“‘I’m not sure that time is the essence, Slow,’….” – The Breakthrough

My old photo of a Thames Barge also, like Aickman’s in ’Raising the Wind’, on route for Southend Pier! Perhaps inadvertently the perfect expression of Aickman’s Zenoism. Half and half again.

“They say it never ends.” – Just A Song At Twilight (
TimO as a time loop.)

Links to all my Aickmeanderings — A Fully-Conducted Tour


“Genius, however, comes normally in inverse measure to the capacity to impart. The two things are strongly opposed.” – Le Miroir


My reviews in 2021 when re-reading individual stories


THE INNER ROOM: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/03/25/the-2nd-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories/#comment-21599

THE TRAINS: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/27/the-trains/

MEETING MR MILLAR: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/18/meeting-mr-millar/

THE VISITING STAR: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/06/07/the-visiting-star-robert-aickman-1966/

THE SWORDS: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/06/11/the-swords/

THE CICERONES: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/06/07/the-7th-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/#comment-22133

THE SAME DOG: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/11/the-same-dog-by-robert-aickman/

THE HOUSES OF THE RUSSIANS: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/12/the-houses-of-the-russians/

RINGING THE CHANGES: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/13/ringing-the-changes/ ========= and THE WAITING ROOM

THE STAINS: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/15/accretive-stains/

WOOD: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/16/wood-wood-wood-wood-wood/ 

THE FETCH: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/17/reeking-of-seabed-mortality/ ============ and NO TIME IS PASSING

MARRIAGE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/18/burdens-upon-an-immense-divan/ 

GROWING BOYS: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/22/growing-boys-as-lordly-ones/

RAvissante: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/24/toward-golden-walls-and-golden-frames/

PAGES FROM A YOUNG GIRL’S JOURNAL: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/26/fiction-though-it-be/

THE UNSETTLED DUST: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/27/pushing-through-endless-thickets-of-dead-bramble-and-dogrose/

THE BREAKTHROUGH: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/07/28/a-fell-force/

LAURA: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/08/08/29414/

THE SCHOOL FRIEND: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/the-undying-aickman/

YOUR TINY HAND IS FROZEN: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/08/10/waiting-for-the-bread-delivery/

 NO STRONGER THAN A FLOWER: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/08/11/writhing-candelabra/

JUST A SONG AT TWILIGHT: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/08/12/fierce-and-bleeding/

LARGER THAN ONESELF: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/08/13/mr-coner-and-sister-nuper/

THE REAL ROAD TO THE CHURCH: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/08/14/still-point-of-the-turning-world/

THE CLOCK WATCHER: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/29651-2

HAND IN GLOVE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/10/pansy-stock-and-others/

NIEMANDSWASSER: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/30153-2/

LE MIROIR: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/12/the-truth-of-youth/

BIND YOUR HAIR: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/18/can-i-change-my-shoes/

THE NEXT GLADE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/19/the-next-glade-of-light/

COMPULSORY GAMES: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/20/the-ornamental-waters/

RAISING THE WIND: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/21/the-forfeits-of-bashan/

LETTERS TO THE POSTMAN: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/22/protocols-of-romance-in-aickman/

A CHOICE OF WEAPONS: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/23/macropsia-and-micropsia-in-free-will/

THE VIEW: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-view-by-robert-aickman/

THE WINE-DARK SEA: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/26/poisoned-with-masculinity/

 NEVER VISIT VENICE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/27/an-affair-of-moments/

A ROMAN QUESTION: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/or-a-horse-breaking-itself-in/

THE INSUFFICIENT ANSWER: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/09/29/the-insufficient-answer-to-life-the-universe-and-everything/

ROSAMUND’S BOWER: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/30699-2/

MARK INGESTRE: THE CUSTOMER’S TALE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/30717-2/

THE STRANGERS: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/10/02/the-third-place/

The Case of Wallingford’s Tiger: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-case-of-wallingfords-tiger/

The Whistler: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-whistler/

A Disciple of Plato: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/a-disciple-of-plato/

The Coffin House: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-coffin-house/

The Flying Anglo-Dutchman: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-flying-anglo-dutchman/

The Fully-Conducted Tour: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-fully-conducted-tour/

RESIDENTS ONLY: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/10/04/history-turned-inside-out/

INTO THE WOOD: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/10/04/one-leg-shorter-than-another/

THE HOSPICE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-hospice/


Detailed reviews of Aickman novels etc.


