54 thoughts on “AIAIGASA – Quentin S. Crisp

  1. POEMS

    2nd November

    “, is Japan.”

    I am currently real-timing a book of poems that I have been doing so for over a year. 🙂
    I wonder if my reviews here will ever synchronise their date of doing them with the date of the poem? A rhetorical question as this is an engagingly rhetorical enjambment upon the whole book’s eponymous umbrella, on an observational train journey that is Japan.
    There are scattered black and white drawn designs in this book, too, by the way. By Beehive Crick.
    PS. This is not a whole book of poems, I see. They only reach as far as page 33 of 160 pages in total. The poems to be sheltering from the rain of prose? Dark-tinged banks of solid drizzling letters.

  2. 3rd November

    “Japan’s wind-up music
    Box, circled by crows.”

    These so far mature pining poems have stanzas each with a Japanese symbol (I guess) as its avatar, symbols like a music box’s plectra to pluck itself?

  3. 4th November

    “Sepia, steam-era mood.”

    Painterly Renoirbrellas with a seeming steam of rain, transposed to an old silent film. A silent romance poeticised. Including a kiss. (I imagined the rainy scene; it is not mentioned in the poem.)

  4. 4B165CB9-07DB-40A6-92DF-AA0DC7215F23
    5th November

    I can fully project the virtual poetic reality of that knick-knack café and the café owner who is put out with late customers… and the yummy chestnuts.
    I wonder if my projection matches that of the real reality underlying the poem and its unrequited nature of something I can’t quite project. Or that nature of things these poems themselves can’t quite project – yet. The nature of memories from long ago, like a familiar door, projecting future memories by slight kinship with a poem-sense beyond the other senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.

  5. 6th November

    No ember? This journey round Japan by the poet (and inferred companion). May have healthy no-drama versus previous embers of aspiration back home, but it makes him or her feel cleaner here. But compare the poet‘s personal shit excreted in, say, England with this worse smelling shit today in Japan. Hope that is not a plop spoiler.

  6. 707049D0-D1B0-436B-A281-A4F197F9114A891E4EA3-A43E-44D1-A5BA-56FFF343D0DB7th November

    “A five storey pagoda.”

    In my 1984 novella Agra Aska, 2011 Nemonymous Night’s Agraska, too, other couples journeying. We all use literature as a tensile umbrella, I guess?
    Pottery also here as poetry, and a bathroom again. Water off a duck’s back, not at all.

  7. 9th November

    “If I
    Died now, people would know me
    For who I no longer am.”

    A Bee-chanGE?
    While touring Japan outside this book. Because the book and its images were yet to be?

  8. 10th November

    No delay in these poems’ tour of Japan, though. Engaging enjambing account, if with toilets sign intruding on one glimpse or tourist photo, glimpses not really minding, and photos now easier to delete by digital means! I used to mount with sticky corners every photo I took, after development. Details, some more trivial than others. Like the book the poet wants. But nothing is trivial? Not even a toilet sign, I guess.

    “Leaves. We share the umbrella”

  9. 12th November

    “: back then, names were thought
    To have their own souls.”

    More engaging Japan details by the nemonymous narrator of these poems.
    (A name a sort of “space heater”?)

  10. 14th November

    “Two umbrellas. Pink again.”

    The poem has its own wifely wifi (my expression) from these rhapsodically kamikaze word-bombs that erupt in strongly amenable ambiances of Japan. Looking up some of these Japanese names (like Kamakura) on Wiki does add hard info to these poetic ambiances, though. (‘Wifely’ is just shorthand for something as yet undefined, whatever the gender or leaning, but it is a sense of synergous togetherness, “two young ladies in / Kimono,” rather than just a singular vision.)

  11. 17th November

    “A tall building seen
    From a taller. One lighted”

    Or lighter? Chopped quotes of already chopped enjambment can be enlightening. A longer poem. Taller than most of the others.
    Even a mention of “Paris” here in Japan to pair up with the just now concurrent Thompson book that I happen to be reviewing here of the Fallen West.

