David Woodard

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David Woodard
David Woodard in Seattle (2013)
Born (1964-04-06) April 6, 1964 (age 54)
Santa Barbara, California
Occupation Writer, conductor, businessman
Literary movement Postmodernism
Spouse Sonja Vectomov

David Woodard (born April 6, 1964) is an American writer, conductor and businessman. During the 1990s he coined the term prequiem (abbreviation of preemptive requiem), a neologism that describes his Buddhist enterprise of composing a dedicated piece of music to be conducted during or slightly before its intended subject's passing.[1]

Los Angeles memorial services at which Woodard has conducted music include a 2001 civic ceremony held at the defunct Angels Flight funicular railway honoring mishap casualty Leon Praport and his injured widow Lola, for which Hill Street was cordoned off.[2][3] He has conducted wildlife requiems, including for a California Brown Pelican on the berm crest of a beach where the animal had fallen.[4]

Woodard is known for his copies of the Dreamachine, which have been exhibited in art museums throughout the world. In Germany he is known for contributions to the literary journal Der Freund, including writings on inter-species karma, plant consciousness and the Paraguayan settlement Nueva Germania.[5]


Woodard was educated at University of California, Santa Barbara, The New School for Social Research, Columbia University, San Francisco State University, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Nueva Germania

File:With the schweikhart brothers.jpg
David Woodard with settlers Max and Fritz Schweikhart, Nueva Germania (2004)

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. To advance his plan, Woodard travelled to the vegetarian 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, which he examined in subsequent writings. What particularly interests him are the proto-transhumanist underpinnings (e.g., self-exile) of speculative planner Richard Wagner and Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who along with her husband Bernhard Förster co-founded and lived in the colony from 1886 to 1889.

From 2004 to 2006 Woodard led numerous expeditions to Nueva Germania, winning support from then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.[6] In 2011 Woodard granted the Swiss novelist Christian Kracht[7] permission to publish their sizable personal correspondence, largely concerning Nueva Germania, in two volumes under the University of Hanover imprint Wehrhahn Verlag. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung observed of the correspondence, "The staging belongs to life as gin to tonic."[8] Der Spiegel would deem the first volume, Five Years, Vol. 1,[9] the "spiritual preparatory work"[10] of Kracht's subsequent novel Imperium.

According to Andrew McCann, "Kracht accompanied Woodard on a trip to what is left of the place, where descendents of the original settlers live in drastically reduced circumstances. As the correspondence reveals, Kracht at least humoured Woodard’s desire 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 residence."[11] In recent years Nueva Germania has tempered into a more genial destination, with bed and breakfasts and a makeshift historical museum.


David Woodard and William S. Burroughs with a Dreamachine (1997)

Concomitantly, from 1989 to 2007, Woodard built copies of the Dreamachine,[12] a stroboscopic contrivance invented 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 it may trigger mental aberrations comparable to drug intoxication or dreaming.[n 1] After contributing a Dreamachine to William S. Burroughs' 1996 LACMA visual retrospective Ports of Entry,[13] Woodard befriended the author and presented him with a "Bohemian model" Dreamachine for his 83rd and final birthday.[14][15] Sotheby's auctioned the former machine to a private collector in 2002, and the latter remains on extended loan from Burroughs' estate at Spencer Museum of Art.[16]


  1. In 1990 Woodard invented a fictional psychoactive machine, the Feraliminal Lycanthropizer, which purportedly has an effect opposite to that of the Dreamachine.


  1. Carpenter, S., "In Concert at a Killer's Death", Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2001.
  2. Reich, K., "Family to Sue City, Firms Over Angels Flight Death", Los Angeles Times, Mar. 16, 2001.
  3. Dawson, J., Los Angeles' Angels Flight (Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2008), p. 125.
  4. Manzer, T., "Pelican's Goodbye is a Sad Song", Long Beach Press-Telegram, Oct. 2, 1998.
  5. Carozzi, I., "La storia di Nueva Germania", il Post, Oct. 13, 2011.
  6. Epstein, J., "Rebuilding a Home in the Jungle", San Francisco Chronicle, Mar. 13, 2005.
  7. Woodard, D., "In Media Res", 032c, Summer 2011.
  8. Link, M., "Wie der Gin zum Tonic", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Nov. 9, 2011.
  9. Kracht, C., & Woodard, Five Years, Vol. 1 (Hannover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2011).
  10. Diez, G., "Die Methode Kracht", Der Spiegel, Feb. 13, 2012.
  11. McCann, A. L., "Allegory and the German Half Century", Sydney Review of Books, Aug. 28, 2015.
  12. Allen, M., "Décor by Timothy Leary", New York Times, Jan. 20, 2005.
  13. Knight, C., "The Art of Randomness", Los Angeles Times, Aug. 1, 1996.
  14. Woodard, "Burroughs und der Steinbock", Schweizer Monat, Mar. 2014.
  15. U.S. Embassy Prague, "Literary Centenary", Oct. 2014.
  16. Spencer Museum of Art, "Welcome to the Spencer Collection", KU.