To Rouse Leviathan – Matt Cardin

0904D52F-5846-48DD-AEA0-ECE1E16C3DBBHippocampus Press, 2019

My previous reviews of this author: and

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

20 thoughts on “To Rouse Leviathan – Matt Cardin

  1. My review in 2008 of the first work:

    The Writer’s Answer – AN ABHORRENCE TO ALL FLESH

    Ranging from (MR)Jamesian narration technique to the ‘Quincunx’ sects (& sex) of Lawrence Durrell, this story, for me, is about names and letters (ie for God and Truth) , bits missing (T instead of U), Flesh and spirit as one, unquenched fire of May Sinclair, large breasts, Machen-like or Poe-like transfiguration, questionable authorships, religions as deterrents to the things they worship, twisted genealogies, books (bibles) and recurring librarians, the speaking of crossed tongues, and more, changing from lovers to siblings and back again – all a symphony of sheer Horror in isolation implied and explicit – or “adrift in an eternal nocturne”..

    Later: A quote I was trying to rediscover until it was ready to be rediscovered: “…I simply could not generate the false persona necessary to any form of writing…”

  2. And my 2008 review of the next….

    Parts I and II of The Monk’s Answer: NOTES OF A MAD COPYIST

    My jumbled list above of ‘An Abhorrence To All Flesh’ has become more unified here towards what I’ve always seen as SYNCHRONISED SHARDS OF RANDOM TRUTH AND FICTION. The narrator here, like the previous narrator, looks at his hand … the flesh and bone….
    Words seen as ‘savourable’ objects – a major preoccupation of mine, too, as is what lies behind:- “The purity of my intentions had not mattered. The new thoughts struggling to emerge had had their say, with no regard for my reservations. […] my book had been transformed radically, through a shocking shift in vocabulary and theology, into something else.”


    Part III of The Monk’s Answer: NOTES OF A MAD COPYIST

    I had to finish reading where I did after Part II, because I somehow felt the shadow of my own ‘abbot’ behind me, checking up on me. Really! As if reading someone else’s work (this work) was like the monk’s ‘copying’ of it.

    Part III is extremely disturbing. Writing Horror, as I have done for many years, does bring one’s own abbot ‘shadow’ as tutelary guardian angel only to find out it’s a demon not an angel. This part of the story seems to imply that the ‘abbot’ is part of the Horror itself and not something trying to punish me for writing (or reading or mis-reading) the Horror! These thoughts are part of what the fiction I’m reading here makes me think. It is good to know it is only fiction, therefore.


    Part IV & V (end) of The Monk’s Answer: NOTES OF A MAD COPYIST

    For the last few years I’ve speculated (and blogged) about ‘Magic Fiction’, ‘Fiction as Religion’, Proustian Selves, Nemonymity etc
    and all the while this ‘story’ existed without my direct knowledge which seems to embody some of these concerns through (Biblical?) exegesis and text as savourable texture.

    Not only is it thus rarefied and special, it is also accessible disturbing Horror in a fiction genre I’ve always loved.

    My thoughts on it, however, seem subject to their own (false?) exegesis: as if I’m a wayward Monk who fails to copy correctly and brings in his (i.e. my) own extraneous and irrelevant concerns and theories in the comments so far on Matt Cardin’s text????

    “…Fallow be thy Names.”

  3. And my 2008 review of the next…

    Answer Given to an Innocent Bystander: THE BASEMENT THEATRE

    Here we have a nightmare of ever-tightening deja-vu and suffocating levels of meta-fiction – where the reader at first identifies with the Sub-lessor/Narrator of the fiction but, for me, I identified more readily with the Head-lessor (the playwright) which in many ways was even more frightening than empathising with the story’s ‘I’ (Matt Cardin?) whom I seem to persecute against my own wishes.
    A masterpiece – and it echoes the reading between the lines not only of the text (as before in this book) but between the lines on the palm of your hand to see if it is your map of life you’re following or someone else’s completely.

