Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Four Mutualities

Concocted this week HERE:

1. Cosmic cause and effect upon YOU.
2. YOUR cause and effect upon the Cosmos.
3. Synchronicity empirically recorded between YOU and the Cosmos (as above, so below).
4. The Free Will (self mutuality) of YOU and the Cosmos, separately.

The Moon King - by Neil Williamson

An extract from my real-time review of this novel:

Pages 278 – 289
“…the child was determining the time of its own birth,…”
…reminding me of the eponymous hero of ‘Tristram Shandy’ – yet, here, perhaps the child wants to tie or be tied by its own horoscope or Prenatal Epoch (for me, a significant hyperlink). The times are falling apart, and we may fail in re-towing or re-harnessing the moon, and the vision of the water child is one of the most memorable and poignant in this whole book… As is another fall, that of “A broad-leaved greenstick [...] the strange smear that clashed so with the vivid green of the leaves.”


Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Duke's Revenge

The Duke was inadvertently buried alive. It was at the height of moonshine - so there was no real excuse. The shadows represented men leaning on their shovels; a job worth doing was worth doing well, but they needed to do it quickly before the moonshine faded from the night sky, and thus not even one of them noticed the barely perceptible breathing of the corpse as they dropped it into the bespoke trench.
One would have thought that a Duke worth his salt ought to have warranted a costly coffin with all the requisite knobs and knockers. But this Duke was perhaps 'persona non grata', an ingredient of a conspiracy that few of the land's commoners could forgive - and these few loyal men, silhouetted by the moon, were the only ones willing to put themselves out in order to give him an honest burial, if not a rich one. Or such was the speculation abroad at the time.
A pity none of them bothered to check the pulse.
Or were they communally wise in their shortcomings? A death by mass misunderstanding is not a death by mass murder, after all. And should the revolution fail, there would be no connection of evidence to incriminate them. It is said that every group of loyalists has at least one of them marginally disloyal enough to betray the others. Moonshine often casts queer shadows.

The Duke eventually stirred beneath the newly undug ground. He had been poisoned temporarily, he realised. This event had been writ in the stars, even if in the hindsight of the darkest grave. Everything fitted the predicted pattern, even if he knew nobody who could actually have predicted it. Someone must have done so, he guessed - and that would have been the one who had planned this whole later conspiracy against conspiracy.
The Duke had been brought up in a privileged nursery, within a palace that, in more socialist times, had been made ugly outside to conceal the riches within. Spoon-fed by calf-gloves, then tutored by voices as silky as their throat-ruffs, the Duke was at first shocked to leave such a palace to see exactly how ugly it looked from the outside, with its grey and chipped buttresses, its bedraggled flags failing to fly from leaning turrets, the drawbridge that creaked and croaked every time it was lifted or lowered, and that only happened once according to the undependable official records. No doubt it had been done at least twice, to reverse whatever the first had been.
Now close on suffocating, the Duke woke with his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth. In a flash, like someone drowning, he remembered the conspiracies that had surrounded his life, and the odd occasion he had left the palace, disguised as a commoner, turning a blind eye to the state of the palace's ugly exterior, hoping that any illuminating moonshine would be dowsed by clouds, to avoid locking eyes with any passing strangers.
He recalled one particular night when, again leaving the palace via the drawbridge, the moonshine was so utterly strong, he mistook it for sunshine. He was not accustomed to leaving the palace during daylight and the building's viewpoints were permanently curtained under with thick drab curtains so as not to conflict, when viewed outside, with the image of the rest of the building's uncared-for look ... or these viewpoints were completely defenestrated with new but deliberately-worn brickwork. He had rarely ventured out during daylight hours and, in this way, he had very little experience of sunshine as opposed to moonshine. Tonight, the full moon was so bright with reflected sunlight, it was as if it had become a circular mirror rather than a huge rock careering through space above the earth.
For the first time, the Duke could clearly see the grains of the earth that formed the ground upon which he walked and they were incredibly as separate as Patna rice grains and not smoothly veined or bound together with prouder ridges.
But was this a dream of waking up in the grave - with his face covered in earth, the individual components of its dirt crowding into his eyes like coarse grains of dust?

