10 thoughts on “Binturong Time – Quentin S. Crisp

  1. “Colby noticed the inner part of Javier’s right arm on the other side of the elbow. There was the sharp ridge of the elbow bone, and above that veins showed raised through the skin.”

    It seems apt that while Colby is here in his first visit to Mexico City somehow without bringing his medication from England, a stranger unto a strange land, with the unique obsessive-aimless way of some or most of QSC protagonists’ way, seeking the binturong in the local zoo, but a binturong that stays invisible in an enclosure where it should have been, and Colby goes off seeking advice, yes, while all that, I myself have recently been seeking, equally aimlessly and obsessively, the literary Elbow! And while Colby always makes his first visit in a new city that city’s zoo for the same famous reason that Gandhi did, I might find my reason for doing this being the fact that a zoo in a city is neutrally neither fantastical or unfantastical, indeed the only place where I can verify whether I am dreaming or not. Also, it seems apt that this first section of my reading of this fictional novella or real travel account, up to page 22, refers to another recent aimless obsession of mine: ‘gluey Zenoism’, an expression used in many of my real-time reviews last year and this. This section of the QSC work even refers to a “gluey potential.” And there is a recurring ‘He waited.’

    Read up to: “…the day had unexpected pockets of timelessness in it, which would stretch and distort its duration strangely.”

  2. Pages 22-32 (up to when Colby returns to England)

    An epiphany that one can only find in QSC fiction-as-truth, I suggest. A rite of passage as, after returning from the readerly-interesting scene at the zoo’s information office, Colby gets the binturong bang to rights, despite not really nailing it down. With a recurring refrain of ‘mysterious and little known’, the dubious mention of a William Blake poem about a binturong puts the readers off the scent and makes them ready to cast their competing “corner-of-the eye omnipresence” upon the “multifarious jigsaw of the world”, thus creating the graspable gestalt of ‘binturong time’ as adjusted for their body- and mind-clocks. Denial as proof of existence and human fallibility as an ingredient in the eventual gestalt all help us see the binturong on the fig tree (or on some other cooked-up chance of an árbol) all with the passion of the reading moment and the fearless faith in fiction both having come back to us “sticky and elastic” — even while the Bowenesque “abeyance” (a word actually used in this section of the QSC) also helps us make the binturong bang to rights there! Our non-linear epiphany paradoxically all the stronger by its subsequently melting away. (I have not factored in Colby’s chain-smoking, though!)

  3. Pages 32 – 67

    For highly personal as well as neutrally objective reasons, I found this unputdowanble second half of the novella an inspiring rite of passage, an epiphany of epiphanies, as it were. An almost old-fashioned binocular of binturong time. A historic SF. A glitterball without the taint of Gary. A noodle bowl. The front cover’s whole made hole. A paranoia transcended. An identity established. A future great cinema film adaptation of it, I sincerely foresee, involving animation as well as real life acting. I was particularly taken with COLby’s main focused epiphany being in the town where I was brought up from a small boy to being a young man (and I live in the same postal district now), i.e. COLchester, with its Ley of the Land, and featuring one of my special haunts, St Botolph’s Priory, as a sort of climax (before the ‘Emmaline and her tattoo’ coda). It even featured my hair barber but I did not know then that he wrote books! The cumulative climax itself, of course, starts at Colchester Zoo (that opened in 1963 when I was 15.) The passages describing a daredevil entry into the binturong enclosure of the zoo and its star-fig ‘glitter’ zone can not be done justice to here. What I say about it, I fear, may misguide you. You simply have to read it for yourself. Its skill of wordinesss is only exceeded by its ecstatic believability. There is far too much to quote as pluckable highlights, so I will simply not quote any of them! All my pencil marks on the pages were thus not needed but they did serve to help me be memory-indented, in gradual real-time as well as in binturong time, by the experience. I shall only mention that when I looked at photos of the binturong online before reading this novella, I saw its tail as a sort of over-sized arm with a fluid or mobile elbow. A feature that seemed operative during the star-fig climax.


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