financial benefit of the agent, without opportunity for recompense. The B-Type Murphy

An explicit deception or perversion of fact primarily motivated by the agent’s psychopathology. B-Type material is not principally motivated by money. Here the psychopathology of the agent is taken into account, allowing greater consideration for mental disorder. Any money accrued is a byproduct of the deceit, not the purpose. Facts may be obscured and lies uttered, but beneath the agent’s own storytelling lies a deeper story.

Ferdinand Demara, ‘The Great Imposter’ (image courtesy Time Inc.)

Ferdinand Waldo Demara (19211982), known as ‘The Great Impostor’, masqueraded as many people in a number of professions. In 1942, aged 29, he faked his suicide, borrowed another name, and became a religiously-orientated psychologist. After a brief spell in prison he posed as, among other things, a civil engineer, a sheriff ’s deputy, an assistant prison warden, a doctor of applied psychology, a hospital orderly, a lawyer, a child-care expert, a Benedictine monk, a Trappist monk, an editor, a cancer researcher, and a teacher. In his biography he explained his thoughts: ‘The first rule is that in any organization there is always a lot of loose, unused power lying about which can be picked up without alienating anyone. The second rule is, if you want power and want to expand, never encroach on anyone else’s domain; open up new ones... It works this way. If you come into a new situation don’t join some other professor’s committee and try to make your mark by moving up in that committee. You’ll, one, have a long haul and two, make an enemy Found your own committee. That way there’s no competition, no past standards to measure you by. How can anyone tell you aren’t running a top outfit? And then there’s no past laws or rules or precedents to hold you down or limit you. Make your own rules and interpretations. Nothing like it. It is rascality, pure rascality.” 01

Rascality aside, Demara had an exceptionally high IQ and a ‘photographic’ memory. Many of his employers considered him a boon, and were extremely impressed with his work; in some cases they were disappointed to see him go. He died on 1982 as a much-loved Baptist minister. Clearly none of these roles provided him with any significant financial reward, instead servicing a profound psychological need. Consequently we may be more sympathetic as the element of deceit is mitigated by recognised psychological factors. In the cases of both Kujau and Demara, and others similar, the meta-story becomes an active component. While the ‘hoaxes’ themselves may have caused some injury and disappointment to the people present at the time of revelation, any subsequent storytelling about the agent becomes more rewarding. It is safe to say that, in the cases of both, they hurt a lot of people’s feelings. But those people are also, at other times, readers, and may have been amazed at Kujau and Demara’s lives had they not experienced its deleterious effects at first-hand — a theory borne out by the success of the many subsequent books, articles and movies based on their exploits.

Crichton’s Bestselling Biography of Demara


The c-Type Murphy

A deception defined by inference and implication, informally acknowledged by the agent. C-Type materials begin to move away from the hoax as a rigid definition, and bleed into storytelling as we might ordinarily understand it. The key difference at this level is the acknowledgement of the agent. Whereas Kujau and Demara did everything in their power to conceal their true selves, C-Type work is designed from the first instance to allow for ultimate discovery, the moment of which is to be an intrinsic part of the pleasure of the material when considered as a whole. Type foundry House Industries were already well-known amongst their customers for utilising unusual methods of promoting their newest typefaces. For Chalet, a modern sans serif, House created a fictional character named René Albert Chalet, a supposedly overlooked designer from the 1940s. The published type specimens contained quotes about Chalet by some of the world’s leading type designers. He was even scheduled to appear at a type conference (he was ‘unwell’ on the day and unable to appear). That most people believed the story, and

Andy Cruz and Ken Barner of House Industries (image courtesy Marc Eckardt); and Chalet, the typeface supposEdly designed by René Albert Chalet

From Asger carlsen’s ‘Wrong’

with some design magazines even printing articles about the font and its inspiration without ever realizing that René Albert was a fictional character, exposes the limitations of the knowledge designers have about the history of typography. It wasn’t a complex or particularly determined hoax. House were already well-known for their boisterous shenanigans, and it was hardly front-page news, only affecting or interesting to a small number of professionals. As Andy Cruz (the real author of Chalet alongside partner Ken Barber) stated on the DesignTaxi website: ‘Ken and I noticed sometime during the late 90s that everyone was “rediscovering” Swiss design. Ken put all the sans classics into the House Industries type blender and Chalet was born. I thought people would have figured out that Chalet = House in Swiss, but I guess our story line about the legendary type-turnedfashion designer was too deep.’ 02 House were evidently ready to admit their deception, and in fact were allowing for it. In the end it was their market’s neurotic desire for detail that really enabled it to succeed.

