33 thoughts on “Tainaron. Mail From Another City


    “: but I have also seen flowers into which one can step as if into a sunny bower.”

    …a letter written to ‘me’ as if I am already engulfed in its past visit to the university botanical gardens, pollinated by its words that become giant flowers, a luxuriant hothouse of word-flowers, making us seem like tiny manikins cavorting in the botanical ladygardens as a biological meadow, reader and author in (un)selfish, negative/positive symbiosis, creating new images uncontrolled by the other… But the writer is lost even more than I am by her own words, unless the stated freehold author has not already delegated to a leasehold male one by means of promoting a reader’s responsibility to such a level in the narrative pecking-order about lonely people merely in amusement mode.
    Literature as a honey trap.

    “Thus the selfishness of each individual works, in the meadow, for the happiness of all.”

  2. THE HUM OF THE WHEEL – The Second Letter

    “Do you know, I am sometimes startled when, from amid the throng, a snout-like face sways towards me,…”


    You see, I need to convince this writer of letters to me, letters building a so far exquisite gestalt of the land of Tainaron that — with leitmotifs of, say, Ferris wheel, and resplendent colours, and building-benign or building-bending volcanic underhum, and “a honeyed haze glows in fruit baskets,” and paved monumentality — this my “special thread for the needs of the whole of Tainaron” is a thread that is worth knowing, after all.

  3. SHIMMER – The Third Letter

    “They are as graceful as down, as fine and light as the first flush of youth that no one has ever lived.”

    If, before reading this letter, you think you can imagine these fey inner-lit beings that walk the Proustian promenades of Tainaron, then you have no idea about them until you do read this sumptuously rhapsodic prose about them writ in English as one of “the city’s official languages”, I contend.

  4. THEIR MOTHER’S TEARS – The Fourth Letter

    “For I am the great hole out of which the city grows.”

    I won’t keep repeating this, dear reader of my review, but these letters are couched in a sumptuously rhapsodic, seed-bearing, beautiful-poignant, myriad-like, fantasy-bred truth of language shared in this version between the book’s Mother and Hildi Hawkins (also the Mother’s helper with the previous DQ gestalt). I see myself as a mite or mote of a Mother’s helper, too, even if she does not need such help. Call me a ricochet finder. A budding reva-mender. A hawler-drone.
    There are certain implications of Tainaron’s gestalt, too, that, if I shared them here with those people who have not yet read it, would form into dreaded spoilers that already rightfully populate this text.
    Indeed, who is Longhorn?
    (Sibelius wrote incidental music, featuring a horn call, for Strindberg ‘s Swanwhite.)

  5. THE BURDEN – The Fifth Letter

    “I tried to remain calm, and took up a book. I even leafed through it (it was the flora you gave me long ago), but the incessant knocking prevented me from understanding anything.”

    Not so much sumptuous fantastical now, but more suburban weird. But which one is Hildi, which Leena? An old lady and the letter-writer living above and below each other respectively.

    Just one jarring note so far in the book’s text, i.e. with ‘withs’ in close proximity: “…who supported herself with a slender stick with an elegantly turned head — it represented a creature with a beak and horns.”

  6. THE SEVENTEENTH SPRING – The Sixth Letter

    I now fully understand where these letters are coming from.
    I feel have become a pupil of the pupal.

    Meanwhile, I note that Hildi was Hilda in a previous incarnation with this text. Not a vast metamorphosis, true, but a start? Also I recall the awkward attitudinal changes of social or symbiotic direction in DQ after, say, dealing with an aquarium. An aquarium and Tainaron don’t seem a million miles apart.
    A translation is a sort of such metamorphosis?

  7. BURNING ON THE MOUNTAIN – The Seventh Letter

    “They are sectarian delusions. To redeem Tainaron, I suppose that is what they want.”

    A burning on the mountain each new moon, I gather. A “balefire”, in English. I watch it from my last balcony. But as in astrology what causes that fire – the new moon? Or, with filters often being two way filters, like translator and translated, the fire causes the new moon, more like? Never lost in translation?


    “Here I have come to realise that there is no clear dividing line between music and language.”

    After that promising start, this letter goes downhill, with barely veiled aspersions to those, presumably myself included, “who wish to see everything face to face and to reveal, open, show the whole world the nakedness of things…” I maintain I am flaying open texts to produce their beauty and inner meaning, NOT to gratuitously tear Tainaronian homes from their bodies’ soft vulnerability withIn.
    This massive hardback book itself has a huge turquoise shell that seems vulnerable itself, with the too-easy tearing of the ‘chitin armature’ tissues between that shell and the white meat of insect-ranked text…!

  9. LIKE BURYING BEETLES – The Ninth Letter

    “You do not reply.”

    But I have. See above. Who’s not delivering them? Who’s turning a blind eye? Ha, it’s only Des Dreamcatcher! Or “Oceanos” of the Oceanides?
    This one deals evocatively with the disposal of the dead in Tainaron within the ‘Hades’ below the shop with boxes. Hauntingly eschatological while Longhorn develops as a character and Tainaron as a place and its inhabitants as self-fructifiers.

