16 thoughts on “TRANSCENSIENCE by Avalon Brantley and Lockett Hollis

  1. An extremely luxurious dustjacketed hardback tome – with 60 pages of what looks to be 5″ square paper as with all the recent books from this publisher since ceasing partnership with Zagava. It is meticulously designed. The frontispiece seems very familiar as if it has been used before in an Ex Occidente book, but I’ll leave others to find out whether I am right or wrong.
    My edition is numbered 23/85.

    The contents seem to be various poetic and prose works written individually by Avalon Brantley (AB) and Lockett Hollis (LH). The first one is shaped on the page like a poem…

    “Forget I thee, Mnemosyne?”

    That name has always stuck in my mind as one of very few names or words with ‘nemo’ embedded, such as Bournemouth and Unemotional.
    I sense this work relates to the Dostoyevsky quote at the head of this whole book. The search for a new god who can conquer the pain and terror induced by God? Here, we have a Classically-cadenced hopefulness of escape from that pain and terror by an easing across the Styx – an easing that only modern euthanasia might supply, a palliative that ‘slackens’ the thirst for lost muses as an alternative to slaking it.
    It doesn’t slacken here, though.

  2. Just realised that the previous work was entitled (apostrophe) although the contents list has a capital A and doesn’t have the word inside brackets. In future, I shall head each segment of my review with the title that appears above the work itself.

    transient (LH)
    “Didn’t really work, though. Dumb. Moot.”

    It is an intriguing moot point whether that is a typo. I think not, in the context.
    This is a substantive prose work with, for me, a kinship of spirit with some of the stories of Clarice Lispector, whose complete stories I am conveniently reviewing at the moment (here). I wonder whether I only thought about that because of this current coincidences of reviews? But it has a tantalising resonance with Lispector’s ‘me’ meeting ‘me’, and extrapolating to ‘you’, here in a post-holocaust (I infer) rite of passage. Satisfyingly literary style, with staccato elements to relieve its otherwise smooth flowing. A sense of ghosts and unrequited love as ‘I’ reach ‘your’ house in this rite of passage. And there is an interesting image of an owl about which “I always think things mean more than they do” is said, reminding me of “The Owls are not what they seem”…!
    Also the famous bedroom scare scene from “Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad” possibly re-enacted at the end of this enjoyable work. And another possible resonance with the Dostoyevsky quote…
    “No, I am their god, The Lord of Near-Dead Batteries, and I am a merciful god!”

    The prehensile board cover of this very book:

  3. I wonder if, by the end of this book, we shall get close to what transcensience actually is?

    On many occasions I have spoken of ‘the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’ ever since I chose that phrase as the sub-title of my story collection “Weirdmonger” (Prime Books 2003).
    I mention that fact here because I am rather struck by the subtitle of this very book I am reviewing now, viz. ELEVEN DISPARATED COABERRATIONS. Anyone recognise there is a kinship there? And I wonder if this book may be destined to have fallen into my hand, as it has, and the next work entitled

    autobiodegradable (LH)

    seems, at first, to be a shaking down to form patterns of random ‘automatic writing’ – a cooperative aberration between a lost muse and some ‘found art’ but its eventual gestalt somehow crystallised, for me, into a non-degradable verse upon death by car exhaust as a Deus Sex Machina…

  4. solemn 23

    I note there is some music called Solemn 23 by Frantic Rabbit, and the ’23 enigma’ is steeped with William Burroughs and the Illuminatus books of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea that I read some years ago.
    This striking poem by (LH) seems written as vaguely underpinned by one of the Psalms 23, and also by ‘cruel mistress’ or ‘cruel love’ metaphysical poems of yore. Semantically, syntactically, graphologically and phonetically. Cut up and diced. Frozen in the headlights.
    Cruel God prevails? Or Illuminati do loom trailing a new god?

    • “; what upholds me is knowing that I shall always fabricate a god in the image of whatever I need in order to sleep peacefully,…”
      – from Clarice Lispector’s ‘Mineirinho’ (read and reviewed today).