The D-Type Murphy

A conceit defined by inference and implication, formally acknowledged by the agent. D-Type materials allow for a more formal acknowledgement. When we look at Asger Carlsen’s Wrong, a series of photographs of people with spindly wooden contraptions for legs, our suspicions are on high alert: we live in a technologically able world ever-ready to deceive us, and we must be careful to suspect a trick. In Carlsen’s own words, ‘There is a composite of illusion and reality in the images, and I think they are even more believable because they are produced in black and white… Even though [people] know it’s not real, their mind is manipulated somehow and they suddenly think the content could be possible. The work should in fact be considered a relief from reality.’ 03 The last sentence is important. With D-Type work we are willing participants in this ‘is-it-or-isn’t-it’ mental to-ing and fro-ing. Indeed it is the fundamental component of the images’ ability to entertain, and is the response required by the artist in order for the work to fully resonate.


‘Even though they know it’s not real, their mind is manipulated somehow and they suddenly think the content could be possible. The work should in fact be considered a relief from reality.’ ASGER CARLSEN on ‘WRONG’


The F-Type Murphy

An acknowledged conceit supported by incredible evidence but defined by implicit artistic or literary context.

Donald Evans, ‘Republica de Banana’, 1960

The quality and nature of the evidence is key. The element of doubt must be there, and remain there after the fact. When a detailed, highly realistic setting is invaded by something strange and exciting to believe, we are torn between what we know to be likely, what we would knowingly like to be true, and what the maker may or may not know to be true. That Carlsen openly expresses this idea takes him firmly out of the arena of hoaxes, and we move ever closer to our traditional understanding of storytelling.

Jorge Luis BORges

The E-Type Murphy

An acknowledged conceit supported by credible evidence but defined by implicit artistic or literary context. Closer to storytelling are E-Type materials, which exploit the credibility of non-fiction while acknowledging that a conceit is in play. The Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’ Universal History of Iniquity (1935; rev. 1954), is a powerful example of this ploy. The book is a collection of short stories which are semi-fictionalised accounts of criminals. The sources are listed at the end of the book, but Borges makes many alterations in the retelling – arbitrary or otherwise – particularly to dates and names, so the accounts cannot be relied upon as historical. Using this blend of fiction and non-fiction, Borges exploits our implicit understanding of what fiction is to bring us closer to the characters. Consequently the study is a much more intimate experience for the reader, allowing for ideas of truth to emerge from fact.

F-Type materials move closer still to the greater truths that pure fiction can express. Employing patently implausible content, there is no real danger of deception. Instead F-Types utilise the explicit craftsmanship found in the real world in order to make an imaginary world more plausible. Donald Evans (1945–1977) was known for creating hand-painted postage stamps of fictional countries. During a six-year period from 1971–1977 he painted stamps issued by forty-two countries that he conjured from his imagination. Evans traced each stamp design in pencil, then completed it with watercolour and pen and ink. To simulate stamp perforations, he punched out rows of full-stops on an old typewriter. He enjoyed considerable success while he was alive, and had solo gallery shows in Amsterdam, London, New York, Paris and Washington, DC. (He died, tragically, in a house fire in Amsterdam aged just thirty-three.) In an interview for Paris Review in 1975, Evans revealed that ‘The stamps are a kind of diary or journal... It’s vicarious travelling for me to a made-up world that I like better than the one that I’m in. No catastrophes occur. There are no generals or battles or warplanes on my stamps. The countries are innocent, peaceful, composed.’ In What Am I Doing Here?, Bruce Chatwin concluded: ‘By common consent, the art of the drop-out generation is a mess — and the art of Donald Evans is the antithesis of mess. Nor is it niggling. Nor is it precious. Yet I can’t think of another artist who expressed more succinctly and beautifully the best aspirations of those years: the flight from war and the machine; the asceticism; the nomadic restlessness; the yearning for sensual cloud-cuckoo-lands; the retreat from public into private obsessions, from the big and noisy to the small and still.’ 04


