10 thoughts on “Descended Suns Resuscitate

  1. The Way of Flames
    “Junius recalled it was common practice for wealthy citizens to have sculptures made of themselves and put in public places.”
    It is as if the hole in the front cover is made for one of these Romans peering out from the garret gifted to him toward Alaric’s Gothic hordes besieging his city, having seen them earlier at first hand. A race of many people will bare its one neck through such a hole to the descending blade of history, here in decline and further fated fall, depicted by a Gibbon, as various characters mix and mingle at the local baths, unguented, half naked, taunted by or taunting testicles, or those already gelded. The “state of the state.” The thick stiff paper of the pages sufficient to absorb the blood of history’s challenge and response, reconditely told thereon by textured prose and dialogue, as all conspire to conspire, a few in more than one connected and unconnected conspiracies, or they wait otiosely for whatever is revealed by such cross-hatching of future’s checkable past events told now like fiction or role playing. Traditions piled up behind. Pagan or Christian, like alternating counters in some game. The hordes will be back. “The darker darkness.” But I won’t go back to see. I will proceed in a while to Hognissaga, then the Dunwich Catharsis, followed in succession by Regretting Pond, the Last Sheaf and Kali-Yuga.

  2. I am already heading toward a clinching read of ‘Hognissaga’, and meanwhile I should clarify that the physical book itself is part and parcel of its whole experience, the meaningful hole somehow adding to that whole – and the proud veins of the tactile amber cover, a grainy surface of visionary Braille; one has to handle it as if the rich text within is alive, making it seem a pulsing creature holding the essence of conjoined meaning rather than it being a cold vessel of mere fluid that once drunk is later expended. It is optimised, too, by an eked out special aura of rarity. And the dream-captcha handwriting…
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  3. Hognissaga
    “There must be blood in the song.”
    I surely cannot do justice to this deeply rich, terribly horrific quilt of high verse (seen in sections of raw enjambement upon the thick stiff pages) and of the various prose-story audience reactions and interactions (including a child’s being sick) regarding what turns out to be a verse saga ‘performed’ by a blind minstrel who later becomes hero-worshipped by a youth aspiring to be apprenticed to him as a future minstrel. One must dwell on the ‘black hole’ or socket of that minstrel’s eye: the warm vessel whence to be drunk the saga’s blood? The epic descriptions in this tale, the strikingly conjured words used, the sheer power of the audience’s reactions not dissimilar to the dynastic interactions and concerns in this book’s first story, cannot be left unmentioned. No horror fiction enthusiast (like me) should miss out on this literary bloodfest, I suggest. The saga’s secret stanzas, too, here exclusively divulged.

  4. I have only this minute started reading the next story, ‘The Dunwich Catharsis’, and I see immediately that it concerns Dunwich in Suffolk rather than the Lovecraftian Dunwich. And so, before I progress with reading it any further, I feel impelled to mention, by a link to it here, a short short entitled ‘The Mentioning’ first published in 1989 in ‘Aklo’: written by myself when sitting on the beach at Dunwich, Suffolk.

  5. The Dunwich Catharsis
    “…he pulled an apple from it and took a bite of its firm meat. Staring at the rosy pulp that looked no less perfect than the skin, John began to gag, the urge to vomit arising, twisting, worming up from his gorge,…”
    A deeply and richly rarefied tale of 16th century tidal surges of evil and good, a Debussyan cathedrale engloutie of the once wider strands of Dunwich, depicted by epistolary correspondence surrounding John Dee and his visitors, one called Alux Boncroft preparing for travel via the surges’ ebb and flow upon a craft (a Lovecraft?) geographically as well as upon the engulfable contours of his spiritual ambivalence, a panoply of heresy and arcane books and dilemmas of shadow cast by both God and Satan – whereby I am inadvertently reminded of my own past concept of Cathrianity (relating to CATHR by Thomas Ligotti whose on-line site is where the main Ex Occidente Press discussion thread has been kindly housed for at least five years so far) whereby I first realised that the word Cathar is embedded in Catharsis. My own personally parfait opera is Wagner’s Parsifal and I sense some further connection there, too. I intend, sooner rather than later, to re-read this truly astonishing story by Brantley (NB my dreamcatcher real-time reviews since 2008 have been based, wherever possible, upon my very first reading of any work, however exploratory) – and I am potentially intrigued, just as one example, by the story’s concept of Consolamentum and ‘endura’, and much more, including Boncroft’s ensuing navigation [a prospective journey that reminds me of my own ‘mentioning’ from the text at the link given in my previous post above: “You see, I yearned to live up to his simple ways rather than digging down to reveal nothing but confusing truths. […] ​The map of the world was so much simpler than that of a single soul, I considered, as I made my way back in the fading light.”]
    “I must depart for far away shores, Doctor Dee.”

