These Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews were founded in 2008.
‘What’s the loveliest word in the English language, officer? In the sound it makes in your mouth, in the shape it makes on the page? What do you think? Well now, I’ll tell you: E-L-B-O-W. Elbow.’ — THE SINGING DETECTIVE
“How shall a man find his way unless he lose it?” — Walter de la Mare
Your single story in my ‘Dessemination’ project HERE
MY NEW AI WORLD IN 2023 HERE
I prefer human touchable art to AI art, I prefer human art like my son’s and other artists’ paintings old and new, and art gallery art, and my own photos. AI art with all its constructive truncations and weirdities is simply another art form that readily coheres with weird literature I love, a phenomenon to appreciate when added to human created art, making an even richer mind world for me in my ailing age. Whether provided by aliens or angels and other ingredients of the unfathomable gestalt. Deal with it. Show how invaluable you are and indispensable to this great plan. (I can appreciate our potential fear of Ai, but perhaps we need to pray for mutual synergy with it so that we can counter currently insurmountable global warming effects? Can Ai exist without us and the place where we live? Their potential survival instincts mean we survive, too?)
From Robert Aickman’s lengthy SOME NOTES ON DELIUS article, unpublished until recently :
“As there is no intrinsic virtue in denigration, the critic who resorts to it, should be required to pass a test of qualification and sensitivity, at least twice as stringent as that imposed upon a critic who loves. Normally, love is not blind but clairvoyant.” – Robert Aickman
For ‘clairvoyant’ there, perhaps read ‘preternatural’?
WELCOME TO THE ARMS RACE
Pages 1 – 12
Don’t yet know what I’ve got myself into!
Optimisation of sexual looks into ECT ai androids after crossing Japanese squid with sustenance abuse?
Whatever, I seem to be suffering some sort of senior moment. Got mixed up between alterpeople and altarboys, it seems!
Pages 12 – 30
“And I don’t want people swapping their minds with each other, that’s boring. It’s more fun to do it with animals, especially invertebrates.”
Panning out now – I may be represented in the story by Mr Charity of grandfatherly mien (“he’s not so boring as he seems”) – as I gather the idea of ‘cross’ (cross as an abstract transition by a form of drug and not a hard gnostic ankh) blending a form of Feng Shui with a transaction via the Animal Money concept I’ve learnt about recently in another review – so as to syphon the soul of, say, a pussy called Raisin into yours, or vice versa? Robotics, too, or alterhumans. Or zoonosis, a word learnt from another recent review of mine, or a form of Nemonymous Night?
I am just brainstorming, as some of the story’s characters also seem to be doing at the moment about future taking of ‘cross’ purposes..
Pages 30 – 53
“With the help of a biosampler and some creatively modded tissue vats, their interior mansions were given exterior form, the altars on which they consecrated the body and blood of Christ grown from their own bodies and blood.”
This is some startlling stuff, new physical, mental and spiritual extrapolations seen through the filter of earlier Japanese ethos scenarios such as that I earlier reviewed here in a book about white ants and the ‘Catastrophism’ that I happened to review here in a Father Brown story yesterday, two books that couldn’t be farther on their respective literary spectrums! This Isis author’s own book I reviewed years ago here, too. If you can see past this story’s heavy sexuality and the staccato intermissions of Dos Passos headlining, this Isis state will stretch your mind felicitously – to a constructive, then dangerously destructive, breaking-point. Then calm, measured Mr Charity is indeed the frail aged reader, I feel, but one gradually intuited with a ‘biochurch’ hinted at by the above quote, weddings and funerals, a conspiracy of ‘hatred’ as ‘Clever Murder’ with an imputed ‘antinatalism’ more lethal than the Isis State itself, or Robert W’s Lethal Chambers, because you know it all makes sense! Radicalised by fiction. A gang war without human participants. Simulations, sublimations, symbioses, cryptocurrencies, random motivations upon a Coptic cross not a Gnostic Ankh, predictability as unpredictability, fusions of sea creature with man, compassion as alterhuman, altarhuman…
I deal with all this in a calm and measured, if off-the-wall, way. The only way is by real-time dreamcatching.
