50 thoughts on “Conflagration by D.P. Watt

  1. Sorry, I was momentarily mistaken: it is signed by the publisher not the author in April 2016.
    Without page numbers, a highly luxurious and stylishly designed book that I estimate to be a foot square. Probably the most successfully eccentric yet!
    Appropriately as reported by this my real-time review, the book’s pull-out page amazingly dictates the real-time process for reading this book (like a variety show one attends, complete with stipulated interval and refreshments, with exact timing and behaviour indications for reader.)
    I need to set a whole evening aside for this, tantamount to a one-sitting session, and I may not have time to write my real-time thoughts in the relatively short interlude allowed. I am a bit worried as the timing will take me well beyond my normal bedtime! I will see what I can do, though, once I have made some inroads into the other books received during my recent real-time sabbatical away from real-time reviewing. Perhaps attending this book’s performance in a week or two?

  2. I have decided I am starting this book now, ignoring the instructions. A real-time review in slow motion has got to be a real-time review in slow motion. I shall treat this as I normally do with books of text and hopefully shall, as a second reading, do it all again in one sitting as instructed. But meanwhile…

    15th March 1895
    Rue de Clichy, PARIS

    “We are in darkness. They are brightly lit.”

    This is a real situation geared as if it is a theatrical performance – the ‘we’ being you an old man and I a young one crouching in the garden watching a father, a mother, two daughters and a young boy in a modest home. Applause. A dressing-room.
    A recurring scene. And costumes or disguises that make uncertainty the watchword. And a plot unfolding of possible human loss. Enacted or real.
    I as reader — effectively witnessing some who are witnessed as witnesses witnessing others who are witnessed — am enthralled but am determined not to be entrapped by this book. After all, a one-off show-off pull-out slip half the width but twice the length of the size of each of this book’s normal pages is probably not worth the paper it’s printed on. Take a match to it, I say! Let me read this book AS a book!
    Tomorrow – or as soon thereafter as possible – will be when I take up this book again.

  3. There is a list of Dramatis Personae amidst the various miscellaneous material at the beginning of this sleight of book, some of whom are ultra fires, the rest ultra vires, I claim. This has inspired me to describe the Dramatis Personae of this review.
    Me: DF Lewis author of ‘Weirdtongue: The Glistenberry Romance: Visit To The Narrative Hospital’ and ‘The Last Balcony: The Apocryfan: Yesterfang’ (please remember those titles in case they become instrumental later).
    Freehold Author of this prestidigitation of a Conflagration: D (Dan) P Watt who, as InkerMen Press, published those two books of mine above in 2010 and 2012 respectively, until he put them out of print in 2014, for genuine personal reasons. These are my reviews of the books he has written.
    The Publisher of this bibliobuilt wonder: Dan Ghetu with whom I have also had a strange and fruitful onward and then stop and then onward again relationship since 2009, and these are my reviews of the many books he has published.

    20th April 1889
    Accidentally missed this section earlier at the beginning of the sections, as it is so small. “… a desperate creature, beckoning for sustenance.” To tell you the rest would be a spoiler.

    10th December 1896
    Thėâtre de L’Oeuvre, PARIS
    “And now, without further ado, I give you Père Ubu.”
    By my green candle! I say.
    The viewing of a play within a viewing of another play? Or am I like Mon. Sauvageau thinking he had come to see ‘Cymbeline’ or ‘Pyramus and Thisbee’ but found a jar of jarrykins instead. Understandable, with so much Shakespeare about at the moment, his having died 400 years ago.
    I am loving all this and so far glad that I didn’t try to do all this in one sitting.

  4. 3rd October, 1905
    The Theatre Studio,
    Povarskaya Ultima,

    “But here in the studio all is calm because it has purpose. Everything here is meaningful while all about meaning is lost in the fatal rush of existence…”

    This section of text – amid an accretion of being pent up, ready for conflict or conflagration, I guess – is here shown as the perfect expression of a theatrical dress rehearsal that is poised even when planning to express un-poise. No more “ridiculous synchronicity” between Naturalism and Performance.
    I claim, though, that dreamcatching this book is a form of synchronicity that is not ridiculous, a synchronicity of truth and fiction in literature if not in a theatrical performance.
    Perhaps I (the ‘he’ of this book’s ‘narrative hospital’) see myself as an agent provocateur (with barricades and bonfires in my wardrobe of truth), in an endeavour to shatter the theatrical poise’s depiction of real un-poise.
    To booby-trap the balcony (as in Dali’s novel) upon which Juliet is about to step?

