47 thoughts on “Gold of Ophir

  1. The only work in this book that I had already read was the previous one (Tainaron).

    As with the two previous works, the following one (Gold of Ophir) is translated into English by Hildi Hawkins.

    Serpula Lacrymans


    “Where, formerly, a way had opened to another, equally beautiful, world, the dirty map of an unknown continent had now appeared.”

    A consuming description of a building – called a Tabernacle, being viewed by three people, one of whom at least used to live there in its heyday – a building, recently abandoned by the Gold-Washers, that is literally seething with a weeping fungus. (It almost seems pre-destined that I should have already headed this review with a picture of my mantelpiece’s inscrutable Brown Cap…)


    “Mr Babel, in other words, he who was also sometimes known by the name Mr Good-as-Gold.”

    Someone with the name Babel must be “in other words”, I suggest.
    Some clues here seem to indicate that, serendipitously, Mr Babel — with some connection with the Tabernacle and the Gold-Washers (washers made of gold to ease screws or other joints within insets or people who wash gold?) — is not entirely dissimilar to that picture above of the Dreamcatcher next to this book.
    Meanwhile, “Who would place a flower in the grave of the tuatara, that little monster?”
    The word tuatara sounds like a dance or piece of music by Sibelius? More a lizard creature, though, I instinctively guess.


    “Just as the weeping fungus ate wood, memories ate human flesh, both good memories and bad ones.”

    A different triangulation of the first section’s visit to the abandoned Tabernacle, but now making four visitors, with Babel. A harp as bowed by the Gold-Washers chirrups a flock of memories. I already have this work’s memories it not having yet lived through them. The palmistry of mystery.

  4. The Secret of Famine-Bread


    “‘Second,’ said the first Gold-Washer, ‘I suggest we drink to solitude.’
    ‘We should clink just one glass to that,’ said Pontanus. ‘That would be the true sound of solitude.'”

    A gathering at the Tabernacle, where characters begin to recur, and poverty-bread seems some needed precursor to allow the return of the old days with nicer food. The question is how Biblical are Babel and Pontanus, and are the Gold-Washers false-image-commandment deniers? And what of Christ’s breaking of bread?


    The wither and the wafer, these texts are now forming their own Tabernacle. The Gold-Washers and their tuatara pet… The spread of Autumn, the Fall of “they fell…”
    I know what is developing but not sure I can describe it. It is almost as if you need to eat the text to fully understand it, or slowly to eke out the famine-bread mouthful by mouthful so that it can have the time to become tastefully filling before you finish it.

  6. Home-sickness


    “And sometimes flesh is colder than stone, and sometimes stone is as warm and seductive as human skin.”

    And sometimes text is real, and reality less real, if text is where you live.
    This text has so much going on – in beautiful passages of prose – as measured by an angel. I am that angel, or you are. As with TAINARON I am trying to gain a gestalt, as there I managed to do about its Swiftian insect world. Here, a Biblical babel? Or an IS state that ISN’T? Characters are still continuing to emerge, so I keep my powder dry.


    “The thoughts of the crowd, people’s actions, hammer at the city, and its shape changes; its form is never completed.”

    …but things do take shape, as does Mrs Raa. Trying to develop this city in my mind and its shoe-bells and its moving ambiance is like trying to gain a handle on a book by means of my method of Dreamcatching. I seem to continue to have the knack of choosing books to develop my experience in this field, and this work is becoming more and more delightful in this regard.


    “Where, then, did the crooked walls, the Tabernacle’s asymmetry and its peculiar sense of imbalance come from?”

    The Tabernacle is evolving just like this overall work is evolving. With a power that other normal fiction doesn’t have. There is something unique about Krohn, and I have come to the serendipitous conclusion that you can only realise that power I mention above by reading her bit by bit each day, and then write about it yourself each day, disregarding what you DO say about, just the simple act of writing about it as a real-time exercise in dreamcatching. One dreamcatching catches another dreamcatching best.


    “But the chambers of her heart had turned into court chambers in which complex legal cases were heard.”