  6. Regretting Pond
    “…the gorgeous and glorious worlds in the words.”
    Retting pond, too. ‘Ret’: verb, ret·ted, ret·ting: to soak in water or expose to moisture, as flax or hemp, to facilitate the removal of the fibre from the woody tissue by partial rotting. I do not need to re-read this story in the same way as I am looking forward to fulfilling that need for full understanding with the previous story, but I simply yearn to re-read ‘Regretting Pond’ for its own sake, its language and a story strongly grasped at one sitting, a powerful story of regret, guilt, bereavement, love’s requital, amid the redolently conveyed hard pastoral flax work and backdropped by Latin Mass, and the under- and over-currents of violence and fate, instinctive rivalries, all indeed ‘gorgeously and gloriously’, yet darkly in counterpoint, radiating from the sound of the turning stiff pages. A story of a young man and woman and their inevitably finite romance and the human counters that dislocate their hoped-for path. I can time the story from “Fourteen years ago the building briefly provided barracks during Louis XIV’s siege on Saint-Omer,…”, echoing a different time and different siege earlier in this book. The rotation and fallowness cycles of history. There are many ladders of meaning in this story, too, such as these words actually used in it: lict (a type of bed, cf the ‘lit’ as bed and later the candles lit in this story), lin ( from flax), lint, lector, Latin, Alita (the young woman’s name), liturgy, complicit…
    Or mud and nettles… I could go on and on.

  7. The Last Sheaf
    This is madness, thought John. / But there was the cornflower blue of her eyes…”
    An effective, page-turning, paper-fanning tale of terror, blending, for me, scenes from ‘The Wicker Man’ and Tolstoy’s rhythmic, instinctive motion of peasants scything the crops (if I recall Tolstoy correctly). It is basically a plot of two Englishmen travelling in Germany, one of them tall, and the other needing him to tear blank sheaves of paper pages out of his on-going journal to help clean up his attack of diarrhoea through excess. And quite different sheaves later crop up from the scythes and sickles, as the tall one competes with young German peasants, and female peasant cheerleaders, in getting in the harvest, leading to a bodily mulching fertility rite at the end. Better than manure?
    A strange, off-the-wall work that is continuing to grow on me since finishing it, where one of the attractive female peasants lends a rueful tone at the end, giving the whole thing a satisfying ‘dying fall’. A potential horror story classic.

  8. Kali-Yuga: This Dark and Present Age
    This relatively short coda to the book has the most striking opening paragraph I can ever remember in any work of fiction. If this started a novel, it would become famous as an opening, like that to ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Moby Dick’.
    The piece as a whole, however, is more an esoteric Cosmic theosophy of a John Cowper Powys or Alice A. Bailey or Eastern Philosophy, a theosophy I relish, let it be said, as I sense, on at least one level, its decrying of our bitcoin world through which we float as upon virtual aeroplanes, but now countered by this author’s thick stiff pages, still turning, fanning…
    Pages which may well outlast us all and all our children.
    In many ways, this piece does my final job for me, tying the book’s leitmotifs into a gestalt, a gestalt that is still forming in my mind as I write this …. while leaving the stories as discrete works, all of which are memorable as such. The hole to ease entry.
    “…light must venture from you, O Illustris Reader.”

    end

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