Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I am about to start reading CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell (2004).
If I happen to real-time review it, my thoughts will appear in the stream below or be found by clicking on this post’s title.
My earlier comments on his THE BONE CLOCKS here.
A real-time review by Des Lewis.

29 thoughts on “Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

  1. The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (Part 1)
    “‘Come, Adam, a wise man does not step betwixt the beast & his meat.’
    Sunday, 10th November
    Mr Boerhaave sat amidst his cabal of trusted ruffians like Lord Anaconda & his garter- snakes.”
    I am just into the first couple of pages, and I admire the (perhaps unintentional) play of ‘cannibalism’ with ‘cabal’!
  2. “Mr D’Arnoq’s preferred theorum, that the Moriori were once Maori whose canoes were wrecked upon these remotest of isles, is founded on similarities of tongue & mythology, & thereby possesses a higher carat of logic.”
    “I protested, to civilize the black races by conversion should be our mission, not their extirpation, for God’s hand had crafted them, too.”
    A Dreamcatcher real-time review approach to this book seems so far ideal for matching its real-time, well-textured narration about now scandalous mores of the White missionary, coloniser, trader of yore, e.g.
    Wednesday, 13th November – I come to my journal as a Catholick to a confessor. My bruises insist these extraordinary past five hours were not a sickbed vision conjured by my Ailment, but real events. I shall describe what befell me this day, steering as close to the facts as is possible.”
  3. Stowaway hidden in the hawser that bed-blocks Adam’s cabin…
    “‘But d— me if I pay a stowaway a single cent. He’ll work his passage to O-hawaii. If he’s no shirker he may sign articles there in the regular fashion. Mr Roderick, he can share the dead Spaniard’s bunk.’
    I have worn away a nib in narrating the day’s excitements. It is grown too dark to see.”
    Then stowaway’s backstory… But such proceedings interrupted in real-time by a seemingly unconnected
    Letters from Zedelghem (Part 1)
    “Knew I’d become the greatest composer of the century if I could only make this music mine. A monstrous Laughing Cavalier flung against the wall set off a thumping battery of percussion.”
    It’s refreshingly like some wittily verbal shyster-wordmonger of a musically trained Eric Fenby type (Frobisher) writing real-time letters to someone about his visit to a Frederick Delius type (Ayrs). (See my review of Robert Aickman’s ‘Notes on Delius’ HERE.)
    Fenby near the Fens of Belgium, as filtered through Magritte?
    When Ayrs mimics his own viola theme to Frobisher, I was reminded of Mitchell trying inchoately to fix his novel’s gestalt upon me, me the real-time reviewer or DREAMCATCHER of his book’s leitmotifs!
    “Château Zedelghem isn’t the labyrinthine House of Usher it seems at first. True, its west wing, shuttered and dust-sheeted to pay for modernization and upkeep of the east, is in a woebegone state, and will need the demolishers before v. long I fear. Explored its chambers one wet afternoon.”
    Robert W Chambers – Lethal Chamber Music?
    “After ten pages I felt Nietzsche was reading me, not I him,…”
    Mitchell reading this review of mine? Or Frobisher is reading the truncated Adam Ewing account in the first part of Cloud Atlas? Mid 19th century meets early to mid 20th century around the serendipitous conduits and bends of the ‘synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’?
  4. “One blind man with a gun and v . little left to lose. Imagine the mess I could make!”
    Indeed, blind visually, or spiritually?
    “‘Without a thorough mastery of counterpoint and harmonics,’ V.A. puffed, ‘this fellow’ll never amount to anything but a hawker of fatuous gimmickry. Tell your friend that from me.’ I fumed in silence. V.A. told J. to put on a gramophone recording of his own ‘Scirocco Wind Quintet’. She obeyed the truculent old bully. To console myself, I remembered how J.’s body is under her crêpe-de-Chine summer dress, and how hungrily she slips into my bed. V. well, I shall gloat a little over my employer’s cuckold’s horns. Serves him right. An old sick prig is still a prig.”
    Hawser –> Hawker –> Hawler?
    I have been listening to ‘La Creation du Monde” by Darius Milhaud, while reading about V. Ayrs arriving musically hot-footed with a new theme to be ‘fixed’ by Frobisher, in the middle of the night, and Mrs Ayrs vanishes into a hill of bedcovers having been there to be tupped by Frobisher, our real-time epistolarian, a Rossini sex romp as well as a Thomas Mann Magic Mountain or Dr Faustus of classical music twist and turns…
    Some speaking French in this section as well as a freehold author-god’s procreation of this world, a world that is this book postcreated from real-time accounts, later recreated retrocausally by these my own real-time review accounts of reading such earlier real-time accounts of past events…
  5. “Sir E. glanced at us now and then to make sure he was not wearing out his host. ‘Not at all.’ We smiled back. They fenced over such topics as saxophones in orchestras, whether Webern is Fraudster or Messiah, the patronage and politics of music. Sir E. announced he is at work on a 3rd Symphony after a long hibernation: –”
    Elgar, yes Elgar himself is in this book! A realperson as a fiction! As for me, I think that Anton Webern was BOTH a fraudster and a messiah.
    “Ayrs wanted to unveil his concepts for a final, symphonic major work, to be named ‘Eternal Recurrence’ in honour of his beloved Nietzsche. Some music will be drawn from an abortive opera based on ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau’ whose Viennese production was cancelled by the War, some music V.A. believes will ‘come’ to him, and its backbone will be the ‘dream music’ piece that he dictated in my room that hairy night last month,…”
    I speculate that brief mention of the HG Wells Dr Moreau story may become relevant. Isn’t it about creating humans from animals by vivisection? La Creation du Monde…
    And this section of Mitchell’s book ends with a theme and variations on a bonfire.
    A Clacton skyline from January 9 2015
    A Clacton skyline from January 9 2015
    Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (Part 1)
    1 – 17
    Is this book a prediction in 2004 of the Internet Cloud, as was Stephen King’s similarly dated novel DREAMCATCHER (my review HERE)?
