ZHAO BING


The time has come to say this. Again.

In 1993/94 I visited, sometimes with my partner, the homes of a few long-term friends of mine, mostly men in their mid-thirties, as I was.

In a work called
Chinese Illustrations of Immortality, I counterpointed the stories of their largely suburban, conventional lives, with the absurdly aspirational life that I was leading from a bedsit in South London, a room I rented and wrote in continuously (apart from at night, when I was invariably drinking) from 1989 to 2003.

What else can I say about this ‘unpublishable’ book? That David Bowie offered to publish it through his ’21’ company? That the original manuscript consisted of photocopies of pages, each of which was an analogue print above a paragraph of text produced on a typewriter? That every page was intended to be some combination of real, spiritual, aesthetic and funny?

Now that it's 2018, the Bowie connection is strong again in my mind, so I'll introduce the work in this way.


"I can't give everything...
I can't give everything...
I can't give everything...
...AWAY."

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Zhao Bing of the Later Han (A.D.25 - 250) used to enjoy travel. He could turn water into wine, snow into gold, and floated across rivers on a mat, blown by the wind. He could make a dried tree-root sprout flowers by placing a drip of lager on it. He often said that his vocation was to put the i in biography. For a long time no-one knew what on earth he meant.

This summer (AD 2018) I'll provide a link to a dedicated Chinese Illustrations of the Path to Immortality site. I mean the full illuminated manuscript. Just you wait and see.