    Mrs Raa – the three letters of whose name seem to be plucked from Tainaron – seems to be getting letters from her dead husband, or at least envelopes addressed to her from him. There is a sense of poignancy when I remember those letters from Tainaron I received but she never heard back from me, if in fact it was a ‘she’.


    Some of the most haunting passages so far, not only in this book but also in most books, a dark diaspora having caused this section-eponymous couple to be ‘adopted’ by the Tabernacle, together with the remarkable concept of the clear-sighted nature of this exiled couple’s homesickness.

  11. The Glow of the Gold-Washers


    “Pontanus believes everything is alive: the air and the earth, fire and water, but also the rock on which the city is founded, minerals and metals, every substance we encounter, we cover or evade – dead people, too, and that which cannot be seen and of which we know nothing.”

    I happen to have been concurrently reviewing a similar sense of Gaia HERE in another book review. Pontanus’ near namesake washed his hands of Christ…
    Please read the paragraph ending “…real-time?” – it means a lot to me … And the sentence with ‘decoct’ in it. So much current with my thoughts and reviews that I have just completed, so representative of my own gestalt dreamcatching…

    “; however attentively I listen to him, I cannot understand the connections, and I begin to grow anxious, even fearful.”

  12. THE PANS

    “Of course, I heard only fragments, no one heard anything but fragments.”

    A perfect expression of Krohn’s dIsease. Literature is a disease that heals, that’s the conundrum, I believe. Bed pans as well as gold ones. Meanings burrowing like lizards.
    We learn the beauty, in this fragment of fragments, of washing one’s own gestalt in an Oceanos of leitmotifs, and here we reach newer depths of the nature of Gold-Washers, one of whom nurtures the print in which he appears like prize insects.
    And another GW with words and memories under the earth that flourish when they are not even heard by our feet.


    “This is, of course, a translation,…”

    Mr Babel is a gold-washer.

    “One had to abandon all efforts, all attempts to understand, and simply give oneself up…”

    …to this book, a translation of a translation being something that cancels itself out and becomes the core original again?


    “Once a concert was arranged in the Tabernacle. It included a premiere by the Gold-Washer with the hat, a concerto for bull-roarers and bowed harp, three wine glasses and typewriter.”

    You really must read this portrait of the Kinswoman, her relationship with the Tabernacle, while listening to that concerto (and hopefully some Sibelius, too, in his more revolutionary cosmic mood), and discover the amazing fact behind her Ouroboros epithet.


    “‘For a person is always something else,’ Pontanus said.”

    This book so far is summarised in the above contention. Think about it.
    And this massive book is swollen and desiccated, as it also itself contends in this section, by ‘book-lice’.
    This turquoise book is a living creature, too, I sometimes dream.

  16. Left and Right


    “He wanted to force them to acknowledge their bodies, to believe that they themselves were bodies.”

    At a party at the Tabernacle, after armless statue comes to life, one debates the ability of the full-bodied to emphathise with torsoes, if that is the correct spelling?
    Mrs Raa has two arms?
    This book is for the disembodied reader to become embodied, I sense. (In Tainaron, it was to become insects, instead.)


    “For the child was one of those who do not feel anything in the world to be their own, not even their hands, their feet, their eyes.”

    Meanwhile, unlike in the past where I gathered leitmotifs to form the gestalt of each book that I attempted to dreamcatch, I am now finally forming leitmotifs to form the gestalt of MYSELF as this book’s reader.

    Meanwhile, again, the characters, the Tabernacle itself, continue to grow alongside me, along with a myriad of quotable quotes that I haven’t quoted in my review, as I have a rule that I do not quote too heavily from any one book.


    A haunted jamming upon the Torso’s phantom arms reabsorbing his historic real arms and the Glass-Girl’s attempted healing of them…
    Literature has phantom bit like that and the Dreamcatcher is equivalent of the Glass-Girl, even if the wrong gender.
    (29 Feb – Phantom Day?)