  4. And my 2008 review of the next…

    The Artist’s Answer: IF IT HAD EYES

    Oh, this is truly marvellous stuff. (And without harping on the point, anyone accustomed to the ‘nothingness’ theme (both (literally) physical and aesthetic/’spiritual’) that has threaded the editions of ‘Nemonymous’ over the years will realise easily why I am not only impressed by this story, but doubly impressed! It also carried forward the flesh/spirit theme started by this book’s first story.

    Also (and I make no charges here), but I’m sure Stephen King must have read IF IT HAD EYES (2002) before he wrote the novel DUMA KEY (2008)!!

  5. And my 2008 review of the next…

    The Final Answer (given to God): JUDAS OF THE INFINITE

    We finally take the uppercase from god; figuratively. Flesh/Spirit as an ethos similar to a Cern experiment or a Financial Meltdown.
    Nothingness in the previous story, spiritual emptiness here as a mutant relative (I guess) of Azathoth’s core of Infinity (or The Angel Megazanthus).
    The derelict here reminds me of the dosser Padgett Weggs and his screams of existential angst in sight of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1986.

    Matt Cardin’s wonderful conceit that Religion is the deterrent for whatever that Religion worships….

    This whole book is Fiction-as-Religion in action. It is truer than truth. imho.


    “I’m a wayward Monk who fails to copy correctly and brings in his (i.e. my) own extraneous and irrelevant concerns and theories when commenting on DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP.” — DF Lewis

  6. And my 2010 review of the next…


    “The knocks were somehow amiss, as if they were produced by the wrong kinds of hands beating on the on the wrong kind of wood.”

    This is Lovecraftial cosmic horror of the highest quality. We, mankind, in a cosmic trap of metaphysical despair and encroaching wrongnesses (wrongnesses apparent to all who can collate evidence of them in commonplace events). It seems coincidental that I received a long awaited book only two days ago (THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE) which, now, in my mind, resonates with the notebook (commonplace book) that the protagonist discovers in the possession of a co-student. Furthermore, specifically, with this story, I note a resonance between the words ‘teeth’ and ‘truth’. I await my own self-engulfment with trepidation.

    “…the best thing is never to have been born.” (3 July 10)

  7. And my 2010 review of the next…

    The Stars Shine Without Me

    “Then he looked at the papers and smiled, showing me two rows of tiny perfect teeth.”

    This Ligottian-like Corporate Horror Story has a title that means a lot to me in today’s circumstances of events in my own life. I enjoyed this wonderful story of (for me, meaningful) bleak office work in a giant city office leading to a mandala-design situation similar to that in the previous story’s commonplace book. There is some ‘teeming’ kaleidoscope that is in this story that conjoins my own via some common daemon muse, I sense. It allows me not to worry about things I could be doing if I weren’t doing something else. Thanks, story. (5 Jul 10)

  8. And my 2010 review of the next:

    Desert Places

    “And I could not help feeling a momentary surge of protectiveness toward her, like the phantom sensation of a lost limb.”

    An amazing piece, resonating with the connected teemings in the previous two stories, here a merging of plant-life, at times, with other plant-life, but, overall, a DH-Lawrencian connection or balance, a troilist sexual synergy that possesses, in turn, a symbiotic relationship, for me, with Steve Duffy’s equally amazing story THE FIRST TIME reviewed here:
    There is also a cosmic connection, too, between Lovecraftian and Roman Catholic sensibilities? I still wonder at the harvesting that my real-time reviews seem serendipitously to reveal… (5 Jul 10 – five hours later)

  9. My 2010 review of the next….

    Blackbrain Dwarf

    “…gripped in that hand was the light of a four-pointed star, which gathered and swelled until it was a blazing beacon of truth…”

