42 thoughts on “This Wounded Island – J.W. Böhm


  1. Volume One: The Condition of England

    First published in English, 2017

    THE FIRST REPORT: This Is How It Ends

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    I will not show any photographs from this book as and when I comment on it in real-time. Today, I appear to be at the crux of Brexit as we head towards the endgame on 29th March, 11 pm (British Summer Time?), towards something called the Backstop.
    NB the EU Referendum preceded and probably helped cause the election of Trump in 2016.

    Each turn of a page seems to have a short paragraph or a few such paragraphs in stark contiguity with a photo.

    I live in a seaside resort, a few miles to the north in Essex from Margate in Kent. The next page asks some interesting questions about such places. I have reached page 23 in my journey. A bit like one of those new-fangled ‘Slow Tv’ journeys so much now in fashion, I guess. The Sebald Special on a track with worn sleepers?

  2. —> Page 31
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    “We decided to head inland.”

    The more meaty paragraphs here and their accompanying photographs literally brought tears to my eyes.

    My own photograph today, taken an hour before I read these pages…
    I have already entitled it: “Still trying to shore up the Nation?”

  3. 08D492D4-AB69-459B-AF5E-FABA6C5F5186—> Page 37

    “…and that the year 2006 ‘marked the moment at which man had ceasd to be of any further use to himself or the planet.’” The internal quote is one JWB takes from Thomas Cobley.

    Any photos shown in this real-time review are mine taken from the area of Clacton on Sea over the last few years. This one a brick bus from 1906!? (The photos in the JWB book will stay in it.)”

  4. “, we found a man who had learnt to live in fractions of time.”

    On page 40, this man reminds me of something I just read about a Clockworm – read and reviewed here a very short while (minutes!) before reading this page!

  5. —> Page 60

    Investigating ley lines in a car park off the M20, to an observation that people wanted to be lied to, and then “the viability of living beneath the surface of the city on a permanent basis.”

    A sub-city in the Murakami I mentioned yesterday? — here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/01/19/kafka-on-the-shore-haruki-murakami/

    Or wondering if there is a special place in Hell for no-plan Brexiteers? — a Tusk reference that happened earlier today.

  6. 56651ADA-FE57-426A-815F-6C11567D6A82
    —> Page 74
    Author feeling drained after meeting a man who says he is drained, too, in fact empty or non-existent, and that is how he gets through the day. And speculation that we British haven’t noticed what is happening, because we are too involved with watching TV.

  7. D8D8B4A3-6B2F-41DD-A87D-07171FFD1E55
    C04D7615-92F4-49CB-A269-0678FC35CC00
    —> Page 85

    I think Smith in this book is probably the most mysterious figure in all literature. Describing him was “like trying to describe the word description without using the word itself to describe it.”
    I reach a photograph on page 85 of an old armchair behind a tree. Like my once finding a glass chair among many other chairs in an industrial estate in Clacton.

  8. D6BD2AB0-A9FC-4848-ABEE-DBD1800BEE93—> Page 93
    “In the car park of a hotel in Hastings, we witnessed an elderly man…”
    Reference to Hastings reminds me of wonderful childhood summer holidays staying with my grandmother. Now I, too, am an elderly man… Yes, some universities have strange architecture, for example two built in the 1960s, Lancaster University where I was a student 1966-69, and Essex University near where I live now. Also I agree with ‘living the dream’ being a paradox. And I have mixed feelings about modern or avant garde art, its decriers and admirers, although I remain a staunch admirer, its phenomenon feeding my book reviewing. The photograph to the left was taken by me in Suffolk about which county WG Sebald wrote his liminal and psychogeographic Rings of Saturn book (reviewed here).

  9. Pages 94 – 102

    “Her last, grave declaration, given just before her death in 1916, was that one hundred years in the future, the country would suffer some unimaginable disaster from which it would never fully recover.”