    Rufus Sixsmith is now age 66 with discos and so forth but I sense more seventies than naughties? He was the recipient of Frobisher’s real-time letters about Ayrs in 1931.
    Meets journalist younger Luisa in a broken down lift. Somehow tips her off about the story of a new reactor – perhaps that of CERN Zoo, perhaps not, I guess – that is rife with scandalous danger. A real story for her.
    Prospect of a Hitchcockian or Wellsian climax to this cinema of words, and various well-characterised characters of ill-suitable age gaps.
    “He spoke in ‘bons mots’ like that, not to you, but into the ear of posterity, for dinner- party guests of the future to say, “That’s one of Hitchcock’s, you know.””
    “Anything is true if enough people believe it is.”
  7. image
    18 – 30
    “If it wasn’t me it’d be the next fixer in the Yellow Pages.”
    Luisa involved in Conspiracies and dreamcaptchas concerning the new megacorporate power source, who supports it, who seeks its destruction, plus the Sixsmith letters from Frobisher, a coincidence of a matching tattoo, alias masks, a hitman, but only false plot spoilers here in this review. Like some shades of Robert W. Chambers ‘The King in Yellow’….
    “The well-dressed man on the telephone, pallid for this tanned city, repeats the inquiry: ‘Cloud Atlas Sextet … Robert Frobisher …’ ”
    Or theme and variations on the Internet Cloud…
    “Coincidences happen all the time.”
    Compelling stuff.
  8. image
    31 – 39
    ‘Men invented money. Women invented mutual aid.’
    Gender and Journalistic politics…and other tontinnabulations….?
    And the lethal report left in a Beetle named The Grateful Dead. An inverted Tontine?
    So ends this section, with the coordinates of this book’s intriguing pattern or atlas still accretively triangulating…
  9. image
    The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (Part 1)
    \”bookkeeping front.”
    So far, this (in a scintillatingly witty literary weirdtongue-in-cheek), hilariously reminds me of the fiction bookworld satire in ‘The Bone Clocks’ and there is another Martin Amis reference here. But, more, it reminds me of an argument over a review of one of my own fiction works whereafter I also threw its perpetrator from the Last Balcony!
    Well, sort of.
    It is also redolent of Jerry Cornelius Cardew and department store roof-gardens. And much else.
    Another sixty something like me is Mr. Cavendish.
    “Odd how the wrong stories pop into one’s head at my age.
    It’s not odd, no, it’s ruddy scary. I meant to begin this narrative with Dermot Hoggins. That’s the problem with inking one’s memoirs in longhand. You can’t go changing what you’ve already set down, not without botching things up even more.”
    Real-time reviewing is also sacrosanct once each section of the review is posted electronically. Thereafter, indelible. Except I print hard copy books of my real-time reviews once they’ve caught their dreams, as belt and braces.
    “A jazz sextet kicked off a rumba. I went on to the balcony for a breather, and surveyed the hubbub from without. Literary London at play put me in mind of Gibbon on the Age of the Antonines. A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste.”
    Jazz sextet? Cf Cloud Atlas Sextet, earlier.
    “I disapprove of backflashes, fore-shadowings and tricksy devices, they belong in the 1980s with MAs in Postmodernism and Chaos Theory.”
    Retrocausalities are quite different, though, I suggest, Mr. Cavendish. The Large Hadron Collider, notwithstanding.
  10. image
    \”a puppy…’ ”
    Witty, written with some skilful flair, but mainly satiro-farcical, these pages tell of publisher Cavendish, to avoid gangsters, being exported to present day archetypal Essex (or present day Essex when this book was written), the county where I currently read this book and write this review. With him, meanwhile, he has the typescript about Luisa Rey to consider, I infer.
  11. A new day…
    \”everything right.”
    “Despondency makes one hanker after lives one never led. Why have you given your life to books, TC? Dull, dull, dull! The memoirs are bad enough, but all that ruddy fiction! Hero goes on a journey, stranger comes to town, somebody wants something, they get it or they don’t, will is pitted against will. ‘Admire me, for I am a metaphor.’”
    Author and reviewer alike. Continues with satiro-farcical mien, combined with nightmarish curdling of art metaphors and real modern life, mixed with other visions, as he heads from Essex finally to a haven in Hull! A publisher called Cavendish grasping Half-Lives to him, in retreat from London’s gangsterisms. ‘The synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’ as I have long called them.
    “The dog rose, scenting vulnerability. An invisible guardian took my elbow and led me to a taxi rank. The taxi seemed to have been going round the same roundabout for a miniature eternity. A howling singer on the radio strummed a song about how everything that dies some day comes back. (Heaven forfend – remember the Monkey’s Paw!)”
    My bold. My Adlestrop.
    Where on that Atlas is my version of Area X?
  12. image
    \”was weak.”
    Despite its satiro-farcicality, I am delighted by Aurora House where Cavendish is staying – a sort of hotel becoming a cross between ‘The Hospice’ by Robert Aickman and The Inmates by John Cowper Powys. Those who have read these two fictions will know exactly what I mean.
    Should he stay, or should he go?
    CAN he choose which?
  13. \”abrupt end.”
    “We’re here to help you reorientate.”
    Whether this Aickmanite ‘hospice’ is a care home or a Tarr & Fether asylum from Powys’ ‘Inmates’, this continues and concludes (so far) as a hilarious, if only slightly amusing, satiro-farce. It sure had me going though about my own old age, and what is in store for me when I become even older! Onward to the next section of this book, without looking back….
  14. An Orison of Sonmi~451 (Part 1)
    \”xec postgrad aiming so high?”
    “So when Seer Rhee noticed Yoona ~ 939 ’s deviations, he bypassed destarring and summoned a corp Medic to have her reorientated.”
    From the ‘reorientate’ in the previous Cavendish ‘care home’ scenario, to this parallel one in a SF dystopian world of fabricants, and the method of keeping these fabricants as clones rather than their ascending above this state… I was worried that I might not enjoy this scenario but I have been soon sucked in by the interview technique. And by its quality SF techniques of telling this story. Didn’t much like the seemingly gratuitous omissions of ‘e’ before ‘x’ in ‘ex’ words and the use of lower case trade names like ford and sony.
