Blending fantasy and history, fiction and myth, the essays of Brian George read like scripture from a lost civilization or the dream journal of a buried god. Intimate yet strangely universal, this is prose that touches on the very essence of poetry. It wipes away boundaries and liberates forces in the reader and in language itself. Masks of Origin is perhaps best described as a history of our collective soul, as seen through the prism of a singular mind. Surely, George is one of the rare living writers who truly deserve to be called visionary.
J.F. Martel, author of Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action and co-host of the Weird Studies podcast
The demand for things to simply “be what they are”—no symbols, no masks, just fungible commodities that are forgotten almost as soon as they are consumed to make way for the next meal—seems to be a hallmark of this age. If that is so, some might consider this book a sort of anachronism. But it’s the opposite: a glimpse both of what has been forgotten, and is yet to be. It contains a world of puzzles and ciphers laid out upon the meandering labyrinth path of life. It won’t get you rich, or laid, or cure your bunions. But for those who are still seeking the ineffable, (likely because they have no other choice), it is a pitcher of cool water in the desert, so that you might continue the journey, wherever it leads.
James Curcio, author of Narrative Machines: Modern Myth, Revolution, & Propaganda and Tales From When I Had A Face
In Masks of Origin, Brian George will blow your mind and make you see everything—time, space, life, death—in radically new ways. This is a delightful combination of memoir and philosophical journey. The ideas are complex, but the language is easy to follow, creating an experience that is both profound and accessible. The book is filled with personal stories that touch universal truths. I love hearing about mystical experiences and have heard many amazing stories, but Brian’s stand out for their vividness, depth, and engaging, lucid description. If you’re in the mood for a fun and mind-expanding ride, read this book!
Stephanie Wellen Levine, author of Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey among Hasidic Girls; Columnist at Hevria and The Wisdom Daily
George’s work is precisely its own thing: an archaic genre the western world has long forgotten it possessed, a genre I suspect was already defunct to the Western imagination even at the time of Homer. George is a phenomenal pagan, thrown forwards or backwards in time to this era. I will hesitate to call his work poetry, not that it does not more than serve the function of poetry, but his method is one that predates the definitions we have given poetry in modern literary theory. It is primal incantation, a spell, dreaming as vital action. In Yorubaland, the part of Nigeria where I grew up, one of the praise epithets of Aziza (a supernatural being who travels in a tornado) is, ‘He is the one for whom thought and action are one and the same.’
Olujide Adebayo-Begun, author of The Book of Supreme Happiness
I read recently that in Holland they have perfected a method that enables their asphalt roads to automatically discover their potholes and repair themselves. I believe the incantation genre, as explored by George in Masks of Origin, is a technology that assists the earth in her attempts to heal herself, after centuries of our having feasted recklessly on her flesh. George’s work harks back to a moment in time or dreamtime memory in which to speak is to act, powerfully, with cosmic stealth, and at times with purgative violence. Its aim is less to inform—though it informs aplenty—than to widen the reader’s gaze in a fundamental way, almost akin to giving the reader the gift of a new tongue.
The universe had no beginning. Reality always existed. The earliest tradition of poetry, carried from Sun to Sun, is carried by Brian George.
Don Burgy, artist, writer, teacher
Brian George steps over voids with legs that are rainbows, which snap like bands back into his body, catapulting him into the abyss. He free-falls, unwinding from the eye of Providence and plummeting down the spine of Babel. Leaving more than just a smoking crater, he penetrates to the earth’s molten core, absorbing the shock of earthquakes and storing the energy in his bones, tracing what lay scattered, no matter how disparate and disjointed, back to primal source. He plunges all back in the fire and melts it down to extract what will endure.
John Dockus, artist
Cooling after his incredible creative and alchemical process of solitary determination, Brian George emerges on the other side of earth with an ice-cap on his head, with new tools crafted, new weapons forged, and a new voice and new language even, both intimate and epic, manifold and polyphonic, in his Masks of Origin.
Steeped in myth while staying grounded in day-to-day reality, George ushers forth a contemplative surreality. His writing takes you on a journey through a labyrinth, revealing cryptic truths and exposing the long and treacherous shadow of history. Round and round the labyrinth you go, George’s words leading you like Theseus in search of the Minotaur. And when you have reached the center of the labyrinth, you find God as a detonating atomic bomb—truth as monstrosity, a darkness that illuminates.
Brandan Styles, artist and weirdo spirit
The writing of Brian George is built upon personal experience, which he translates into a universal algorithm. Each verse reads as geometrical sequence, keys that unlock pieces of consciousness. This is where poetry becomes music. The poet lives in the center of the vortex, memories flooding his vision, being assigned symbols in the matrix. Brian weaves his way through a hall of mirrors, travelling to emptiness, where the faceted diamond of knowledge is forged and brought to the surface in his writing. His words are clues; one’s understanding shifts and expands the more one reads. There are lingering questions, and passages that come into clarity over time. This only serves to enhance for the reader the incredible fortune of not-knowing, and thus, discovery.
Marjorie Kaye, artist
Over a dozen or so years of experiencing George’s writing, I have developed my perception and understanding of it. The cosmology George paints is vast, complete with montages of events and characters. The painting emerges from direct yet oddly juxtaposed language. I savor each sentence until its imagery alights within my mind and then progresses to the next, flowing across dimensions of space and spans of time. The overall effect is of an open field of consciousness. And though the ideas and events may, at times, seem alien on the surface, the writing evokes an evanescent sense of recognition. Somehow, I participated. How do I return? George’s writing creates a bridge into that liminal space.
Jason Strobus White, Shamanic Practitioner and Technologist
Lightning spans mountains when it speaks its eternal question, before the first drops begin to fall…When I picked up this beautiful book, Masks of Origin, and read it straight through over a weekend, I admit that I wanted it to end on a spanning of Ireland and Ecuador and New England in a single stroke of sound or ink that would fit on a small legible page of my journal… Instead, I was left with my both hands full of germinating seeds—and a dazzled psyche. Reminding me of an uncanny moment at a recent Los Muertos/Samhain Festival in my town, when I walked up to a beautifully costumed, masked young woman on a lit up platform, her glimmering wings outstretched in a dance. ‘Are you the Oracle?’ I asked her. ‘No,’ said she, ‘I am the Owl.’ ‘Who?’ I said. ‘Who, yes!’ she said. Ah. And now I remember earlier in Masks of Origin a spirit-opening moment when George wrote, “The Night is my idea of a good teacher.” Reader, Masks Of Origin is full of Night—the book is an invitation to a collaborative adventure full of Night’s familiars—oracles from many ages and climes—a pantheon of nocturnal raptors, gleaners, poet-prophets with their hot-and-cold -running breath speeding then slowing our daylight-brains so that the fainter whispers of the depths might be deciphered. The Pythoness at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was magnificently serious when She laid on us her impossible admonition, Gnothi Seauton (Know Thyself). Brian George’s Masks of Origin, though threaded through with the subtlest smile, is also, utterly serious when he urges us to reject nothing, to remember all that we have come through to arrive at our ‘selves,’ and to send this midnight-knowing on, farther on through the woods into city streets… reverberating like the Owl’s call.
Maía, author of See You in Our Dreams and Portraits