By Kevin Warwick


From Puccini to Geri Halliwell, from Monet to David Hockney, from Delibes' music to jewellery that changes colour, my brush with art was sorted. Poetry was never high on the agenda, after I waved goodbye, at school, to the Assyrian's coming down and a fair measure of half a league, half a league. So the chance of meeting with a modern-day poet was a delightful injection of diversity.

Lunch with Michael Donaghy surprised me, with discussion ranging from my own Cyborg research, linking implants to my nervous system, through the everyday trials and tribulations of a contemporary poet's life to the ups and downs of our favourite soccer teams. We were, to all intents and purposes, merely a couple of guys chatting over a pint in the local hostelry. So what poetry could possibly erupt from such mundane beginnings? I awaited Michael's outpourings, like a nervous teenager waiting for A level results, excitement and anticipation ringed with nervousness and a smattering of foreboding. What would Michael make of the research that I was doing? Would he say what a great guy I was, or conversely paint me as an ogre and a tyrant? Most importantly, would I understand it at all?

The big day arrived and I tentatively opened Michael's email attachment to reveal the title 'Grimoire'. What the hell did that mean? A skimp through the verses themselves left me none the wiser. I understood most, not all, of the words, but making sense of the sentences was not an instant success. Clearly I needed to think about it all; it wasn't something akin to a Jeffrey Archer novel that I could spend five minutes on, use little brain power, and forget all about next time the phone rang.

For me it was rather like reading an academic paper: not an unpleasant thing but rather something to work on. I started by picking on islands of ideas and concepts within the piece, that I felt I understood, and ventured out from these safe havens into the work in its entirety in order to taste the full flavour of its intent; when I still had difficulty with one or two references I discussed them with others and we arrived at a consensus.

I guess as a scientist I had never before given art the time of day. Either it hit me full in the face or I passed it by on the other side of the street. But here, for the first time, I had to work at it.

Grimoire—a book for summoning up demons—for me brought to life in a rather melodramatic way, an important aspect of the research that I am doing, linking humans directly with technology in order to create super humans, Cyborgs, an evolutionary step forward. The reference to Zarathustra was clear and poignant.

I found 'Grimoire' dark and frightening, leaving me with a scary taste, the sort of feeling you get at the end of Jekyll and Hyde. Like a real-world Dr Jekyll, from the inside I never see my research as frightening. But, like Dr Jekyll, I will press ahead even if others are horrified.

I respect the fact that Michael expended a considerable amount of effort to understand my science; I trust that I have responded in a similar fashion towards his poetry. For me it was a deeply moving experience. Through Michael's words I was able to look at myself in a ten-dimensional space.

50 michael donaghy and kevin warwick


An intervening object does not impede the vision of the blessed . . . Christ could see the face of his mother when she was prostrate on the ground ... as if he were looking directly at her face. It is clear that the blessed can see the front of an object from the back, the face through the back of the head.

Bartholomew Rimbertinus, On the Sensible Delights of Heaven,

Venice, 1498

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