    “…a new spring from and on what rotted and died in the autumn.”

  10. THE CHARIOTEER – The Tenth Letter

    I hear you have had a reply to your letters. But, as you say it can’t be from me – despite bearing a photo that, as well as holding reins, has my look – because it bears a look similar to “the face of someone who was dying;”
    It could be from me. But that dos not explain why you have not received any of these other replies that make up my real-time response to your letters. Perhaps that explains why there are no ‘hits’ upon it as evidence of receipt, let alone of your reading them.

    “What a coincidence that it arrived just as I had sent you my last letter!”

  11. TRACKS IN THE DUST – The Eleventh Letter

    “Know this: times change, but each is only one time of many. So what; it can be changed like a change of clothes.”

    …like the rooms in DQ?
    This room where you meet the so-called Prince is like his sitting at the bottom of a well, where dust shows your footprints – footprints like fish in an empty aquarium, I ask?
    It all fits and starts. Then a sudden change in your attitude to him.


    “‘Remarkable,’ writes the great mogul, ’empty-handed I came into this world, and now, as I leave it, I drag with me an enormous caravan of sins… My sorrow mortifies me. Farewell, farewell, farewell.'”

    A dead monument to once ancient hope.
    And compare the insubstantiality of Tainaron, its sudden change a-la-DQ, old age, sudden concept of one’s own limbs, the letter-writer who keeps writing letters although assuming they have no return mail. Just see here, I say – your return mail is here, at least.

  13. PROOF COPY – The Thirteenth Letter

    “Oh, I have something wider than a prairie, wider than Oceanos.”

    Not the proof copy of a letter that was never sent, but more like a palimpsest of letters between us.

    “I would love you even if you were someone else.”

  14. image

    SAND – The Fourteenth Letter

    “…soundless falls and swifter torrents,…”

    You tell me, in this stunning and substantive letter, of escaping Longhorn and foolhardily reaching towards rougher-edged parts of the city, where there is a Swiftian feel to the granular qualities of buildings and the creatures within more like ants than people though I am sure they are people, as they gradually meld and merge into sand, a situation that reminds me in turn of the recent sandworks along the coast where I have lived for the last twenty odd years and where fishtail groynes have been built between immense imports of gathered sand. It has been like the Crawler itself has been crawling along this coast for the last few years. I know you do not glance at Oceanos towards the north, but as you can see from the enclosures it is still there. Or should I say I am still there, complete with insect pylons on the horizon…


  15. WHITE NOISE – The Fifteenth Letter

    “Once I remembered, in front of the receiver, that I had a heart: that whatever I did, that heart beat and beat ceaselessly. And as in answer, through the tempest, I heard the beats of another heart,…”

    Receiver is OK. But radio in England, those old days, was called a wireless. A delightful poetic treatment of tuning a wireless, passing the sometimes strange names of cities, listening to its Oceanos, its buzzing bees, its weather mimicry, its even stranger insects of white noise or black static. I also remember (in the 1950s) twiddling the tuner-spindle along the lit console tuning-bar of the wireless, hearing another’s heart, too.
    A wireless then was full of wires and valves. Today we connect wirelessly, indeed.

  16. THE MIMIC – The Sixteenth Letter

    “There was a book on my lap, but I did not turn its pages.”

    But I was perhaps like one of those new fishtail groynes on Oceanos, with imported rocks, like the imported sand. Reading without turning the pages.
    This is a beautiful letter, with Longhorn involved, debating continuity with the letter-writer. Who is the mimic, who the mimicked? Who the crawler, who the crawled over?

    “It seemed to me that new stones had been brought to the courtyard and that some kind of hillock had been built, which had certainly not been there before.”

  17. image

    THE GREAT WINDOW – The Seventeenth Letter

    A beautifully described shop window full of toys. A static vision forever as well as a dynamic one of childhood through to finite old age. This strikingly resonates with a real-time review I am simultaneously conducting (here) alongside this one. It is a review of the anthology entitled PLAYGROUND OF LOST TOYS.
    Also, I am reminded of my original review of TAINARON that I conducted (here) four or five years ago, a review that I have only revisited to discover its URL but have not yet re-read it. I DO remember however it referred to this 17th letter’s marbles….

  18. THE WORK OF THE SURVEYOR – The Eighteenth Letter

    Tainaron – as a place effulgently, and sometimes lugubriously, builds and builds, including the Swiftian human nature of its arguably non-human inhabitants. In this light, the striking conceit here of measurements being measurements according to whoever measures them, now explains a lot, if explaining it (so far) inchoately. Inchoateness can be more precise than precision.