  5. a far rest (AB)

    “She made some excuse about car trouble, and the detour,…”

    This is a powerfully haunting tale of a Machensque forest – the description to which I cannot do justice in this review – in possessive interface with a coaberrant marital relationship, Sylvia and (appositely) Dyson.
    Exemplifying exactly what I sense the coinage of ‘coaberrant’ truly means,
    Possibly made even more powerful with resonances, inter alia, with this book’s earlier dead batteries or exhaust and, in its Panic finale, a yearning for a merciful God.

  6. see inside (LH)

    “You will always be I.”

    Having just read this poem this morning for the first time, I believe that I must have had an extraordinary premonition when I wrote above a few days ago: “But it has a tantalising resonance with Lispector’s ‘me’ meeting ‘me’, and extrapolating to ‘you’.”
    This is a colloquially agonising treatment of the marital interface, I guess, in the previous story. Many words cut the reader while many of its words ARE ‘cut’. A doomful cry of the pain in inevitability. Proustian selves at war?
    I sense this book was written to reverse that inevitability in all of us – by giving enough rope to despair to hang itself?

  7. introsection (LH)

    “Where did all my question marks go???”

    I know I won’t be believed but I used the name of the author of ‘The Bell Jar’ in an earlier draft of my review of ‘autobiodegradable’ but, before posting my review of it above, I deleted that reference! How I now wish I had kept it! The Bell Jar as womb or Sylvia Bath?
    But that is the story of my life. I don’t think I have ever encountered such strong prose about the nature of ‘me’ that is contained in this…hardly a story…more a confession.
    It seems to be part of the coaberration of prose and poetry building up in this whole book. An SP versus a TH: a form of the latter’s ‘Birthday Letters’? A literary or Ligottian Dyson sweeping life clean, bringing it back (as if with the Large Hadron Collider) to a ‘metaphysical’ or ‘wackbard’ or retrocausal ‘singularity’, especially when factored into by this book’s earlier story with its own Sylvia … Especially when given the nature of this book’s morphing of words into neologisms – like morphing the Proustian self in a mirror???
    As an aside, I am always keen on drawing resonances with simultaneous reviews, not only those resonances between the works in the single reviewed book itself. Earlier today I was reading and reviewing stories that seem to be narratively fed by whisky as well as by a wound that turns out to have blood as ‘black as tar’… See HERE today.

  8. medicynic (LH)

    Another poem. Another morphed neologism. Another tantalisingly doomful questioning of life’s purpose but it suddenly dawns on me that “You [I?] salved me [him?] more than the mind doctor” and that ‘you’ in this first line (with therefore all that follows) is ‘me’.

    I, as the only real-time reviewer of the book’s perceived audit trail, am the merciful mending god whom you the authors have actually sought from outset with that Dostoyevsky quote???

  9. navis fatvvs (AB)

    “Her crew accrued each from disparate lives of hollow solitude, but I cannot say more.”

    A highly stylised, exquisitely told sea story, with an archaic tinge of such adventures, Marryat or Stevenson, but it becomes, for me, a sea story that never was. It is more a life’s journey within the body as metaphor of the ship amid other metaphors of a ship’s journey’s trappings: the crew, forgotten cargoes, angels, seabirds, dolphins, mermaids, sirens, a treasure chest, ‘calloused hands’, the ‘wackbard’ way of seeing outside oneself, the moon (still tugging?) with its own ‘cold cargo’, the rope that I earlier mentioned gratuitously now come, I feel for a hopeful hanging… Those synchronised shards of random truth and fiction: “spattered with stars, like the slivers of shattered things?”

    “‘Rope?’ I felt half-perplexed, and entirely frightened by the other half of me that seemed to take his meaning.”

    “Inside my head, the silence is a battery”


  10. Untitled endnote

    (AB) & (LH) “to gather”.
    Transience transcended – under the bell jar of this most inspirationally provocative book for my own purposes.
    (The emplathetic real-time reviewer now signs off.)

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