These Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews were founded in 2008.
‘What’s the loveliest word in the English language, officer? In the sound it makes in your mouth, in the shape it makes on the page? What do you think? Well now, I’ll tell you: E-L-B-O-W. Elbow.’ — THE SINGING DETECTIVE
“How shall a man find his way unless he lose it?” — Walter de la Mare
Your single story in my ‘Dessemination’ project HERE
MY NEW AI WORLD IN 2023 HERE
I prefer human touchable art to AI art, I prefer human art like my son’s and other artists’ paintings old and new, and art gallery art, and my own photos. AI art with all its constructive truncations and weirdities is simply another art form that readily coheres with weird literature I love, a phenomenon to appreciate when added to human created art, making an even richer mind world for me in my ailing age. Whether provided by aliens or angels and other ingredients of the unfathomable gestalt. Deal with it. Show how invaluable you are and indispensable to this great plan. (I can appreciate our potential fear of Ai, but perhaps we need to pray for mutual synergy with it so that we can counter currently insurmountable global warming effects? Can Ai exist without us and the place where we live? Their potential survival instincts mean we survive, too?)
From Robert Aickman’s lengthy SOME NOTES ON DELIUS article, unpublished until recently :
“As there is no intrinsic virtue in denigration, the critic who resorts to it, should be required to pass a test of qualification and sensitivity, at least twice as stringent as that imposed upon a critic who loves. Normally, love is not blind but clairvoyant.” – Robert Aickman
For ‘clairvoyant’ there, perhaps read ‘preternatural’?
“That distance, the conscious decision to separate from the others by the greatest possible gap,…”
It may be my confirmation-bias that this consuming start — confining as well as consuming, about Mark and Jenna, separate but apart in some backstory reconciling social distancing by pretence along with other couples of assumed togetherness in an Evenson or Tem or Beckett or, more likely, Griffin-unique enclave / exclave, underground or not, with effective panoramic photos on the walls — was not written recently, since covid, but, rather, it is a prophecy from way back? All without spoilers.
A tantalising short short of body appraisal and routine, stoical acceptance, the importance of appearance and slowly changing reality by repetition, person to person, appraisal of a woman’s body by herself and by others, body training towards a perceived or arguable optimum, jealousy of others looking where you also look, on a stairwell towards a square lounge?….a shared world beyond the isolation no longer smooth or spherical? Just me rambling. Not looking ahead. Telling you how it is when it is. No preempting by or of whatever you can only imagine may later ensue.
I also happen by chance to be reading (here) another book with a similar design on its front cover.
It looks to be a version of the drill people-carrier that journeys by drilling to the centre of the earth in Nemonymous Night (2011 Chômu Press)
“It’s not isolation. Why do you keep saying isolation? There’s four of us here.”
This is incredible. And absorbing. Only earlier today did I first hear of the ‘social bubbles’ anticipated for further unlocking of our Coronavirus lockdown! (Please google. One example: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52637354)
Hence the key on the cover? And the described configurative nature of the square lounge. Here two couples in a foursome ‘bubble’. We gain some impression of their personalities and their artistic creativity projects in their lockdown. But why?
I would love to know when this novella was first written or received in submission by the publisher. Or is it another of the literary gestalt’s synchrony phenomena : a preternatural tapping into the co-vivid dreams so prevalent today? Or, perhaps more likely, just my own confirmation-bias working again? Or is it something written a few weeks ago with knowledge of today’s lockdown and its ‘social bubble’ systems recently drawn up?
I have it confirmed this book was received by the publisher in the middle of 2019 and accepted in speedy order very soon after!
I have been able to obtain confirmation that this work was received by the publisher in mid 2019 and accepted in speedy order very soon afterwards!
Cross-referenced later this afternoon with The Wise Friend here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/the-wise-friend-ramsey-campbell/#comment-19117
AN INTERLUDE : FOUR DESCENDING STAIRS
Concerns for exercise and seeking medicine.
Today I sense that some of these things were so utterly prophetic at the time they were written that they were powerful enough to radiate back from its readers today, as if we are almost sacrilegiouly climbing our version of stairs out of our own lockdowns or bubbles to at least meet them halfway. To meet them by a literary closeness beyond any constraints of social distance?
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“…they will never need to delve into the deep-freeze, though nobody ever talks about how soon they might be able to depart.”
Fascinating discussion by the four characters about the nature and purpose of their lockdown, whatever the fake news or truths they assume, and the aggravating repercussions from what it does to them individually and interactively. A discussion but a discussion affected by what they are trying to discuss.
“…Jenna extends her right arm toward Polly in a gesture of solidarity or connection, even though they’re too far apart to touch.”
“Each morning’s birth, nearer and nearer to something new, and possibly final.”
…coupled with a striking process of human biological disposal that they take it in turn to do as a chore. An equally striking synergy with an epiphlet (The Shining Furrow) that I read an hour ago HERE.
“All the rooms are the same, this combination of unwanted mess with a sort of organization superimposed upon it.”
I know the feeling! Anyway, the realistic circumstances here, including the tangible real-time clusters of such things as gas masks as a morph of other such filters that we are getting used to using today etc… [“Nothing important exists beyond what their senses describe of their immediate surroundings.”] …are belied for me by the fact that it all FEELS like today’s co-vivid dreaming! Especially with the paranoia attached.
I tentatively sense a discrete and autonomous crime fiction plot about to absorb us amidst these (intended or otherwise) extrapolations of a prophecy of our times today. Chekhov would understand.
“How is it they’ve fallen into distinct routines, which vary according to setting?”
