Thursday, September 27, 2018

Age of Blight – Kristine Ong Muslim

20 thoughts on “Age of Blight – Kristine Ong Muslim”

  1. A paperback with over 100 pages, and generously decorated with black and white photographs and other items of artwork
    “Our lives, as well as those of our ancestors and descendants, are elaborate mythologies that intertwine…”
    A lighthouse on an island, among other places with names, at the window of which regularly appears a man. (Cf my review of ‘The Light of Adria’ inside a book called INNER EUROPE that I reviewed in the last few days…) And if that man is meant to be me, I feel slightly scolded by the tone of this preface!
    By the way, if a dead human body is found after eleven years, is it surprising that it hasn’t aged? I now turn to the book proper, with an initially jaundiced eye. On further thought, perhaps the body connects with the KOM quote on the back cover? The Age of Light, not Blight?

    Lighter THAN what? Air or deliberate levitation?
    This is a story of news management, explaining away the botched recovery of this rare mythic beast, not rare, but tantamount to impossible. Botched despite your trying to instal artificial gills into the now dead specimen of myth. News management read about here on the very day that two Russian mugshots come to life as grizzled tourists of an English cathedral city. The ‘Black Static’ photo shows Nemonymous, there, a few years ago, alongside that impossibly tall spire. “Behold the beast.”
    “—honed (sic) in on the low , steady humming only it could hear.”

    “‘I’m only going to be around another ten years. What I’d like to do, then, is leave a great big mess behind.’ If that was his aim he did a perfect job. […] …as he hurtled toward his great all-American dream and the pageantry that went with it,…”
    For this book first published in 2016 and this story first published in 2014, I wonder what the word ‘pageantry’ was a euphemism for? Talking of cacophemisms, though, in the 1990s, some of my published stories featured “the all-American thumper-monster.”
    This is also a powerfully disturbing account of the ‘nurture and nature’ series of experiments using baby monkeys as conducted by Harry F. Harlow, featuring fabricated cloth-mothers and wire-mothers. As narrated by one of the wire mothers!
    I am only going to be around another ten years, too.

    “You should know that there are no speed bumps in zero gravity.”
    A touching and disturbing and detailed narration by LAIKA about the trip in a Russian satellite and the backstory in a car, an event that is well within my living memory if I knew about it at all at the age of 9. Pavlov’s Dog nature and nurture in this first section headed ANIMALS. Towards the monumental gestalt of all of us, including our other experimented-upon friend called Gaia, I guess.
    Recommended additional reading: LOOKING FOR LAIKA by Laura Mauro that I reviewed here.

    “Anyone who does not look and talk like us is the enemy.”
    Experiments, now with strict time limits, on children, regulated experiments regarding how aggression is acquired, with use of the eponymous Body Odour dolls that mean there are no dolls except a sense of pungent bodyself, just the “me” waiting to emerge from the amorphousness of a child’s mind. Anne Fender’s regulated breast milk, as an eventual mutuality of competitive existence?

    From the wire mother of The Wire Mother, the bonsai wire-training in the previous story, and the wire-enclosed playground here, we now have meaning in the changelings, foundlings and lostlings of the “Happens all the time” syndrome of our own times.

    “, a dream became its own interpretation.”
    A quote for this book’s gestalt? A curse purely to break another curse. A form of death for those already dead. Marty’s way of dealing with being made self-conscious of his autonomous hands. An autosuggestion from his Grampa Des. Puppet wires can reach everywhere?

    “…we had no choice but to endure the treatment, because that was how the world worked.”
    …the same with this book, an acceptance where it takes you, sometimes deadpan on its part, sometime on your part as reader. Taking some things for granted. Here a group of older kids, a group like Blyton’s, maybe, one of them you, or me, more like, an acceptance of order, a pecking order of bullying or befriendment, and by some form of narrative radiating from or to each of us, the knowledge that someone who might have been human becomes an indescribable monster. Becoming it by stages. Best to get it bang out of order, if so. The sooner the better is best. I know better, I guess.