    “The deviancy was an inevitability awaiting a trigger. During the New Year Sextet, when every day was busy with holiday crowds,…”
    “A gas called evil xists in the world, Papa Song said. When purebloods breathe in this gas, they change. They become terrorists. Terrorists hate everything that is good:…”
    Comet tattoo.
    “First, a voice began speaking inside my head. It alarmed me greatly, until I learnt nobody else heard it; the voice of sentience. Ascension was an alarming xperience, especially in the aftermath of Yoona ~ 939 . All over Nea So Copros, purebloods were scrutinizing fabricants’ behavior for signs of unwarranted intelligence and reporting them for reorientation at the rate of hundreds per week. Second, my language evolved, much as Yoona ~ 939 ’s had.”
    I still await with literary bated breath this section’s further connections in the pattern of the whole book. Deviant or defiant?
  15. \”xactly who I said I am.”
    Sextet Eve
    Sextet Recess
    Why are words ending -ight always spelt -ite?
    It’s as if this and the x words are truncated to help put off pirate ebooks. No advertising without Upper Cases, so it’s coca cola to avoid the bots.
    The enquiring eclecticism of our heroine fabricant gives her away as the supreme ascendent. The Ascendent Sign is just as important as the Sun Sign. Then intrigue, conspiracy, disguise, as a glimpse of their past in an ancient cinema film of The Cavendish section sort of clinches a harmonic of truth when dystopia was born. In your heart. And MINE. Today.
    If you want the real plot summarised, no doubt you can google it. Meanwhile, it all kept me locked in. Great SF. Great descriptions in the accreting answers of the answerer, but is she in disguise, too?
    “She had chosen the Rothko canvases in the hope I would find them meditative. ‘Molecule-for-molecule copies of the originals,’ he assured me, though I had no idea what ‘Rothko’ meant, ‘though one may argue no originals remain in our world. The artist’s style seems resonant of your own position, Sonmi ~ 451; he painted how the blind must see.’”
    I am a fabricant, too, being ‘ascended’ by this book. I am.
    A txt giving me an xam. I can give it no greater praise. So far.
  16. image
    Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After
    \”To Pa’n’Adam.”
    I usually can’t endure (other than normal words like that “can’t”) elided narrative or dialogue to convey a down-to-earth dialect etc. and I often cast off such books who have a lot of it. I am only a few pages into this new section, and I am sorry to say that this particular version of elided prose is no exception, But it seems to compare significantly with the elided x-words etc. in the previous section!
    Also when studying skies and their cloud atlases, it is inevitable that you can only look at one section of the whole sky or cloud atlas.
    However, I cannot bear to read this section of the book (my loss). I have read the plot summary of this section in the otherwise wonderful book’s Wikipedia, so that I can continue reading the remaining sections. Cheating I know, but inevitable.
  17. I did skim it, though.
    And I managed to ecleticise the passage below, serendipitously, as part of my real-time account of preternaturally reading any book, its warts and all, including my own exegesis of it and any interruptions / eccentricities from surrounding personal life while reading it, for good or ill.
    “Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul’ll be ’morrow? Only Sonmi the east an’ the west an’ the compass an’ the atlas, yay, only the atlas o’ clouds.”
    [A paragraph describing a personal account of my cloud-racing as a child till now as an old man, can be found in my old story shown here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/round-headed-club.html ]
  18. An Orison of Sonmi~451 (Part 2)
    “The breeze was fragrant with pollen and sap; clouds scrolled. Once- genomed moths spun around our heads, electron-like; their wings’ logos had mutated over generations into a chance syllabary.”
    Having read the rest of this intriguing ‘interview’, without giving away any spoilers regarding the plot itself, it has dawned on me that this book is about ‘retrocausality’, a buzzword that I have used in my dreamcatchers or real-time reviews for many years. Here, the retro-audit trail of the creation of a messiah or goddess in our ancient future from our own past, via the present, partly by means of a retained residue of electronic communication, like, say, internet Clouds as well as the metaphor of real clouds.
    It also puts a complete new slant on the phrase ‘The Last Balcony’!
    I am agog and mind-boggled.
  19. The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (Part 2)
    \”word in his life.”
    “Time, no arrow, no boomerang, but a concertina.”
    We retro-forge on, finding Cavendish has had a stroke – a teeny weeny one – in his Hell in Hull home for the elderly.
    A brilliantly touching, true-but-farcical and, for elderising me, infuriating sketch of old age and its fallibilities – and its paradoxical, retroactive strengths, no doubt.
    “Putting Timothy Cavendish together again was a Tolstoyan editing job… […] Memories refused to fit, or fitted but came unglued. Even months later, how would I know if some major tranche of myself remained lost?”
    “Mother used to say escape is never further than the nearest book.”
    Very telling as well as his ‘comet tattoo’ now nicknamed Timbo’s Turd.
    Modern lepers, all of us. Even you.
  20. \”down the corridor.”
    “What wouldn’t I give now for a never-changing map of the ever-constant ineffable? To possess, as it were, an atlas of clouds.”
    Or a retrocausal atlas of pre-existing Mitchell novellas made into a single novel with appropriate electronic jump-leads between them, spanning aeons?
    This section is again hilarious, with JC Powys’ ‘Inmates’ and Aickman’s ‘Hospice’ to the power of dirigible through the clouds. Conspiracies of Cavendish’s escape from the Aurora, phone calls to a gone-crazy sister-in-law and much more. Witty, satirical, on the brink of gone-crazy itself. Reviewer is crazy, too. Thinks he is a Dreamcatcher. Catch that!
  21. \”one bright dusk.”
    “Ruddy hell, when your parents die they move in with you.”
    Like these six novellas? But which direction the Time Arrow’s audit trail? Which the sky, which the scion?