  12. 19th November

    Takes me back, somehow to my own student days. No vast screen, though, then. But a small pay to view black and white. With wonky signal.
    Note the representaive of the publisher in this poem and the previous one. J-bon to meet Bee-chan? I was having intense radiotherapy during the Autumn of 2015, having now read the blurb on the back of this book. It presumably saved my life.

  13. 20th November, 2015

    This poem with more observations of this Japan trip, including an umbrella that, as if in a shrine, is “Left locked in the tiered rack.”
    And something else I found incredibly wise: “Fear makes future; peace is now.”

  14. 21st November

    “Me were imbued with glamour.”

    I hope that end line is not a spoiler or slipper.

    A poem of weird fish and more edible chopped logic of line or time served up.
    For the saké of the poet‘s father?

  15. 23rd November

    “Space heater a time machine.”

    That space heater again. And the naming of Japan as a sort of gestalt memory through a chance, even unwelcome, sense of smell, smell being a strong sense of memory.

  16. 25th November

    Three stanzas to end this virtually-being-there set of companionable Japanease travel upon an aiaigasa, now a sort of romantic coracle shrine for uncharted floating life (and today’s rains!), plus three further sets of symbol-plectra to pluck music boxes as well as hearts.



    Pages 37 – 44

    “So it was for me, in Kyôto, with my obsession, in my loneliness, for ceramics.”

    I feel very much at home and unlonely within the immaculate niches of this writer’s prose, as if between two en dashes, or a thought-out reconciliation of thought….as he tells, barely beyond the turn of the last century, of his sojourn then in Japan, its essence, its green tea steam, and much else, a “brooding” as much a brewing of a single cup of tea as potentially bigger issues. And the singularity of an abode and an aesthetic. A “sectioned paintbox” like those earlier discrete moments in the poems, now again threatened by a form of pickling or blurred fauvism? A theme and alternating variations on a “panicky” or “uncanny loneliness.” No need presumably for an aiaigasa here at this earlier time.

  18. Pages 44 – 52

    “I will unwrap the delicate paper packaging and offer you — moments.”

    The narrator continues memories of that earlier period in Japan, with some incredibly complex — but perfectly accessible — sentence structures, for example a sentence about a “same chill of spirit”. He continues an evocation of loneliness, unhome, insulation, a sense of fragile wonder, a sense of untouchability to and from other people. One friend however named Boris (as a pseudonym), involving a series of naive or disarming number games … and a Japanese drummer drumming, plus an austerity of teasing. Meanwhile, about an hour before I read these pages, I set up a webpage for a new as yet unread book by Julie Travis that since arrived in the post, here, its title perhaps related to another tantalising and potentially crucial sentence in this QSC: “Yet here I am, the centre of the world, as far as I am concerned, and as obscure to the world whose centre I constitute as if I had been born invisible.” Special rarefied prose.

    “What is the smell of leaving your umbrella on the Snow Monkey Express?”

  19. Pages 52 – 59

    “On the 1st of November, 2015, Bee-chan and I arrived at Kansai Airport, after a two-leg flight via Istanbul,…”

    And this section ends sweetly with the acquirement of a four-leg aiaigasa, I guess. Meanwhile, this is a wondrous evocation of arriving in Japan to renew their separate acquaintances with it (for me my first real experience of Japan via these words and it surely is not exaggerating anything to say that), the sense of absence and unhome, an “‘en’ — karmic connection” (connected duly there by an en dash), a sense of what the author once found when visiting a ‘caretaker’ at a school he used to attend, a subconsciously creative insouciance and rarefied apotheosis of otherwise unnoticeable details that have also made me take this book slowly…

  20. 0CF1CD28-5834-4EE0-85A4-D16B1B32E6E7TOURISM

    “I can write this, yes. And you can read it. But what can you do with the fact of having read it?”

    The writer, unstereo when out on his own, sets up a tantalising thought in my mind: how can you be a tourist in the place where you once lived? It’s like writing a description from a new vantage point, and it sort of makes me a virtual reality tourist of this place with the real-time tourist now a retrospective guide. Or replace that ‘me’ with him when younger and the tourist with him when older? Or other permutations of palimpsest? This is a piece of hyper-unimaginative subtlety, a disarmingly sophisticated thinking-aloud that appeals to me, an unease and a stillness, a silence as the only pure thought of music, ‘mono’-things, a broken wing becoming several wings, pieces of infinity like pieces of eight, an eight sideways as a leminscate. I won’t easily forget, meanwhile, the appearance of a temple while exploring an almost random by-way alongside him, a ghostly aiaigasa being carried by me in readiness.