    “What’s dead stays dead.”
    We now have Dominic, a six year old boy who one day transcended this book’s autonomous hands and planted his cut fingernails in the ground and later told his too busy “Mother” of an “Other” gradually growing from them. Until this Other became another him. Chewed down to the cuticle self. Leaving a Doppelgänger or Drogulus called Dominic. All of us hard ungulates at heart made to soften our horns by recognising what this powerful fable tells us. Brings deadpan to new levels.

    “This just isn’t fair. Nothing is.”
    Unlike sudden Death, the Empty leaves the option of seeing its happening gradually like a gestalt real-time review of body depletion and self. Does such a frightful memory stay behind, I wonder? Proust’s narrator was once a boy of school age. Did he have other schoolmates, though, to share and thus diminish such null-immortalis of his retrocausal memory from an Empty teacup with not even a crumb of cake to choke on. As in the earlier NOTES ON PLACES, the dead body is still alive with a series of selves each watching the previous one growing bigger into the past. But who the Head Master? So many interpretations, I think this otherwise short text is the only way to fathom death and provide as painless a catharsis of it as possible. Omissions or blank stories alike towards an optimum economy of truth.

  11. PET
    “…about the black market that brimmed with forgeries of docile wives to replace nagging ones, about the new religion worshipping a radioactive potato…”
    A Dominic/Dominic changeover scenario involving yourself as me and a pet, pets being necessary in this era “to quench our appetite to maim other people.”
    People naturally hate each other, so we need tools to obviate that fact! My own widespreading method or tool is the public act of gestalt real-time reviewing those books of literature with healing hyper-imagination. A year’s helpful supply of casseroles, notwithstanding.

  12. 22765C36-01C2-4CE5-9968-90EDE8B5885E
    “You won’t be an undead dead forever,” I added. “The world is going to end soon.”
    As well as fitting the gestalt of this book and of our Age of Blight and Abrexit, this story serendipitously (if that is the right word) fits with the section of the Dance of Abraxas I happened to read about half an hour ago here. In fact, Zombie Sister may well be the obverse side of that other book by the random chance of being concurrently reviewed, as the sister here comes back from the dead amid a world’s eschatology of attrition. A deadpan account of acceptance as this ‘dead’ sister watched (if not saw) the children in the street still playing and “who rolled the glittery red things…” These children are blissfully unaware of the encroaching Empty that faces us all. But this may turn out not to be relevant to the Dance of Abraxas at all! Blight has Light and Blind in co-assonance?
    “Blind dead is the worst kind of dead.”

    “Think about all our stories and those of the ones before us. This terrible unfolding does not always see a blunt object gain shape. Sometimes, it distorts the object and the landscape that conspires to retain its shape.”
    That seems paradoxically an exact rendition of my feeling when I read the type of books I read, especially this book, and this story, a story that exactly expresses this with its narration by a girl once brought up as in ROOM (a film I was socially ‘forced’ to watch a couple of days ago and now given further meaning), brought up thus because of her bodily tentacle at birth, a seemingly common feature in our far-future when this our age of b(light) was still impending by viscerally feral means, that Outerbridge of our being. This story’s eponymous oxymoron. This book’s curse to break another curse?

    “What once were trees became stunted wooden figures bending toward the direction of the crater, as if they ended up worshipping whatever it was that had killed most of them.”
    Transcending today this substantive and intricate Swiftian fable — first published in Spring 2015 overtly about what we have done to nature and Gaia — is a perceived message about Brexit and Trump, the Builders story being part of these inexplicable phenomena, since brought upon us by oxymorons of belief and diehard absurd faiths and polarised media furies, and by which means many of us have managed to summon into being such a far fetched future now being lived through. Just read this story again in detail and see if you agree with this accretive interpretation. The text seems uncannily to point in this direction of fabulous moral about our own times since it was written.