    image image image image image image
    Escape from the Carehome by car, like an Ealing Comedy. Good rendition of pub watchers of needle football match.
    So ends the Timothy Cavendish novella and his purchase of the Luisa Rey project… After incriminating video of the gangsters wrecking his erstwhile business.
  22. Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (Part 2)
    40 – 45
    “…the right to ‘landscape’ the virtual past.”
    This virtual past and its inverse of a virtual future (a concept slowly accreting, by my reading and reviewing this book in my real-time, hence its virtual present as well as mine) clinch, for me at least, the vital need for Luisa to expose Seaboard’s threat to the world and thus scotch this threat beyond any simple football game in a future pub, and also to allow history to pan out as a new future wherein Delius and Fenby once lived – or will live as Ayrs and Frobisher through the Sixsmith letters.
    Sixsmith – sextet – six novellas.
  23. 46 – 55
    “Lying’s wrong, but when the world spins backwards, a small wrong may be a big right.”
    Is it significant Spinoza is the name of the police station where the policeman who said that works, bearing in mind Spinoza’s famous quote about the past and the present? Is it significant that Spinoza has almost the same forename as Obama who is President in this book’s own future? Is it significant that Luisa feels that she has already heard the Cloud Atlas Sextet? Is it significant that she is fired from the newspaper when a firm connected with Seaboard takes it over? Are any of those questions plot spoilers? Am I the first ever reviewer reviewing this book in real-time?
    Some things I have said about real-time reviewing in the past are shown HERE and HERE. Now becoming more relevant with my reading of CLOUD ATLAS.
  24. 56 – 69
    “He wonders if he is a baby in his cot or a man dying in his bed.”
    The industrial spy thriller reaches its Hitchcockian finale, with explosions and suspenseful revelations. Seaboardgate, President Ford, even the shadow of Lester del Rey the SF author and editor. The outcome is beyond the spoiler-gate of any review, and I am left with the thought that now the trail forward into 1931 is about to be carried upon the texture of real paper rather than electronic images, except I happen not to be reading this as a realbook but an ebook. A rare event for me and a retro-paradox.
  25. Letters from Zedelghem (Part 2)
    \”of Baker Street?”
    “…farmers still daren’t plough the land for fear of unexploded ordnance. One cannot pass by without thinking of the density of men in the ground. Any moment, the order to charge would be given, and infantrymen well up from the earth, brushing off the powdery soil. The thirteen years since Armistice seemed only as many hours.”
    Wars are another form of elision or literary exegesis. Another war is always coming. Always.
    Ancient Letters another form of future world interview.
    ‘To Those upon the Menu, the Sauce is no Concern.’
    “The syphilitic decays in increments, like fruit rotting in orchard verges.”
    Another form of -x elision. OR that damned dialect imitation by inverted commas.
    “…a ‘sextet for overlapping soloists’: piano, clarinet, ’cello, flute, oboe and violin, each in its own language of key, scale and colour. In the 1st set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: in the 2nd, each interruption is recontinued, in order. Revolutionary or gimmicky?”
    A normal novel would be more like a famous Brahms Sextet, each instrument in the family of violins.
    “Frobisher, when you grow up, you’ll find that all composers draw inspiration from their environments. You’re one of many elements in mine,…”
    That enormous plagiaristic real-time gestalt Jungian undersump?
    ‘Mr Frobisher, are you well acquainted with Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street?’
    Apt, with my having just watched the new film MR. HOLMES starring Ian McKellen, a film, not unlike the Cavendish film, with bearing on Cloud Atlas as Cloud Atlas has bearing on the retrocausal plot of MR. HOLMES. Headstones for ghosts.
  26. \”rerum. R.F.”
    “The van de Veldes are five never-ending, ill-tuned harpsichord ‘allegretti’ and my ears rang with gratitude to be free of ’em.”
    V. elisionary, I’d say. And five with E. making six?
    “…E. said, looking away, ‘I’ve thought of this balcony as my own belvedere,…'”
    I know I have been sarcastic about certain aspects of this book, but there is some great writing beyond the scope of most modern literature, not least in this section, in the epistolarian’s relationships with Sixsmith, Eva, Jocasta and Vyvyan Ayrs. And the balustraded circular last balcony of the plot. V. poignant and crazily witty.
    “Most uncanny. Not quite déjà vu, more jamais vu. Killing, an experience that comes to few outside wartime.”
    “One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so.”
    As perhaps I see it my duty to transcend even this book with a Review of it!
    “Writing is such a damn lonely sickness.”
    “Echoes of Scriabin’s White Mass,…”
    Back to Solzhenitsyn’s E Wing…
  27. imageThe Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (Part 2)
    \”of drops?”
    “…the harum-scarum world of the fo’c’sle.”
    That’s ultimate focus on elision, and now:
    ‘D___ my eyes, what am I thinking? It’s the Sabbath, by G__ & these holy s__s’ll be a- braying…”
    “It is Progress that leads Humanity up the ladder towards the God- head.”
    The Miscegenation of Morality, as one leitmotif of this last section, while Ewing fights both a giant cockroach and the Worm parasite in his head. You? Or someone acting on thy behalf? No spoilergate here.
    “The Weak are Meat the Strong do Eat.”
    Like that ‘sauce’ quote from the previous section of the ampersand,
    “Eat or be Eaten.”
    Pecking-orders of author, narrators, characters, readers, but….
    AUTUA: You as Author.
    This whole book is like a giant ampersand, and among the ants of print are many ampersands in this final section of text. Arguably, the whole book’s plot or audit trail (the global time ‘Crossing of the Line’ explicitly happening in this section) moves like an ampersand, i.e. from the Tail to its T-Junction. Just follow it for yourself and see if I am right. It’s not a loop at all. Not an entropic symbiosis. It’s an entertaining means of sublimation to make fashionable Anti-Natalism (suicide being a major recurrent theme in this book) just another ‘and’….
    “The colour of monotony is blue.”