‘It’s vicarious travelling for me to a made-up world that I like better than the one that I’m in. No catastrophes occur. There are no generals or battles or warplanes on my stamps. The countries are innocent, peaceful, composed.’ Donald Evans


Evans’ art resonates twice: In the beauty of the stamps themselves, and in the imagination that spawned them. Evans augmented the artworks with postcards which he sent to friends, carefully postmarked with a rubber stamp he carved from a pencil eraser. He also developed the histories, geographies, customs, languages, and flora and fauna of his countries. That he seized on the singular idea of stamps as a way of directly transporting us to these fantastic places may be his most profound achievement. The table begins with the explicit nature of non-fiction, and so ends with the implicit nature of fiction. Paradoxically, fiction has more in common with non-fiction than any of the other murphy types, as once again there is no practical intention to deceive, even playfully. Just as with non-fiction, fiction is processed by the reader with a tacit understanding of the nature of the contents. We understand that, while there is no fact in the book, there may be truth. Again, whether or not the work succeeds at this is moot: the attempt is honest. We understand what has been attempted and the transactive rules of storytelling have been respected. The Murphy Table allows us to more readily understand what a storyteller is doing, be they writer, visual artist, performer or pretender. While Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, for example, is shelved under ‘fiction’ in bookshops, it really has more in common with E-Type murphies, as the author notes a list of spurious ‘facts’ at the beginning of the book to give the fictional narrative some real-world heft. George MacDonald Fraser performs a similar trick with his Flashman novels, though with a more elegant touch. The conceit of the books is held in their introductions, in which Fraser spins a yarn about having discovered Flashman’s memoirs at auction, and how he himself is merely the editor and presenter of these papers. Despite the legal clarification on the books’ imprint pages citing Fraser as the author of the works, a number of historical enthusiasts enthusiastically took the memoirs to be authentic, despite

Flashman already being a well-established fictional character from Thomas Hughes’ 1957 novel Tom Brown’s School Days.

Fraser’s The Flashman Papers, Vol. 1

Again the Murphy Table enables us to better sympathise with the misunderstanding: Fraser goes to the lengths of adding marginal notes to his own work, occasionally ‘correcting’ Flashman’s recollections and offering more viable dates and explanations. As such, even though Fraser’s books are also shelved under ‘fiction’, they have more in common with a D-Type Murphy. It is always a fun game to imagine such books, photographs or papers being found in ten thousand years’ time. Without explanation, what would our descendants make of Kujau’s diaries, Carlsen’s images, or Evans’ stamps? They may reassess Hitler’s motives; they may wonder at the ingenuity effected to help our fellow man; they may imagine new Atlantean myths, speculate on tidal disasters. Whether this matters or not is a matter of debate, especially if we consider, for example, the endurance of holy texts. For mankind a truth will always resonate more deeply, and more widely, than a fact, giving stories the power to endure long after records have decayed. All we can hope to do is to understand an intention, to get to the heart of the matter at hand and to learn to appreciate the messages received.


