MOUNT ABRAXAS MMXVII
Edited by Damian Murphy and Dan T. Ghetu
Work by Sebastian Montesi, Colin Insole, Alcebiades Diniz Miguel, Rhys Hughes, Stephan Friedman, Andrew Condous, Joseph Dawson, Oliver Smith, Philip Fracassi, Leopald Nacht, Henry Jovial, Thomas Phillips, Karim Ghahwagi, John Howard, Ramon Lasalle, D.P. Watt, Jonathan Wood, Adam S. Cantwell, Deathspell Omega.
My previous reviews of this publisher HERE
When I review this book in all its aspects, my thoughts will appear in the thought stream below….
This a gorgeously and generously decorated book, in luxurious fittings, two dust jackets, now staggeringly present in our world. The above pictures can do no justice to its presence in your room. Ten inches by ten inches. 270 stiff pages. My copy is numbered 12/155.
I have read sporadically into Blake, poetry and art, since I first encountered him probably in the early 1960s, and the chapter headings in AGRA ASKA (written 1984, published 1998) were all lines from Blake’s Mystic epics. I believe the forces that formed his tutelary impulse are the same ones who now overlook my gestalt real-time fiction reviewing from 2008…although they tried to dissuade me from putting them under the name ‘dreamcatching’…
TREFOIL IS THE GRAIL OF PERDITION by Sebastian Montesi
“So can he too then not be Abraxas?”
Prose poems that I shall awkwardly call Blaches (pronounced Blakes).There is wordplay … and there is word magic. This set of Blaches is the latter, outdoing Joyce by doing it better even than Finnegans Wache. It is a tactile, sensual, auditory, sometimes brittle, often languidly soft mass-oxymoron of religion, mysticism, spiritualism, eschatology, eschristology, in hell and heaven, call it what you will.
“White hands calmly caress…”
ESCHRISTOLOGY is a word I have invented for Blake,
Any by-line links in this review are to my previous reviews of the author.
THE KINGS OF COBWEB AND DANDELION by Colin Insole
“Texture and tint seemed accentuated by death.”
Arcimboldo paintings in words. A fable of Blakepunk, based on plagues of visions in his long Mystic epics. Mad scientist experiments, too, and illegal dogfights made from parts of nature and creatures, not necessarily dogs at all. And the conniver of this mad science gets his come-uppance. Hope that is not a plot spoiler.
Words galore in an eccentric wilderdash for the open hills before we can accost the author who perpetrated it. But in my book, this is well worthy of the Insole canon of fiction. And that is an enormous compliment to this particular work.
FEAST OF FIRE by Alcebiades Diniz Miguel
“This church was made of corrugated metal plates and incongruous fragments taken from boats, cars, and other vehicles, utilising everything from plastic bottles to the cheap tiles found in public toilets.”
A church in Lagos (Los?), similar to the arrangements of parts in Arcimboldo paintings as a gestalt, mentioned by me above about the Insole work, but here it is the inanimation of a building, but the mad dark visions inside at the altar become its moving innards, involving Christ more than just crucified, witnessed by his sainted mother, also witnessed by John, a thief disguised as a shoeshine boy, having taken sanctuary from the pursuing police in the church. Lagos itself is beset by a huge everlasting tanker fire…
a conflagatory vision that threatens to spread to the rest of Africa, giving us this book’s All is Full of Hell, no doubt… towards prophecies of America, Europe, the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Innocence and Experience…
….and the whole text is topped, as perhaps a prophetic seeping oxymoron, by a Gerard Manley Hopkins letter about the gentler weather systems of Ribblesdale, also perhaps to point us elsewhere to these poetry lines of Hopkins? –
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;”
Trod towards our heaven with hell’s terror?
THE GHOST OF A FLEA by Rhys Hughes
“Yet we are creatures who follow our nature, exactly the same as every other being in the cosmos.”
Interview with three dead fleas who communicate whence they are in Limbo, Limbo allowing such communication with the living world – rather than otherwise depending on cosmosis that many of us somehow hope will be useable after death?
An ingenious typographical presentation enhances an already ingenious set of three fables or parables bracketed by a sermon or a moral about making decisions rather than drifting.
One of the fleas happens to tell us of what I shall call its Eschristology… But otherwise I shall leave you to explore this work for yourself and its absorbing narrations of what happened to each flea from each of their points of view.
There are not many stories that mention Reicha’s wind music. 🙂
SHADOW OF HORROR RISEN IN ETERNITY by Stephan Friedman
“Nothing was a coincidence, everything had meaning and explanation. And when this meaning was hidden from regular means of understanding, he employed supernatural methods to penetrate beyond the veil and grasp what the common people could not even imagine.”