He suddenly remembered his childhood. The many different nursery toys, some hard and clockwork, others soft and malleable, together with the rich comestibles, sweet or spiced, the valuable books, some with pop-up pictures, some with just dreary text, and the people who looked after him; he averted his face so that he could not look directly into their eyes. He didn't know how spoilt he was. He just took it all for granted. But if he had known he was a mere Duke rather than a King or even a Prince, he may have wondered how a King or Prince could possibly have been treated better than him.
One of the activities - taught to him by the figure of a man in a hood, or the voice indicated that it was a man - involved the planting of seeds in indoor beds of earth. The Duke could remember relishing the growth of those seeds - often flourishing into orchids, sometimes, though, otiosely unfurling into weeds. Part of the game was to guess what each seed would produce, following months of daily watering which somehow, as a child, he found exciting, too.
Little things please little minds, he was once told by an officious piping-voiced retainer without a face, so such an individual had no need of a hood at all. Or was this figure just a figment of the young Duke's nightmares?
These growing seedbeds were in one vast chamber in the palace, double-ranked along each long wall of blind windows - like a hostel dormitory of filthy futons. His favourite plant - the one with the biggest surprise for him when it suddenly grew with a spurt - was a variety of sunflower that had a moonface as its bloom instead of a sun. It glowed in the dark, like real moonshine, an effulgence unhindered by the blindcast windows. Meanwhile the indoor lighting was kept dim on purpose, so dim, the Duke could hardly see a hand in front of his face. In fact the only light was often the plant's fragile moonshine itself.
As he dreamed like someone suddenly drowning in the pit of earth with which he himself had been smothered like some huge seed, the Duke hatched his own revenge upon the whole world for not planting him dead, but alive. However, revenge would have been harder for him to wreak if he was, like the drawbridge, only either lowered or lifted, rather than both lowered and lifted. During the later unpredictable phases of the moon's dark side, some grains of the grave often shifted and separated to reveal a dim yellow glow from lower in the ground. But nobody passed that way again to see it and wonder.
History could go on quite easily without a mere Duke and his purpose-built palace became a backstreet dormitory for a new breed of downandouts and ex-civil servants.

All my thingies 2007 - 2014 are linked from here: HERE.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Last Balcony - Weirdtongue

I currently have for sale these two books by DF Lewis at the same price as they were previously sold by Amazon before the InkerMen Press closed its publishing business. They can be signed by the author. Enquiries:

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Clock Struck Three

The clock struck three - The clock struck none
The clock struck a bit - The clock had some fun

Jack was trying to write a nursery rhyme -
Well, once upon a time, someone had to write all those nursery rhymes that we all heard on our mothers' laps when we were very small. Such things didn't just appear from nowhere.

Hickory dickory dock, the mouse run up the clock
Tom Tom the piper's son stole a pig and away did run
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, goo goo ga joo
Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it

Jack's wife's maiden name happened to be Kitty Fisher. They lived in a dark forest in a dark part of time -- and his self-imposed job was to start many of the traditions that haunted us when we were children, otherwise our childhood would have been just the same as any old modern life with nothing worth cherishing from the past, nothing worth remembering in whatever future we had left.

For example, Jack invented the coins called threepenny bits so that they could be taken out of circulation in time for us to be nostalgic about them when we were older.

The clock struck three - the clock struck four
The clock was struck with love of Margery Daw

Hmm, this one wasn't working out very well; no potential of memorability or haunting nostalgia. It wasn't like 'Mary Mary Quite Contrary' or 'Old King Cole was a merry old soul'. They were living archetypes of childhood rhyming that underpinned girls' skipping and boys' tree climbing as well as our sleepless nights, those wastelands of dark time when we were all scared of ghosts. Ghosts went out of circulation, too, in our modern times today.

Jack had managed to conjure up ghosts and fairies and changelings as well as rhymes and threepenny bits in the dark forest of dark time when such things were easier to summon for later circulation. He imagined all sorts of potential nostalgia for our future, making our lives worth living by looking back at the things he imagined for us, and by imagining made them seem more real than real things themselves. Imagining some things we loved but can't love now because the things we loved are not around to be loved. It's better to have loved than never to have loved, even if we no longer have all of Jack's things to love.

Jack even imagined summoning up himself for us to remember as someone we once loved:

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick
Jack and Kitty went up the hill to fetch a pail of water

Hmm, something a bit wrong with the last bit.