Go Back At Once by Robert Aickman 

The Late Breakfasters  by Robert Aickman 

The Model by Robert Aickman  

THE STRANGERS and other writings


My story by story reviews of Aickman’s Fontana Anthologies


The 2nd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman

The 4th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman

The 6th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman

The 8th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman

The (1st) Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman

The 3rd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman

The 5th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman

The 7th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert

Gluey Zenoism in Residents Only: https://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?p=148154&postcount=446

My real-time review of  The Hospice as part of the VanderMeers’ ‘The Weird’

Aickman’s Heirs

Many references to Aickman in my real-time reviews of The Magic Mountain and The Inmates

Earlier real-time thoughts on Aickman


My review of Shearman’s BOBBO: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/07/02/we-all-hear-stories-in-the-dark-robert-shearman/#comment-19457

The Aickman Absolution

and countless references to Aickman in my general real-time reviewing of other books


The Aickman Islands (The River Runs Uphill etc)

John Magwitch’s Thesis on Robert Aickman & Cannibalism and HERE

The Hospice – before making the connection with Thomas Mann

Main TLO Aickman discussion thread to which I contribute




At the end, satisfyingly for me, time ticks more and more slowly… and I wonder if the whole of Aickman’s work was fundamentally geared to T.S. Eliot’s ‘still point of the turning world’ whereby the ill-resolutions and desires between genders, opposite or same genders alike, as well as all humanity’s hopes and despairs, can be parked at least for a while… a ‘while’ that is still transpiring even now as we ‘porters’, upon the pathway of life and death, change shift… (from my review of ‘The Real Road To The Church’)

“Reading alone will not avail. Words reach only the mind. It is the spirit, the Geist, we grope for, nicht wahr?”

“‘He’s a Lewisite. He’s misplaced like me.’” 

Both above quotes from ‘Larger Than Oneself”

“There was an embarrassing blank in time, while an angel flitted through the room, or perhaps a demon.” — Hand in Glove

“Time flies when we watch it, but has no need to fly when we ignore it.” – Le Miroir 

“So eat up your mört, Margaret, and take no notice of all these gloomy thoughts.” – from Into The Wood

One review so far of my reviews: https://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?p=159174&postcount=570

“; and I could imagine that speed could well be of the essence.” — RAISING THE WIND



44 thoughts on ““‘I’m not sure that time is the essence, Slow,’….” – The Breakthrough

  1. “horizonless desert” amid the “terrifying abuse and curses; at other times, groans and screams, as of the dying and the damned” — Aickman’s prophecy of our on-line today.

    From my review of YOUR TINY HAND IS FROZEN

  2. “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. […] Moreover, there is some degree of absolute nobility in praise; and a high degree of ignominy in belittlement, even in justified belittlement. The capacity for praise that is at once warm and discerning implies a degree of fineness in the critic that is, alas, rare in anyone. These truths are so simple and obvious as to call for unfailing repetition.”
    — Robert Aickman

  3. The quote below was first drawn to my attention when quoted by Robert Aickman in his ‘The River Runs Uphill’…..

    “A ball is almost a short lifetime in itself. Everything that happened beforehand retreats, for the time being, into a kind of pre-natal oblivion, and the world waiting for you when you wake up next day, seems as vague and shadowy as the eternity that waits beyond the tomb. Like somebody’s life, the ball goes on and on, and the incidents stand out in retrospect like a life’s milestones against a flux of time when miniature years are measured out in dance tunes.” — Patrick Leigh-Fermor

  4. “There are no beautiful clocks. Everything to do with time is hideous.”