AddendA Three more murphies of notable interest

Wilhelm Voigt ‘The Amusing Captain of Köpenick’ b.1849, d.1922 An ‘A-Type’ murphy

Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt was born in Tislit, Prussia in 1849. He took to petty crime from an early age, beginning a career of thieving at fourteen years-old. Never a skilled criminal, by the time he was 57 he had been sentenced to a total of 25 years for crimes ranging from theft to forgery. Finally released from prison in 1906, he drifted from town to town until his sister invited him to live with her in Rixdorf. Having learned shoemaking from his father, he briefly found work at a shoe factory until local police discovered his record and expelled him as an undesirable. He made to leave for Hamburg, but in fact remained in the area as an unregistered citizen. Voigt, not to be defeated, hatched a plan. Having purchased all the parts of a German Captain’s uniform from various second-hand shops and bazaars, he dressed himself up and made his way to the local army barracks, stopping four grenadiers and a sergeant on his way and ordering them to accompany him. Once at the barracks he commandeered six more soldiers from the shooting range, and marched the lot to the station. From here he took the train to Köpenick, marching them on arrival to the city hall. Here he ordered everyone to stop what they were doing, and instructed his men to cover all exits. The local police were told to maintain order and

to prevent calls from the post office to Berlin for one hour. He then turned to the treasurer and the mayor, and arrested them on suspicion of fraud. Confiscating 4002 marks and 37 pfennigs (the exact figure is known due to the fact that he signed a receipt) he told the grenadiers to escort the arrested men to Berlin for interrogation, and told the remaining guards to stay in place for thirty minutes. He then left for the train station where he changed back into his civilian clothes, and disappeared. Over the following days, reactions were polarised. The press were fascinated, sensing a terrific story. The public were delighted at this tale of old man Voigt, who dressed up as a captain and robbed city hall. The army were outraged, and began their own investigation. It didn’t take long for the authorities to catch up with him. He was arrested on 26th October and sentenced to four years in prison for forgery, impersonating an officer, and wrongful imprisonment. It was now the public’s turn to be outraged, and the noise soon reached the ears of the Kaiser, Wilhelm II. The Kaiser, unexpectedly, was reported to have been amused by the incident, taking the view that Voigt was more amiable scoundrel than wicked criminal. Perhaps most importantly, he was impressed that simply appearing to be a German captain inspired such obedience in others. For years he had been instilling into his people a reverence for the omnipotence of militarism. Voigt’s caper proved, extraordinarily, that the scheme had succeeded.

in Dresden, Vienna and Budapest in variety shows and amusement parks. In 1909 he published his book, How I Became the Captain of Köpenick. Yet by 1910 his celebrity was already dwindling. He moved to Luxembourg, having received a life pension from a sympathetic Berlin dowager, where he bought a house and retired. But post-World War I inflation ruined him, and he found himself returned to penury. He died in 1922. Nevertheless his legend lived on. A number of successful books, plays and television dramas were produced in Germany, one of which was adapted into English by John Mortimer, and performed by the National Theatre company at the Old Vic with Paul Scofield as Voigt. A bronze statue of Voigt, in full Captain’s dress, stands outside the City Hall in Köpenick, apparently looking for a carriage.

Poster for the 1956 West German film Most importantly he is now viewed by many in Germany as a victim of official prejudice, caught in the Kafka-esque situation of not being able to get work without a resident permit, and not being able to get a resident permit without work. His story is taught to this day in German schools as an example of tenacious resistance against an unjust bureaucracy.

Voigt’s arrest sheet Voigt wasted no time in capitalising on his fame. His effigy was in the wax museum in Unter den Linden only four days after his release. He even arrived to sign photographs as ‘The Captain of Köpenick’ but was soon ejected by unamused local authorities. He appeared in a play that depicted his exploits, and toured

Voigt’s statue, Köpenick City Hall


George Psalmanazar ‘The First Formosan in Europe’ b. c.1679, d. 1763 A ‘B-Type’ murphy