    Corporate Horror again but with the theme of your own monstrous muse living off the perceived ‘wrongnesses’ of life and becoming YOU.  Neatly speaks the words you want to speak from thought but daren’t (cf: ‘The Scream’ by Tim Casson in ‘Null Immortalis’) and conveys the wrongness of an office building and the human interaction therein that synergises with another Steve Duffy story, i.e. ‘The Fabric of Things’ reviewed here: Meanwhile, Matt Cardin’s prose is the organic counterpart of the monstrous muse itself: rich, grotesque, each word drenched in the syrup of ‘wrongness’ without the effect of the words being anything other than ‘right’!  (6 Jul 10)

  10. My 2010 review of the next…

    Nightmares, Imported and Domestic (a collaboration with Mark McLaughlin)

    “…even as the borders of his consciousness began to crumble and allow the pure seed of awareness to expand outward to the next level of selfhood.”

    Well, I was bound to enjoy this brilliantly catatonic and visionary felo de se in Proustian selves (here, not as phantom limbs, but as whole phantom bodies dreaming or haunting each other in an Aesthetic (Art Philosophy) soup of reality and irreality) – and (pleasingly for me) synergises with the general geography of the soul in my own novel ‘Nemonymous Night’ (that I put on-line in 2005 originally as ‘The Hawler’ etc). A synergy of dissimilaraties. A symphony on the theme of identity.

    It is not all vision and horror, but also portrays some involving characterisation. (7 Jul 10)

  11. My 2010 review of the next…

    The Devil and One Lump

    “…a smile that revealed far too many silvery teeth, each one as long as a dagger.”

    An ingenious philosophical dialogue between an (ex)-writer of Horror Stories and his Muse, with pregnant repercussions regarding Biblical exegesis, comparative good and evil, ‘self’ness &c. All stuff in pursuit of my own heart… It is also a great story (in the tradition of O. Henry?) (9 Jul 10)

  12. My 2010 review of the next…

    The God of Foulness


    “My love of ideas had somehow evolved into a kind of philosophical schizophrenia that expressed itself in terms of a kaleidoscopic shifting of worldviews,”

    This seems to be of novella length, told from a ‘bipolar’, daemonly-haunted and studious point of view regarding a new religious movement or plague of Sick Seeking, i.e. celebrating illness and refusing treatment for it, akin to the Millennial Madness of the centuries’ last turn. The first person narrator is put on a mission, almost like a Raymond Chandler detective (here a journalist), to investigate the ‘movement’. (9 Jul 10 – 2 hours later)

    II & III

    The narrator suddenly (gratuitously?) reveals himself to us readers as a ‘strikingly handsome man’ – who then uses his charms with a woman at the hospital to gain access to a very old man with throat cancer at his home, one who seems central to the Sick and Save movement and who suffered shrapnel in his throat many years before – and one wonders about the ‘guard’ of teeth having might slipped (my surmise, not the narrator’s). An interesting interchange between the two of them that involves ‘ends’ and ‘means’ regarding God’s behaviour with regard to disease – and its connection, perhaps, with suicide sects (pacts) and ‘The Conspiracy Against The Human Race’ (again my surmise). The fact that our protagonist narrator is himself a ‘pretty boy’ in contrast to cancer and disease as well as putting himself in ‘proximate cause’ with them makes this interaction particularly effective. (9 Jul 10 – another 2 hours later)

    IV & V & VI

    The narrator has echoes of his own earlier imperfections with which I shall not ‘spoiler’ this review by detailing – as sickness can spoil the soul of someoneness as well as somebody. Suffice to say, we are here taken into the most potentially sick realms of religion and corrupted religion – beyond even Azathoth (my surmise and italics for teeth/truth half-spoken by a disfigured face or throat). You will need no encouragement from me either to read this novella or eschew it. You will know what you need. Simply think of me as just another Cardinal guinea-pig. (9 Jul 10 – another 90 minutes later).

    VII & VIII

    “…as if a hook were lodged in my cheek and someone were reeling me in…”

    Those genuine Sick Seekers among you should seek out this story.