  19. THE BYSTANDER – The Nineteenth Letter

    “When, this morning, I eyed it from my front door, it looked as if the entire city had gathered along the long, wide street and had been standing there silently –”

    This is a major transcendent work within the major TAINARON, so ironic that it is called a bystander. The letter-writer as bystander watching the works of this book sinuously passing by like a membraned snake, full of what peoples this book, not only the Canetti ‘crowds and power’ as now gestalted inhabitants of TAINARON, a silent auto-da-fe, and this NOW, only now, possible with this huge-husked tome encasing them all. We reach possibly the first epiphany of this whole CHEEKY FRAWG, with several more epiphanies yet to come, I assume. Well, you did ask me – asked me in this 19th letter on what it calls the nineteenth day.


    I note that Sibelius’ NIGHT RIDE AND SUNRISE Op. 55 is on BBC Radio 3 this afternoon, as conducted by Osmo Vanska.

  20. KING MILINDA’S QUESTION – The Twentieth Letter

    “He is dry and light and has shrunk so small that he is carried in kind of bag or sack.”

    Compare Pope Gregory and the shrunken homunculus on a raft in The Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann, and the bearded man in The White Ship by Lovecraft (author and that story title as a Buddhist singularity?) – a white ship having brought the letter-writer to Tainaron in the first place, we now gather. Seems highly appropriate.
    Old age and childhood as disguises….? Much preoccupation with growing old for Krohn? Leaner or not.
    Much to play with here.

  21. NOT ENOUGH – The Twenty-First Letter

    “What has happened to me is that people are no longer enough. They are not enough, be they ever so great or beautiful or wise or complicated.”

    A poignant letter as it implies that you feel I am not receiving your letters as you are not receiving any replies from me, while here is proof positive I am replying, now on-line. Indeed, you are implying in this letter such future possibility of reaching out, almost like going there to meet the letter recipient who is in this case myself. But it never quite is, is it?
    Or was it your envisaged older self writing to your younger self before or during 1985?
    As you quote yourself: “You are not in a place; the place is in you.” (Angelus Silesius)
    I nearly wrote Sibelius there, not Silesius!

  22. DAYMA – The Twenty-Second Letter

    “But everything I see here is strange, even without drinking a drop of dayma.”

    A daymare. Which is a nicer, more spreading, more changeable version of a night one. You wonder why there is no map of Tainaron, and Longhorn takes you up the observation tower to show you why, its ever fluid accretion and excretion ringed by my Oceanos. It is a vista to chesrish in all literature, I propose. But there IS a map. Your letters are its map. And this review a map of your map.
    The changeable nature of Tainaron, its unmappability, if it is indeed unmappable, even by means of your letters to me, reminds me of Sibelius’ Symphony no. 6.

  23. THE DANGLER – The Twenty-Third Letter

    “…if I have idled through agonising labyrinths,…”

    Thanks for your letter of the gentleman who hangs upside-down from his balcony. Reminds me of dreamcatching except here it’s me who needs the net.

  24. THE GUARDIAN OF THE ODDFELLOWS – The Twenty-Fourth Letter

    “Psammotettix, you are the first.”

    I don’t know if it’s relevant, but ‘psammology’ is the study of sand.
    This letter is of the loss of memories in the face of needing them to share at a happy memory retrieval party like garnering honey with others during a chitinous gathering around the QB – who I sense is another version of DQ – where all manner of neerdowells of Tainaron are invited to participate. Including you.

  25. THE GATE OF EVENING – The Twenty-Sixth Letter

    “So at some time of the day their mask was like their own face?”

    As well as the masks, a visit to the city museum with Longhorn reveals a cap with a hole in it to ease the path onward from death. I thus precis the letter, in case I lose it.


  26. THE UMBELLIFERS – The Twenty-Seventh Letter

    “The season is over…”

    A world’s entropy as hibernation, a stoical resignation by the letter-writer. What was it all about? Hibernation as death? QB, the Oddfellows, the Dangler, Oceanos all seen through this wingy veil or empty honeycomb of lost memory…

  27. DATE AS POSTMARK – The Twenty-Eighth Letter

    It now seems incredibly sad that Longhorn says farewell, upon the cusp of pupal hibernation, not by turning up himself but in the shape of a messenger: the Rhinoceros Beetle. But which of them has the longest horn, I find myself asking you, should you ever receive my question?

  28. PASSING BELLS – The Twenty-Ninth Letter

    “These Tainaronians! I do not suppose I shall ever learn to understand them.”

    All change, in slow entropy. The passing sibellius, so beautiful bells. I am highly embarrassed that it was not me who opened your mouth with my mouth all that time ago.

  29. THE PUPAL CELL OF MY HOME – The Thirtieth Letter

    “It is dark there.”

    Inside your mouth? Your pupal cell of winter.
    One day winter will last forever?
    We do not write for each other, we do not read each other.
    None of us do so any longer.

    Meanwhile, the genius loci is what counts. At least we conveyed that well upon our backs. Keep saying the word Tainaron Tainaron Tainaron… And soon it will sound as if it means something. In whatever language it is said.

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