23 thoughts on “Arms Against A Sea – Rhys Hughes

  1. I’ll start with the story on the bookmark –


    The active inquisitiveness and passive curiosity of mankind as a virulent virus – a story with a deadpan or laid-back ‘dying fall’.


    “, balancing their precarious lives on the shoulders of her soul.”

    An essential Rhys Hughes story, one about a woman called Valeria (a name that somehow triggered in me the arbitrary words ‘revile’ and ‘reveal’) whereby she leaves an apartment block, with removal logistics described. She had been the block’s first tenant and the other tenants when they moved in relied on her as a lynchpin of the community. I will not tell you about the painting in her spare room that had preceded her arrival in the apartment. You will soon learn enough when you read the story. I have grown fed up with being a book-reviewing lynchpin. Fend for yourselves. It will be too late anyway. A world’s domino rally without quarantine or coronal cladding.


    An intriguing fable of a symposium of nine living creatures reincarnated from each of the nine lives of the eponymous cat, including another cat and one man (the narrator), meeting in the jungle, and the narrator reminded me of the colonials in Somerset Maugham stories that I am currently reviewing here. The circumstances lead, for me, to some form of Zeno’s Paradox as a state of Null Immortalis – as based here on an absurdist proposition that running exercises extend one’s life!
    The wisdom of a parrot, by the way, does it not depend on its mimicking human speech? Another conundrum that set me off thinking. Lynchpins need underpinning?


    “Not all equivalences are exact, not all reciprocals symmetrical.”

    A memorable story which, amid plot business concerning the missing arms of the Venus de Milo, propounds some equivalence between reciprocal and antipodal. Another essential tale for Rhys Hughes fans. The hero needs to go the distance of many a Milo to reach his own antipodal near-epiphany of equivalence, with much taxidermal information about stone or especially marble statues as interwoven by (with stone or mineral/plant equivalence?) muscles! About half an hour ago I read here about Mister Ainsley bereaved about his spiritually beautiful wife and am amazed at the near-equivalence, by serendipotals, with the organism in his garden! Also the near equivalence of reciprocal with antipodal gave a whole new slant to the concept of a global lynchpin.


    A wonderful word jamming on invisible slopes as human shells, and weeping (and its effects on a girder Bridge), and mountains of empathy, and the pointlessness of mourning especially when you hear about a death of someone you don’t know, like being a weepy hero for some dead stranger called Hogan whom you will never know and who will never know you. Did you know, though, that Kafka loved slopes and I wonder what he would have thought of invisible slopes.


    Starting off as a short brainstorming essay (although it didn’t know it was short until it finished – in its hindsight battle with counter-productivity?) — an essay upon the synergy (or lack of synergy) with regard to laziness and efficiency, a new Zeno Paradox, in fact — it seriously becomes, for me, a startlingly counterintuitive and original input into the philosophy surrounding the Existence of God.

  7. From maximum efficiency, to the optimum of gentlest giant-ness…


    “He tells me that when life was full of happiness and there was no sorrow the average height of a man was six miles. And men have kept getting smaller ever since.”

    3682DBD3-9F62-40F1-91E3-795988924E96 By what comparative measure? For example, Gulliver was considered to be a giant when he is no bigger than me. Good that this author has now given a benchmark with a measurement in miles. The story of Philistinian Goliath — his coming up against a slingshot, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,’ as Clay used to say … and Goliath ends up in ironically named Saint Vejovis Hospital where giants are cared for, and Goliath meets several famous ones there. As we do.
    And there is brilliant joke about a windmill, too!

  8. F6807D58-5C0D-4F70-9DEE-1750E86BE2FC

    The most rapturous and rhapsodic romance of two young lovers (with an enviable musical ‘dying fall’ as well as a pan-original sort of ‘dying rise’ in emotions), walking by the sea’s edge and the scene with the squashed sun is serendipitously echoed by my recent photo above and the sunflower in the previous entry above also now seems obliquely appropriate with its multiple starfish ‘arms against a sea’… as well as my null-immortalis coronal logo on this site. If I tell you more about this work, it would spoil it.


    This is where the author becomes lost in a labyrinth of his own conceits, so it needs to be read urgently so as to help extricate him. I am at a loss as how to help him myself, as I am equally lost between CERN Zoo and a capsule Zoo (similar to the capsule Zoos in this story) from the depths of my own Nemonymous Night!


    “…the beasts in the zoo were slaughtered and served up in a variety of original dishes. But it was a small zoo and this phase soon passed.”

    You’ll not believe that anyone could have such imagination to conjure up the extent to which the inhabitants of a besieged city resort so as to feed themselves during such attrition as a potentially endless siege, unless you believe that these events actually took place and an author needs little imagination to be able to recount real happenings. Whatever the case, this story represents another Zoo or Zeno Paradox, one of hunger appeasing. Even down to the city gate itself. It is also a fable to expose the political polarities of humanity these days, where each polarity will fight to the death for its own position, whatever the collateral cost to itself.