Monday, June 22, 2015

Soliloquy For Pan (Egaeus Press)



SOLILOQUY FOR PAN – Edited by Mark Beech

Egaeus Press MMXV


A real-time review by Des Lewis
I have just received this book as purchased from the publisher.

Anthology: Stories and Artwork
A distressed book to die for. Holding it is believing.

I intend to real-time review this book and, when I do, you will be able to find it in the thought stream below or by clicking on this post’s title above.

25 thoughts on “SOL ILO QUY FOR PAN”

    “God of the garden, shepherd of the lea–”
    What it says on the lid – from Pan’s priestess to Pan. Shepherd of the lea, though, does not seem to make sense in the context. Pan as some meadowy tender of lambs? Pan as the God of Shepherds, yes, but a Shepherd himself? Then, for some unaccountable reason, I thought the dash must represent something missed out. And what made ‘leapfrog’ suddenly jump into my head? Perhaps the Ghisi picture alongside?
    PS: Later, I thought this priestess seems to be trying to be his dominatrix?

    My real-time reviews are designed to seek hidden dreams or gestalts in works of fiction or poetry, as well as to describe, interpret and evaluate these works to the best of my ability. Therefore, I shall leave any non-fiction or documentary articles about Pan until I have finished reading and reviewing the fiction.
    PANIC by R.B. Russell
    “Everything smelt of wet earth and sheep.”
    A relatively simple style, a chicklit type plot about an electioneering politician who seeks out his old flame in the wilds of the Yorkshire Dales and finds her gone a bit crazy over a big stone. The eventual half-seen denouement is well done in its own terms. It involves her current boyfriend and antics upon the stone that the politician witnesses – giving rise to the story’s title. The most interesting thing is to speculate that panic can cause someone potentially to fail a blood test for suspected drunken driving.
    I am assuming that some elements in this story will eventually become important in my own seeking of a gestalt for this book. A gestalt, that is, other than the obvious one of the Great God Pan.

  3. THE MAZE AT HUNTSMERE by Reggie Oliver
    “When you go to a familiar place with someone who is new to it, you tend to re-experience it to some extent through their eyes.”
    Not only does that seem to be the perfect description of dreamcatching fiction through the author’s eyes and alongside the reader whom you visualise is the recipient of your review but also that quote seems to echo the act of entering the world that is Reggie Oliver, the fictional maze he has created, the real maze in the grounds of the plot’s stately house like the house in Downton Abbey, a figurative maze, too, that is a setting for an alchemy of sexual antics required to summon Pan, as such antics summoned him in the previous story. This is the wonderful thespian Virtue in Danger world of Reggie Oliver you are entering with me, a story that is also an amusing grotesque satire of various snobbish mores representative of nobility and of generally posh people, the orienteering of sexual politics, theatrical Etonian types now making a living from TV series….
    There are people like the narrator who concocts his own backstory as a magick alchemist of the old school, the Marquess of Martlesham, Samuels the chauffeur, and a posh character who seems to morph from gay to hetero – an imputedly parallel magick alchemy from dross to gold – called, by the narrator, at one point ‘a notorious wrong-ender’, all inter-mazed with a Chinese Chippendale Fourposter bedroom, and much more. One ends up wondering whether it was the Statue of Pan in the maze that brought to life the sexual antics of the characters in its vicinity or those actual sexual antics that brought the Statue of Pan to life. A virtuous or vicious circle?

  4. THE SECRET WOODS by Lynda E. Rucker
    “…and let it fall open to a random page.”
    The insanity of the child remembered as Diana. She returns, after many years, to where she was that child, and where her imaginary childhood friend had been Pan with what I imagine (just as strongly as she herself once imagined Pan) are his dryads and naiads in one of the ‘games’ mentioned in her old notebook that she randomly browses, a special game of leapfrog: youth’s forgotten past, upon present’s back, into fearsome future’s remembering.
    The return here for her younger sister’s wedding anniversary, later standing with her brother-in-law smoking outside the party’s circle, the self-blame for an ancient tragic accident due to her imagination being strong enough to create Pan who had caused the death of her parents, with only a compensating hope that one parent had not survived briefly to see the other die. I found this whole scenario sensitively handled. Touching and tantalising and transcendent. Growing pains that endure toward an uncertain, almost welcome ‘dying fall’.

