David Woodard

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David Woodard
Woodard in 2013
Woodard in 2013
Born (1964-04-06) April 6, 1964 (age 55)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
OccupationConductor, writer
Literary movementPostmodernism
SpouseSonja Vectomov

David Woodard (/ˈwʊdərd/; born April 6, 1964) is an American conductor and writer, and a lineal descendant of prominent colonial families.[1]:250 During the 1990s he coined the term prequiem, a portmanteau of preemptive and requiem, to describe his Buddhist practice of composing dedicated music to be rendered during or slightly before the death of its subject.[2][3]

Los Angeles memorial services at which Woodard has served as conductor or music director include a 2001 civic ceremony held at the now defunct Angels Flight funicular railway honoring mishap casualty Leon Praport and his injured widow Lola.[4][5]:125 He has conducted wildlife requiems, including for a California Brown Pelican on the berm crest of a beach where the animal had fallen.[6] He is reputed to favor colored inks in his score preparations.[7]:173

Woodard is known for his replicas of the Dreamachine, a mildly psychoactive lamp, which have been exhibited in art museums throughout the world. In Germany and Nepal he is known for contributions to the literary journal Der Freund, including writings on interspecies karma, plant consciousness and the Paraguayan settlement Nueva Germania.[8]

On his father's side Woodard's 9th great-grandmother is Frances Latham, "the Mother of Governors," who in 1638 settled on Aquidneck Island (Portsmouth), soon to become the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.[9] Through Latham, he is a direct descendant of Harald Bluetooth, Alfred the Great and Boleslaus I.[10]


Woodard was educated at The New School for Social Research and University of California, Santa Barbara.[11]

Nueva Germania[edit]

In 2003 Woodard was elected councilman in Juniper Hills (Los Angeles County), California. In this capacity, he proposed a sister city relationship with Nueva Germania, Paraguay. To advance his plan, Woodard traveled to the erstwhile vegetarian/feminist utopia and met with its municipal leadership. Following an initial visit, he chose not to pursue the relationship but had found in the community an object of study for later writings. What particularly interests him are the proto-transhumanist ideas of speculative planner Richard Wagner and Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who along with her husband Bernhard Förster founded and lived in the colony between 1886 and 1889.[11] In recognition of the colony's founding ideals, Woodard composed the choral anthem “Our Jungle Holy Land”.[12]:240–256 [13]:219

From 2004 to 2006 Woodard led numerous expeditions to Nueva Germania, winning support from then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.[14] In 2011 Woodard granted the Swiss novelist Christian Kracht permission to publish their sizable personal correspondence, largely concerning Nueva Germania,[15]:113–138 in two volumes under the University of Hanover imprint Wehrhahn Verlag.[16]:180–189 Of the letter exchange, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says, "[The authors] obliterate the boundary between life and art."[17] Der Spiegel posits that the first volume, Five Years, vol. 1,[18] is "the spiritual preparatory work" for Kracht's subsequent novel Imperium.[19]

According to Andrew McCann, Woodard embarked on “a trip to what is left of the place, where descendants of original settlers live under drastically reduced circumstances” and was moved to “advance the cultural profile of the community, and to build a miniature Bayreuth opera house on the site of what was once Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche’s family residence.”[20][n 1] In recent years Nueva Germania has tempered into a more genial destination, with bed and breakfasts and a makeshift historical museum.


From 1989 to 2007 Woodard built replicas of the Dreamachine,[21] a stroboscopic contrivance devised by Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville involving a slotted cylinder, made of copper or paper, rotating about an electrical lamp—when observed with closed eyes the machine can trigger mental aberrations that are comparable to substance intoxication and/or dreaming.[n 2] After contributing a Dreamachine to William S. Burroughs' 1996 LACMA visual retrospective Ports of Entry,[22] Woodard befriended the author and presented him with a "Bohemian model" (paper) Dreamachine for his 83rd and final birthday.[23][24]:23 Sotheby's auctioned the former machine to a private collector in 2002, and the latter machine remains on extended loan from Burroughs' estate at Spencer Museum of Art.[25]

References and notes[edit]


  1. ^ Swiss classical philologist Thomas Schmidt likens Woodard's epistolary voice to a background figure in a Thomas Pynchon novel.
  2. ^ In 1990 Woodard invented a fictional psychoactive machine, the Feraliminal Lycanthropizer, effects of which are purportedly opposite those of a Dreamachine.


  1. ^ Finnell, A. L., The Order of Americans of Armorial Ancestry: Lineage of Members (Baltimore: Clearfield, 1997), p. 250.
  2. ^ Carpenter, S., "In Concert at a Killer's Death", Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2001.
  3. ^ Rapping, A., Portrait of Woodard (Seattle: Getty Images, 2001).
  4. ^ Reich, K., "Family to Sue City, Firms Over Angels Flight Death", Los Angeles Times, Mar 16, 2001.
  5. ^ Dawson, J., Los Angeles' Angels Flight (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008), p. 125.
  6. ^ Manzer, T., "Pelican's Goodbye is a Sad Song", Press-Telegram, Oct 2, 1998.
  7. ^ Kracht, C., & Nickel, E., Gebrauchsanweisung für Kathmandu und Nepal: Überarbeitete Neuausgabe (Munich: Piper Verlag, 2012), p. 173.
  8. ^ Carozzi, I., "La storia di Nueva Germania", Il Post, Oct 13, 2011.
  9. ^ Tracy, L., "An Historic Strain of Blood in America: Frances Latham, Mother of Governors," The Journal of American History, 1908.
  10. ^ Austin, J. O., ed., Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (Albany: J. Munsell's Sons, 1887).
  11. ^ a b Riniker, C., "Autorschaftsinszenierung und Diskursstörungen in Five Years," in J. Bolton, et al., eds., German Monitor 79 (Leiden: Brill, 2016).
  12. ^ Horzon, R., Das weisse Buch (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011), pp. 240–256.
  13. ^ Opryszek, S., & Hawranek, M., Tańczymy już tylko w Zaduszki: Reportaże z Ameryki Łacińskiej (Kraków: Znak, 2016), p. 219.
  14. ^ Epstein, J., "Rebuilding a Home in the Jungle", San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 13, 2005.
  15. ^ Schröter, J., "Interpretive Problems with Author, Self-Fashioning and Narrator," in Birke, Köppe, eds., Author and Narrator (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), pp. 113–138.
  16. ^ Woodard, "In Media Res", 032c, Sum 2011, pp. 180–189.
  17. ^ Link, M., "Wie der Gin zum Tonic", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Nov 9, 2011.
  18. ^ Kracht & Woodard, Five Years (Hanover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2011).
  19. ^ Diez, G., "Die Methode Kracht", Der Spiegel, Feb 13, 2012.
  20. ^ McCann, A. L., "Allegory and the German (Half) Century", Sydney Review of Books, Aug 28, 2015.
  21. ^ Allen, M., "Décor by Timothy Leary", The New York Times, Jan 20, 2005.
  22. ^ Knight, C., "The Art of Randomness", Los Angeles Times, Aug 1, 1996.
  23. ^ U.S. Embassy Prague, "Literary Centenary", Oct 2014.
  24. ^ Woodard, "Burroughs und der Steinbock", Schweizer Monat, Mar 2014, p. 23.
  25. ^ Spencer Museum of Art, "Welcome to the Spencer Collection", KU.

External links[edit]