Each sheet measures 28x39cm.
i) the first manuscript consists of two sheets of computer paper filled with text in red block lettering, and a postscript written in blue ink on a third sheet. The text in red is infused with themes of acid enlightenment and eastern mysticism, in particular zen, tantra and the hindu concept of maya (illusion), and in it Pope argues that “The creative revolution that many people have vaguely anticipated will be the gradual transformation of a whole civilisation into artists.”
The text reads in part like an acid manifesto, though the Exploding Galaxy never had an official manifesto of its own. It concludes: “This article is really about the Exploding Galaxy. If you don’t know what it is, watch out for it. But we would rather entice you than plug what we are doing. I wrote it because we appear to have an image of idle, dirty beatniks who freak-out for money, as though we could do nothing else. In fact we harbour many creative people and are aware of the coming revolution of the creative self. [signed] Edward/Galaxy”.
Pope’s motivation for writing it may have derived from the ongoing police harassment of the Galaxy’s communal space at 99 Balls Pond Road, and their numerous encounters with the police over playing and rehearsing in public (several members were arrested on the King’s Road, Chelsea in July 1967). In his afterword on the third sheet, Pope argues that “The exploding galaxy is much misunderstood and i edward pope have written the enclosed on behalf of the galaxy in order to clarify our relationship to the whole scene and i submit it to International Times in the hope that they will print it” (they didn’t).
All three sheets are written out on the verso of used computer paper printouts, the rectos of which show the amounts of rent received c. April 1966 from various properties in Newington Green (just off Balls Pond Road) and elsewhere by Highdorn Property Management (still in existence). Discarded computer paper was often used by Galaxy members, including by Gerald Fitzgerald, who is illustrated in Jill Drower’s book 99 Balls Pond Road with a “kinetegram written in quaquascript” on a long concertina’d sheet; elsewhere in the book, Drower recalls that a “favourite hunting ground” for ‘scrudging’ (scavenging) computer paper was Fitzrovia;
ii) the second manuscript, also using a dot matrix computer sheet (this time overlaying a faint print out from Highdorn, December 1965), is a visual text (“Kinetic Drama”) written in blue ink in a combination of upper and lower case script in two different orientations. It was probably made during the period when the Electric Garden in Covent Garden was being used as a regular venue by the Galaxy, and in it Pope scatters aphorisms (“art is discovering people are discovering art”), lists artists “offering their help in contributing to the whirlpool of today” (Richard Toop, Gerry Fitzgerald, David Medalla, Dom Sylvester Houédard, Soft Machine, Arthur Brown, Mike Chapman, Ernst Jandl, Henri Chopin, Jack Henry Moore), sends out an invitation to “come at an unspecific time” to the Electric Garden on “Sunday 22nd July” (actually 23rd July, when the Galaxy performed the Birdcage Ballet there), and improvises with various other forms of word jazz (‘Hydrogen Jukebox’ from Howl is referenced).
Some signs of age-related wear, but sheets uncreased and in Very Good state.
Manuscript material from the Exploding Galaxy rarely surfaces, and these texts, originally intended for publication in International Times, date from only a few months after it was founded. Edward Pope, aged 19 when he wrote them, also played a key part in the Galaxy’s formation after he introduced its founder David Medalla to Gerald Fitzgerald, who would become one of its leading lights.
Each sheet measures 28x39cm.