  19. THE LENS

    However fine the Tainaron work that is justifiably finding more and more fame, this work Gold of Ophir, for me, exceeds it.
    This section carries the sudden joy of the previous section’s ‘cap’ as one sees the colours of the view from the balcony in contrast to the abasement seen through the lens and what lurks together beneath the sea.
    Try wearing and not wearing the cap by turns as you read Krohn and see what difference it makes. When wearing the cap, I would not have even dreamt about using these two words together: Krohn’s Disease.

  20. Prisoners of Glass and Mirror


    “Pontanus was visiting the book-lice in the room of the Gold-Washer who was writing about the past, significance and fate of the book-louse.”

    A gestalt section where I leave being a book-louse to write about myself as a book-louse. The physical book itself continues to decay with the Disease as the world of the Tabernacle grows healthy and fulsomely imaginable on the cusp of hints, with all its characters so far making cameo appearances.


    “grasp the moment now.”

    Grasp not the nettle, but the peacock’s tail.
    There’s something beautifully apt about this section, coddling the sediment, in the bottle, Pontanus who perhaps once washed his hands of Christ now talking to a Gold-Washer about a day’s activity for activity’s sake, the skill in drying the mixture in a bottle, decanting, keeping its sediment untouched… Alchemy with a secret fire…
    This book’s sediment is its turquoise cover, battered but loved.


    “The Glass-Girl’s slow and uncertain way of moving recalled a person fumbling in a dark, unfamiliar room; she took each step as if she feared a trap.”

    The whole aura of this girl’s movement and expression, here carrying a dustpan and hand room around a party in the Tabernacle recalls those who frequent a Care Home for the physically and/or mentally disabled, a slow methodical confusion and forthrightness of purpose. In fact, it has suddenly dawned on me that the Tabernacle and its characters may be symbolic of just such a Care Home.


    “‘Watu wazuri,’ said Babel. ‘Vehosek – sermanahan…'”

    Latona, daughter of Pontanus, ricochets off reflective surfaces in the Tabernacle. This book is one huge set of reflective surfaces “in the knife-bright distance of the room.” This cannot be a Care Home after all, if they leaves knives about?

  24. Sounds of the Reed


    A meths and urine spectre or tramp (is it me?), and things sound gloomier now, with even rattle-city not having the clout of my own Klaxon City.
    Latona and Pontanus again, and I am well and truly imbued by this text. I am actually a character in it – pretending to be the downtrodden narrator. I kick the book itself, but it does no good. It always draws me back forgivingly the next day, unless I am too busy to read it with pressing matters from my own wife!


    “But the clay brought forth bottle-shards, the earth’s crust flowered with plastic bags bearing red letters.”

    It as if from earlier in DQ in this giant unwieldy turquoise book there has emerged a sudden change of attitude that one senses in a book turning ugly just as much as one notices it in a person who turns ugly at a whim it seems.


    A disturbing section extending the sharp change in attitude that is now seen, in hindsight, as resonantly evoked by the nature of a cough – a text that involves groping women on public transport and a single cough from the COUGHER now become extended coughing graphically described.
    This book coughs, too, sometimes, with a cracking of its spine upon opening.

  27. THE GONG

    “…so that nothing should remain unconnected and alone any longer.”

    A another abrupt change in attitude – from COUGHER to GONGER, and the gong, desspite my misgivings about he who wields the gong stick around the city welding that city together, I can relate it to such a dreamcatcher review as mine welding this cerebral book together even if its physical body itself is tending to fall apart. A bit like the pied piper of leitmotifs.


    “Sometimes the booming bellies of the aeroplanes seemed to touch the wings of the Tabernacle itself, as if to entice it, too, into flight.”

    …although it didn’t, of course. I feel like the passenger sucked, out of the wounded aeroplane, still in his seat – appearing to read, not a newspaper, but this book. Otherwise I might have floated off rather than crashing to the ground.


    There is now something more claustrophobic about the Tabernacle as I begin to stay there overnight, and something even more pitiable and Pinteresque about the characters who stay there – and it is as if I am now more inside the book looking out than out of it looking in!
    As the tall Gold-Washer says, you have to leave room for the soul. The washer between screw and bolt?