  5. Yesterday, HERE, in the concurrent real-time review that I happen to be conducting alongside this one, I reviewed a story about the Last Few Nights in the Life of Frost. Perhaps this synchronicity is telling me that there is some mileage in trying to connect the King in Yellow with the Great God Pan?
    PAN WITH US by Robert Frost
    “His heart knew peace, for none came here / To this lean feeding…”
    A tightly written, highly rhyming, magnificently couched, tantalising, sylvan poem regarding magnificently couched and surgent Pan coming among us. To teach us what? But, at the end of the day / what should he play? / Leapfrog I would say. (My words, not the poem’s).

  6. A SONG OUT OF REACH by John Howard
    “The first frost of autumn retreated as the remaining patches of shadow shifted and contracted.”
    In a sylvan area without city light pollution, this is a compelling, page-turning, ultimately Pan-rapturous, and (dare I say?) wonderful Science Fictional story where the main protagonist ends up, inter alia, eating that frost. A loving and sexual relationship positively transcending in quality the chicklit or the static leapfrog (cf Reggie Oliver’s earlier sexual alchemy in this book), pervades this story that tells of a Tune as an earworm or parasite form of sound (cf this author’s own ‘Winter Traces’ story) suddenly then accretively taking over and subsuming the world, in a believable tale, for me, of the Internet eventually breaking down and civilisation itself faltering as a result of this Tune.
    [Synchronously, a few days ago in a review of a book called Dreamcatcher (another word as an expression of the effect of Howard’s earworm?), I had cause HERE to link to a genuine current news phenomenon of the world hearing trumpet noises and humming!]
    John Howard is fast becoming one of my favourite fiction writers of all time.

  7. LITHE TENANT by Stephen J. Clark
    “So with each story I see another facet.”
    This novelette builds powerfully with a shocking visionary and sexual ending, a ‘myth’ channelling its own power of reality simply by being a myth. And we do find each work accretes a new facet of this book’s gestalt, here the insidious accretion itself of a feral character, the son of the main protagonist’s friend who died of suicide if not by suicide. This is a blend of Rucker’s notebook of Pan-summoning then looked at randomly but now become a diary with pages torn out and of Howard’s earworm become a Syrinx’s flute or an airbrushed object we can never really focus on. Except by some grotesque effigy’s ‘fart’ in the climax.
    There is a highly haunting genius loci of a derelict canal and its bridge reached by trolleybus “trundling along avenues lined with frosty hedgerows.”
    That place eventually becomes the narcissistic crux where self bounces off the back of its own reflection.
    The various meetings of the main protagonist and his late friend’s son (and that son’s seductory relationship with the protagonist’s wife and daughter) are probably some of the darkest scenes you will go far to find in literature, with added talk of once working in zoos: “I’ve seen the cage from both sides, you could say.” A Caliban toying with cigarettes. The caressing also of that airbrushed object’s contours. But that’s not half of it.
    With my dreamcatching reviews I often find myself “attuned to something greater, something just out of reach, or of having a purpose” even beyond the author’s intention. I strongly have that feeling here.
    “…if anything the irrational can enrich Reason, deepening it, fuelling it, providing it with inventive methodologies and vice versa.”
    Mythologies, as well as or simply as methodologies, I say.

  8. PAN by A.C. Benson
    From Dictynna’s fane, “deep-lurking”, I sense, judging by this mould-breaker of a book as a whole and this brief verse in particular, that the Internet and Pan are “alike foe and friend of man”. We’d all not have “restless watchful eyes”, otherwise.
    Messages bouncing off each other in the dark web of enshrined truth and lie.

  9. A NEW PHEIDIPPIOES by Henry Woodd Nevinson (1901)
    I cannot possibly do justice to this incredible work. What a discovery! I think I have actually got to know Pan personally and I understand him far better than I have understood him before. A sort of Socratic dialogue, but that should not put you off as it is cast in a fiction or fable or travelogue form, with two Englishmen (the free-thinking narrator and the other who is more appreciative of Apollo than a god like Pan) travelling in Greece (it simply had to be Greece bearing in mind its crucible condition in world affairs today, as if foreordained), and these two men meet Pan, and listen to the most astonishing stretches of speech from him, about, inter alia, the opposites within himself and his worshippers, and, incredibly, this book’s earlier sexual and creative and mythological alchemy is now portrayed as a ‘kneading-trough’ of the Great Mother. Those opposites are (for me) tellingly and explicitly inclusive of the ‘centaur’ – and other wanton creatures. And, in view of that alchemy, a reference to a certain cavorting in a ‘brown river’…
    There are witticisms galore, stoical humour from Pan, plus his urbane philosophising, a lot of which reflects upon Godhood, mortality and immortality, the state of mankind and animals – with startling sudden illuminations.
    I could go and on about this work. And I have made many pencil lines in the margins of my copy from where I intended to quote in this review. But there were so many brilliant passages, I can’t actually decide to quote any at all!