    “The dilemma of tourism is that it is at once supposed to be rest and activity.”

    With me, too! Meanwhile, I am beginning to think AIAIGASA is becoming this author’s most powerful book, for all manner of yet undefined reasons in my mind. Here, the concept of “the horizon of our past into the zone of the might-have-beens” to the delicate, sometimes [the less ironic, more imperfect or humbler the better] arrival in the couple’s hotel room in Nagano – and then to the various human comparisons and insights provided by sight of an anthropomorphic robot – and then to the writer’s self as the essence of Autumn…

    [personal note on my behalf]
    “Yes, it always seemed to be autumn then. But, can it really have been? Probably.” A quote from AGRA ASKA, a novella I wrote in 1984 where, I recall, John Bello and Joan Turner, after finally meeting up, travelled in combo towards a destination to fulfil their bodily or mental shriving.


    Pages 80 – 85

    “Yes, in the dream-world of small towns,…”

    This wonderfully continues to be disarmingly sophisticated thinking-aloud, here comparing, say, the smell of wood smoke with train ticket mœurs. I am now convinced this is shaping up to be the most significant QSC work to date, as I follow the shared notes of Bee-chan and the author, via the author, of their visit to a small town more significant that its otherwise apparent significance. ‘Much from nothing much’, as I said only a few hours ago about JOB START here.

  23. Pages 85 – 89

    “Rather than asking what art is for, he [Hokusai] made his life a thing for art,…”

    A grasping of the transcendent, and, just before they leave this somehow preciously and precariously remembered smalltown of Obusé and its Hokusai Museum, one of them posts a card in a postbox, when they are about to catch the train to Sendai, as if clocking off from Obusé. This book is full of associative intersections between such felicitous thoughts as that one. And, thus, it seems appropriate that we have now been promised a discourse on names as spirits and their intersections with trains and train stations…(even tickets’ didcotts?)

  24. Pages 89 – 94

    “It was an inexpressibly precious evening.”

    Precise and precarious, too, I guess. Precarious like the ‘shito’ in ‘Shitomaé’…?
    Names being the same as the place they name. Pillowghosts as Poltergeists elsewhere? Making passing acquaintances in a bathhouse. The art of disarming dissatisfactions to make them part of the preciousness.
    This is all heady, but fundamentally basic stuff. Travel literature more rarefied than fiction. Hence this fiction review.

  25. Pages 95 – 99

    “Strangeness, we might be reminded, comes from within as well as from without.”

    This summarises the synergy between reader and writer in reading what was written as thus subtly freighted with its own “Yes, I hope to meet you there.”
    Following a digression about Facebook having crassly interrupted such writing and, today, my reading of it. These pages, meanwhile, represent a seemingly unsurpassable rhapsody of disarmingly sophisticated thinking-aloud (now written down) about ‘the spirit of place’, ‘the fabric of travel’, the constituent ideograms of place names and ‘the unknown as potential for infinite renewal.’

    • Today’s early morning ‘Puzzle of the Day’ that I heard in real-time on the ‘Today’ BBC Radio 4 News Programme –
      “The Yamanote Line in Tokyo is a railway loop with 29 stations. I find, in one of them, trains waiting to go in each direction. I want to go two stations clockwise, but due to industrial action the drivers are only stopping at every eleventh station. Which train should I get on?”

  26. Pingback: Synchronicity rampant… | DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

  27. Pages 99 – 105

    “…some understanding of the dreams that humanity shares. I believe this was what T. S. Eliot was indicating with the ‘objective correlative’.”