    “Now he followed, enviously, their even breathing, in which the inward breath began exactly where the outward breath ended, at the place where death resided.”

    The Customs Man walks at night the Tabernacle Care Home – atmospheric, touching, eschatological… Care Home or Hospice, though?

  31. Eyelids that Spatter Blood


    A pitiful, plaintive, eventually and paradoxically inspiring account of the tuatara reptile-dinosaur-fossil-lizard’s sojourn in the Tabernacle hospice in interface with the crevices of book-lice et al.


    “Whatever they talk about — concretism, new dairy products, the moons of Jupiter — pauses opened up between their sentences, into which the tuatara breathed, two walls away.”

    How does a translator translate pauses in a different language?
    The Doctor visits this Care Home or Hospice that the book calls the Tabernacle, and he is wept blood upon sub-eponymously amid a Pinteresque atmosphere, beautifully expressed for your dreams caught in each day’s reading of this text.


    “…the dark rooms expanded and contracted like the lungs of the sleepers.”

    This novella GOLD OF OPHIR is fast becoming my considered apotheosis of the literature I love, like Aickman, Ligotti, and the recent gestalt soul of Llewellyn, DeMeester, Leslie, Bird, Walters, Gardner, Tanzer, Pflug, Tobler etc. (Lane, Bowen, Brookner, Bowie…) and a blend of the type of Weird Literature material as published in the last decade by, say, TTA (Black Static), Chomu, Ex Occidente, Undertow…


    In its context, I suggest you will never forget this section of the novella: the Tabernacle Care Home denizens dwelling upon the nature of the moon above them.


    “Many Gold-Washers had gathered at the spot. The Torso and Pontanus and the Glass-Girl and Latona stood silently around the lizard’s body,…”

    The title entails the assumption that God entails speed as well as slowth.
    Godslow my reading of this work.

  36. The Undead


    This work triumphs exponentially. Triumphs of chaos and decay, as well as telling comparison with entities in God’s Waiting Room symbolising us humans who wait longest in or out of care. This section is the most mulchificent passage on mushrooms and their nature that you will ever read, and this passage needs to be factored into the above symbolism, utterly tellingly.


    “It was a travesty of resurrection.”

    As if fulfilling my words about God’s waiting-room, and old age care home or hospice, this powerful section is shocking and disturbing in its confirmation, with the pages still coming off the bones, as if hers off his, and I am wondering who the Gold-Washer, who the Customs man, who the I-narrator, the man behind the cheeky frawg being one of us in this Pinteresque theatre of an eschatology, each mushroom a scatology? Book as well as body TRULY lived in.

  38. In Arabia There Is One Tree


    “The Gold-Washer who loved book-lice told me:”

    A tree with a green mantle is attacked, leaf by leaf – page by page?
    It cannot defend itself. A fable for today?
    A beautifully poignant section. Mixed messages into one gestalt.

  39. THE END

    “Books lay open on the floor, and pages had been torn from them. A dark, smelly liquid had been poured on top of the broken glass and papers;”

    A sad scene of vandalism to Pontanus’ room, and even sadder when we realise it isn’t vandalism from the outside but the inside. I fear I may be Pontanus, after all.


    I think the only way to deal with this section (the penultimate one of this novella) is to reproduce the whole of its one and a half pages HERE (password: admtoah). I beg forgiveness for so doing and promise never to do it again to this book (a book of 830 pages). Another reason for so doing is to draw mutual complementary comparison with a synchronous real-time review of ‘The Hierophant’s Mirror’ I completed about half an hour ago HERE. Amazing connections, even if oblique ones.

  41. THE SUN

    “‘Really’, Pontanus said. ‘The Spring seems to have come. But I am old and tired.'”

    A touching paradoxically perfect end to a classic novella with a gestalt depth of fantasy.
    The direction of book-lice into the massed grass-blades, notwithstanding.
    The Child is, after all, Parent of the Person? Is a childish mind a bereft one or inspired?

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