5 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.”

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