  5. 11th March 1907
    A boarding house, FLORENCE

    “Arise, great über-marionette….”

    Worth it just for that call to arms, even if it is, as I claim, a call to a Pinocchio spirit created by the ‘lies’ of fiction’s ink.

  6. I have no idea as to what either the book or the review are about. Perhaps when I have the book in hand, I will be able to make more sense out of it. God pray. –Harold

  7. 1st November 1907
    The Grand Chasublerie,
    7 Rue Cassette,

    I did not realise Jarry was so young when he died.
    This tiny vignette made me think of Chinese babies using toothpicks for eating. All’s Well That Ends Well.

  8. 12th January 1910
    The Streets of TRIESTE

    Politeama Rossetti meets James Joyce? This is a Futurist event, but till I just this minute read about it here, it was a mote in the Vortex of the past, not in the diminishing spin of my then future yesterday and the day before yesterday, ad absurdum, as it were.
    This book will become, I am confident, a gestalt of historical theatrical events mixed with real ones tendered poetically as ‘found’ art recrystallised by today’s crafted words in this crafted book, with the irony of that very gestalt becoming a singular theatrical event in itself, should you abide by the instructions at the front of the book.

  9. 14th November 1912
    Northern Cemetery, SOLNA

    An amazing array of ingredients for their cauldron but most of those listed are not available in this scene of three witches. To be read to be believed.
    Strindberg whose grave is in this Cemetery once wrote an essay about Macbeth…
    My dreamcatching is like picking the air for magic spells of meaningful synchronicity.

  10. 5th January 1912
    Constantin Stanislavski and Edward Gordon Craig at the Moscow Art Theatre, a collaborative HAMLET production with unique qualities.

    “A woman, in a white robe, descends the stairway slowly to him.”
    Isadora Duncan playing this part?

    “everything will be the passage of light upon a staircase.”
    A painting (1912) by Duchamp?

  11. 5th April 1914
    Sprovieri Gallery, ROME

    “‘Lolooloolooolooo / Oomba oomba, ickackooo / Fckack Kckaf Fckack / It was a sombre moment.'”

    The Gallery where the Futurist held an absurd or avant-garde series of art or theatrical or musical happenings (including conflagration), such happenings as I once arranged after I helped form the Zeroist Group in 1967 (see here for my own avant garde credentials).
    We’re in Futurism’s future now, where Avant Garde is old-fashioned?

    “It’s been on fire for years, you’re the first one that’s noticed.”

  12. image

    22nd September 1914

    “They told me to tell you that she had placed flowers beside herself. She had prepared well for it.”

    Two sentences, from this vignette, that currently mean a lot to me and I believe she has, or will have, done so.
    With instincts both eschatological and vivacious.

  13. 17th February 1915
    A dreaming mind, MILAN

    From the Evening Post, Volume LXXXIX, Issue 40, 17 February 1915:


    Note the typo for Marinetti.

    “It is a silly dream — perfect!”

  14. 23rd May 1921
    The Schoolhouse, WIELOPOLE

    This seems to be a palimpsest ‘performance’ of the above date’s global “brighter than bright sunshine” magnetic storm and of Wielopole’s future holocaust of its Jews retrocausally cast toward its past on the date above when there was also a major cinema or theatre conflagration.

  15. Yes, indeed, this all made more sense once the book was in hand — although how many readers can really read this at one or two sittings and make sense out of all the brilliant construction, the lovely phrases, and the puzzles, the relation of the historic theatrical events — or even the very first date and place. Perhaps too brilliant for its own good, burning up in the total conflagration engendered. And what a beautiful book! –Harold

    • 10 June 1921
      Galerie Montaigne, PARIS

      “…for no other reason than that the thought of goats copulating amused him.”