‘Amy Pornio, dan chin Ornio vicy, Gnayjorhe sai Lory, Eyfodere sai Bagalin, jorhe sai domion apo chin Ornio, kay chin Badi eyen, Amy khatsada nadakchion toye ant nadayi, kay Radonaye ant amy Sochin, apo ant radonern amy Sochiakhin, bagne ant kau chin malaboski, ali abinaye ant tuen Broskacy, kens sai vie Bagalin, kay Fary, kay Barhaniaan chinania sendabey. Amien.’ (Psalmanazar’s translation of The Lord’s Prayer into ‘Formosan’, one of the earliest examples of an invented language.) Details of George Psalmanazar’s origins are scarce. Indeed, we don’t even know his real name. He was probably born in 1679 somewhere near Languedoc, southern France. According to his autobiography he was educated first in a Franciscan school and then in a Jesuit seminary. He was a precocious boy with an extraordinary talent for languages and a powerful desire to see more of the world. Only a lack of money hindered his progress. This he remedied by pretending to be an Irish pilgrim, having stolen a cloak and staff from a local church, and making his way around France. Unfortunately, many of the people he met were familiar with the Irish and he was soon exposed as a fraud. Not to be defeated, he set his sights further afield and drew on

missionary tales from the far east, pretending to be a Japanese convert and exhibiting a number of inventively bizarre ‘customs’ for verisimilitude, including sleeping upright and eating raw meat. Developing the idea, he next declared himself a native of Formosa (now Taiwan), a land about which very little was known, and which was therefore a safer cover. He expanded his repertoire of behaviours, claiming to venerate the sun and the moon and speaking an invented language. In 1702 he met the Scottish priest William Innes. Innes ‘converted’ him to Christianity, christened him George Psalmanazar, and took him back to England to show him off to the clergy. On reaching London, word soon spread among the chattering classes, who took this exotic visitor with his strange ways and quaint English to their bosom. Psalmanazar wasted no time in cementing his place. Within two years he had published his first book, An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa. He described its customs, economy, geography and history – all either invented or inspired by travel reports from other far-flung places. The book was a huge success, enjoying a reprint within the year and with French and German editions following soon after. Readers thrilled to tales of naked warriors, snake suppers, child sacrifice and underground cities. He even gave a lecture at the Royal Society.

‘Formosan Tabernacle’ drawn by Psalmanazar But Psalmanazar’s real masterstroke was to draw on his great talent for languages, setting down the Formosan language and alphabet. Not only was it one of the earliest examples of an invented language, but it was so convincing that it was still being referenced more than fifty years later, despite Psalmanazar having been exposed by then.

Psalmanazar’s ‘Formosan’ alphabet Psalmanazar’s star would rise no higher. He developed an opium addiction and wasted his money on ill-advised business ventures. Critically, genuine reports from Formosa were now beginning to appear. In 1706 he confessed to his fraud, and after the briefest of outrages, the public’s enthusiasm dwindled. Nursing his wounds, it was in language he regained solace. The local clergy, perhaps impressed by his natural facilities, were generous enough to grant him the money to study theological Hebrew. Intriguingly, he also struck up a close friendship with Samuel Palmer, and co-authored Palmer’s A General History of Printing (1732). He then turned to writing an authentic study of Formosa, criticising his former exploits. His faith in now God re-awakened, his studies culminated in an anonymously published collection of theological essays in 1753. Living on an admirer’s annual pension of £30, his last years were spent writing his confessional autobiography. He died in 1763, the book of his extraordinary life published posthumously.


JEFF DE BOER Artist b. 1963 An ‘F-Type’ murphy

In the cartoon world of Tom and Jerry, cat and mouse do daily battle armed with skillets, flypaper, tacks and inconveniently placed rollerskates. In essence it is guerilla warfare – never-ending, conducted with the materials to hand, and with only the occasional armistice in the face of a third-party combatant. In Jeff de Boer’s world, the relationship between the species is positively medieval. Cats have evil-looking helmets ridged with deadly spikes to protect sensitive ears and noses. Mice have full-body armour, the nose-to-tail platelets terminating in scorpion-like tails. Whether de Boer’s battle pets are at war with each other or with us is left untold. Whichever, they’ve evidently been engaged in bloody combat across centuries and nations, from the days of the Roman empire to feudal Japan and chivalric Europe. Jeff de Boer was born in Calgary, Canada, in 1963, the son of a profes-