    — Robert Aickman, The Clock Watcher


    A quote from another favourite author of mine — 

    “‘I’ll tell you something, Clara.  Have you ever SEEN a minute? Have you actually had one wriggling inside your hand?  Did you know if you keep your finger inside a clock for a minute, you can pick out that very minute and take it home for your own?’  So it is Paul who stealthily lifts the dome off. It is Paul who selects the finger of Clara’s that is to be guided, shrinking, then forced wincing into the works, to be wedged in them, bruised in them, bitten into and eaten up by the cogs.  ‘No you have got to keep it there, or you will lose the minute.  I am doing the counting – the counting up to sixty.’ . . . But there is to be no sixty.  The ticking stops.”
    From ‘The Inherited Clock’ by Elizabeth Bowen

  5. THE CLOCK WATCHER by Robert Aickman

    I think I need to make this truly remarkable story the culmination of my reviews of specific Aickman stories, even though I still have many of his stories not re-read for my timely processes of gestalt real-time reviewing.
    This one is a story that I cannot now step beyond. At least for the time being.

    It completes a fitting, if chance, gestalt of the Aickman stories I have recently re-read and also of other authors’ stories he himself chose for the Fontana anthology series — a gestalt of Time’s Slowth or Gluey Zenoism and now here it is in its starkest terms, a story that is also in relation to a topic that arises often in Aickman:- the nature of sexual urges with, as well as between, women, and the nature of marriage at the time Aickman wrote it. And also it reveals views of its time, its post-war time.

    It is a story of Gluey Zenoism, in the same way as RESIDENTS ONLY is. Turning pages interminably until suddenly one is not.

    It is staggeringly Aickman-absurd as well as frightening in itself, but it’s even more frightening in the context of the gestalt I have, perhaps unintentionally, now reached…

    Full review of this story: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/29651-2/

    1. The philosophy of Zeno of Citiumstoicism.
    2. philosophical framework in which a finite continuum is regarded as an infinite number of discrete elements.
      • 1995, Eugene Asarin et al, “Symbolic controller synthesis for discrete and timed systems”, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, volume 999, page 1-20:
        While synthesizing a controller for timed automata one should be careful not letting any of the players win by “Zenonism“, that is, by preventing the time from progressing as does the Tortoise in its race against Achilles.
      • 1998, Paolo Rossi, “I Punti Di Zenone: Una Preistoria Vichiana”, Nuncius, volume 13, issue 2, page 377:
        Zenonism (which regards the continuum as composed of points) was defended on various occasions in the Jesuit context, and was also repressed and condemned a number of times.
      • 2000, Keith Ansell Pearson, “Nietzsche’s Brave New World of Force”, Kairos: A Journal of Philosophy, volume 9:
        […] Nietzsche’s thinking on time was mediated by Boscovich, which in turn was an attempt to take further and refine the insights of Leibniz and Newton and, perhaps most significant of all, to go beyond various kinds of Zenonism […]
  6. As we readers struggle with dark meanings always hovering halfway through to the next glade of light. At a time when colour TVs needed to be specifically called, as in this story, colour ones, to differentiate from black and white.
    —- from my review of THE NEXT GLADE

  7. “A year ago, all the words that matter had suddenly changed their meanings and changed them for ever. Nor was this process of change going to cease. Colin felt that he would never even die. Rather was he to be endlessly dragged out of himself; moulded, melted, and miniaturized: while all the time, his real self remained entirely conscious but entirely powerless, like a discarded chrysalis still with feeling. A manikin was materializing while the man watched, having first been paralysed.”
    — Compulsory Games

    Aickman’s portrayal of Null Immortalis

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  12. From my ongoing review of Elizabeth Bowen stories here: https://howivi.wordpress.com/341-2/

    So far in this series of reviews of all Bowen stories, I am struck by her Evadne Price girls, and her Zeno’s Paradox in Thirds not Halves, and the stages of the Second World War in London as the stages of Covid….,all creatively fractured by Bowenesque style. And there is of course her links with Aickman, probably in real life, a mutual synergy in gender/sexual/marriage trains and ghostly-horror absurdism.
    Also her Disinherited* ‘Forever Autumn’, see my https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/forever-autumn/ in 2012, links with Ligotti and general Weird Fiction anthologised by the VanderMeers.

    * “This first phase of autumn was lovely; decay first made itself felt as an extreme sweetness: with just such a touch of delicious morbidity a lover might contemplate the idea of death. […] Everything rotted slowly. […] eternity seemed to have set in at late autumn.”

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