      This is probably the most hilarious scene so far in the guise of a vignette, with reminiscences of Tzara and Duchamp at some ‘gas heart’ of a Dada happening.
      And ‘found’ art as doodle during boredom. How many times have I created great art that way!

  16. 26th November 1921
    Kantstraße, BERLIN

    “The beer was foul but the entertainment was promising.”

    A basement of the theatre where a tattootease act takes places and other acts, evocative for me of Berg’s Lulu, if not Wedekind’s.

  17. 6th July 1923
    Théâtre Michel, PARIS

    “It is either the smouldering beginnings of love or the ashen embers of hate — it does not matter which really, they both smell the same.”

    More Tzara Gas Heart stuff, leading eventually, I guess, to a schism in Art.

    (The Zeroist Group in 1967 was formed – at least in my mind – to recognise the supremacy of Dada over Surrealism, but Zeroism strove to be supreme, in turn, essentially by becoming even more Dadaistic than Dada itself. The Narrative Hospital’s Last Balcony view upon that stage is where I sit today alone).

  18. A day that never was, 1926
    Théâtre Alfred Jarry, PARIS OR HELL

    “The lights burn as bright as the sun, for a moment.”

    I sense this to be a depiction of Artaud and his Theatre of Cruelty in embryo, with striking images to match, but I also sense it is me in the Theatre’s Last Balcony morosely watching the man who is sweeping up the theatre with his broom, that man wondering when I am going to leave. If I leave, there will be no narration at all, no show to watch, not even just an imagined show. No narration, at least here on this thread, one I’m now told is to have no interval. You can’t have. Everything. Or Nothing.

  19. 9th December 1926
    The Meyerhold Theatre,, MOSCOW

    “It is too much; the silence that is not silence and the stillness that is not stillness.”

    Meyerhold’s tendentious production of Gogol’s Government Inspector.
    Ridiculing ridiculousness with more ridicule, politically conflagrative ridicule, facing each of us with our doubles as mannequins. Meanwhile, I look towards the gods of the theatre and see my own mannequin in the last balcony on the left looking down at me.

  20. 30th September 1935
    Malet Place, LONDON

    What complete piffle, he thought.”

    I wonder indeed whether much of my review so far of this book is part of the kite-flying syndrome of this section – indeed the nearer such artefacts as kites approach the sun…?
    This section, meanwhile, is a Jungian or Beckettian theme and variations of the concept of a girl having never fully been born. At least one answer is the pareidolia of the chimney smoke at the end. Perhaps birth is the ultimate pareidolia?
    Or death is?

  21. 18th September 1939
    A lonely place, JEZIORY

    A moving scene of the Polish playwright Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz and his suicide, happening when, more widespread, other fearful and fateful conflagrations are igniting around him. I feel like the woman who watched this happen, hopeless, helpless. A lonely place, indeed.

  22. 2nd February 1940
    The Cellars of The Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union, MOSCOW

    “…an initiate to a long forgotten but pointlessly enacted ceremony.”

    Meyehold was executed that day, for real – but also a theatrical event where, by dint of this amazing text, one can vividly imagine a bullet passing into your own head.
    Nikolai Yezhov was also arrested on that same date, and executed two days later.

  23. 12th October 1943
    A deserted farmhouse, ROUSSILLON D’APT

    “He will not come today. Perhaps tomorrow.”

    If that means anything to you, read on. If not jump to the next vignette.

    A code during the French Resistance: There is a Rue Charlie Chaplin in ROUSSILLON.
    A sad encounter recounted at a farmhouse that the more you think of it takes on a significance beyond the encounter, a loop, and a transposition of places beyond the avant garde of time.
    I wonder if I have so far missed other theatrical codes in this book, deeper than this code. The Theatre of War.

  24. 22nd June 1944
    Ul. Grabowskiego, CRACOW

    “…the stench of the crematorium.”