The clock struck a threepenny bit
Lucy lost her diamonds
Girls made from sugar and spice
Boys from frogs and snails and beetles
Lucy in the skight forever
The clockadoodledoo struck three then choked
Good Morning, Good Morning
A day in the life, a day in the death

"Even nostalgia has to stop one day," whispered the ghost of Jack.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Drop Dead Gorgeous


Extract from my review of 'Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #47' HERE.

Zombie & Son by Anthony Malone
"'Mm. I wonder, Tigh, have you ever thought whether her Majesty the Queen might be a zombie?'
Charles didn't say that, of course -"

Shades of a similar authorial retraction or intrusion in Coriander and (quoting from her story) her attempt to "figure out what was what, who was who, and what the who should do about the who with the what."
Or Malone's reference to the 'wild uncomprehending eyes' of those in the phone-hacking trial, as they would be if they read his genuinely laugh-out-loud Zombie & Son story, and the world would indeed be advised to read this story as its intrinsic truth is made even intrinsicker by a believably cumulative Royal audit-trail based on already public evidence - and by its extremely convincing and well-written text that transcends its otherwise seeming absurdity of subject matter. And it includes the best and seemingly original rationale for the existence of Zombies in general that I have ever encountered. In fact it provides a ratcheting rationale for the Roper story, too!
The Malone story, meanwhile, is full of recognisable, if caricatured, incidents and well-observed cameos. Just as one of many examples, I loved the image of Charles's simple pleasures like having his corns buffed by the drop-dead-gorgeous Duchess of Cornwall.

So this set of fictions ends with a genuine classic that is bound to cause a stir, a good stir, I estimate, to which nobody could object, even those involved by name. The first story ended with what it foreshadowed itself to be: an 'unrequited love' conclusion, while the whole gestalt of fiction in this book ends with a now requited climax. And, for full effect, the text needs, of course, to be read, as I have done, in a real physical book, to make the zombies stand up. And to enable human love for each other and for good literature to be requited. See my The Transfiguration Of An Unchanged Text blog post from a while ago, especially, now, vis-a-vis this book's retractionary authorial intrusions...

Thursday, May 01, 2014

A Rape of Knots

From my real-time review of JOURNEYS BEYOND ADVICE by Rhys Hughes (Gloomy Seahorse Press) HERE:

A Rape of Knots
"While I could accept a gestalt rat with an evolved sentience, the application of this talent to metaphysics was too ungainly a conceit for such humid stews as Nassau."
At different times I come to a certain side of Rhys Hughes' work that appeals strongly to a certain side of my reading taste. I relish his work's various sides ironic as well as visionary simply because I think I have many sides to myself that can individually tune into what is being asked of me by whichever Rhys Hughes work I happen to find myself reading. But this story immediately replaces my current favourite of his works (i.e. The Quixote Candidate) - and 'A Rape of Knots' may even become, at a good rate of knots, my favourite fiction story by anyone. I know that is a bit strong, but I feel sufficiently strong about it to make that perhaps dangerously premature assessment.
This story combines the almost religious 'soul-searching' (literally) quest of the previous Stairwell novella together at one point with that novella's dimensionless feel of a secret passage potentially reaching forever... Also a stunningly strong genius loci of the place in question, here Nassau, brilliant turns of phrase and conceit common to most Rhys Hughes fiction whatever its caste, an examination of evil and the Nature of God as philosophising that does not disrupt the flow of the plot, and effectively deep character development, too, here, of a gay priest and his precarious relationship with the ungay narrator, and a creatively dangerous approach to these factors and to notions of racialism, and the most memorable human-entwined 'monster' that is prefigured by that wheel of a 'gestalt rat' and its knot of tails about which my quotation above from earlier in the story is concerned.
I have long defined the word 'ligotti' as 'knots' (plural of 'ligottus') and the themes of Thomas Ligotti's anti-Natalism, evil dolls, puppets etc and the examination of the nature of evil present in this Rhys Hughes story seem exquisitely to dovetail. But I came away from 'The Rape of Knots' uplifted, not depressed. Uplifted by its intrinsic truth - but a truth from a healing fiction or a devastating nightmare? Or both?