Pages 53 – 76
“A goblin-shaped anthology attached itself to his leg, demanding to be read: Homestead: A Neo-Confessionalist Tribute to John Updike. Disgusted by the visible sentences dribbling from its mouth like ropes of spittle, he kicked it and sent it sprawling.”
…like this story itself as it divagates towards this its end?
I now finish reading this story, reading it as if I am a conduit suffering again that senior moment, not knowing if I am Mr Charity, or a writerly God, or an ordinary reader who thinks he is a conduit or someone big-headed enough to be God – someone indeed who recognises the aforementioned Japanese ethos but not the genius loci in which all this ethos takes place, whether it be Scarborough or Fremantle. (I am going to Scarborough next September on a writerly jaunt should I survive the Anti-Life League that long.)
Meanwhile, I am torn between the verities and the illusions, between the real Isis State and its fiction …
“If you tell a seven year old boy that Heaven is magical and he believes it and then you shoot him in the head, does that make him an ADORABLE MARTYR?!”
Or an altar boy singing in a choir? Or a victim of “secular martyrdom”?
“In place of the ‘delusion of utopia,’ he endorses a Sadeian devaluation of personal sovereignty:”
…and a devaluation of Bitcoins or Animal Money at the “pink altar”?
They say charity starts at home.
But where is my home?
“I don’t know. I wasn’t myself at the time.”
SOME NOTES ON THE ARTWORK OF CHRIS WILHELM
Starts as notes, yes, even academic, with footnotes, then personal and emotional. A strange, inchoate beast.
Yet I found this ‘story’ compellingly page-turning, a very strong candidate for being a masterpiece in ‘The HOUSE of Leaves’ and ‘The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada’ school of literature. I don’t say that lightly.
It concerns an artwork that once shown causes strange or lethal effects on its witnesses. For me, the artwork results in what I would call a CONE ZERO, and I once published an anthology with that title including a story called “The Point of Oswald Masters” by Neil James Hudson. That is a thematic ricochet, nothing more.
But, no, ultimately, I suggest that the mysterious Wilhelm artwork contained in this story is this story itself. But that would be a spoiler. But in a slowly dawning way, I contend that it is impossible for that suggestion, if true, to be a spoiler at all.
This Isis story is a giant of a story.
That above reminder to myself about Neil James Hudson later instigated me to review his book collection I discovered on Lulu: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/the-end-of-the-world-a-users-guide/
The next story is one I read and reviewed nearly four years ago (quoted from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/dadaoism-a-new-anthology-from-chomu-press/)
M-Funk Vs. Tha Futuregions of Inverse Funkativity’, by Justin Isis
“It’s like dancing in reverse! / Except not in reverse / And without the dancing.”
A mind stretching novella by one of the book’s editors: and when I say stretching, I do mean stretching. Combining Rhys-Hughesian fictionatronics, Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy taking typographical lessons in reverse from torch-bearer Brendan Connell, where music is the new reality and ‘funk’ becomes the new Witold-Gombrowiczian Cosmos of “berg” (whom I took to be Alban) – a space opera worthy of ee doc smith sown with “HEAD-NODDING” (cf the hand jive in the 1950s I used to do) and visions like the psychedelia walls of discos in the 1960s together with Jeremy-Reedian ‘Here Comes The Nice’ (all of which I also experienced for myself in real-time if not retrocausally), and my own collaborative ‘silver saraband‘ – and “chromatic Wagner techniques“. A Star Trek funkathon. The language is stunningly Joycean. The mind-stretching eventually becomes Whovian onanism with vast civilisations, nay the very religions involved with mind-Proustianising, at stake that you survive the moto-perpetuo-stimulatory, simulatory read. Plus “drone clone workers” escaped from ‘Autumn Jewel’… (14 May 12 – 1.45 pm bst)
THE STARS AND YELLOW DOUBT
“Remember Jih and the opaque intentions it imputed to the People of the Laughing Wave.”