    The curtains closing are, however, a temporary thing for this Theatrical production’s Interval, I seem to recall from its original (ignored) instructions.
    This final scene, therefore, in the first part, depicting The Return of Odysseus, as directed by Tadeusz Kantor. Amid the surrounding revolutionary resistance by the Polish in Cracow.

  25. Following a heartfelt Interval poem entitled ‘This is not a manifesto; it is a hymn to eternity’, one tellingly featuring Punch and Judy…we now proceed to –

    Before 1947

    – a drinking of Proustian tea as death’s palliative … Or a theme and variations on Jean Genet’s “Les Bonnes”?
    – Words listed as if our words gather into lists and are not strung together meaningfully, just before death?
    – That’s the way to do it.
    – A crossed conflagrative wire.

  26. 28th November 1947
    A White Room, PARIS

    “There should be no record of it.”

    Remarkably and ingeniously written few scatological paragraphs about animalism and eschatology. There is no record of it. Artaud recorded something for French Radio but they did not broadcast it. Probably destroyed it. There was also a book published: “How to make a body without organs.” Not sure if the two events were connected, but they seem connected at last here.

  27. 23rd July 1948
    A study, PARIS

    An item of ‘found’ theatre, following a French man’s repeating sentences by rote from Teach Yourself English records. Books are by wrote. Plays are parrots, till the acting kicks in. I shall gratuitously call this play ‘The White Orchid’, notwithstanding the recurring fire in all these vignettes at the end.

  28. 15th August 1956
    Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, EAST BERLIN

    “They are showing to each other the difference between being something and showing something.”

    Bertolt Brecht and his posterity: being something forever.
    Theatre as theactual.
    The thick cigar and the incremental smoky autos at the end is this section’s fire…

  29. 29th – 53rd Enuj, 1960
    On Charles Bridge, PRAGUE

    Theatre of the Absurd. We come and go, but one day we see ourselves coming back before we’ve gone? Waiting for work to be apportioned each morning, and nothing comes literally or we all go on [strike]. But reading this wonderful book each day is enough forever.

  30. 17th July 1986
    The Spanish Cemetery, LARACHE

    “He is oriented to Mecca, for no reason.”

    Buried for no reason, too. Cremation is more suitable for any corpse, even Jean Genet’s, I feel. After all, the corpse is not the person it used to be.
    A living body can be its own monument, life goes on, including a random goat grazing or the smell of roasting meats – and the sea, unlike humans, even when still is still the sea.

  31. 8th May 2010
    Str. Jean Louis Calderon, BUCHAREST

    “–is everything just Hamlet in disguise?

    [ Saturday, May 8
    : Metropolis Theatre
    Hamlet – performed by the Metropolis Theatre in Bucharest (Romania), directed
    by Laszlo BOCSARDI ]

    Streets that are mazes with angry dogs.

    • I am told extramurally by the author that there were two productions of Hamlet in Bucharest on that date and I found my way using mis-triangulated coordinates to the wrong one above!
      I call this an example of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Syndrome.
      The street mazes and angry dogs didn’t help.

  32. 28th June 2014
    The Latin Bridge, SARAJEVO

    On June 28, 1914 at the turning from the Right Bank into a street Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Franz Ferdinand…
    I hope that was the right turning, not left, not wrong.
    This is a book of matches. You need a Narrative Hospital to stitch them together. Hopefully, this review is that hospital. But, better still, you match them together yourself independemt of this review.

    It is also a wonderful experience, probably the most important experience in any physical book, with all its tricks and trepidations, tribulations and triumphs: including the final conflagrative triumph: the inspiring poem at the end: “THIS IS NOT A MANIFESTO; IT IS A LOVE SONG.”
    The Jonathan Meades film ‘Ben Building: Mussolini, Monuments and Modernism’ that I happened to watch last night had much derogatory to say about anything that needs a manifesto, especially the Futurists.
    But that is just another chance coordinate for my personal reading of this truly great book. But you will have your own chance coordinates of Life’s Theatre or Performance Theatre and tentative matches to strike.

    Some time in the future, I shall re-read this book from the last balcony seat, absorb it in tune with its own instructions on how to let it perform for you, with its accoutrements of refreshment, ablution et al.


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