A fearless faith in fiction — Employing a Kantian or Jungian sensibility and an ‘intentional fallacy’ consciousness — Various passions of the reading moment — Walter de la Mare, ELizabeth BOWen, Robert Aickman and many others old and new — Please click my name below for this site’s navigation and my backstory as intermittent photographer, writer, editor, publisher & reviewer.
As you can already guess from my photos of it above, this book is probably the most startlingly remarkable sturdy and artistic luxury of a book you are ever likely to encounter. It has nearly sixty red pages, as yet unread. Mine is numbered 5/100.
I hope to start read-testing it next week.
Pages 7 – 12
“enraptured in a holy trance”
One broken bulb in a ‘deluge’ of darkness, while a second bulb has “incandescent fire”: the reading of this text on this paper is probably the most startling, challenging experience I have ever had in the physical process of reading a text (no exaggeration), a process that is supremely suited to what is written about! A mutual synergy also encouraged by the artwork of the woman with the a scimitar crescent across the eyes as shown above as part of this process, too. And I am intrigued equally by the arrival at the top of the stairs as Thomas finds the key to his booked room in a ‘pension’ or ‘chateau’ has been lost or stolen and needs to be ‘forged’ while he waits downstairs for two vying sisters to sort it out. I claim this to be the most startling opening to any possible book reading process. The white marble woman in a cabinet at the top of the stairs, worth even another million stares?
“a square of canvas covered in vivid scarlet paint.”
Pages 12 – 16
“A true artist tells lies in so cunning a manner that their inventions supersede the truth.”
Yes, Thomas seems surprised that the pension’s sisters are sisters, when he heard earlier from one of them that they were indeed sisters. I am captivated by the tricksy rite of stratagems being laid to entertain Thomas as guest and/or to entertain the strategists themselves, and a fellow guest in the Fawlty Towers type bar, by the name of Mittel (middle man?) who is a writer who wants Thomas to read his work as the necessary audience: “The tenuous bond between an author and their narrative requires an audience, no matter how small.” I am one such additional reader, with the added benefit I am making a running commentary on it (without spoilers).
Pages 16 – 19
“, he’d chosen the pension more or less at random.”
Whenever I use “Damian” in future as an adjective, please infer what we have all learnt about this author’s sensibility of ‘fiction’ as we have absorbed it from his past books of patterns and randomness and fate, his described rites of passage, the ritual places, people and things, here Thomas’ Holy Order, now in sabbatical, and psalms written in his own notebook, as we learn in meticulous sensitivity about the pension room he has here ‘randomly’ rented, and how he methodically or ritually prepares perhaps to write his own real-time review, in fountain pen, of Mittel’s notebook…
Pages 19 – 23
“One may also attempt to deceive him, and herein lies the path of the adept.”
A Damian apotheosis of ritual plot, and you need to experience it directly as it is written and not to hear about it first here in my review, while comparing the notebooks of Thomas and Mittel — at least one notebook being about the two sisters, Silena and Veruschka — and striking through some words in one of these notebooks, although some of my own real-time striking-out of words is thankfully managed with pencil not ink. Meanwhile, just one thought: I had never considered the word Magistrate before as an extension of Magus. And ‘dominion’ as an extension of Damian?
Pages 24 – 33
“I feel better about my work already, just knowing you’ve laid eyes on it.”
And laying eyes on this particular work is a darkly blazing experience, even if it is meddled by Mittel, or especially because it is thus meddled, here in its middle. A strong experience, yes, but miraculously gentle and subtle, too, with references to eroticism, the Damian dominion or domain also including domination and counter-domination, plus further stratagems in the pension after Thomas visits the nearby village and its balconies and other iconicity, stratagems that they all seem to play on each other, with Thomas acting as a subtle strategist against others or thus being strategised against himself.
Pages 34 – 38
“He was elated to discover, just as he’d suspected, that several of his corrections had themselves been altered.”
As real-time reviewing of books allows me to do, also. Others have to endure permanence in what they have already read. Here a dream on a psalmic ship becomes closer to reality in the forest near the pension. Dream and prayer – or awe, too. And what beast is embedded in MAGISTRATE?
Pages 39 – 42
“…double entendres, dubious insinuations, lascivious insults, and scandalous distortions of the truth.”
I see myself now, each time when opening this book to read it, as entering the Lucifer or Noctifer gate (not sure which yet) into “the Magistrate’s domain” or the Damian domain, maybe both at once. I feel I am being watched while reading it, even when I am alone in the room. And when adding my comments day by day.
“He was pleased, if not surprised, to find that another round of comments had been added….”
Pages 43 – 50
“Coffee and eggs were taken in Veruschka’s cordial company.”
I feel I have been treading on Gnostic eggshells ever since opening this book, optically-physically, spiritually, literarily, avoiding the breaking of rules, inferring domination and sub-domination in a sexual sense, but now we reach a structural glitch in the pension itself, as we approach the nirvana or apotheosis of communion, if indeed that is what we are approaching when following Thomas beyond the glitch into the outside “taking Mittel’s latest book in hand along with a taper…”
“These were followed by heartfelt prayers to Iblis and Abraxas that they might impart the secrets of deliverance from the errors of incarnation.”
As an aside, I just noticed that one of the many dedications on the two dustjacket flaps is as follows:
“To CLARICE LISPECTOR, who, among several other notable achievements, performed midnight mass with the body of God imprisoned in a mutilated cockroach.”
My erstwhile real-time review of Lispector’s Collected Stories: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/clarice-lispector-complete-stories/
There is also a dedication to Robert Aickman who often appears in my reviews.
Pages 50 – 55
“Driven onward by urges that he scarcely understood, he proceeded to the summit.”
Thomas’ transcending of the fiction truths (fiction but also truths of sorts) in the Mittel notebook, I was not to be disappointed by the apotheosised M
agi strate. Tumescent stag. Struck through now from its fiction berth, for it to emerge for real! It is not a coincidence, I feel, that just minutes before reading the last few pages of this physically occult-burning book, I read and reviewed WE, THE BURNING STARS here. It is almost as if Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing is some sort of meaningful orgy of words between a growing number of so-called hype- or hyper-imaginative books. Not so much imaginative at all. Yet, imaginative, too. The paradox of literature. The opened gate of Noctifer?
“The author served as poet, oracle, and hagiographer, his innocence making him a fitting vessel for a mystery in which he had no stake.”
“Horns of adamant and ivory arose to impale the carriage of the stars.”