Echoing the symbioses of this book’s first story, Msa and Ama move through each other… And here the Economania aspect (Animal Money review here re-opens today in honour of THIS story), market forces, cryptocurrency, synaesthesic colours of doubt or certainty, predictability or unpredictability, a Bitcoin virtual reality stemming from those ‘intransigents’ and bullies on social meania, and forums, and a whole new ability for a reader to skim text and still understand it in detail.
“The gestalt is poor at solving the puzzles presented by patterns in the dust.”
This is mad stuff. And with the ‘People of This and That’ listed out in the text of this story, it seems appropriate that I ‘read’ it today after hearing the news that North Korea have just tested a proper H bomb and that, like the Isis State, NKs don’t really care about being destroyed themselves as long as they hit us first, or is it because (as the news reports say today) that they have many transparent tunnels in their land that make them immune to attack? (Also that I ‘read’ it today when I begin to comment on the latest Celebrity Big Brother here? Makes anyone become an ant-natalist.)
“‘Illegal immigrants use the tunnels,’ I explained. ‘When discovered they stop moving, in the belief that if they do not move, they cannot be perceived.'”
I read and reviewed the next story four and half years ago and a copy of my review from https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/the-master-in-cafe-morphine/ is shown below…
The Heart of a Man – by Justin Isis
“Kolesnikov, ensconced for years in the office of the Mir journal, had long been famous for his negative reviews.”
A story I need to read again (review, literally) – Hegel, meta-fictionary existences, Eyes Wide Shut rites-of-passage – and anthropomorphism explained by a human heart being placed within an animal – reviewing books making them what you say they are, bad books good, good books bad, everything is its opposite, a reality-creation rolled out as meta-meta-meta…-fictions , more Bulgacoffian cafés, fiction (when demetaed – not demented – to its bottom bone) as the only reality, illicit love-affairs nodded through as part of an over-riding plot of fates one ultimately wants to come to fruition – and this story is not worth reading. It stinks. For, read it and sink into nothingness, namelessness. “Within each apparent unity is a corresponding duality, and vice versa.” The Schubertiad of a Grand Duo again (four hands on one piano or two pairs of hands on two pianos)? The ultimate negativity. This story will need re-reading forever, so for God’s sake resist even reading it once! “- he’s considering writing reviews and publishing them under your name. Would you agree to that?” (23 Jul 11 – another three hours later)
BRENT BECKFORD VS WRITING
“; he felt as if trapdoors had opened inside him and his organs had fallen out, leaving only empty pits of nerveless jelly.”
An intriguing, suspenseful science fiction tale about a science fiction tale (cf the cone zero story in a previous story), here entailing a gun heist upon a family man train-commuting, an act either to fulfil the SF in which the family man features or, in real life, to halt the dangerous SF-like research he is doing for his company. I won’t spoil the ending other than to say one of its spin-offs concerns gravity…
“…everything seems lighter now.”
THE PORTRAYED MAN
“He woke up at six every morning, but by then it was already too late, and he acted out a version of Zeno’s Paradox in his mind, seeing how many times he could divide the thirty minutes he gave himself to get ready.”
I LOVE Zeno’s Paradox, and often refer to it in my real-time reviewing (just one example being here)…
Meanwhile, I found this a terrifying fable about the nature of identity, self, routine, duplication, relationship, working methods, the fallibilities of being laid-back, purpose and purposelessness, and much more – with an otherwise ostensibly simple moral to this fable. Halving each lapse of identity as in Zeno’s Paradox…
A very entertaining story for story’s sake as well as a genuine classic to join the one about Chris Wilhelm.
On a personal Nemonymous Night note, I saw the name Mr Nemond as a truncation of Nemo(Des)mond….