….although it might be more modest to replace ‘supernatural’ with ‘preternatural’ and replace the term “the common people” with merely “others”? But whether we are of the “others” or not, we gain knowledge and a textured frisson and sense here of a lifetime of grappling with the occult, as a grandson explores his grandfather’s diary, some of it illegible, its astrologically harmonic dates, visionary nightmares, its sometime personal doubts, with reference to Blake, Swedenborg, Crowley, dowsing, the war with the Nazis, sexual magic, a nutcracker that either “seized” (up) or ceased, and the need to continue the war against, say, Urizen as embodied in others (an incarnated Brexit, Trump?) in the future….
The final pushing down the stairs awaits us all. But when?
HORROX by Andrew Condous
“The book’s dream”…
“Between us (me) presence is at once alternate and simultaneous with two multi-rooted, multi-branched selves embracing and annulling each other,…”
Dangerously close to being the substantive apotheosis of Blake in all his forms and creations, this work bears out what I was already suspecting – that Condous taps into visionary areas where no other author can, and in a language that is so rapturous, rhapsodic, constructively and beautifully archaic, near-neologistic, so much so that my own gestalt dreamcatcher seems to be in hands far more capable to handle it than anyone else. And on one reading, just now, I know it is equally as accessible and comprehensible as it is dense and imaginovocative; it is absorbed cleanly, but further readings, particularly a reading aloud (which I will do one day), will elicit even more.
Horacio, the narrator, becomes Horrox, as Breath once became Brexit. Trust became Trump. No, not that at all. They become both. A cornucopia of Oxymorons. The work, for me, represents the raison d’être of my whole approach towards creating a labyrinth of literature via the methods here employed. Him and me. This work is so in tune with a book I only finished reviewing yesterday (Paupers’ Graves) but so different, too, in their dark diasporas, their processions, precessions of purgatory and hell, a Rhysian limbo and heaven, their lengthening of ‘past’ into ‘palimpsest.’ Their joining of souls across time, their communal grave as abyss, to become both me and you at once.
Casting “the nets of consciousness”, “a marvel of opposites”, “forged by preternatural capacities”, “(or was it the book that noticed me?)”, “The two sides of time become indistinguishable”, “the pre-natal configuration and the post-mortem expectation”, “There is a magnality at once terrifying and wondrous, a collective sanctification of the grotesque and suffering.” A magnality, a malignity, too?
A city “between shaped, sculptured death and formless, amorphous life.”
“A multi-angled state of indecision” that becomes my multi-triangulated real-time reviewing.
I could go on and on about this massive work, massive in mind and scope. Average in physical story (perhaps novelette) text-size, but large enough to enfold you with visions you will meet nowhere else. Swaddling you to stifle your eschristological screams, if not to appease them.
“My dream remnants and memories withdraw into their palimpsest sanctuaries.”
THE SECRET WOUND IN LIFE by Joseph Dawson
“Giving to the lady there, a garden within which the heavy burden
Of our labours bloom? Is there not That whose Will is All, before which
The unflinching tide of life believes itself to be by contract,”
And so our own last few days for readers in the U.K. are at least limned?
This is a textured and darkly spiritual set of poems that require more than my initial reading upon which alone, by dint of custom, my gestalt real-time comments must be based. The first poem, for example, embodies Blake as well as Eliot’s 4 Quartets?
I felt these poems at their own centre as well as mine.
(I once shared a book with another set of poems by this writer, i.e. with my own work entitled, ‘Sleep’s Lost Labour’.)
“If you make a bed in a dream,
Does your house remain unkempt?”
Just cross-referenced this review with the one here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/the-wanderer-timothy-j-jarvis/#comment-9966
BURNT THE FIRE OF THINE EYES by Oliver Smith
“The angels were thick on the water and rose from the river in buzzing golden clouds. Inland bulged the great dome of St. Paul’s…”
Thus Agra Aska has been reborn?
Seriously, this is a highly enjoyable 1820 romp, though that is the wrong word, it’s more a gradually accumulated Ka-Tet of motley characters and creatures, involving a civil servant accountant to the king and a feather-light Blake, in pursuit of a Tyger, a ducal were-Tyger, in fact, seeking to neutralise it with various methods such as guns or laying it down with a lamb, involving a giant Sir Isaac Newton as some vast Swiftian symbol of science. A brilliant symmetry of poetry is invoked with witty Jerusaleminscates. An Alexander Pope epic, a dripping Dryden, a diddly Diderot, nah! a Blakemagoria! This book is about Blake and this work teems with his times and his vast Mystic verse and two of his famous shorter poems. Characters and conceits and in-jokes galore to cherish.