    This book is becoming more and more worrying in a perversely enjoyable way and more oblique and sideways and front to back as well as back to front, with its own flavour of image and text; I worry along with it, and it is good to have it worry for me. But that may be sinful thinking. Wishful, too. Absurdist and somehow quietly shrieking at me about why I didn’t nip Brexit in the bud. Cults sought out as well as individual eccentricities. I still think I may be Smith, without Smith realising it. An apposite short piece of mine entitled The Tide of Time published in ‘Dark Star #7’ in 1990: https://etepsed.wordpress.com/739-2/


  10. A 2019 published book above, just received.

    Pages 103 – 113
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    I have always been a man without opinions, so I am no footdragger on that score, yet paradoxically I have a strong opinion that this work increasingly reflects what is happening today, this week, running down the clock, reflecting our national nervous breakdown even more than it did in 2017 when first published in English. It is horrifying, maybe attritionally satisfying, too, while our civil servants, quiet on the face of it, sitting on their hands, perhaps committing suicide one by one. This book is essential reading. NOW. And essential reading later, too, if we are still here to open up the backstop or this book’s blackbox during any post mortem. I cannot emphasise all this enough. Genuinely and honestly. (My photo)

  11. Pages 114 – 123

    “Some people seemed determined to forget they existed at all,”

    In other words, as I have already noticed, people around me have started becoming nemonymous to allow themselves to become in denial about the country’s own nemonymity. A paradox this work apotheosises, as it reaches the end of its first discrete volume. Can’t wait to hear whether the black-box it bore has itself borne fruit.

    “soft spots and thin spaces.”

  12. 4AA1DB22-CD60-48BE-B1EB-A0B3CD3C745B Pages 13 – 23
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    The only glimpse into the multitudinous photographs in this book, the second volume of THIS WOUNDED ISLAND. My own photo here, meanwhile, was taken earlier this morning of the long-seasoned and intensely heavyweight Unidentified Landed Object in my area, taken before opening this book.
    “It was almost as if the universe had yawned and left a town in its wake,” no signage, no nothing? Meanwhile, where is Smith?

  13. Pages 24 – 34

    Smith turns up again, whether this being a relief or not, I am not sure, and as I said above already, I myself may be Smith! Anyway, the results of the black box of THIS our WOUNDED ISLAND seems related to something I reviewed just half an hour ago here, about Eddie the Great, or was it Eddie the Eagle (?), in which review I quoted these Rasnic Tem words: ‘…peeking at the individual files randomly, and then with furious thoroughness, as file after file appeared to be blank, or full of gibberish, or consisted of apparently random words and images copied from various internet sites,…’ and, now, in these Böhm pages, among other seemingly relevant things, is a photo of some blank pages!

  14. Pages 35 – 46

    Here we see the use of the word “detourned” where ‘detoured’ perhaps makes more obvious sense in the context; yet the former word — meaning painting on top of, or in addition to, what is already painted on found paintings — makes sense, too, as I am effectively doing with this as-I-find-it review of a ready-made text. A sort of overpainting or ‘overload’ that resonates with the increasing news-overload or info-dumps described in these pages. A text, with photos, that now heads in my direction, wending, today, towards my boyhood home of Colchester. Following Smith’s breadcrumbs?

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/322485141424609/permalink/799245943748524/

  15. Pages 47 – 58

    Some intensely powerful pages evoking the polarity of views, the in-denial, the dangerous delusions, as created by and creating Brexit, even as we speak.
    And more empty chairs shown.
    And refer again, please, to my Tide of Time that I linked earlier above,

  16. Pages 59 – 67

    “The following day, the leader of the opposition came under attack.”

    I cannot stress enough how this book effectively describes my feelings today, as our land’s dislocation continues to unfold psychically and visually, covering emotions that need to be expressed, and are here expressed in unforgettable directness, and in oblique and disarmingly absurdist ways, too.

