Friday, December 21, 2012

This is an article I wrote for Brian Keene's on-line magazine JOBS IN HELL in 1999:



It's as if it's my real name: the Ubiquitous DF Lewis (called this so many times, I've lost count), even called "the ridiculously prolific DF Lewis" in a recent organ!  How do I manage this? Or, perhaps more important, why?

    Well, some have claimed that I play on my reputation to get so much stuff published (at the last loose count--over 1200 different stories in touchable organs like magazines and books from 1987). I counter-claim it is DESPITE my reputation that I've managed to achieve what I have achieved. I've been hauled over the critical coals so often--sometimes so devastatingly--I wonder why anyone continues to bother publishing the little rotters at all. But still they crank out, as best as I can muster them for the neat ranks of dead insects that some call print.

    I suppose I started with a splatter-gun method of submitting, spraying all manner of stories to all manner of unlikely outlets. Some hit. Most missed. But some hit real big. I've been lucky, too. Some real nice people who knew their stuff took me under their wing and showed me how to crest the sometimes-thin thermals of creative writing. I played on my strengths and weaknesses, by beginning to quote in my blurb all the critical comments made about me—-and I mean ALL. By experience, I learned to target my submissions, but this was only perfected after about six or seven years of doing it. Luck continued apace. Knowing people, rubbing shoulders, pressing flesh, all these things HELPED. Also—-and it wouldn't be fair to leave this out—-in order to work my method above, you'd need some capital to pay for the postage and materials, especially with so many missed targets, 'black holes' and fruitless acceptances. (It's easier now, I guess, with the Internet.) I have never made any money from writing and never expect to do so.

    Anyway, back to answering "how"--I started a few years ago something I've never regretted. Collaborating stories. Better than sex, I'd say. The mutual creative brainstorming is something else! And I believe some gems have been produced and have helped me through many a writer's block. Helps you get published when you're having it away with someone more famous than you! I could go into the philosophical/linguistic background to collaborating the way I do, but that is probably another article, some time.

    I even collaborate, in effect, onanistically—-utilizing old unused pieces from the different think-world of an earlier, discrete self, mix-and-matching them with my current brain cycles. And talking about brains, mining a brand new story from fresh ore is also like collaborating … if you've got two brains, as I have! (Perhaps being a thick-skinned eccentric also helps in any venture; not that I've consciously nurtured this persona. I just am.)

    I digress. I think I've covered the main points to answer "how". As to "why"? Simple. Because DF Lewis believes what he writes is worthwhile. And, at the end of the day, that is hopefully the main answer to the question "how", too.

    DF Lewis was never born--he emerged in ineluctable slow motion. Des, however, his counterpart, was born 18 January 1948 in Walton On Naze, Essex,UK. Sun in Capricorn, Leo Rising, Pluto/Saturn close to Ascendant, highly aspected Moon in Aries and Jupiter in Sagittarius, two Grand Trines etc. School in Colchester, EssexLancaster University (1966-69 where he met his wife. Two children, (28) and (25). 1970-1992 Company Pensions expert. Lived in Croydon (South London) during that period. Now lives in Clacton on Sea,Essex. 1200+ different stories published in print outlets since 1986. His novella AGRA ASKA published to critical acclaim during 1998-9, but few seem to have read it. Received British Fantasy Society Karl Edward Wagner award in 1998. Now his website hosts an electronic forum called Weirdmonger.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Future Tearing Us, Breaking Us, Bruising Us...

‎"There's something in us that's the same, that belongs to us all; and I'll tell you what it is. It's the Future being born in us -- It's the Future tearing us, breaking us, bruising us so that it may be born."
-- from 'The Glastonbury Romance' (1933) by John Cowper Powys

Having started re-reading this massive novel in the Summer, I hope to finish it by the end of the future itself on 21/12/12.

Other quotes from this book:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eternal Alternations

 From 'The Glastonbury Romance' (1933) by John Cowper Powys:

"...Miss Crow had experienced the eternal alternations, the great antipodal feelings of human experience, the shudder of death and 'the pleasure which there is in life itself!' And she was a woman to miss little, though she kept her own counsel of these experiences!"

Cf: 'The Conspiracy Against The Human Race' by Thomas Ligotti

Friday, December 14, 2012

John Cowper Powys' premonition of the Internet

After my reading yesterday of Sam Dekker's high mystic encounter with the Grail in the remarkable 'Is it a Tench?' scene, today's quoted passage from 'The Glastonbury Romance' (1933) by John Cowper Powys brings us down to earth - or does it? 