    “There may be no quarantine tank, no Great Beast. Nothing is there but a bunch of guys protecting their interests by making it appear that they were keeping the world safe from the unkillable Great Beast.”
    Unkillable, so far, I say. Here, an extension of the fable’s scenario in the previous work, involving fake news and an electric chain-mail fence instead of a wall, protecting the perceived lavender fields.
    The intricate interconnecting drainage/ cyborg contraption, with the euphemism ‘quarantine’ attached, seems to have chance mutual synergy with my own version as an overt cacophemism in a 1991 published prose poem reproduced here.

    “You promised me that nobody can count the grains of sand on the beach.”
    “We could not count them, but we siphoned and used them up.”
    “, if he is the type of person who believes that hope can change what is otherwise a calculated turn of events.”
    Two relatively short pieces making a finely tuned coda to this book. It makes me feel that all the siphoned beaches I have been photographing scrolling endlessly down here over the last few years culminate in this most important moment of fabulous literature. The hope in my soul, too, fighting against life’s retrocausation. In ending, I must mention the drawings at the head of each piece. So important, too. This book also is incredibly more than its mere Gestalt.
    IMG_5155 (Edited)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Message: Philippa Holloway – The Violet Eye: Mike Fox

6 thoughts on “The Message: Philippa Holloway – The Violet Eye: Mike Fox

    • “He hoped more, he feared more.”
      A poignant nine pager, about a man and his life-purposeful hobby of homing pigeons, with the man’s own instinct of a ‘homing instinct’ that lingers, perhaps ironically, upon a yearning for a life still to be what it was before his wife had left him, left him because, outwardly at least, of her attitude to the relentless “bird shit and sawdust” the husband brought into the kitchen on his feet. She’d left before and come back. Telling relationship with his young son (whom his mother wants to follow her and live with her) as the father continues, in the meantime, to tutor the son (and now us) about the lore of racing homing pigeons, with the superstition or suspicion of truth that one with a violet eye is always to be a champion. imageI learnt a lot about this in such a deceptively short story’s long journey as they raced the pigeons in North Scotland where the father lives. The outcome of the marriage and its implications will not be easily forgotten by anyone who reads this story, and I cannot tell you about it here, in case you take off the wrong ring when it comes home to you. (I was further emotionally intrigued because of my earlier encounter with a fiction in which homing pigeon lore became significant for me here, such a memory just now giving me a bonus prize of chance enhancement to the Violet Eye.)
    • “You just said ‘it has to mean something.’”
      Except the mother’s small son — sensitive and often asking naive, hard-to-answer question as children do — only hears her (or thinks he hears her) whisper what he says she said. The text gives no evidence of her saying it, whilst it gives us everything else she says to him, as they discover that a strangely unclassifiable bird has infiltrated their house, a house new to them, with its own novelty of sounds, making them unsure that it was a bird until they became sure by evidence of its presence on the bed in a bedroom, not trapped in the chimney after all. The mother is a cautious pre-planner in this 11-pager, waiting for her husband and the boy’s father who is late homing home from work in the rush-hour traffic, I assume. They query the “message” of the bird itself or as carried by the bird, the flight path signature of its arrival, I guess in a whisper, and, belying his own naivety as a child, the son mentions the word ‘symbolism’. I find myself trapped by this story, making my own inferences, and I hope I don’t crash into its window of entry because it is still closed or once I get in, I hope they will let me out by opening that window again. “The traffic is murder”, the father says on his eventual arrival home, but that does not carry the message of this story. That is an obvious decoy. You will have to fly into it on your own wings to find out. Any suspicion of truth or superstition of poop or fatal omen, notwithstanding.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Dance of Abraxas – Benjamin Tweddell

12 thoughts on “The Dance of Abraxas – Benjamin Tweddell”

  1. The attempts to discover a derivation for the name ABRASAX, Greek, Hebrew, Coptic, or other, have not been entirely successful… – Arcane Wikipedia
    Pages 7 – 12
    “She was always too wild for Berkshire.”
    Disarmingly with a naivety of “spectral radiance” &c. &c., this prose takes us with shivery pride by the narrative or readerly hand alongside Charles to the Swiss Alps, to recover with him from hospital (after the trenches?), to an impending storm around the abode of his host who talks of Jung, and Charles of his sister whom he seeks, I infer. Although already equally naively captivated, I am determined to eke out this potentially and paradoxically imposing book (imposing in itself as a physical book and in its words). (A ‘recovery’ in the Swiss Alps reminded me of Hans Castorp in the Magic Mountain, by the way.)