  17. clun clun 3 clun 2
    My photos

    Pages 68 – 82

    “the ‘unexpected arrival’ of several million mystery voters”

    The pattern continues, including a real-time review, as a single eight word sentence, by this book of the suddenly announced 2017 General Election. And there is an extended report on an exhibition of unearthed photographs by a woman called Clements. Any who followed my link somewhere above to details of my boyhood home in Old Heath Road, Colchester, will have already seen that Mr and Mrs Smith lived next door to me and they were in turn related to Mr and Mrs Clements who lived next door but one to me.

  18. Pages 83 – 101

    This book now encounters our talk in our wounded island about ‘outside interference’ affecting what we decide and think, or not decide or think. In many ways, this book is thus an example of what it is here talking about! We are all becoming its ungraspable Smith, simply because this book brought him to our attention? At least it tends to deaden rather than ignite our shouting at each other from polarised or self-harming positions. Instead we are destined soon to wallow in grey areas? To turn from shouting to sulking.

  19. Pages 102 – 113

    “, the root of the problem was a one hundred and forty page ‘consultation document’ that, on one hand, aimed to clarify something that was, by design, wholly nebulous, while at the same time also creating more doubt and ambiguity.”
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    A series of endless flowcharts, it says. And a woman in the park suggest both sides of the endless argument are denied what they want. The logic is immaculate, it is suggested, totalitarianism as a means towards an end. Also suggesting that England is suffering dementia. Yesterday, I reviewed Tem’s Garbage here, which is relevant. Yesterday, too, there were defections from both main parties in parliament. More are expected. Today, the leader of the opposition visits Brussels for discussions, and I hear on the news that some people have already started to stockpile. “The rest of the day was consumed by a haunting nausea,” this wounded island book says. Nausea. Nautical-sea? Today, near the sea, I took the photo alongside of a mysterious symbol on a building. You can see it was today if you look at my Facebook page.

  20. 3E4F8C7E-B06E-47E4-B160-8C620CF98A91—> page 115

    “reality subject to terms and conditions”

    Perhaps I will take this book more slowly until it takes me up to 11 pm British Summer Time on March 29 when this “existential farce” is likely to reach its apotheosis?

    Meanwhile some graffiti in Clacton…

  21. —> Page 119

    No pitchforks at the Scottish border? Perhaps it’s not a hard border, something with a new backstop?
    Today holds yet another crucial moment. May is about to address parliament in about a quarter of an hour.

  22. —> Page 125

    Reached General Election of 2017 in this book’s wandering between identikit retail parks across our Wounded Land. Evidently no hope from anything, let alone the aforementioned black box or Smith himself. Today, in my own real-time, things have got worse, I guess, but surely that was not possible! Even hindsight is dead.

  23. —> Page 129

    “The media then decided that this itself was the story, this strange new world of precarious unknowing in which many felt marooned, and that this uncertainty itself was far more entertaining than how we had come to be in this situation in the first place.”

    Pundits and experts now unable to predict anything in the world of the new normal and it is an ironic observation on our being entertained by this book at all. Meanwhile, today, the Govt is bribing Labour MPs of hard-hit towns to vote for May’s current Brexit deal! Pity that Jaywick near where I live, the most deprived area in UK, will not be offered this bribe, as they have a Tory MP who is already voting for the deal.

  24. —> Page139 (end)

    “Had we come all this way for nothing?”

    Hope that is not a spoiler repeating that question here on Smith’s behalf. I have now decided it would be a spoiler to continue this review painfully slowly into next week, a week that promises to be a watershed moment in this subject-matter’s book. If you are not scared of spoilers, I may report on next week’s events while reviewing this book: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/the-injuries-of-time/

    The final pages here are of SF alternate worlds and what if anything is better than nothing. These two volumes of THIS WOUNDED LAND are indeed landmark moments, together with their stark photographs. I hope my own photographs have not been too much detraction from the disarmingly stark message of the two volumes and constructive emptinesses I wished into them. The volumes indeed have been a unique journey, one not to be missed. But glad I have finished them before the events of next week become clear. CAVEAT: I may have been unduly affected by what is happening around me and thus my review, too.

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