9 thoughts on “the narcissus variations – Damian Murphy

  1. A luxurious book, with the Mount Abraxas luxury of a beautifully-upholstered creation to which I have long grown accustomed from this publisher. But I never take their books for granted. Each is uniquely beautiful in its own way. This one with over 70 pages.

    This copy is numbered in this way:
    For the Kibbo Kift
    and its inviolable travesties, and for the
    fully-automated ethero-magnetic bicephalic muse.



    “Not a single item was without utility, even the designs of the upholstery were imbued with hidden agenda.”

    It is as if the narrator’s arrival from another lodge in these pages is for me, a cross, so far, between my favourite opera PARSIFAL and a recent film called MIDSOMMAR, pages bearing words as pure and stiff as the pages and print upon them, proudly neat, methodical, but with mysterious meaning, and he is the scrivener already lost in the words, sorry, lost in the WOODS, after all, as he finds an old notebook of his own from the past, but with a mutability of not quite being written by himself, about a scribe also lost in the woods, and he is here for a reason, honoured beyond sleeping in his own tent, a woman sleeping on the couch in the shared office he has been given by someone called Siegel. A sort of way station, a place where everything means something, a station of stations, short wave or coded. The notebook contained this overall book’s name while containing this chapter’s eponymous white beast, black print on white, and I am so trammelled, almost against my will, I have forgotten to cry when I remembered a homing pigeon had been pinned by an arrow earlier in these pages. Carrying an undelivered message – to him?

    RHINOCEROS – icon, rose, core, cone, noose, hero, heroin…
    The animal from the letters of whose name more other words can derive than from that of any other animal? Even its own horn is there!
    But not Rosicrucian, it seems.

  3. 166ED30C-1AC7-41B2-9B17-785F5586B406
    Looks like a white horn at the front? Then to ‘core’ – and ‘iron’ in this next section’s title – “its roots intermingled with the core of the Earth”, as the item in the citadel the nature of which not a single one of us can otherwise name or elucidate?

    the black iron urn

    Pages 23-34

    “Our system never fails to provide a corrective when and where it’s needed.”

    This prose text is like a magic incantation of objects and inferences and would-be rituals, as the narrator continues to investigate the notebook’s narcissus variations that he may or may not have written, that also may or may not be about himself and his past rites of passage. Is he who he thinks he is? Am I?! Are you? Things of tantalising promise or dread. The old and the new in physical communication systems in the lodges of the Kin, indeed in this plot’s venue, upstanding or not in the scheme of the empire, our empire of we readers or theirs? The sense of the precarious and the certain as a hybrid of Can’t Get You Out of My Head. The citadel of low morale or of continued positivity. Scandals and rumours, “a wellspring of perversity” if one triangulates the letters of the Kin and its Kindred and Kinfolk? Senseless as the moon, the Ottoman or the soldier or a séance to summon Ludwig II. Parsifal simply its composer’s reputation or just the pure music that it emits beyond intention? The inspiring absurdity of an office’s wellspring of ink now neatened as printed words on these pages, with the quote marks at rakish half-mast….

    The air of disobedience that pervaded the space seemed distinctly at odds with the presiding aesthetic.

  4. Pages 34 – 44

    “…descending into flagrant absurdity. It was impossible to pinpoint exactly where the corruption began, as it blossomed in the text like a slow-acting poison,…”

    It mentions ‘typos’, but, so far, there seem to be none here, despite the semi-conscious nature of the narrator writing this as a notebook journal and simultaneously reading it for the first time in trance-like real-time toward whatever gestalt, as this real-time venue becomes the citadel spoken of itself, I guess, with the symbolic ‘sentry’ called Nagel and the power of a journal ‘entry’. I am captivated by this book, I truly am, whatever its admitted creeping absurdity or political propensities, and its further dream of the ‘rhinoceros’ at the sound of ‘siren(s)’, alarm drill or not. Also I am further captivated by the inadvertently preternatural resonance with what I read yesterday during my chance simultaneous real-time review (here) of possibly the greatest ever classic work of literature with its Kindred young man’s ‘notebookery’ becoming a ledger of debit and credit, of merit and interest, cf Damian’s ‘entries of a catalog of clerical errors’ and “the allocation of merit”!
    I am also taken by the mention of “knot-making exercises”, “irrational fear”, “an ambiguous comment on the meaning of text”, “recursive telegraphy”, the movements of the woman Miftah’s sleeping movements on the couch as some code toward meaning, general “incongruities” and Priestian mutabilities, a possible collapsing fortress, the messaging murmurations of birds, and much more.

    “Trouble is the very air we breathe.”

  5. “A rhinoceros is as ugly as a human being, and it too is going to die, but at least it never thinks that it is beautiful.”
    ― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn.
    A lesson to Durer, Ionesco or Reynard the Fox?

    the hour of midnight on the winter solstice

    Pages 45 – 56

    99BC3FE5-E2AD-43FC-85BD-3ACFB4FAF6E4“I merely noted that nothing in this place existed purely for the sake of appearance.”

    Indeed, the feast of symbols and signals in this book can only be dealt with by the process of gestalt real-time reviewing empirically and strictly applied. The transmission of every signal from such a conscientious reader thus affecting the book itself, as the book itself explicitly implies! As the narrator reads his own morphing narration that he both writes and enacts. At one point there being a hallucination within a hallucination to the extent of being lockdowned in a boudoir with an “invisible behemoth” outside, and I deem this the perfect expression of a co-vivid dream of latter days. The empire embodying this book as well as embodied within it, transmitting such a signal. Even the earlier threat of the mirror falling reaches culmination by dint of a cardinal bird, and this mirror makes me think again of the expression ‘narcissus variations’, and now of assonance variations, viz. rhi-noceros —> rhi-narcissus. And the imposters involved. Even the explicit text alterations echo the important Scottish real-time news reports today about redactions coming and going.

  6. Pages 56 – 68

    “…the upholstery hardly matched the carpets.”

    Hardly matched, hardly mattered … as we all learn eventually, when we meet the ultimate Proustian self who is the Angel we always sought, to whom we equally kneel as someone better, perhaps someone worse, a blend of all the ingredients that make the perfect imperfection, signalling…

    the arrival

    The tribulation of the boudoir’s windtrap lockdown become the chrysalis of that self, the knots of inviolable principles, knots sometimes called ligotti, the ultimate knot of self with self. Prophesied and frozen by its own prophecy into truth, even if that other self is a “fictional counterpart”, fiction being even truer than truth itself…
    The first Mount Abraxas of 2021. The year XXI become xx☥, needing neither to transmit nor to broadcast. The core of silence. Knots as prayers, leading to the ORISON of HONORERS, CHOOSERS and COHEIRS, the Rhinoceros almost become the Unicorn at last?

    “…it was intended from the beginning that we meet only on paper.”


  7. Pingback: Two notable reviews… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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