 "Poor old Abel had been suffering of late from two most vexing physical maladies, either of which would have rendered him miserable, but which together broke down his spirit. One was his villainous constipation, and the other a still worse attack of piles. With the utmost difficulty, under the encouragement of his faithful crony Number Two, the old man had been persuaded to go to the hospital clinic; but the slap-dash methods of the internes, and an interview, in an ether-smelling corridor, with the competent Aunt Laura, had sent him home trembling with nervous indignation, and resolute to confine himself henceforward to his own private remedies -- Beecham's Pills for the first trouble and copious Vaseline for the second."

'internes' is sic. A vague premonition of 'internet'?

PS: One wonders if the tench was meant to relate to the stench (!) that must have accompanied Sam's application of the enema on Abel Twig and the conveyance away of the then full chamber pot past the stew cooking in the kitchen. The two events: the enema and the grail are more or less connected explicitly by Powys in this section. Or was it the chamber pot and the grail?

All my previous quotes linked from here:

Some later comments on my Facebook: IS IT A TENCH?
DB: Des indeed... one of the weightiest, most profound questions in all fiction.
JBC: Is that a fish? 

Des Lewis Yes, but David is right.
JBC: To sum up. In this fiction either the narrator or a character asks the reader or another character of a tench, asumed to be such in the fiction, is it a tench and that's the weightiest question in all fiction? I'd ask David to expatiate but he might and it might be lengthy and I'd have to wait till he finished while all the time believing otherwise and not expecting my mind to be changed by him. Oh! he's being ironic. Is he being ironic? You don't hink he is. I'm throwing this fish back.
Des Lewis This is another Facebook post by DB on a different thread: [[hmmm...... I've always thought the repeated "is it a tench?" question was emblematic of the tendency to respond in an almost ridiculously matter-of-fact way to something absolutely transcendent; and the conjunction of the grail scene with the enema scene a parallel but not exactly comparable pairing of the most elevated with the most base. Both seem to me to embody profound truths about human experience and reaction. I'd not matched "tench" and "stench" though... that's interesting too.]]

Des Lewis I then added a linkage between the Holy Grail scene (is it a tench?) and the Chamber Pot scene (where the results of an enema are put).

JBC: The question's repeated? The author was imputing to the character doubt of his eyes and understanding of the obvious (though one fish might look much like another, but not if he's repeating the question). Something's being imputed. It can't be a matter-of-fact way, because of the repetition. Could be a neurotic tic. How the fuck's a tench transcendent? of fishy Xianity? Oh well, it would, in Glastonbury and that myth of Joseph Arimathea, and the grail, but only if you're predisposed yourself to invest with transcendence (which I wouldn't be). But the author presumably is, so might be pairing what he thinks most elevated with the base (though I might make a closer pairing that the grail itself or at least its contents are emetic.) Is it David not matching tench with stench or the author? Matching fish with cunt, perhaps? intentionally or unconsciously?
Des Lewis I think I am the only one linking tench and stench, grail and chamber pot, although Powys seems to indicate in the text some form of linkage. I read this book first in 1976 and again this year(am still reading its 1200 close-printed pages). If you're not mystical or of a transcendent frame of mind before you start it, I 'Pascal's wager' that you will be by the time you finish it?
Des Lewis Someone seems to have asked the same question - quite innocently? - on this cooking forum here:
Untitled Painting by Ade Hodges

Thursday, December 13, 2012



My other quotes from 'A Glastonbury Romance' by John Cowper Powys:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

animula, vagula, blandula

Today's quoted passage from 'A Glastonbury Romance' (1933) by John Cowper Powys. [I've today realised that I've got the title wrong in all my recent posts about this book. It should be 'A Glastonbury Romance' not 'The Glastonbury Romance'!]

"His father's hands came out of his pockets now and one of them was thrust into the aquarium! He had caught sight of something there that Sam, at any rate, ha
d never seen in the aquarium; no! not since as a small child, he had watched his father changing its water and its weeds.
There were now three kinds of weeds in the aquarium, two of them river-weeds, and one of them a pond-weed; and it was in an entanglement of this pond-weed that Mat Dekker had found what was such a shock to him and what, at any other time, would have been an event of the first importance in Glastonbury Vicarage. He had found a dead fish.
'Dead! One of the Meare-Rhyne ones!' muttered Mat Dekker now, holding out the tiny little corpse for Sam to see.
It looked very small indeed in the priest's great brown palm -- very small and silvery -- like an 'animula, vagula, blandula' in the hand of God.
'That's what it is -- one of the Meare-Rhyne ones!' echoed Sam."

