11 thoughts on “Out There – Quentin S. Crisp

  1. Copy numbered 25/107. Luxuriously upholstered book with quality materials, about 10 inches square, 72 pages, marker ribbon, pull-out glossary, all beautifully designed with dust jacket, and embossed hardback cover.

  2. :I:

    “Strange how something green and fresh can give a sense of the archaic, as if the scenery were in the handwriting of a former age.”

    As if this text is an older person’s text than the one who wrote it.
    About Jake travelling by aeroplane strung between the moon and the clouds like the circumflex on an o in Tôkyô. To stay with his friend Sean, well-suffered as a friend, a friend with a future’s uncaring, a friend who is planning an expedition for them both up a Japanese mountain to visit a temple, a temple mid-changing from famous to obscure. (Sean’s current job is a mock Christian priest blessing Japanese weddings.)
    An engaging start strung between slightly mystic self-wrangling and story-telling for others like me.

  3. :II:

    “His tiny life held the universe on top of it, and yet it was not crushed.”

    The two friends depart on their expedition, now around a campfire, sparking off each other, philosophically, aspirationally – and pragmatically, e.g. regarding maps or GPS – with a sense of proto-immaculation, something more or less precise than their thoughts and statements, something preying on them, exacting them, from the genius loci of this Japanese ‘territory’, in spite (or because?) of the strange half-manmade artefacts, half-creature half statue, lining their route, entities that Jake compares to the earlier clouds when he was on the plane travelling to Japan.
    You know, when I read text that has ended up as carried by such richly produced pages within highly stylised artwork, thick board covers, fly-leaves etc., I often imagine the writer once having scribbled out his text in his garret, little knowing one day where it might end up. If the author is out there, reading this, he can rest assured that my feeling is that his words and this physical book work in an aesthetic synergy that was pre-destined, also positively sparking off each other.

  4. :III:

    “As old as nowhere, eh?”

    I am not often at a loss for words when real-time reviewing. But I feel I have reached the literary equivalent of that ‘nowhere’; I think that what Mars is to Jake, this book is to me. Being out there is more useful than nowhere, I guess. The territory, though, I pluck from nowhere, while accompanying this pair of friends on their expedition, their passing another half-living, half-manmade entity, then a stone drum, and a shop (!) that seems part of the wild terrain with a shopkeeper as bridge-ticket issuer, with the feeling that there is some other story parallel being used as a template but off-kilter to their real story, (friends with a spur of antipathy as well as friendship between them), yes, this territory feels synaesthetic about itself rather than Jake about it, and Jake’s questionable sense of sound and other instincts about the territory seems like a literary ritual when compared to his wish to strip it down to a tabula rasa for an even more difficult adventure he has set himself and wants to prove he can accomplish. For one at a loss for words, I still managed to fill in the gaps, as my own reading is yet another story altogether, a third one, not off kilter so much as completely out of step, the extravagant baroqueness of the territory and the ‘tangledrown’ being part and parcel of the book’s own physical extravagance, with the path upon it tenuously reaching from a scribbled attempt to defeat blankness with words from scratch, words-without-loss, a proto-immaculation. A bridge across a gorge.



    Pages 33 – 37

    “Clouds formed, hanging — as it seemed — near overhead, as if parts of the mountain had detached and were drifting off to some other, higher mountain range, way up in the stratosphere.”

    I don’t think any reader will easily forget the two friends approaching, via an inscrutably signed fingerpost, this “quicksand of lostness”, then reaching through further territory their destination the Temple, and its Jake-described nature , and its “Buddha of some kind”…

    “…but there was obviously some fine, deep order to the time-stained clutter, speaking of a labyrinth of unfathomable habits.”

  6. img_2645

    Pages 37 – 47

    img_2646I feel that handling this book is like a child with a book bigger than itself, turning the large heavy pages with small arms and fingers on a tiny lap and that gives a strange sense to this precise but also widely and paradoxically imprecise journey as the two friends are offered quiet hospitality by a monk in perhaps the wrong temple, or a different story’s temple. Had they taken a wrong turning or turned a wrong page? The books they riffle through in this temple summon ideas amid the tea-drinking….
    There is something entrancing about all this and the scene of the noodle-seller in the dark. And “How do you decide what is real?” Compare it to the unreal, the text suggests. “What is learning for?” To fill the emptiness of nothing or nowhere, I suggest, as an alternative answer to the text’s.
    Meanwhile, Jake and Sean “gripped each other’s hands. Whatever their current bewilderment, their companionship as travellers, isolated, was also highlighted and affirmed, becoming a mutually known mutuality, almost as certain as ‘I am’.”

  7. Pages 48 – 59

    And indeed all my Ex Occidente Press books bear my pencil marks – and anyone out there who puts in a bid for my entire such collection after my death must bear this in mind. These latest ten pages bear more pencilled marginalia, I think, than any other ten pages in any of my books. So you know these pages must be rather special and indeed I cannot cover all the aspects here, and do please rest assured what I do choose to mention (in a puckish manner) may not do justice to the seriously great hyper-imaginative literature contained in them.
    Jake has indeed separated from Sean for an intended short while alone as he walks away from the light, but there is a “resurgence of dusk”, “a continuing corridor of twilight green”; dusk rarely resurges, I suggest, but, together with the “face-tree” among these ten pages, I sense a Face of eternal Twilight. Then he is beset by rain. The meeting with the blue umbrella, and what or who stands beneath it, enticing him along the path he intended to take (or not), and then through a door not so much into Narnia but something far more effulgent, rapturous, rhapsodic, genuinely inspirational. I could give you far too many representative quotes, so I shall give you hardly any at all. Perhaps a mention of a ‘dream-eater’ to match my dreamcatcher.
    And the fact that what he experienced “resisted analysis”, as does my own experience of his experience. Often child-like with “sheer stupendousness.” Byzantine and sublime. I now leave Jake for another interlude in my reading as he follows the monk “from the jetty up a footpath…”

  8. img_2655Pages 59 – 70

    “Jake had never known a place so much like a kaleidoscope — internally shifting, colourful, so that to turn a corner or pass beneath a lintel was to enter upon another pattern, born from those previous and yielding, at the next turn or chamber, to yet another, in endless series.”

    “Think of names, and words with double meanings, everything you can that combines things together.”

    Immodestly, I sense all this with my own labyrinths of gestalts.
    I repeat what I said above. And this continues in the same vein. It is miraculous stuff and surely this is QSC’s greatest work to date. Surely as the words ‘surely’ and ‘no doubt’ express a certain amount of doubt, too? Passions of the moment are no doubt deceptive ones.
    I’ll pick out a few points from this inspirational rite of passage, not the least of which is the sumptuous order and nature of the words. And there is the church of laughter – a church whose creed is momentously uncertain. I have been concurrently reviewing here ‘The Searching Dead’ by Ramsey Campbell where there is another uncertainly deconsecrated church, a chapter called LAUGHTER NEEDS A MOUTH and it also invokes the word DAOLOTH (cf “If men do not laugh, it is not the Dao,” in OUT THERE) – image
    “There is… nowhere… to go…”
    Except to the strangest thing of all? Or back to whence you came? Or Mars?
    This journey is something else. The “paranoid nausea”, notwithstanding.
    (The image above is my wife’s latest quilt (a small one this time) that she happened to show me just as she finished it and I finished reading this book that she did not know I was reading, as I hadn’t told her yet.)

    “Do you remember them, these twenty-seven different ways?”
    There happens to be 27 chapters in total in ‘The SeArChInG DEAD.’
    The Seer Ching Deed.


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