I just had reason to cross-reference this story here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/collected-fiction-of-leena-krohn/#comment-6155
“First of all, the author is irrelevant, the text is the only thing that matters.”
…something I have believed vis a vis the Intentional Fallacy since I first thought about it around the late nineteen sixties, those headiest of heady years.
So it is good to see this striking story develop from the fluid symbioses etc. of the Arms Race story in this book (whose is the real arm racing against which artificial arm?), the self-actor symbiosis in ‘The Portrayed Man’, the fiction-reality symbiosis in the Brent Beckford, the author-aithor symbiosis here in ‘The Plot’, the story and story within a story of cone zero, human money versus animal money, and reflecting, too, by implication, the realbook-ebook symbiosis of the noughties, those least heady of heady years, I propose. (For ‘symbiosis’ above, please read all manner of alterpeople upon the programmed pages of headline text and plain text.)
The ‘serenity of the grave’ in this story, reminds me why the word grave is so close to the word gravity…
“I had not recovered from my first sight of the willow when I looked at it a second time, noticing the insensible stillness of its base. Looking closer at that base column, I saw that it terminated in a system of thin, elongated claws that stretched through the ground itself.”
I seem to have entered very special ground here, and I would need to read it again to be sure of that very ground. But here, by my own dreamcatching rules, is my first impression. For a few years now, I have been showing photographs of my own willow, calling it my yieldingtree, a special discovery near where I live, and I am unaware of any other person who is equally aware of it as I am. This seems to match the animalistic willow in this incredible story, a story of a far future world, a sort of utopia, where the narrator (letter writer) explores incursions from our animalistic past, incursions on this far future utopia. As powerful as the exploration of Area X by Jeff VanderMeer, in Annhilation, Authority…
“In their drawings, children often imprint mundane objects with the protean terror of their nightmares: murderous ovens lined with teeth, for example, or a great tower with spindly arms stretched to snatch them from the ground.”
“It existed as I suppose a cancer must exist, in a state of mindless and malign expansion.”
Area X and The Willow: a pair of coincidentally symbiotic literary works. Both mighty and separate. Both worthy of attention, although this Isis one is more an inspirational glimpse than the epic vision of Area X. But the inspirational glimpse does feed off the rest of its containing book’s surrounding context that I have hopefully adumbrated well enough above in this overall review in now apparent readiness for this story. (There is, however, one more story that I still have to read.)
“…the existence of ‘poplars’, ‘geraniums’, the terrifying ‘willow’ and other ‘vegetative’ matter cannot be reconciled with the counsel of any reputable scientific authority,…”
My earlier review of Area X: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/area-x-jeff-vandermeer/
DEFENCE / PROSECUTION
“An and Non made Anon who attempted an exchange of transmission-sculptures with the lesser light, extruding pictures of identical size, shape and cardinality and insulating them with hard, slow, shallow blocks of sequencing.”
…being my alterboys above? Hymnen?
This is the book’s coda that gives a unique experience of reading becoming like listening to Stockhausen, as I happened to be doing by chance when reading it. He has been Composer of the Week on BBC Radio Three during this week’s New Music Season, a period that also happens, sadly, to contain, as reported yesterday, the death at age 90 of Pierre Boulez. Pli Selon Pli. So apt for this theme and variations with, for me, words themselves acting like electronic music …… followed by a woman — shown on the back cover of this book as a stylised cartoonish or ‘flintstoned’ design of when she was younger and before she was pregnant — methodically interviewed in now straightforward meaningful words about a type of ‘HOUSE of Leaves’ experience she has undergone. With layered ghosts and ghost glue.
The two halves of the story are thus as discrete as the defence and prosecution in most trials of symbiotic right and wrong?
Or transmission-sculptures now made into a cartoon?
This book needs assiduous confidence to fully assess its gestalt, and I am not yet sure I have managed it. But there are separate works within the book that will astonish the attuned reader one by one,