My other quotes from this book:

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Picturesquey and Deboshed

Today's quoted passage from 'The Glastonbury Romance' (1933) by John Cowper Powys:

"...the Protagonist and Antagonist of this memorable occasion. Never had the contrast between the two men been more marked.
Philip was dressed in a fawn-coloured overcoat and light soft grey hat. He wore spats beneath his blue-serge trousers and in his hand he carried a cane with a round jasper knob that Persephone
had given him. He had a red camellia in his buttonhole and his whole demeanour was composed, debonair, alert.
Bloody Johnny, on the contrary, was really scandalously attired. He had dodged, as his custom was, on public occasions, all attempts of his family to groom him. He was not even picturesquey untidy. He looked like a deboshed verger who had turned billiard-marker in some fifth-rate club."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Nietzsche's Braces

Today's quoted passage from 'The Glastonbury Romance' (1933) by John Cowper Powys:

"Furtively in the darkness she allowed herself to fondle the man's muscular wrist; and then from his wrist her long slim hand slipped down to his great swaying hips. Here, as her fingers strayed, she found one of the leather straps of his braces hanging loose; for when he had been buying that set of heavy tea-cups at Wollop's, he had been persuaded to purchase a new pair of braces for himself by the youth who read Nietzsche and these articles his powerful fingers found it very difficult to button. When he felt her knuckles against his side the spontaneous intimacy of the gesture tickled his fancy as much as her actual touch tickled his ribs; and with a deep-drawn chuckle he stopped dead.
'Do it up, if you can, kid!' he laughed. 'It's beaten *me*, that bit of leather.'
She put both her hands to it and finally -- though not without an effort -- she got it fastened. This was the first time in Persephone's whole life that she had buttoned a man's button."

Other quotes:

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Candy Ion

It was a Biblical mote that caused a negative electrical charge via the optic fuse -- becoming the increasingly searing pain of the mysterious iritis disease, a disease intermittently besetting Desmond's eyes since he was a young man in the early 1970s, till treated, each time, with special steroid drops. Without such treatment, an inner-beam of agonising blindness would parthenogenetically ensue.

Desmond's wife -- for whom he had a choice of affectionate epithets amid the general condition of marriage that, at its optimum, provided a powerfully mutual I.O.U. -- oscillated, like most wives, between pity and scorn. After all these years she no longer claimed to be his youthful 'eye candy' but she nevertheless retained a seasoned charm: a bespoke spell that could elicit a miracle cure from the least likely of sources... A kickstart from despair. A remedial, if rogue, ricochet from the interface of negative and positive.

Desmond had long surrendered any chance of ever ridding himself of chronic iritis, but he suddenly wondered if crying with the right sort of tears might cleanse for good the organic roots within the optic labyrinth, just as syringing by a nurse could spirit away earwax in a different bodily organ. And a wife, if nobody else, had the power, he thought, to synergise her twin natures as nurse and aggravant with electrically emotional charges at each end of the marital spectrum induced at the precise magical moment of serendipitous catalysing.

But those charges had to be sincerely experienced, by both of them as inducer and recipient. He had to stir the mixed feelings that marriage often made into the most powerful of palliatives. He had to ignite the greatest sweetness within the greatest rancour by means of the greatest skilfully synchronised co-incidence.

He stared at his wife and uttered the most annoying of husbandly nonsenses with the most disarming charm. And the consequent tussle of mutual accusation and forgiveness brought irrigating tears of both laughter and sadness to their eyes as syphoned by the accompanying contrast of deep sincerity and alter-cation, resulting in the greatest surge of emotion that had ever been induced by the iconic magic of marriage.

"Thanks, sugar," Desmond softly said, as his iritic orbs were assuaged by the delicately balanced sight of the spirit summoned between them. But do Biblical miracles ever really take hold? Through a veil of tears, each face faced the other face with a sense of seasoned love coupled with a paradoxical pang of both certainty and misplaced hope. For ever or never, amen. Ion or Eon.