KING MOB by Philip Fracassi
“If only mankind could see using the full power of their hellish energy, bought in blood by Christ.”
A rousing sturm und drang depicting Blake’s involvement in the Gordon Riots, with all the trappings of his own poetry and art, a massive Oxymoron of the Spirit, and is a synchronous counterpart to the goriest accoutrements and ‘glorious’ suicidists in the battle depicted in the chapter of the other book being simultaneously reviewed that I just read before this story. Miltonic, too. Horror Without Victims.
“He felt like a thousand men.”
“Deep down inside him, something had… dislodged.” (From this author’s ALTAR, this altar’s AUTHOR…)
LA FLEUR INFERNALE by Leopold Nacht
A carousing with tigers, what I shall call the most ineffable rarefied Taunting ever taunted, interspersed with Blake in quoted words and auras, the pride of the peacock, a ritual journey with keys and a so-called brothel’s rooms-within-rooms, false corridors, certain formalities and recitations, inscrutable temptresses, (cf Damian Murphy’s work) and enticements by an assumed audit trail of brothel tenants, having first been enticed there by a nefarious café-meeting’s ticketed means.
An effulgent, rapturous, rhapsodic ‘candle-dreaming’ (my concept from The Last Balcony). Utterly draining, yet inspiring, too. A literary experience that can only be supplied by the forces of ExOcc. Such works only serve to create thoughts in the reader’s mind that are, by turn, to be cherished and resisted. Concupiscent as well as corpsescent. So much cerebrally and emotionally quotable to pick like fruit from this text, I have decided to pick nothing. Only your reading the whole will suffice. Left to mature even further. Original published texts, in such settings, do morph and mature forever, unlike reprints or selected quotes.
Now confirmed by an item in this box set: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/a-spy-in-the-panopticon-damian-murphy/
that Leopold Nacht is Damian Murphy.
I WANT! I WANT! by Henry Jovial
Anything I can say about this story would be a spoiler so do not click on this link unless you want to do so.
CHRISTIAN SINGLES by Thomas Phillips
“, the good-natured heckling of desire.”
This, to my own dark delight, crystallises, for me, what I called at the start of this review Eschristology, as a living version of Eschatology and implied Scatology in toilets etc, as it is here, in more ways than one. This is a written texture (Blakequote punctuated) of lowercase love, a man and woman on a date founded by computer dating, consciously imbued, through faith and pamphlet, as they both are, by Christ and, more instinctively by the Oxymoron that is Blake – Goat and God, permissiveness and guilt, dirty human regeneration and virginal parthenogenesis… beautifully couched. “, buried in dream melt.”
Also a preternatural synchronicity for my time in brexited Britain today – “a considerably warmer temperature than is average at this time of year;” which it is weatherwise here today …. and “The earth is burning, she says.” “The body is burning. The body burns.”
“, an anechoic chamber”
WOLLSTONECRAFT by Karim Ghahwagi
“He is the builder of walls who fancies himself a poet.”
A delightfully absurdist theme and variations on, inter alios, Europa, America and other ideas from the Blake canon, enfolding today’s concerns about brexit, inferred trumpery, borders and nationhood – here America has vanished! – a mix of Alfred Jarry, Eugene Ionesco, Leena Krohn styles and, earlier in this book, Oliver Smith. But uniquely it is its own carousel with a tiger replacing a horse. Some unique wordplay and memorable characters created specially, too. Plus lost mail deliveries, train journeys, bureaucracies, music by Parry, and much else. Even an eponymous mention of the mother of Frankenstein’s creator.
“Walled in we prosper securely.”
Cross-referenced this review here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/the-wanderer-timothy-j-jarvis/#comment-10013
Cross-referenced this review again here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/the-quarantined-city-james-everington/#comment-10016
THE GOLDEN MILE by John Howard
“The looming future seemed to be a solid wall instead of an opening door.”
A man’s life walking and working on the Great West Road or Golden Mile to the West of London leading up to the Second World War, its growth of towers and tube stations and factories – a Machen maze of wandering, with sought soaring Blakean visions perhaps, and radio radiating obelisks, finials, Art Deco liner in dry dock.
He is humble, like his hopes and those of his fiancée, a poignant time, a poignant effulgent ‘fragment of life’, also with his father on Wembley stadium visits and its own once envisaged tower.