  2. Pages 12 – 15
    “But I suppose the trenches left us all sodden with incomprehension. Perhaps we all now crave a little of the tyranny of reason.”
    “, and to perhaps a saner Europe.”
    Perhaps, perhaps not. This gothic-sublime text leads to the closing of Charles’ first day with his host, as the Alpine storm outside subsides, amid considerations of reason versus previous wildness of this book’s Dance, as Europe comes to yet another crossroads, and we perhaps call on mysterious Abraxas, if not Ascona as the old Alexa. All this amid the relevant character and backstory of Charles’ sought sister Anna, that, for me, “eventually inspired the book you were reading earlier.” Books intertwine, as well as histories, fictions, cures of war, memories of mustard gas and as yet indefinably yearning aspirations amid the “drift to slumber”…

  3. Pages 16 – 27
    “, and Charles had the absurd, but powerful sensation that his every breath was an outrage against some nameless axiom.”
    The next day, and Charles Lydford tries to acclimatise himself to this book’s striking genius-loci of Ascona and Lake Maggiore. But which Amida in “Amida’s pure light”? He walks with an engaging bearded man who had known his now lost sister Anna when, with another woman Mary Wigman, she was in this erstwhile ambiance of theurgy and commune: yin-yang, sublime, imposing, preternatural, absurd, all words now used in these pages. A text with amenable quote marks at each capital’s half-mast and equally slanted hyphens, even the tiniest things in tune with my mood this Lawrencian morning as I read these pages. Charles also reminisces about his time with Anna in England’s Lake District. And now a ‘Hortus conclusus’ (that reminds me of my (by chance) concurrently reviewed The Silent Garden): “‘A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse.’”

  4. Pages 27 – 40
    “I know she had been in the libraries of Toledo and had read much, and that she had studied with an aged priest in Alexandria.”
    I can hardly put the book down against or with my will, as I learn more from Charles via his own learning from others, in this scenic and spiritual ambiance of “sublimity”, about his sister Anna and her sometimes strained relationship here with Mary Wigman, including Anna’s own rebellious feistiness at school, an Artemis in Ascona “…running with the hunt, not with the hunted?”, the hunt for the Abraxas star, perhaps, in the mountains, plus the nature of Dance, and the Christ religion seen to be rightfully yielding to greater forces within the canon of this book’s descript. Toledo was in another disarmingly naive book as a name of an English street where a different man, under the tutelage of Saturn, sought an elusive woman, a scenario I parsed and construed here recently in ‘Vulgar Things’ (Vulgar in the true sense). Now Nothing is one such Thing. And Charles’ telling wartime backstory… I can’t wait for the revelation in the final pages of this book. I hope there will be no spoiler in this review, yet I now fear that there may already have been one during my own quietly eager search, a search, too, for this book’s gestalt!

  5. Pages 40 – 57
    “, an odyssey through all illusion, to the midpoint between eternity,”
    It is always a battle to reach what one wants to reach, with mixed dark and light ways or means (skirting even a “depraved farce”) that are used towards a pure end – however hard that is to swallow or stomach along those very ways. Charles does reach catharsis of hindsight revelation regarding his search for singularly volitional Anna in the coda of this book’s symphony (Wagnerian, Lawrencian, Yeatsian, John-Cowper-Powysian?), the coda provided by his wartime backstory transfigured now into his own Asconan flight back towards such healing rescue of realisation… a transcending of Words as part of the illusion. An “ecstasy” in its true sense. That ‘Hortus conclusus’ I picked out earlier. Then something that brought me to a perfect, if premature, halt, because I had never seen, until today, the concept of a mere Gestalt!
    “It had been more than mere ‘Gestalt’.”