Great Critics and Their Ideas: Merlin the Wizard

on Zombie Abstraction, Cézanne the enchanter and art writing. Interview by Matthew Collings

By Matthew Collings

Miniature illustrating Robert de Boron’s poem ‘History of Merlin’ (c. 1280–90). Courtesy Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris Illustration showing Merlin’s building of Stonehenge, from Roman de Brut, a verse epitome by the poet Wace, fourteenth century. Courtesy British Library, London

ARTREVIEW Hi. Have you been casting spells? MERLIN THE WIZARD Not so much. This isn’t an age of my kind of spells; but it’s certainly an age of enchantment. At least if you think of the power of advertising and promotion, what Walter Benjamin calls ‘phantasmagoria’ – a world of illusions created by the mass media, in which modern people find models for their everyday behaviour but also their attitudes and prejudices, and even their deepest beliefs. He is expanding…

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