Welcome to the archive of the John Barleycorn blog, produced by Howard Gayton and Rex Van Ryn during the process of creating their graphic novel John Barleycorn Must Die. As part of that process, you'll find discussions of magic, of creativity, and 'Around the Table' discussions with a range of internationally known artists, writers and film makers. The graphic novel was printed in a limited edition, so if you managed to get one, good for you! Although this project is over now, we're leaving this blog online as an archive and as a snap shot in time.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Coincidence or Zeitgeist? You decide!

        H - Rex, I understand today you wish to discuss a phenomenon that has been intriguing you since we started work on this book. Is that true?
R - Yes.
H - Well go on then.
R - Well, Howard, I’ve noticed that no sooner do we explore a subject that we are writing about, but that it appears suddenly the whole world is interested in the very same. The latest of these has occurred around our use of Henry VIII and Will Sommers in our novel. Yesterday I read on the BBC today website of a play at Hampton Court called ‘All The King’s Fools,’ which explores Henry’s relationship with his Jester, Will Sommers. There is also a new TV show, called Henry 8.0, starring Brian Blessed, as Henry, living in suburban London in the present day. 
H - And what conclusion do you draw from this, Rex?
R - Well, is it coincidence?
H - It could be...or, it could be something else.
R - Like Zeitgeist?
H - Indeed. Whether coincidence or zeitgeist, it does give us the opportunity to post a few more of your deleted scenes, showing Henry VIII and Will Sommers in a police station! 

Zeitgeist 1?

Zeitgeist 2?

Zeitgeist 3?


  1. Well, that's a good question. Very relevant.
    We keep asking us the same. I oftenly think a lot about it (and my english may not be good enough to explain myself in such a complicated matter).
    But I think it's more about cycles than zeitgeist or coincidence.
    Mankind face the same problems since the very beginning. Some of them, most of them did'nt find any answers yet. But all of them have a figure.
    And we use these figures over and over again, trying to resolve the problematic.
    That's why looking at things from differents angles is so important.

  2. I think there's more to it than coincidence. I like Claire's idea, that the problems or themes that prevail in a particular time or place are always cyclical, and often a mythological or historical figure will somehow signify those problems, and so they are reinvented and reworked for a new time. Probably why vampires have been big the last few years!

  3. Didn't Jung call this 'synchroncity'? And here's another instance - my friend HM Castor has just celebrated the launch of her book "VIII" - a story of Henry's journey from golden boy of Europe to megalomaniac serial wife-killer!

    Odd, eh?