13 thoughts on “The Dance of Abraxas – Benjamin Tweddell

  1. The attempts to discover a derivation for the name ABRASAX, Greek, Hebrew, Coptic, or other, have not been entirely successful… – Arcane Wikipedia



    Pages 7 – 12

    “She was always too wild for Berkshire.”

    Disarmingly with a naivety of “spectral radiance” &c. &c., this prose takes us with shivery pride by the narrative or readerly hand alongside Charles to the Swiss Alps, to recover with him from hospital (after the trenches?), to an impending storm around the abode of his host who talks of Jung, and Charles of his sister whom he seeks, I infer. Although already equally naively captivated, I am determined to eke out this potentially and paradoxically imposing book (imposing in itself as a physical book and in its words). (A ‘recovery’ in the Swiss Alps reminded me of Hans Castorp in the Magic Mountain, by the way.)

  2. Pages 12 – 15

    “But I suppose the trenches left us all sodden with incomprehension. Perhaps we all now crave a little of the tyranny of reason.”

    “, and to perhaps a saner Europe.”

    Perhaps, perhaps not. This gothic-sublime text leads to the closing of Charles’ first day with his host, as the Alpine storm outside subsides, amid considerations of reason versus previous wildness of this book’s Dance, as Europe comes to yet another crossroads, and we perhaps call on mysterious Abraxas, if not Ascona as the old Alexa. All this amid the relevant character and backstory of Charles’ sought sister Anna, that, for me, “eventually inspired the book you were reading earlier.” Books intertwine, as well as histories, fictions, cures of war, memories of mustard gas and as yet indefinably yearning aspirations amid the “drift to slumber”…

  3. Pages 16 – 27

    “, and Charles had the absurd, but powerful sensation that his every breath was an outrage against some nameless axiom.”

    The next day, and Charles Lydford tries to acclimatise himself to this book’s striking genius-loci of Ascona and Lake Maggiore. But which Amida in “Amida’s pure light”? He walks with an engaging bearded man who had known his now lost sister Anna when, with another woman Mary Wigman, she was in this erstwhile ambiance of theurgy and commune: yin-yang, sublime, imposing, preternatural, absurd, all words now used in these pages. A text with amenable quote marks at each capital’s half-mast and equally slanted hyphens, even the tiniest things in tune with my mood this Lawrencian morning as I read these pages. Charles also reminisces about his time with Anna in England’s Lake District. And now a ‘Hortus conclusus’ (that reminds me of my (by chance) concurrently reviewed The Silent Garden): “‘A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse.’”

  4. Pages 27 – 40

    “I know she had been in the libraries of Toledo and had read much, and that she had studied with an aged priest in Alexandria.”

    I can hardly put the book down against or with my will, as I learn more from Charles via his own learning from others, in this scenic and spiritual ambiance of “sublimity”, about his sister Anna and her sometimes strained relationship here with Mary Wigman, including Anna’s own rebellious feistiness at school, an Artemis in Ascona “…running with the hunt, not with the hunted?”, the hunt for the Abraxas star, perhaps, in the mountains, plus the nature of Dance, and the Christ religion seen to be rightfully yielding to greater forces within the canon of this book’s descript. Toledo was in another disarmingly naive book as a name of an English street where a different man, under the tutelage of Saturn, sought an elusive woman, a scenario I parsed and construed here recently in ‘Vulgar Things’ (Vulgar in the true sense). Now Nothing is one such Thing. And Charles’ telling wartime backstory… I can’t wait for the revelation in the final pages of this book. I hope there will be no spoiler in this review, yet I now fear that there may already have been one during my own quietly eager search, a search, too, for this book’s gestalt!

  5. Pages 40 – 57

    “, an odyssey through all illusion, to the midpoint between eternity,”

    It is always a battle to reach what one wants to reach, with mixed dark and light ways or means (skirting even a “depraved farce”) that are used towards a pure end – however hard that is to swallow or stomach along those very ways. Charles does reach catharsis of hindsight revelation regarding his search for singularly volitional Anna in the coda of this book’s symphony (Wagnerian, Lawrencian, Yeatsian, John-Cowper-Powysian?), the coda provided by his wartime backstory transfigured now into his own Asconan flight back towards such healing rescue of realisation… a transcending of Words as part of the illusion. An “ecstasy” in its true sense. That ‘Hortus conclusus’ I picked out earlier. Then something that brought me to a perfect, if premature, halt, because I had never seen, until today, the concept of a mere Gestalt!

    “It had been more than mere ‘Gestalt’.”


  6. Sometimes my reviews’ attempts at constructive obliquity or paradox to explain the inexplicable, to express the inexpressible, such attempts perhaps defeated by their own pretentiousness. Just thought to confirm that “mere Gestalt”, an expression in this book, is just one testament to its inspiring nature, i.e. the potential paradox of its being more whole than its own whole.

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