  10. GOSKIN WOODS by Charles Schneider
    “I hear that Goat Men come out when it rains.”
    Two twelve year old boys out with the school on a field trip, and one of them is aware of an ability in manipulating the fears of others. A fable about fears cumulatively bouncing off each other from mind to mind soon more readily turning into the reality of what is feared.
    “Isn’t it cool, the idea of something out here like a real live centaur or…”

  11. PAN’S PIPES by Robert Louis Stevenson
    “There is an uncouth, outlandish strain throughout the web of the world, as from a vexatious planet in the house of life.”
    A preternatural continuation of A.C. Benson’s premonitory theme, a dissertation upon Pan’s ‘trolling on his pipe’ as both his parasitical earworm and glorious melody – at different times more of one than the other – haunt us. This is Nevinson’s kneading-trough of opposites writ large in our world, our lives, symbioses as well as battles. An inspiring, tightly-textured revelation of grasping the nettle, I’d say. Or the ‘conflagrant sun’. A graspable life even when ‘the child too often makes entrance from the mother’s corpse’ and “for all their hurry, they [we] travel back-foremost through the universe of space.” Thus this now is Pan as Shepherd of the Leapfrog, not the Lea.
    “Some leap to the strains with unapt foot,…”

  12. THE HOUSE OF PAN by John Gale
    “…the prancing image of the god, as indeed now, fascinated and horrified at the same time.”
    I am guilty of being a sucker for John Gale prose, its pearlescence, its poppy-drenchings, chrysalites, beryls et al, and this atmospheric story sure sucked me in.
    The protagonist, aged the same age as I am today, inherits the house – one with incongruous gothic tower – from his great uncle, a place he visited when a child. He looks askance at the dubious and the ‘distastefully priapic’, and he has a so-called dream that reminded me of first entering Narnia. The Galean visions and the protagonist’s ultimate bitter-sweet subsuming by the ‘goat-eye opal’ is drenched in moonsmoke, moon fire, autumn leaves, “set against a yellow sky”. I personally felt Pan morphing into the King in Yellow, or at least accepting a hoist on his back, then vice versa…

  13. THE COMPANY OF THE LAKE by Jonathan Wood
    “Dumb animals and shepherds and foolhardy climbers have no orientation to appreciate this degree and substance of change,…”
    Sometimes in life, you encounter a literary work that suddenly comes at you from a studied distance and fixes your reading mind with an unflinching concentration. This novelette is one such work of rare special qualities, and it matches its immaculate clause structures and internally audialised phonetics of perfect register with an intense synaesthesia of sensibility. It tells of a group of men who have come to the lake with regular seasonality and its comradeship, story telling, mountain climbing, and its stone head with patrinomial aura of descent and, upon it, for me, Pan-like pointed tumps. A hint of androgyny, too. There is much to pick out from this story, but impossible here. I will just mention the fire, in contrast to the lake’s water and its submerged world that we visit in our minds with one of the men, that spits and snarls in its sappy destruction by living flame. The pangs of death and companionship, constructive self-destructiveness, classical turnings and dying-falls of music, all remind me of Thomas Mann’s two works, The Magic Mountain and Dr Faustus, plus (dare I say?) a masculine version of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (its original novel that I real-time reviewed HERE only recently).
    “The end of summer has a special malevolence all its own, composing empty symphonies of the soul with the music of despair.”
    I simply loved this work. A major experience. It also resonated with a personal phrase of mine: A Dead Monument to Once Ancient Hope. (If something is now ‘once ancient’, it is no longer so?)
    And the work also echoes the Nevinson in this book, in a glorious way.
    “…as the sheep and the goats watched in their stoicism and their ancient intransigent wisdom; the place where the past meets the present at its own eternal crossroad.”

    • The overall title of this book, SOLILOQUY FOR PAN, seems to imply that it expects the book to be treated as a gestalt, i.e. expected to be real-time reviewed for its audit trail or soliloquy, to be placed in the mouth of Pan. I shall keep that in mind as I continue.

  14. LEAF-FOOT, PETAL-MOUTH by Bethany van Rijswijk
    “More real than the body you inhabit, you have been a meadow and a leaf of myrtle,”
    This entrancing poem, I’m sure, gives us all, for the historic first time. the true meaning of ‘Pantheism’.

  15. THE ROSE-WHITE WATER by Colin Insole
    “And a coven of the middle-aged and elderly, creaking and puffing, with rheumatism and damaged hearts, met regularly at solstice.”
    …and I am there among them! It seems appropriate that I should first encounter this new Colin Insole substantive fiction on the solstice, today, as I write this and have just read the story itself. This, so far, and I use my words advisedly, seems to be the ‘orgasm’ of this whole book’s ethos, its style, its conjuration of Pan, his worshipers and cavorting companions, changelings and foundlings, his ambiance, here at the interface of residential humanity and the wild caves and woods that border it. A woman who is exploiting that interface ends up destroying it, and finally subsuming herself. Those who love this author’s work will not be disappointed by this Panic apotheosis of it, but I sense that it is what it is, and could only possibly be published in THIS book. Prove me wrong, one day.
    The story implies that the town where this ‘interface’ happens is specially unruly, with its modern ways of wild youth and greed and exploitation and, yes, elderly smugness, with barbecues and other crass conveniences. But I sense the wider world is just as inimical as this town, and needs this lesson from Pantheism. I sense, too, a swathe of such modernity being overridden by a more natural swathe of instinct (“Days, months and years seemed to pass in minutes”), like a huge leap of faith, underpinned by astrological harmonics, ‘the alignments of stone and sky’.
    A brooding melancholy coupled with a puckish spirit, makes this story of those wild places we can still visit between our houses shudder with potential at the interface of Pan and Man.

  1. MEADOW SAFFRON by Martin Jones
    “‘Thy coloured members, men by night inspire,’ she began, her voice deceptively soft.”
    An intriguing tale upon which my mind is still working. Following closely the previous Insole story, it seems to convey a similar interface of wild woods and ordinary residential property, and here the sexual politics between the houses’s husband and wife and her Sapphic desires entail importation of a second woman and, later, an unexpected third woman like a nymph appears from the woods revealed by the light of the security system suddenly being ignited. And there are some graphic scenes that I can’t help relating to my concurrent reading elsewhere.