    This is a fitting end to a fiction experience you will hardly forget even if you don’t experience it so as to remember it for real by reading the book itself. Your Daemon or Muse has already read it – has always read it. Now perhaps it’s your turn. (9 Jul 10 – another 80 minutes later)

  13. AD2C0E34-947A-40FD-94CA-243266470172Chimeras & Grotesqueries

    “…an authorial feat of sheer, shocking genius that I tried to emulate in my own stumbling way by writing stories that aped his signature style of marrying narrative prose fiction to Montaigne-like essayistic explorations.”

    A man who gave up writing, because he felt unworthy of the job, finally meets, his favourite writer – the latter ironically now on his death bed – because the writer manqué (now a clergyman) is called to give last rites (and, ironically, last writes!) to his favourite writer.
    An amazing cosmic and disturbing vision of self-pareidolia, church buildings as monstrous pareidolia or apophenia , too, and mass hysteria, and emptinesses and indentations in an alley*.
    Items of reconstructed found art as dolls, too.

    *see the recent dents synchronicity of this society of monsterhood Tremblay story. And the missing limbs earlier today In Evenson here.

    This Matt Cardin story is so great in the canon of cosmic horror, I can’t resist quoting from it liberally…please forgive me: –

    “such an outlandish set of coincidental circumstances, and was of such a bizarre nature (especially considering my longstanding literary worship of the man), that I would not blame the reader for disbelieving”

    Told almost in real-time:
    “This last suspicion is at least partly verified by the experience that I have just had between writing the preceding paragraph and the present one. I paused in my work to step outside and rest my eyes. It is a frigid December night, and I stood perfectly still in the icy air, gazing up at the panorama of the night sky, which bristled with stars.”

    “Or sometimes instead of a wall it carried the imaginal appearance of an inner absence or emptiness, as if I were missing a psychic organ or limb, or as if an anterior network of branching corridors in my soul had been demolished and buried beneath a mountain of dead earth. Occasionally I had the impression, so intense it bordered on a physical sensation, that behind my eyes and brain there existed a gaping hole. At such times I would reach around and probe the back of my head to verify the intactness of my skull.”

    “I crept forward into the alley and sighted a promising feature ahead: a hole punched through the base of the right-hand wall.”

    “For a period of two minutes on a weekday afternoon, the city’s human inhabitants saw the façades of churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and meditation halls transmogrified into humanoid faces frozen in expressions of horror. The event made itself known in a ripple of panic that radiated outward from those buildings and through the crowds like waves on a lake.”

    “miniature indentations flowing in a path toward the alley’s entrance,”

  14. Prometheus Possessed

    “Gazing down silently from high above, arriving as an invisible visitor from some unknown origin,…”

    I am afraid I tried this story today, but could not touch anything below – or above – in my current mood. I look forward to reading reviews by others of this work.

  15. The New Pauline Corpus

    “None make sense. Not on their own, at least. Fragments. That is what he has in his possession. Pieces of a puzzle. Scraps of a portrait. Shards of a mirror, each reflecting and refracting the image of all the others to create a dazzling maze of meanings whose infinity encompasses enormous blank spaces. […] It would be so easy to rearrange some of these fragments, to clarify their individual and collective meanings by connecting some of their philosophical edges where they obviously cohere.”

    I simply cannot do due justice to this major work that seems to originate or reflect my own actions on gestalt book reviewing, literature, religion, avant-gardism and cosmic horror.

  16. A Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans collaboration by Matt Cardin with Mark McLaughlin

    I see it as a substantive coda to this mighty book, one to rouse its Leviathan, not Hobbes, not Hobbits, not even Ducklings. But Hatchlings. But I am not compos mentis enough to follow it properly. It was too plotted for me. Too meticulously characterised. Art, painting, Aesthetics involving someone called Anthony Anthony. And much more.
    “suspended between two dreams.”


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