This text has a “crop of towers.”
His “heading towards a different tower” makes me think of another west London tower in our news today, something that just happened, happened indeed since this story was written, a tower (“new structures of concrete, brick, and glass together with the sweeping thoroughfares and sprawling estates…”) also full of modern humble trusting folk like our humble hero once was, a tower also one whereby the West End was still, but barely, to the east… “…something disastrous might occur at any time.”
And “great forces were preparing to draw a set of heavy curtains across the European – and possibly wider – stage.”
NOCTURNAL GARDENS by Ramon Lasalle
“It is necessary to emphasise that not a single person took note of his absence.”
I, too, used to dream about dreams during high-flying business meetings in the 1980s. And many of my ex-colleagues have probably forgotten I ever existed. This an obsessively wrought account of those dreams, of one we shall now call Uriel, deadpan but also rapturous. No mean feat. In various stages, one leading to the next, but at each interface of stages one needed to consciously re-live those interfaces as part of the very duration of the dream as gestalt, what I shall call — within the Blakean terms of this whole book, interface to interface — Eschristology. And part of the end-to-end quality of the dreams is both hellish and heavenly, a menagerie, a disposal of childish pets before emotional attachment can set in, a sexual progression from infant to adult, a self-harming by stigmata, and hopefully an eventual catharsis for us all. But the text withholds any hope. Needs to be read and absorbed with care, allowing it to be absorbed without removing one’s protection from it. A delicate job like an emotional bomb disposal.
GREAT, PALE WORLD by D.P. Watt
An incantatory recitation of “Do you remember when we…”, each Incantation being a prose poem, thus providing a Blakean Gaia, threaded through with a rhapsodic singularity: a Gaia that is pale with seeming death; ruined, but still great. And a more feminine balance to Wordsworth’s ‘Child is Father of the Man’. A hope embryonic beyond Byron’s ‘Darkness’. Not Incantations or Intimations of Immortality so much as poetry or fiction as a force of truth and existence beyond reality’s ‘Aeons of struggle.’
THE LIVING RAPTURE by Jonathan Wood (My previous reviews of this author are linked from HERE (THE NEW FATE) and HERE)
“Some say that I have indeed caught this dimension of myself, but only I know the truth of it.”
Rapture is so close to rupture. Here, such rupture is transcended by Eschristology as this book as a whole has defined this neologism (my neologism) for me. This JW apotheosis has the word Christ, King of the JWs, in its first line, and there is a Second Coming of Christ later in the JW text, and only yesterday I wondered whether the initials of Jeremy Corbyn in the London of this text, talking on TV to Finsbury Park Muslims, were significant; it was a speech that JC might well have given in the same circumstances.
“, a ghost parasite…”
The poison tree.
There is so much in this text that enrichens itself, as if it describes it own meaning and style. And no other description of it will do other than itself. Its eternal palette. I am left with a sense of self, senseless, stifled as well as fulfilled self. Shards of poetry and prose, or as I have put it for many years: “the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction.” Google it and see.
“- there is no difference between my imagination and my reality;”
“There is no Death.”
“This is the Vision
The Vanishing Point.”
THE TORSO IN SHADOW by Adam S. Cantwell
“The huge moiré of coincidence…”
A mighty mind-burrowing single paragraph over several pages, like a torso or train looping in a tunnel of New York, whereby I become its steam or stream of conscious, comprising all the urban or hellish dystopics and heavenly utopics of a gestalt mind, either in dream or real speculation on my earlier business life, a sort of Trump train, with carriages, and the woman I meet, too, as part of some convulsive impulse at the terminus of the earth.
“What access does any of us have to the self-without-others? Even our dreams arise out of atoms and synapses materially knitted out of the bodies of our antecedents. This conflict with ourselves takes many masks and still does not nearly exhaust the universe of possible conflicts.”
The perfection of the counterfeit. And our five senses are both cumulative and hierarchical as well as neologistic with a new sense.
Putting solar panels on the unbroken Mexican wall or enabling this very book to be the body of Blake resurrected, as it surely is. His own second coming.
THE SYNARCHY OF MOLTEN BONES by Deathspell Omega
“Thou shalt accept thy Revelation
as your beginning and your end,”
End always precedes a comma.
No sooner do I say these words a short while ago this morning — “…or enabling this very book to be the body of Blake resurrected, as it surely is. His own second coming.” — than arrives this small selection of poems proving that Blake is now alive and writing poems again.
Hold this book and feel its soul and heart.
Cross-referenced this review here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/under-the-volcano-malcolm-lowry/#comment-10149