Black Knight Mouse

sional tinsmith. Interested in art from a young age, it was only during his last years of high school that he started to make serious enquiries into metalwork, a developing passion that culminated in the building of his first suit of armour. In 1984 he enrolled at the Alberta College of Art and Design to study jewellery design. Combining his new skills in jewellery with his knowledge of armour-making, he produced the world’s first and only suit of armour for a mouse. As in nature, more mice followed and were soon pursued by cats. All of the pieces in this particular collection are master classes in the most precise and delicate forms of metalwork. They are made as if for an ancient emperor, hand-tooled to millimetric precision with beautifully composed narrative reliefs and mystic warrior symbolism. In form they are equally breathtaking. Every anatomical detail appears measured for comfort, movement and protection, impressing the vitalness of function. Had any of the great warrior kings of history – Genghis Khan, Atilla the Hun, Alexander the Great – been shown de Boer’s Kwan Helmet for a Rottweiler, one feels certain that he would have inspired the commission of a canine horde. The piece is a true extension of the warrior spirit – the romance of Parsifal, the wild menace of the Vikings and the gory lustre of gladiatorial Rome. What de Boer might do with Hannibal’s elephants we can only jealously imagine.

Space Objects depart from the hand-carved historical into a colder, futuristic world of machined parts, meticulously assembled into fantastic deadly-looking devices and hypodermic projectiles. But the stylistic coldness of the pieces is mitigated with his signature attention to form. Ming the Merciless styling blends seamlessly with practical ergonomics – however otherworldly they look, these are still human weapons. The cat and mouse armour references a classically understood past, but the pistols reference a popularly imagined future.

Alien Duelling Pistols Corporate Ties from Executive Armour describe another kind of combat entirely – the boardroom battles of capitalism. That executives and middle-managers require a battle tie is a humorous conceit that plays on the nobility of warrior symbolism whilst simultaneously poking fun at their self-image. That he has done so while giving equal attention to both individual identity and the necessary movements of the human form is testament to his dedication to his craft. From Ancient Rome via Planet Mongo to the cut and thrust of capitalist politics, de Boer exercises the craft of battle like no other modern artist.

Samurai Siamese De Boer’s first solo show, opening after eight years of private making in his parents’ garage, was called Articulation. Featuring some 140 works, it opened at the Muttart Gallery in Calgary and went on to tour around western Canada for the next two years. The work was collected into four discrete areas: armour for cats and mice; armour for executives; exoforms; and space objects. De Boer’s Alien Duelling Pistols from

Corporate Tie


Bibliography & SOURCES

Harris, Robert

BROWN, DAN

Selling Hitler: The Story of the Hitler Diaries Faber and Faber 1987

The Da Vinci Code Bantam Books, 2003 MacDonald Fraser, george

01

Crichton, Robert

The Great Impostor Random House 1959, pp. 102–103

The Flashman Papers (12 books) HarperCollins, 2005 Weissbrodt, Klaus

02

Design Taxi

designtaxi.com (Cited content no longer available)

Koepenickia www.koepenickia.de Lynch, Jack

03

It’s Nice That #6

An Interview With Asger Carlsen It’s Nice That 2011, p.60 Borges, Jorge Luis

A Universal History of Iniquity Penguin Classics 2006

Orientalism as Performance Art: The Strange Case of George Psalmanazar (Lecture delivered 29.01.99 at the CUNY Seminar on Eighteenth-Century Literature) http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/ ~jlynch/Papers/psalm.htm Psalmanazar, George

04

Chatwin, Bruce

What Am I Doing Here? Viking 1989, p.265

Memoirs of ____, Commonly Known by the Name of George Psalmanazar; a Reputed Native of Formosa London, 1764

EISENHART, WILLIE

The World of Donald Evans Abbeville Press, 1980

De Boer, Jeff

www.jeffdeboer.com


‘A Man may, if he pleases, invent a little world of his own, with its own laws’

Little Worlds: An Introduction to The Murphy Table  

Illustrated essay on The Murphy Table, a classification system for types of deceit and conceit in storytelling.

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