    The synchronicity above is not in the Japanese names of which correlation I am unsure, it is a staggering one of today’s Today Puzzle with the whole concept of train stations and their configuration and timing endemic to this fabric of travel embodied by AIAIGASA. Here, in these pages, meanwhile we have the beginning of a caring list of associations with train station names, some seemingly English, and it reminds me of the course I did in the late 1960s with the late Anne Cluysenaar where we were taught to understand words in literature not as semantics built in by their dictionary definitions but semantics presented by their sound and look and interconnecting associations with those sounds and looks. Where the Literature Line has a change of points with the Philosophy Line?

    • Having said what I said above about that synchronicity and having read AIAIGASA so far, I would find it unlikely that there would be industrial action on the Japanese railway! Or am I wrong?

  28. Pages 105 – 109

    Having now enjoyed here the author’s exptrapolation on the train stops Morchard Road and Crediton, the title of my concurrent review (https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/touching-distances-anne-cluysenaar/) of an Anne Cluysenaar poetry book gives me an alternative title for AIAIGASA if that is not presumptuous of me — TOUCHING DISTANCES.

    Also resonates with a piece by me from a while ago, again risking presumptuousness on my part: BUILD A CHARACTER that builds a character from the character’s name and also features an orchard!!!

    “Perhaps it is time to pause.”

  29. Pages 109 – 112

    “I took this line with Bee-chan…”

    A bee-line? Whatever the case, we are here treated with memory as a latent triggering of a poem of station names tannoyed on this line… the stations of some cross? – because the processes here of death and memory revivified match almost exactly the death process I read about only a few minutes ago here in The Cone of Heaven.

    I see the next section to be read is headed SPACE HEATERS, an expression I think I already picked up in the earlier poems.


    Literature is such, with an ice-cream jingle and after-fumes. This sophisticated thinking-aloud about Japan, what you lose by gaining it, …or gain by losing it? A dicky stomach after noodles? Or speculations on death as the dark side…. yet, keep something back, even from a blend of the earlier poems and this fascinating, highly-stylised ramble through thoughts. Too tired (or busy?) to continue? This author often breaks off, thus, even in the less sophisticated milieus of his semi-attendance. Like a space heater, himself?
    I love this book, meantime!


    Those who share an umbrella do have tensions, too. Lie-in as a late breakfaster versus constructive activity. Here a telling essay on allowing time to slip by, someone dead yesterday who would love this day as their missing tomorrow. The need to read all what one wants to read. I also have a sense of urgency not only in what I feel I need to read but also in the urge to share such readings with others via these on-going, already decade-old, reviews. But one surely would then question the leisurely slowness with which I am reviewing THIS book. A reluctance to waste too much time upon each day’s duty of reading it or a delightfully slowed-down act of sufficiently savouring it? I know which. But do you? If you don’t, you have so far not read my review properly, I suggest.


    “I had lost the symbol of our shared journey, but we still had the journey itself,…”

    Sorry, a bit of a spoiler, that.
    But otherwise perfect. Losing is gaining. Death is the last lost umbrella, but still another journey away.
    I loved this chapter with an anthropomorphic sense of umbrella.
    (I wonder if anyone has used ‘aiaigasa’ as a triple word score in a game of Scrambrella?)


    A longer section which I seem to have read in one sitting. As if departure from Japan at its beginning has depleted its value in my eyes, although it is equally well-written and possibly contains the strongest writing in this whole book, where the writing is all very strong, in fact, and, for me, as a whole, this is the greatest travel book I think I have ever read. Here, we have disappointment in a city visited in hindsight, yet relieved by the ‘goodwill’ considerations of a ‘standing bar’ and the gratuitous gift of pickles from the two girls running that bar (only one of them called Ai). A perfect gift, whatever its hindsight frustration on the final journey back. Also a passage on Japanese masks that synchronously matches a story by Brian Howell that I reviewed here an hour or so ago. Whether a non-hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy or a bespoke personal aide mémoire, I keep my Bee-chan powder dry.

    A WONDERFUL BOOK, as much from its fallibilities of thinking aloud as from its sophisticated philosophising of travel – plus its bewilderment and recurrently momentary self-discovery of what one is thinking or wanting or needing. A treasuring of the moment. Each moment unique.
    Now for some alcohol for me to preserve or delete it.


  34. Pingback: The Age of Aiaigasa | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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