  2. But there is also a book being read aloud in the Jones story, ostensibly, a book from Ancient Greece about Melinoe. I cannot help remembering again that, from some perhaps preternatural cause, I am indeed concurrently real-time reviewing a collection of stories inspired by ‘The King in Yellow’ and its mysterious, frightening book-within-a-book reminds me strongly of the use of the book being used in this Jones story and its plot’s lethal happenings and the characters’ interactions and Melinoe etc, all very reminiscent in some oblique way with various aspects of Pulver’s Chambers work. I am left bemused but uncannily satisfied. And I wonder again at the interface between the priapic Great God Pan and the King in Yellow with tattered cape hiding his own ‘coloured member’?

  3. image
    THE LADY IN THE YARD by Rosanne Rabinowitz
    “So where was the lithe leaping boy?”
    Look to this book’s earlier ‘lithe tenant’?
    This accretiveness of a satisfyingly leisurely story settles around Suzy, around many aspects surrounding her life, many androgynous objective correlatives, telling of her missing three toes on one foot as a result of an accident, thus bullied as ‘Mutant Sue’, seeking transcendence or meaning amid the influence of her Jewishness, interest in mythology and science fiction, while living in a run down area where the derelict swimming pool eventually transforms into something like Jonathan Wood’s under-lake. Those aspects involve, inter alia, a book within the book like the previous story, a singing wisteria, cannabis joints, flutes, Peter Pan, Panisca as the female Pan, listening to late night radio, a Lady with mutable wings, cavorting with mixed-sex naiads, Wyndham’s Chrysalids, eventually reaching a healing of her arguably syrinx-like toes by a rapprochement with these aspects. But is healing worse than the original wound, as even a miracle of such healing condemns her with its own suspectness of mutancy?
    A still-resonating ‘dying fall’ of an ending, still reaching toward its own gestalt from these many barely graspable aspects, a gestalt within the book’s overall gestalt, an overall gestalt which is also still forming within as well as beyond the traditional shape of Pan himself.
    “Wee wee wee all the way home.”

  4. image
    A PUZZLING AFFAIR by Ivar Campbell (1914)
    “I was too much of a man; the animal in me was dead and only its ghost survived, by whose dim radiance I faintly knew that to yield was to discover a wonderful happiness which is the beast’s.”
    I show above and below photos of my ‘Yieldingtree’ in a secret glade near where I live of which regulars on my blog or Facebook page will only be too aware!
    This story is another wonderful discovery for ‘Soliloquy for Pan.’ And indeed the story is not really a story but an agonising soliloquy for Pan or against him, for and against communion with trees, by turns. It is a flailing of fear and love by the hylophobic narrator, couched in truly haunting meaty paragraphs of text. I empathise with the whole thing, except his dog and the later chopping! But, thinking about it my Yieldingtree seems to embody his dog as well as his version of Pan…
    Sorry my appreciation of the Campbell work is a bit too personal, for, objectively, it is a genuine must-read and eye-opener as provided here for us by Egaeus. And I empathise with this, too: “…it is as though I were working against time: this must be done quickly if it be done at all.” With the story, it is consumption, with me, something else.

  5. SOUTH-WEST 13 by Nina Antonia
    “But then, I have always known there was music in the rain and the sighing of souls in the trees.”
    This is a highly engaging wordworm of a brief documentary story that includes a variation on Howard’s earworm as well as on Insole’s interface between civiilised thoroughfares and Pan’s domain. In South London, it also seems to distil something else from Rosanne Rabinowitz’s Lambeth North story. Its ultimate strength, though, is its symbiotic connection with Marc Bolan…
    [I thought it appropriate to show below a photo I happened to take earlier today and already on my Facebook page and blog. Not in a wild woodland but on a busy thoroughfare near where I live.]

  6. IN CYPRESS SHADES by Mark Valentine
    “We agreed in the end on some discreet chamber music. I had a sense that Hobbes only gave in because he didn’t really think it mattered.”
    And perhaps this author puckishly didn’t really think that the sylvan spa performance itself of COMUS – A MASQUE by John Milton warranted a whole story devoted to it. At first, I thought this was some Paniac drama festival that often climaxes fiction works by Powys, Byatt, Reggie Oliver or me – or music by Rutland Boughton. It is a wittily engaging description of its preparation, though, the organising characters involved, a location’s ambiance, and make-up instead of bespoke heads … But it diverges into a intoxicatingly heady scene, half dream, half reality, I sense, where the heads and the make-up of passers-by become subtle masks where the joins cannot be seen. For me, a sort of humanised procession of characters from Rupert the Bear. Or from Chambers’ musical words of meaningful atonality in The King In Yellow, another fiction about masks with a play or masque in it.
    “–there is something of a dance about them, a masque of pale dancers, a sarabande of stately wraiths.”

  7. HONEY MOON by D.P. Watt
    “She leapt upon him from behind,…”
    A mildly amusing, but ultimately uninspiring, honeymoon story. A honeymoon to an outlying part of Scotland in a cronk of a car, where they plan to first consummate their marriage. The nature of the work seems to be the end bracket of the brackets at each end of the fiction in this book with a similar type of tale as that by R.B. Russell. And this one seems conveniently to answer the question I posed about Pan at the end of my commentary upon the Reggie Oliver story near the start of my review!

  8. SUMMER ENCHANTMENT by Harry Fitzgerald
    “A sudden faun leapt out and blinked at me.”
    As it should! A leap of faith that I can exist at all!
    A fitting short poem as coda to this wonderful, wonderful book of 352 luxurious pages that my bearded face first started blinking at, too, in awed disbelief. Seriously.

  9. As well as generous amounts of artwork and other annotations, there are also the following essays in this book:
    THE REBIRTHING OF PAN by Adrian Eckersley
    AN OLD GOD ALMOST DEAD: PAN IN THE 1940s by Nick Freeman