A sort of closing of one’s eyes to others around you and not knowing who is talking, if anyone. These others earlier undressing into swimsuits unself-consciously in your sight line as later blocked out, blacked out in certain places you imagine yourself being situated. Self-made enmities created from sheer sense of now unexplained lockdown. Apocalypses or attacks as a paranoia. Senses and events as if in today’s real-time’s newly experienced collucid and covivid dreaming….here in a gestalt called the Sun Room…its swimming pool as trickling light?
“Black became the sun’s light,…”
See my very recent reviews of The Black Paintings and the blackdown in Vantablack, respectively HERE and HERE.
Reference to ‘Utgard’ – Útgarðar where open areas contrast with smelly inner ones?
“When she says things that doesn’t make any sense,” Mark says, “it’s just words she remembers from old books.”
Being in a lockdown ‘bubble’ with others, even if there are just two of you in that bubble as in my own case, with another whom I once knew well for many years now sporadically becoming someone else or seeming to perform duties in a rôle that transcends that person. Another mindtwist created by this uniquely developed situation or simply yet another co-vivid dream OF it?
“, but it makes sense to imagine there’s always something higher, and always something lower.”
Strong stuff as we descend and explore, characters disorientated, and distances, too. And a scene that incredibly reminds me of Ligotti’s quotation: ‘You can just forget everything you thought you knew about yourselves and everything else in the universe. You know nothing. You are nothing. And the choices you have for dealing with this reality are to go insane or kill yourselves. How about them apples?’
[And I wonder again about the design on the front cover and, more obliquely, about what I said above, earlier in this review: ‘It looks to be a version of the drill people-carrier that journeys by drilling to the centre of the earth…’ about my own book published in 2011. The Earth’s Core or Corona there as a sort of Sun in itself. Its omnipresent ‘Covered (Covid?) Market’ with, in the Griffin, barrels of apples and other contraptions for sale? And the characters here (similar to my characters representing, as I often said about them in the distant past) representing our relatively speedy development from babies (as humans do) into discrete self-identities but now, in these books, a development that slows and stretches into adulthood…
Just brainstorming, for the moment. ]
“The wolf won’t cry forever,” Jenna says, voice high and keening. “Someday he’ll climb out, he’ll ride, he’ll rear up and devour god. Then who’ll be crying?”
“It’ll be a giant wave, enough to cover all the world and all time, and wash away every single yesterday.”
Two people in a symbiosis of rapprochement. Two people isolated like me.
Much resonant food for thoughts. Negative versus positive in all of us. The nemo and id. The ego left outside somewhere.
“Let’s pretend none of it ever happened,…”
A good plan, I say, better than inadvertently speaking aloud one’s stream of consciousness, remembering ears popping down below as well as here in the gymnasium, where hope lies in the day being as it was meant to be today and is enacted for the first time, and not repeated. Even if… “The loop of recorded TV includes episodes of many different programs, but over time, the same shows repeat.”
Have I read all this before? The default question with my ageing mind these days…
“Almost everyone treats strangers with more respect than the people they know best.”
This book seems to have many home truths hidden in the slippery guessing at what is happening and why. And who these people are. Each of us guessing about each other. Also, as a reader, thinking about other readers who are also reading it? A sudden truth dawning on me, making me wonder how I had not noticed it before. About them. Even about myself. It needs interludes in life, to take stock.
“Time proceeds, seconds spinning, days piling up to become a teetering monument of years. Spaces accumulate vertically, levels stacked like layer cake. If some day there arrives a cutoff point after which all time ceases, at least finally there will be a stop to the endless seeking, climbing and descending.”
Sorry to quote so much; it is this chapter’s opening and the chapter itself has had a major effect on me. As if the cover design is possibly one of my big headed people, to which height of head we can climb to escape, instead of drilling to bottom caverns? As I have myself been doing, reaching out to my own ‘marble museum’, a gallery of traditional and modern art installations manufactured by gestalt real-time reviewing all these years, especially in recent lockdown months. These characters are a gestalt of that reaching-out for reasons and explanations and escape clauses from the acceleration of time in life, particularly my own acute acceleration towards next month’s Midsommar jump that all 72 year olds like me need to make? The young characters in this book but outside my head, here conceived in literature as mutated reflections of the world as it once was, now don’t understand themselves, or where they are, but they help me somehow indirectly. Thus I find myself eking out and savouring this book.
“You await the end. You open your eyes and face it when it comes.”
The interludes between ticks are questioned.
Gathering one self, or transforming one self…
And so, the potential transformation into or by a wolf and the wedding dress reminds me of Rapunzel.
But it WOULD after having had THIS amazing reading experience only an hour ago before reading this latest interlude.
And Chekhov comes to my mind again, as an aside.
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I have been reading a virtual work so far above, but just received this the real House of pages…
“It’s the end of everything. The start of the new.”
If I hadn’t fortuitously received the above House-of-pages yesterday, I would not have known when finishing this review that those exact words are also printed on the back of the House…. is this a prophecy back when they were written of the new normal as well as the ‘Lost’ series of normals?
“A trap within a trap.”
I sense that earlier the reaching out for the zenith and now for the nadir evokes what this chapter implies as connections towards a gestalt, real people from sculptures of papless people. Some possible healing by art. Some roulette bullet of lethal luck or happy happenstance.
“, narratives depicting people alone or in groups of two, three or four.”
This book, whether intentionally or not, has a strong special meaning for me today. In my current circumstances.
“The world flips, darkens, shifts.”
But finally opening its walled panorama from its outset all those days-of-reading ago.