I want to tell you about a friend and writer – Malcolm Stewart – Initially a priest, Malcolm’s life sparkles with many roles – poet, singer-songwriter, editor, book jacket designer, cartoonist, BBC and ITV producer, UN project coordinator, NGO relief-aid and refugee organiser, artist, stained glass designer, lecturer and writer, friend, husband and father to 5 children … He is now in his 70s and lives with his wife, Nora, in Surrey. The Maze below is one of his many designs waiting to be collated and shared.
Maze design by Malcolm Stewart
Having published Patterns of Eternity, of which more later, Malcolm wrote a second book, Symbols of Eternity. In the process of delivering the manuscript to his publisher, Floris Books, in March 2011, Malcolm suffered a stroke, which deeply shocked his family and friends.
He consequently lingered in a coma – drifting in and out of consciousness over a period of 5 weeks. Helped by the extraordinary determination of his wife, Nora, intense rehabilitation, the healing skills of friends, and the prayers of many, Malcolm gradually recovered speech and movement. During 2012/13 he improved in leaps and bounds. He now walks several miles a day, is his old delightful conversationalist, and has made friends with his computer again. He is working on another book, Light of Eternity (landmarks of a soul’s journey) and, in addition, is completing a novel he had kept hidden in drawers for years – Dictionary of Amazement.
Malcolm and Nora Stewart, photo by Peter Langford
We met up last week, and I asked him to sum up Dictionary of Amazement in a single sentence (a question I dread when it comes to my own novels.) His face lit up – A Tall Story – he said. It was one of those moments when you can hear the angels clapping. He read me the first chapter from the screen of his computer, and I can’t wait to read more.
Malcolm’s work inspires me. Even as a child I was in awe of music, forms and patterns in nature, proportions in art and architecture, the cosmos … and though I remained shy of mathematics, I recall my joy on discovering that all these manifestations could be based on mathematical principles of numbers made visible through geometric shapes, revealing a golden mean that pervades all systems. As I see it, evolution is the adventure of discovering the intersections from which new forms forever develop. Or, to re-appropriate the line of a poem by John Masefield I came across the other day (through Brain Pickings) … the mind re-members the beauty of fire from the beauty of embers …
At intervals to writing this, I was dashing into the kitchen to check on the setting point of my Damson jam, which requires a fine knack of proportions – fruit, sugar, lemon, a little water. We’re all born with a knack for proportions – though this tends to get obscured by an education that tips the scale of balance by valuing quantity over quality.
While much has been written on sacred geometry, Malcolm’s book is unusual. Not only does it welcome lay persons, like me, and entertain with rare, charming stories, and sumptuous illustrations, it also presents a simple device of great significance, the Starcut Diagram.
John Martineau writes in his review about Patterns of Eternity … the single most important addition to the body of sacred geometry to re-emerge in a decade …
Look up the book Patters of Eternity (first time I try to do an ‘elegant’ link 🙂
An excerpt of my review: … The Star Cut Diagram introduced by Malcolm Stewart is an eye-opener in that it sheds light on one of the simplest and earliest geometric construction known, which he suspects pre-dates Euclid by thousands of years, a mnemonic device, and the template of many significant patterns throughout history and across the world … in architecture, art, rituals … a way of seeing and connecting things up.
Here a few themes from the book …
Chapter 8, The Hidden Geometry of The Divine Raphael. This chapter made me realise why Raphael’s paintings are so appealing. Malcolm first noticed the geometry in his painting The Transformation, which perfectly fitted the boundary rectangle of two circles interlocking as a Vesica Piscis, a ration that is also the perfect 5th harmony in music, like the notes C and G played together, or in sequence. The simple 2:3 ratio, root of all this, is as harmonious to the eye as to the ear or to the mind. What fascinates is how the directional gaze of the characters in the painting brings meaning to the theme.
Raphael – The School of Athens
The chapter also explores Raphael’s fresco set in a semicircle, The School of Athens. In the ceiling medallion (not visible here) it says Causarum Cognito (Knowledge of Causes.) The female figure of philosophy in the medallion holds two books, one vertically, which is titled ‘Morals,’ the other horizontally, titled ‘Nature,’ resonating with the two central philosophers – where Plato points to heaven and Aristotle gestures to the earth. All the well-known philosophical figures in this stage-like painting also represent ideas, and Malcolm expands on their connections in detail, adding inspired meaning by overlaying the diagram of the Starcut.
Chapter 21, The Lyre of Apollo, applies the Starcut diagram to architectural spaces and relates to vibrations and resonances. Images show samples of standing waves created by sound within different elements. And the tonal vibrations of the human voice are discussed, like Psalm singing, the reciting of Indian puja, Sufi Zikhr, Buddhist sutra chanting or mantra. Practising this kind of tuning in groups (as I experienced) powerfully tunes mind and body. The chapter goes on to elaborate on the length, tension and ratio of musical strings, using once more the Starcut diagram to show the consistent harmony of numbers, and the hidden one that remains quiet.
By bringing light and clarity to simple forms, with beautiful illustrations, the materials presented throughout the 25 chapters convey a deep intuitive connectedness, which makes this book a joy to explore.
A surprise at the end of the book introduces 5 Starcut Glass Bead games, not featured here.
You can listen to Malcolm reading a little from Patterns of Eternity on yourtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N8QiyJU_SY
Dip into it at Amazon – PATTERNS OF ETERNITY http://www.amazon.co.uk/Patterns-Eternity-Geometry-Starcut-Diagram/dp/0863157122/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i
And also look at SYMBOLS OF ETERNITY http://www.amazon.co.uk/Symbols-Eternity-Landmarks-Soul-Journey/dp/0863158374/ref=pd_sim_b_2