    “I was a bliss thief.”

    A paradoxically believable extrapolation upon getting rid of one’s riches to be able to proverbially thread the needle with a camel so as to get into Heaven, and thus avoid Hell. An obligation transferred. A plague of viral disinvesting. With the final cataclysmic imaginative plot-twist of which only THIS writer could possibly. conceive. Some sort of huge injection to cure us all from whatever threatens? Read it and find out if that suggestion of mine is misleading or not.


    …if not flush.
    To be flush with something means a tight fit.
    This is where a woman’s face falls off and is accidentally flushed down the loo, I infer. With all the repercussions of loss – and still distant tactile contact with it – as it travels the sea’s bottom. Other matters – the moon as follower rather than leader, male noses picked without matching them with the ears, sexual jealously of her face by her husband as it cavorts with submarines. No loss of face by the author with this story, despite a few gratuitous sillinesses, like those picked noses. There are indeed some amazing conceits which most other authors would be flushed with pride to own. (Book reviewers can be silly, too.)


    “Avoidance of a gaze can be an effect without a cause.”

    Like literature itself, whether gazebo or gazelle, that gaze comes on today’s threshold of Ciara and Corona. The concept of a one man shop, a man AS a shop, is staggering, a conceit that indeed evolves, where products and hunters of such products interchange, as it were, as does one man’s self-image under gaze of his woman. But not all men have a woman, I guess.


    An instructive and resplendent description of Petrarch’s pioneering ascent of a mountain in the 14th century, one of the earliest recorded ascent of a mountain for its own sake. And of the Shepherd whom Petrarch met just before embarking on such an ascent. I have read a huge proportion of the Rhys Hughes published canon, and I think this is the only example of his work that is wholly without irony, a potentially inspiring and inspired account of what this author values most in life, whatever the reader might otherwise think about such noble beliefs and moral exhortations. Yes, it seems to be without irony, but there is a shaft of creative absurdity at one point that optimises our own grasp of the ideals shown here. And that shaft involves our actual talking to a man of the distant past (the shepherd) within our future imagination of him with which we empower his reality by the mutual trust between us and him, thus allowing his ability to communicate today.

  15. Thank you, Des. You are right! I didn’t think irony was appropriate for this story. The story had to be written the one a mountain is climbed. No one climbs mountains ironically. I have written other stories without any irony, but they are in a minority 🙂


    Taking symphonic experimentations (atonal or otherwise) of such composers as Havergal Brian, Scriabin, Stockhausen et al to absurdist, apocalyptic and global lengths, I was obviously inspired, this being my ideal dream of music taken to such lengths, with danger to the body as well as the mind, also involving an increasingly constructive stridency as a tontine of orchestral performers, judicially spaced according to instrumental strength, and never in diminuendo even if their performing numbers, by dint of mortality, are!


    “He was an old white man,…”

    As I am, and Felix Pepper, here, too, wanting to explore life as the complete opposite of an archetypal ‘old white man’. A young black woman’s perspective now fished for indeed, but equally this work makes me cheat – unlike actually climbing to the top of that earlier mountain in this book and I am made to get a cable car gondola instead. And as I am already a constant explorer of the seaside so as to find myself, the fact that Felix travels to the sea for his young-black-woman self, that feels like cheating, too. Felix’s own experience is not finding his COMPLETE opposite in a young black woman, as her name turns out to be Joy Sugar, although sugar and pepper are sorts of opposites to each other? The theatrical props of this fable’s physical interactions between Felix and Joy are fascinating, oblique yet meaningful. As is the bus driver syndrome on dangerous roads, when you view the otherwise (god)forsaken life around. The bus driver, not the complacent, ironically named old white man…

    “He continued to flap as inertia carried him a little way horizontally into the void before he dropped sharply out of sight.”


    The mention of ‘void’ somehow reminds me of Ovid…another metamorphosis of self.

    “Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.”
    – Ovid, Heroides


    This is the tale of Jasper and his travelling on a train towards a job interview — and as it approaches the stop at a town called Fusk, the tannoy announcement tells him to take all his belongings with him, as all such announcements tend to do. He seems to have at least a mild case of Aspergers Syndrome (if you have a condition, be sure to fully own it, I always say) where he takes everything literally. And here he takes it to absurdist child-like Rhys-Hughesian lengths and divests himself of all his borrowed clothes and other coverings and accoutrements even down to his nude soul… His ‘husk without lust’ at Fusk. 5E41E6AA-6D72-4510-9D42-864B6941A113 This book itself is a sacredly discrete stitched-together gestalt (one I have just reviewed as a unique and originally intentioned whole) — and thus I have fustianly eschewed being put into a false position to read any extra apocryphal stories that I believe to be ‘owned’ as enticements in the later paperback version of it.

    “He undid his belt, whipped it out of the loops and allowed his trousers to puddle around his ankles like agitated crude oil.”


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