37 thoughts on “Vantablack – Lee Rourke

  1. “—a geometry of blackness set against light—“

    I first encountered paintings by Hammershøi (mentioned here) when I decided to collect images of women with their backs to us, started here in 2009: http://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?p=31619&postcount=1
    Meanwhile having read the first three pages of em-dash rarefied wordplay in this intriguing book – and with my having published the world’s first blank story in Nemonymous in 2002 – I wonder if black is actually more blank than white! Not thought before about that … nor about the black-blank word-assonance.

  2. Up to page 15

    Short prose pieces with generous blank, non-black spaces below them, and, of course, between letters and words, too, but the close-ordered em-dashes keep these spaces to a cabin fever’s minimum—all this upon the edge of OuLiPo as an evocation of many shades of blackness.
    “the geometry of black rooms” has the feel of TODAY’s cabin fever!

  3. The whole of page 23 is taken up by…


    And I would cross-refer you to the many fiction books of Rourke I have already praised in my gestalt real-time reviewing linked at the head of this web page.

  4. CF702D00-9477-4431-BD34-19B1191AC96D

    My constant lockdown view….

    We’re primarily still concerned with recovering bodies, and we hope we find them in that big section of fuselage, but don’t everybody think that this is going to happen…
    —Robert Francis


    Up to page 29
    “—fuselage through a window pane—“

    This is such strange book! You may quote me on that.

    “—you’d never felt ‘blackness like this before’—“


    “Take out the glass eye, unscrew the legs, the arms. Remove the wig, the teeth, the silver plate in the skull, the tubes in the anus and abdomen, and just climb into bed and wait for summer.”
    — Lawrence Durrell, The Black Book

  5. In the tube journey up to page 34, a number, for many reasons, important to my mother who was born in Walthamstow and I seem to travel from that very station with “corrupted lungs […] through darkness towards complete blackness—“

  6. Page 35

    I am so far intrigued with a numbered series headed VANTABLACK, here no. 8
    “—black in black—like a—colour so black it makes—black seem tame—“
    Just an extract. Book that somehow makes book seem tame.

  7. Page 36

    “) came the footfall—“ “—reflected in black—“

    As well as a numbered Vantablack series, there is a lettered Francesca Woodman series, it seems. Many art exhibitions that started recently had their footfall aborted, the now sadly quarantined galleries, except one beneficial spin-off is that they have produced a wonderful series of different monologues of people going round such footfaded exhibitions on BBC4 TV.
    Every blackness has a salver lining?

  8. Up to page 41

    There now seems to be a new series with episodes denoted by Roman numerals, a series headed “—the geometry of black shells according to wikipedia—“
    This is mind-fazing Em Dash OuLiPo that does not flatten today’s curve but möbiuses it.

  9. Up to page 45

    This includes algebraic or acronymic footnotery amid the em dashes, outdoing OuLiPo at its own game of blackening stuff with squashed insects as semantics, graphology, mouthed phonemes, upon an otherwise white page of assumed poetic syntactics.

    • If the em dashes are generally meant to denote the many takings of breath, they denote extreme breathlessness indeed throughout the book, and sporadic insertions of […] to denote… to denote what?

  10. Up to page 62

    “—Beckett’s silence is blackness in silence in silence in blackness—“

    And the reference to ‘Hades black‘, a reference to the poet named Shade in Pale Fire?

  11. Page 65

    “—‘the desire to run from one thing—or state of being—and be—absorbed into another’—can it ever be—undone—“

    That seems to be the crux of our essential dilemma today, precisely today, as we await this weekend’s announcement by a buffoon about our loosening lockdown destiny…

  12. DE79019F-EA40-465F-ABD3-D062CC930362Up to Page 67

    And a long movingly short-breathed passage about a person referred to by ‘she’ and ‘her’, and her ability to echo our blackness, amid the tower blocks and doom of the city and, I infer, amid the Gestalt Tardis of our innerdividual or covidual lockdowned bodies and other vertically aligned nanotube arrays.

  13. Up to page 70

    “—as black as shellac—“

    Then, I note another series denoted by a., b…
    I also now note a. was hidden in plain sight at the beginning of this book, before the em dash punctuated breathing started. And now we have b., a series depicting the drawbacks in trying to ‘own a colour as a thing’… as I try to own this book about black? Steal it from its author? Live off its back like a blackacle?

  14. Up to page 73

    “—Pale skin on black—“

    41B79CC9-0457-4798-9EB9-CF4FDD7C9C55With sunlight here said to be ‘opening‘ and almost ‘blackening‘ (as fires do to things): another Pale Fire reference I can thread into this book. I also thread its own word ‘slutch’ further into it (a word specifically used here as “slutch and tides”, alongside “death’s bubbling detritus”) in a section headed by the title of the Chivers book, the cover shown here. And ‘slutch’ is used in two previous works by Rourke where I have already specifically quoted it in my reviews: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/09/06/glitch-lee-rourke/#comment-16903 and https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/the-canal-lee-rourke/#comment-13762.

  15. Up to page 89

    I have had a long run at reading this today, having been figuratively semi-released in the Government’s world from a sort of blackdown. Though being over 70, I am unsure. They called such a blackdown by the word blackout in the last War. Yet this still is today “only blackness”, although it strives to be a period piece, because there are people in pubs here, if absorbed by Guinness. Yet here we have truly powerful em dashery of crowblack, poemblack dash-divided lines as a theme and variations upon the tactile and spiritual and genius-loci and wordsources and dribbleslutch of the Thames, being another numbered series up to (17) stemming from this river’s source at the Chivers book. St Paul’s et al. Did the Chivers firm ever make black jelly? The darkest was more purple than black I recall, even though it had BLACKcurrant in it. Did lockjawed Corona bottles ever have black fizz? The darkest was probably fizzy Dandelion and Burdock. Which brings me back to Guinness, that darkest of all spiritually dark drinks with a creamy head, preferably, for me, as cold as the Thames water in that 1963 Winter I recall so well. Under milkwood, under milkstout.

  16. Up to end

    “—completely black—the cars have—all gone now—“

    This section, if not the whole book, is a staggering prophecy of blackdown or lockdown and its accoutrements and causes. Covivid, covidual (not individual, as in Jungian) and lucid dreaming, too. And em dash breaths between coughs?
    I see the book was first published on 17 January 2020!

    “—when communication is finally switched off—“

    “—‘voices shovelled away into heaps guttural—like phlegm—coughed up—spat—out’—“

    Ending with some black matter called redaction.


  17. Pingback: Redactionism | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

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